Project Identification Form (pif) Project Type: full sized project Type of Trust Fund: the gef trust fund

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part ii: project JustiFication

  1. Description of the consistency of the project with:

A.1.1. THE GEF focal area strategies:

The project aims at ‘mainstreaming’ biodiversity conservation into tourism sector development in Jordan as a whole and more specifically in critical areas for biodiversity in the Jordan Rift Valley. The project is designed specifically to reduce threats to biodiversity from the current and future development of this fast growing sector. Tourism is one of the main pillars of the Jordanian economy, accounting for 14% of GDP in 2010. Recent growth has been impressive: visitor numbers have grown by 27%, over the past six years or from 5.5 million in 2004 to 7 million visitors in 2010. A further significant increase in visitor numbers is anticipated (the number of tourists is expected to grow to 9.4 million in 2015). Currently the ecotourism sub sector accounts for 7% of total visitor numbers, up from 4% in 2004. There is a need to reduce the negative footprint of mass tourism on biodiversity—while catalyzing more responsible ecotourism, which if well managed could benefit biodiversity (for instance by financing protected areas). The project supports strategic objective 2 of the biodiversity focal area (BD-2), "Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes, seascapes, and sectors”. More specifically, the project will contribute to Outcome 2.1: Increase in sustainably managed landscapes and seascapes that integrate biodiversity conservation, through the adoption of internationally or nationally recognized environmental standards that incorporate biodiversity considerations in 155,500 hectares of ecologically sensitive areas in the tourism regions/zones and in 150,000 ha of protected areas. The project will also contribute to Outcome 2.2: Measures to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity incorporated in policy and regulatory frameworks, through the development and adoption of polices and regulations governing tourism activities that integrate biodiversity conservation in the tourism regions/zones and the Protected Areas adjacent to them as well as in the ecologically important areas between them. The project will further contribute to the realization of the first strategic objective for biodiversity—Improve Sustainability of Protected Area Systems, by seeking to capitalize on responsible tourism development to secure long term funding for PA management.

A.2. national strategies and plans or reports and assessments under relevant conventions.

Jordan has set out its future development objectives for the tourism sector in the National Tourism Strategy- 2011-2015. The strategy will guide the development of Jordan’s tourism sector over the next 5 years with the goal of increasing Jordan’s tourism receipts to JD4.2 billion (US$ 5.92 bn at current prices) by 2015. The strategy was developed by a consortium of institutions, including the private sector, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA), the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), and the Federation of Tourism Associations, with technical expertise supplied through USAID. The development of the ecotourism and Nature-Based Tourism2 (NBT) sub sectors is highlighted as a priority, in support of “the mission to develop a distinctive destination offering diverse, year-round visitor’s experiences”. In order to promote tourism development, the Government of Jordan has sought to create tourism development zones managed by tourism development authorities to attract investments in key tourist areas. The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) was established in 2000; the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) was created in 2009; and tourism development zones in the Dead Sea and Ajloun have been created in 2010. Each tourism development authority has developed a Strategic Master Plan for its respective region/zone; the key objective of the Strategic Master Plan is to guide development in each region/zone to ensure it occurs in an efficient, balanced and sustainable way over the next 20 years. Efforts at central and regions’ level aim inter alia at extending the length of visitor stay, and diversifying the tourism market by building upon the regions’ assets and specifically ecological assets. However, heretofore tourism in Jordan has mainly been based on the country’s cultural and archeological heritage. While linkages with protected areas adjacent to touristic sites are being sought, ecotourism has only attracted 500,000 tourists in 2010, i.e. a mere 7% of the total number of tourists.

