The governments of Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates signed a landmark declaration of intent in November to build renewable electricity and water desalination capacity and address the threat posed by climate change on energy and water security in the region.
The signing at the UAE Leadership Pavilion at Dubai Expo was witnessed by Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, and John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, reported Emirates News Agency (WAM).
The declaration was signed by Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, Mohammad Al-Najjar, Jordan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation, and Karine Elharrar, Israel’s Energy Minister.
The declaration of intent consists of two interdependent and contingent components.
One, Prosperity Green, plans for solar photovoltaic plants generating capacity of 600 MW to be built in Jordan, with all clean power produced to be exported to Israel.
The second, Prosperity Blue, is a sustainable water desalination program to be built in Israel to supply Jordan with up to 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water.
Feasibility studies for the project are due to start in 2022.
Commenting on the declaration, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said: “Climate change is already having a major impact on countries and communities in the Middle East. As we prepare to host COP28 in the UAE in 2023, we demonstrate with this declaration that all nations can work together to further the energy transition, and build a more sustainable future for all.
“The United Arab Emirates is pleased to play a role in bringing Israel and Jordan together in an initiative that reinforces both countries’ climate security and common interests. This declaration is just one of the positive outcomes of the Abraham Accords that serves to reinforce regional peace, stability, and prosperity while improving the lives and the future prospects of all the people of the region.”
Mohammad Al-Najjar said: “Climate change and the influx of refugees have further exacerbated Jordan’s water challenges. However, there are many opportunities for regional cooperation to help increase sustainability in the sector.
“Water desalination is an important component of our overall strategy for the water sector’s sustainability, and we are continuously looking at different ways to help increase water supply, such as receiving up to 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water as part of this declaration.”
Karine Elharrar said: “The declaration of intent that we are signing today is not just good for the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but for the region as a whole and will send a strong message around the world about how nations can work together to battle the climate crisis.
“I am grateful to all of our Jordanian, Emirati, and American partners, who have worked tirelessly with us to develop and promote these innovative solutions that will help us in the region deal with the effects of climate change.
“Two countries with different needs, different capabilities, with each helping the other meet their challenges in a cleaner, greener, and more efficient manner. Jordan has an abundance of territory and sunshine which is perfect for solar panel fields, good for energy solutions and storage, and Israel has desalinization plants that can help Jordan with its water scarcity.”
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said, “Today’s achievement is a powerful demonstration of how progressive climate action can not only enhance resource security but also serve to build bridges between peoples and reinforce regional stability. The UAE is pleased to contribute to an initiative to help Israel achieve its clean energy targets while improving Jordan’s access to clean drinking water. This kind of inclusive climate action combines good policy, creative thinking, and the spirit of true partnership to achieve practical results far beyond the immediate region.
“Following the UAE’s confirmation as host of COP 28 in 2023, the UAE is keen to demonstrate how this region can raise climate ambition in ways that together enhance sustainable development, stability, and prosperity. Today’s declaration is a great example of this that we can build on.”
John Kerry said: “The Middle East is on the frontline of the climate crisis. Only by working together can countries in the region rise to the scale of the challenge. Today’s initiative is a welcome example of how cooperation can accelerate the energy transition and build greater resilience to the impacts of climate change.
“The United States is impressed by the courageous and creative steps by the parties that made this declaration possible, and looks forward to working with the parties, as well as with others in the region and around the world, to turn our shared climate challenge into an opportunity to build a more prosperous future.”
Israel targets 30% of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2030, up from a previous target of 17%. It looks to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the energy sector by 2050.
Jordan is the second most water-scarce country globally, with annual renewable water resources of just 80 cubic meters per person, significantly below the threshold of 500 cubic meters per person, which defines severe water scarcity.