ASEZA and UNDP Sign Agreement to Support Aqaba Marine Reserve Management and Science Park

June 26, 2022

Signing Ceremony

UNDP Jordan

Aqaba, 18 May 2022 - With funding from the European Union (EU), the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Jordan Country Office signed today an agreement to support the management of Aqaba Marine Reserve and design of Aqaba Science Park. This agreement is under the framework of the EU’s Green Deal, which is also supporting Jordan’s work to promote sustainable development targeting green growth and economic development with a focus on climate change measures. The agreement focuses on implementing Indicator Number 8 of the Green Agreement related to the establishment and management of Aqaba Marine Reserve and Aqaba Science Park. Chairman of ASEZA Board of Commissioners Eng. Nayef Al-Bakhit stressed the importance of the continued cooperation and partnership with both the UNDP and the EU in the field of environmental protection, which started as early as the establishment of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone.

He added that in 2020, His Majesty King Abdullah II directed to put more emphasis on preserving the unique marine environment in the Gulf of Aqaba and promote scientific research taking advantage of its distinctive features, including establishment of the first marine reserve in Jordan. The project will help advance efforts to put the site on the list of biosphere reserves of UNESCO and other global networks of protected areas (Green List - IUCN).  His Majesty also instructed to enhance eco-tourism, establish a World Class Marine Aquarium and Science Park. The three components together will significantly foster Jordan’s roles in the global efforts of achieving the Millennium Sustainable Development Objectives. They are particularly in line with Jordan's continuous efforts to confront the climate change impacts.

European Union Ambassador to Jordan, H.E. Maria Hadjitheodosiou, thanked ASEZA for their continuous efforts to ensure the protection of Aqaba’s marine ecosystem, and their willingness to follow up on Royal orientations to establish a Science Park with a wide scope of research. Adding, “The European Union has a long partnership with ASEZA and AQABA in a wide range of areas. I am happy that this partnership will now encompass nature conservation. The EU is already a main partner of Jordan in green growth development. In this context, our green economy support programme focuses in particular on terrestrial and marine nature conservation with a specific support to Aqaba’s marine environment.”

Randa Aboul-Hosn UNDP Resident Representative in Jordan expressed that UNDP is pleased to sign this agreement, which is a continuation of the distinguished partnership with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, that dates back more than twenty years and has contributed to achieving many achievements in the field of preserving the marine and coastal environment. She added that this initiative comes at the right time and in line with the actual needs of the Aqaba region after establishment of the marine reserve in which UNDP Jordan Country Office  contributed significantly.

Aqaba Marine Reserve was officially registered as a national protected area on 13 December 2020, to contribute to the preservation of the biodiversity of the Jordanian coast and wider Gulf of Aqaba, in which vital species live, some of which are endangered. The area of this reserve is about 2.45 square kilometers, with a beach extending for about 7 km out of 27 km the total  stretch of Jordan's coastal line.