While the Government recognizes that tourism development can have an adverse impact on biodiversity, it is also cognizant of the opportunity which ecotourism and NBT can provide as an incentive for biodiversity conservation (in particular by providing an economic incentive to maintain and restore natural habitats and generating financing). The Government is seeking GEF funding through this project to reduce the negative impact of tourism on biodiversity and optimize the biodiversity ‘dividend’. In doing so, it intends to meet its national development priorities as well as its commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The project is in-line with the conservation goals outlined in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and contributes to all four cross-cutting priorities specified under the said Plan: 1. The need for well-documented biodiversity data; 2. The need for an integrated land-use planning mechanism; 3. Capacity development and technical training; and 4. Public awareness initiatives. The project is also a clear response to the key priority recommendations of Jordan’s 4th National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity which was submitted to the CBD in 2009 and which indicated the need “to integrate biodiversity in the strategies and development plans of the different productive sectors…in order to ensure coherence and unity of the targets and the planned actions…” for conservation.

Project Overview:

Globally significant biodiversity in Jordan. Jordan’s position at the intersection of the African, Asian and European continents means that it harbours species from each of these continents. The country covers an area of 89,322 km2, 80% of which is classed as either semi-arid or arid. The country is topographically diverse, owing to the presence of the Great Rift Valley, with altitudes ranging from 400m below sea level on the shores of the Dead Sea up to 1854m. The country contains some highly specialized habitats, the most noteworthy being the Dead Sea. Jordan's flora is rich and highly diverse. Around 2,500 species of vascular plants have been recorded, belonging to 152 families, and about 700 genera, representing about 1% of the total flora of the world. One hundred species are endemic (including species of the genus Crocus, Colchicum, Iris and Verbascum), 375 are rare or very rare (including species of the genus Orchis, Romulea, Biarum and Globularia), forming about 2.5% of the total flora of Jordan. 75 species are considered extinct. According to the IUCN Red List of 2006, Jordan has 47 globally threatened species of fauna. The proportion of threatened species to the total number of species is very high, especially for mammals, where 24 out of 77 mammals (31.16%) are considered globally threatened. Jordan's location by the Great Rift Valley makes the country one of the most important flyways and resting points for migratory birds in the Boreal Spring and Autumn. Hundreds of thousands of birds cross the area yearly, some of which are globally threatened i.e. the Corncrake (Crex crex).
Jordan’s biodiversity conservation efforts. Jordan initiated biodiversity conservation efforts as early as 1966 with the establishment of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which was mandated by the government to set up a network of protected areas to conserve Jordan's fauna and flora. This was followed three decades later with the enactment of the Environmental Law No. 12 in 1995 and of the Agricultural Law No.44 in 2000, both of which advance biodiversity conservation as a core priority at policy level. The strategy for the establishment of a protected areas network in Jordan aims at including at least 4% of each of the 13 different vegetation types of Jordan in the network. As a result, 9 additional protected areas are to be added to the 7 established sites by 2012 to reach a total number of 16 protected areas whereupon protected areas would cover 12% of the country’s area. This figure is also expected to reach 15% in the year 2017, as Jordan is planning to establish a network of sites along the length of the Rift Valley, consisting of high status protected areas and several Special Conservation Areas (SCA) (generally smaller areas with specific objectives—such as the protection of specific species). Many of these new areas will be established in areas targeted for tourism development—meaning there is an urgent need to better integrate biodiversity management interventions with tourism sector plans and investments.
Threats and pressure on the biodiversity from tourism. The tourism sector already poses a major threat to biodiversity; given the planned exponential growth of this sector, this threat is expected to significantly grow. Currently, tourism is concentrated at two levels: (1) in the three Tourism regions/zones: Ajloun, Dead Sea and Petra, all of which are ecologically sensitive areas; and (2) in wider areas between these regions/zones and the existing and planned protected areas (refer to Annex 1). These Tourism regions/zones lie in high biodiversity areas and in the proximity of several protected areas. Although few of Jordan’s current visitor intake are nature tourists per se, tourists do visit protected areas around the tourism regions/zones as part of their tour itinerary. The Government is seeking to expand the tourism marketing product—and will market Jordan as a destination for nature-based tourism—wilderness being a key attraction (hiking, camping and other activities). PA visitation is thus expected to grow over time.
A description of the tourism regions/zones and their biodiversity fundamentals is presented below:

Tourism and Development regions/zones and adjacent Protected Areas (PA)

Ecological significance of the Tourism and Development regions/zones

Ajloun Development Area

Surface area: 40,000ha

Annual visitors numbers1: 600,0002
Ajloun PA: 1,200ha

Dibeen PA: 900 ha

Bio-geographical zone: Mediterranean

Biodiversity: The dominant species in the zone is the Evergreen Oak forest (Quercus coccifera). 172 plant species, 14 of which were found to have either an international or national conservation status. Four rodent species belonging to four different families. Sixteen reptile species. Forty species of birds

Threatened Species: Carnivores: the Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus), the Wolf (Canis lupus), the Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and the Eurasian Badger (Meles meles). Rodents: Hystrix indica and Sciurus anomalus.

