On 30 July 2019, UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Japan and Greater Amman Municipality, held a launching event for “Heart of Amman” Initiative. The Heart of Amman is a platform intended to allow all to take part in revitalizing the historic and heritage center of downtown Amman, by expanding local economic opportunities while creating a greener, healthier, more walkable, inclusive city for youth, women and children, for all that call Amman home. During the event, the agreement was signed by UNDP Resident Representative to Jordan, Ms. Sara Olivella Ferrer, and Mayor of Amman, H.E. Dr. Yousef Shawarbeh, in witness of the Ambassador of Japan to Jordan, H.E. Mr. Hidenao Yanagi, and the UNDP Administrator, Mr. Achim Steiner, who visited Jordan during his regional tour.
Ms. Olivella stated, “Heart of Amman is a platform for engagement of citizens, municipalities, the private sector, and civil society entities, while the UNDP supports GAM in designing community-owned interventions”. As the majority of the Jordanians currently live in urban areas, cities, and towns, such as Amman, Zarqa, and Irbid, municipalities and local administrations are key to build resilience, enhance social cohesion, and expand economic growth for their residents through surgical urban interventions that catalyze socioeconomic opportunities.
She added “the Heart of Amman will have a social entrepreneurship seeding program to engage private sector investors and growing global impact investment community in financing inclusive social capital projects targeting vulnerable communities, refugees and migrants”. As part of the planned activities, UNDP and GAM will identify 10 community-based interventions which will focus on rehabilitating underutilized neighborhoods and public spaces.
The Ambassador of Japan to Jordan said "Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Japanese assistance to the operations of UNDP in Jordan has reached over 28 million USD, which includes the funding assistance to this project with approximately 4.5 million USD. For the past several years, our supports to UNDP have targeted mainly at social stabilization and boosting resilience in Jordan through a comprehensive approach and a special focus on prevention of violent extremism, which is a serious concern for us. We believe that promotion of community engagement will bring valuable opportunities to encourage vulnerable women and youth to start small businesses, as well as to boost economy through rehabilitation and renovation of the tourist sites in the centre of Amman. I sincerely hope that our assistance will contribute to revitalize the heart of Amman towards sustainable development in every possible aspect."
Under the Initiative, UNDP will also select and provide support to 100 small businesses and startups to stimulate local economic development, in strong partnership with the private sector.