Dead Sea Development Zone

Surface area: 40,000ha

Annual visitor Numbers1: 600,0003
Mujib PA: 22,000 ha

Humrat Ma’in future Special Conservation Area (SCA): 8,200 ha

Bio-geographical zone: Sudanian, Irano-Turanian

Biodiversity: Dense vegetation of Reed Phragmites australis and Tamarisk trees Tamarix spp which is the natural habitat of the Dead Sea Sparrow. Dry silt dunes are dominated by some saline vegetation including Nitraria retusa and Alhagi maurorum. Date Palm trees Phoenix dactylifera. Roosting site for Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris.

Threatened Species. The Dead Sea includes the lowest point in Jordan (and on earth) which is 416 meters below sea level. This area is the last remaining breeding area for the Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus along the Dead Sea, which is a regionally-restricted species. It is ecologically significant due to the presence of some large mammals including the Common Otter Lutra lutra, which is classified globally as Near-threatened.

Petra Development and Tourism Region

Surface area: 75,000ha

Annual visitor Numbers1: 975,000
Dana PA: 32,000 ha

Fifa and Jabal Masuda future PAs: NA

Bio-geographical zone: Sudanian, Irano-Turanian, and Saharo-Arabian.

Biodiversity: 1,100 species constituting 40% of all the species that occur in Jordan. Petra is the Southern limit for several species of Mediterranean plants and animals like the Phoenician Juniper (Juniperus phoenicia) and the northern limit for African species such as the acacia trees.

Threatened Species: Rare and endangered species include the Egyptian vulture, the Blanford’s fox, the striped hyena, grey wolf, lesser kestrel and imperial eagle.

1 Figures from MoTA for the year 2010. 2 Includes visitors to Jarash. 3 Includes visitors to Madaba.
Biodiversity is being threatened by mass tourism across the landscape as a whole within each of the tourism regions/ zones, and within protected areas (as well as planned new PA sites) in the Jordan Rift Valley. The tourism footprint on biodiversity is expected to grow over time. The Tourism Master Plans prepared for each of the tourism regions/zones identify current and potential impacts on biodiversity as a potentially serious issue that needs to be managed. The threat posed by tourism to biodiversity is also documented in protected area management plans. These threats may be divided into two categories: direct threats and indirect threats. Pressures vary spatially across the landscape; while some areas are currently not heavily impacted, there is no guarantee that they remain so in future.
Direct threats to biodiversity include the following:

1. Development of hotels and other tourism infrastructure in ecologically sensitive areas leading to fragmentation and loss of the habitat. The loss of connectivity between different habitat blocks poses a significant risk to biodiversity in Jordan as a whole, and undermines the utility of PAs as a critical storehouse of biodiversity. PAs should ideally be connected through natural and undisturbed corridors to maintain ecological processes and ensure the free passage of wildlife.

2. High visitor numbers in sensitive environments and protected areas leading to disturbance of the habitat. Visitors’ activities have exerted extensive pressure on biodiversity from trampling, hunting, plant collection, uncontrolled trekking and climbing, etc. In Petra, which is by far the most visited tourism site in Jordan, habitat degradation has already been recorded—and tourism is believed to have an impact on wildlife populations. A 2009 study by RSCN showed that the number of breeding birds in Jebel Masuda (South of Petra) is nearly half the number in Dana Protected Area (North of Petra). The study showed that although suitable habitats and nesting sites exist for many of these species, disturbance from tourism activities, among others, is responsible for the absence or scarcity of avifauna.
3. Effluent discharges, litter accumulation and extensive abstraction of water. Hotels generate significant wastes, often dumped in ecologically sensitive areas. This has changed animal behavior-- waste dumps are scavenged by species such as the Red Fox. However, this practice also results in the accumulation of toxic compounds in the ecosystem. A second problem arises as a result of the excessive extraction of ground water and surface water from wadis. The latter is a serious problem, as it threatens the biodiversity of these small, fragile but important habitats.
Indirect pressures on biodiversity include the following:

4. Roads development increasing access to tourism areas. The placement of roads around tourism regions/zones is providing easy access to ecologically important areas and increasing the pressure from tourists on these areas. Unless planned to incorporate biodiversity values—this could have the inadvertent effect of increasing other threats (i.e. poaching).

5. Local population encroachment on the natural resources in sensitive areas and intensive resource use to support their livelihood needs. Local populations are using the provisioning and regulating ecosystem services to support their economies; a further increase in agriculture and pastoralism activities is expected as the local population will aim to meet increased demand for food produce from tourism establishments in the tourism regions/zones; this will cause additional pressure on the biodiversity from overgrazing, loss of the vegetation cover, wood-cutting, etc. There is a need for tourism establishments to factor these impacts into supply chain management—so as to mitigate pressures.
The baseline project and barriers.
The long-term solution advanced under this project to address the afore-mentioned threats is to change the course of tourism sector development, to reduce the negative externality on development (referred to as ‘mainstreaming’).

If threats to biodiversity from tourism sector development are to be effectively curtailed—action will be needed at three levels (1) at the national level—influencing regulations and investment strategies; (2) at the landscape level in the tourism zones—where physical development occurs and where there is a need to change the trajectory of that development to address direct and indirect threats; and (3) at the site level—in protected areas and sensitive corridors, where additional management intervention is needed to address direct pressures on ecosystems from visitation. The current baseline investments are described below at each of these levels, together with an accompanying description of the barriers impeding effective biodiversity management. The project is designed to remove these barriers.

National Level: Jordan’s national tourism development budget for the years 2011-2013 is JD 120 million per annum (around $170 million), accounting for 26% of the total public sector investment in economic development sectors in Jordan. This outlay is intended to assist the MoTA to implement the National Tourism Strategy. This is complemented by investments from several development partners; the most significant is the USAID/Jordan Tourism Development Project II (a $28 million investment). MoTA is vested with the overall responsibility for developing tourism in Jordan—this includes cultivating investment in hotels and other infrastructure particularly from the private sector, catalyzing investment in tourism services (such as training); and licensing and regulating development. The Jordan Tourism Board works through a public private partnership between MoTA and tourism businesses to market Jordan as a tourism destination. The baseline provides, inter alia, for major infrastructure development, destination marketing—and diversifying the tourism product, for instance by encouraging ecotourism and nature based tourism (11 Jordan Tourism Board Offices have been set up to support destination marketing). The JTB’s budget is over JD50 million between 2011 and 2013, provided mainly through private sector investments including private tourism services. A classification system has been developed for hotels—providing a unified system for rating establishments (using a star rating system).
Barriers at the national level: A comprehensive understanding of the impacts of the tourism sector on biodiversity is lacking. Although the tourism sector mission speaks of reducing the environmental footprint of tourism, in practice work in this arena has not focused specifically on biodiversity management (focusing for instance on energy). The national land-use master plan has not factored the impact of tourism development on biodiversity. EIAs are required for specific site interventions but these do not evaluate the off-site impacts or the cumulative and synergic effect of different development activities over larger areas on biodiversity. This is of particular concern given the fragility of ecosystems in Jordan—which already suffer from a high level of fragmentation. Moreover, the national classification system for hotels and restaurants developed by MoTA which per current plans will be adopted by 100% of hotels and 80% of restaurants by 2015 does not specifically address biodiversity. Specific norms and standards to regulate tourism development at the enterprise and landscape level so as to reduce and mitigate threats are lacking. In practice, this means that biodiversity management needs are not factored into licensing decisions for development. The Government has delegated the responsibility for issuing permits for tourism development to the new regional tourism authorities3; these authorities will also be responsible for commissioning EIAs. While accountable to MoTA and the Ministry of Environment for the discharge of their duties, without the said national biodiversity standards, and a better capacity in both national institutions to monitor and ensure compliance, there is a risk that biodiversity management will be sidelined. Finally, voluntary mechanisms to cultivate good corporate environmental stewardship on the part of businesses are lacking. A recognized national tourism certification system would provide for this—distinguishing between the performance of companies with a solid record of stewardship, from those with a poor one.
Landscape Level: Jordan is currently implementing an ambitious regional tourism development policy—establishing development regions/zones, as financially and administratively autonomous entities. The development authorities will play a critical role in planning and approving physical tourism development—having a major say in the siting of infrastructure. This provides a major opportunity for ensuring that biodiversity needs are taken into account in the land use allocation process—and that development applies the mitigation hierarchy from the outset: to avoid, reduce, mitigate and offset impacts. The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) has overall responsibility for land use planning, land use allocation and management in the Rift Valley. Three regional Tourism Development Authorities have been established which have specific jurisdiction over tourism: (Ajloun Development Area established in 2010; Dead Sea Development Zone, also established in 2010, and the Petra Development and Tourism Region, incorporated in 2000). The total operational budget of all of these regional entities is estimated at USD 10 million per annum. The Three Tourism Development Authorities are responsible for promoting local tourism development, drawing on public funds and private sector investments. They are responsible for licensing development and commissioning EIAs. This makes them powerful players. All three regions have developed Master Plans for tourism development and local employment creation. As things currently stand, they lack institutional capacity to effectively mainstream biodiversity management in decision making. Even if national biodiversity standards are developed for the tourism sector and there is a strong national level compliance auditing and management system in place—biodiversity will continue to be lost unless these authorities have a specific mandate and capability to address biodiversity management in their operations.
Barriers at the regional level: An important barrier for mainstreaming biodiversity in the tourism sector in Jordan is the weak vertical and horizontal coordination among the stakeholders involved in this sector. Several institutions are involved at the regional level in planning, monitoring and enforcing regulations relating to tourism sector development and biodiversity conservation: RSCN, Ministry of Environment, the Tourism Authorities/Zones, The Jordan Valley Authority and police. The mandates for surveillance and prosecution of unlawful tourism activities at the level of these institutions need to be clarified and closely coordinated in order to ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation in the tourism development agenda. Moreover, there are weak capacities for permitting, monitoring, and enforcing biodiversity -friendly development at the level of the tourism authorities/zones with respect to managing direct and indirect threats. The country set up the "Environmental Police" unit in 2006, an innovative system to coordinate the activities of the police department, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and RSCN with a view to addressing threats to the environment. However, the unit has in practice not been able to effectively oversee enforcement in the tourism sector, partly because regulations and standards, and penalties governing enforcement are wanting in the first place, but also because there is limited technical capacity to deal with the sector (because many threats occur from a conjunction of different pressures from different enterprises). Biodiversity management objectives need to be accommodated in the overarching land use plan—which will guide the placement of hotel infrastructure and the siting of roads and water reticulation and waste management systems amongst other things. This needs to take an adaptive approach—employing the acceptable limits of change approach, which will in turn require institution of a sound environmental monitoring and data management system. Deriving from this, a system for setting and exacting penalties for unlawful activities needs to be urgently operationalised. Finally there is a need to develop interpretation systems—to sensitize visitors to biodiversity management.
Protected Areas Site Level: Jordan has also allocated $6 million of its national budget for the years 2011-2013 for the management of existing protected areas through RSCN, and several development partners are also supporting RSCN in the management and development of ecotourism in the existing and planned protected areas. Among the most important initiatives, the USAID $8.2 million funded Eco-tourism Project which aims at creating a world-class nature tourism complex in southern Jordan as a means to promote economic opportunities for poor rural communities and protect the Kingdom’s finest natural landscapes. However, this support is still not able to respond to the long-term requirements for PAs to respond to the threats from the significant increase in tourism development in the Rift Valley. Several PAs around the tourism regions/zones are already well established, including Ajloun, Dibeen, Mujib and Dana PAs. An ambitious progamme is underway in Jordan to establish additional PAs including the community managed Special Conservation Areas (SCAs). The capacity of PA sites to manage tourism is asymmetric—while the the management capacity is relatively good in the Dana NR, the other sites have generally weak management capacity. Moreover, they lack the financial wherewithal to increase staffing and to construct visitor infrastructure.
Barriers to effective PA management: There is a need to deconcentrate tourism in heavily visited areas, where tourism is placing pressure on the environment, which will require the development of infrastructure in new areas (waste management systems, interpretation facilities, trails etc) as well as the institution of visitor controls. Additional resources need to be generated to staff PAs—to deal with tourism pressures, as well as cover other operational expenses. The absence of ecotourism-based business plans for PAs, lack of efficient user fees collection and reinvestment mechanisms are affecting the financial sustainability of PAs in the vicinity of tourism regions/zones.

B. 2. Incremental /Additional cost reasoning: describe the incremental (GEF Trust Fund) activities financing and the associated global environmental benefits (GEF Trust Fund) to be delivered by the project:

The objective of the project is “Biodiversity Conservation Objectives are Effectively Mainstreamed and Advanced into and through tourism sector development in Jordan”. The project is designed to strengthen and complement on-going efforts in Jordan to conserve globally significant ecosystems and biodiversity by mainstreaming biodiversity in the tourism sector at the national level and more specifically at the level of the tourism development regions/zones and their surrounding protected areas. The project will ensure that the investment made in realizing the National Tourism Strategy (2011-2015) specifically integrates biodiversity management needs and concerns. A win win conservation/ economic outcome is sought—whereby the adverse impacts on biodiversity of mass tourism development are avoided where possible, or reduced/ mitigated, while biodiversity assets serve as a foundation for diversification of the tourism sector. Although tourism is currently a threat to biodiversity, if carefully managed, it could also offer an opportunity for conservation. In particular, carefully managed NBT and ecotourism in ecologically sensitive areas and PAs could bring in vital funding for conservation of biodiversity in these areas -through visitor fees and concession fees. There is accordingly a need in Jordan both to mitigate the adverse impacts of tourism in key biodiversity areas, but also to optimize the contribution that tourism can make to conservation. By harnessing economic opportunities, this project will connect biodiversity conservation to the development agenda.
The investments made at the national system level for overall tourism sector development, mainly through MoTA and the USAID/Jordan Tourism Development Project II provide a strong foundation upon which this project builds. However, this investment will not in and by itself reduce pressures on biodiversity. What is lacking is a national regulatory framework, backed by an effective enforcement system and founded on sound management standards, to manage the negative externalities imposed by development. The project addresses this gap under proposed component 1. Component 1 would not by itself be sufficient to address pressures, as any management strategy would need to be adapted to the needs of different ecological landscapes. The tourism development regions/zones authorities have limited capacity to internalize biodiversity management needs into spatial development frameworks (plans, decision making tools for licensing development, setting impact mitigation measures, and monitoring and ensuring compliance). The project thus proposes specific measures to address this weakness under component 2. Finally, the project plans specific measures in ecologically sensitive and vulnerable PAs, to reduce the pressures from tourism. The national budget allocations for RSCN – the entity responsible for PA management—is not sufficient to address these threats. Project interventions under component 3 will both strengthen visitor management capabilities (including by developing critical infrastructure) in PAs, and secure long term financing for management.
Component 1. Strengthened policy and regulatory framework for mainstreaming biodiversity into tourism development in Jordan. The project will strengthen the administrative and operational framework at national level, used to license and regulate tourism development. A Strategic Environmental Assessment of the impacts of tourism development on biodiversity will be commissioned defining spatial areas where development should be avoided; where it may be permitted- but subject to management controls, and what mitigation and offset requirements are needed. A set of legally binding standards will be developed—informing the licensing system and enforcement. This will provide a stronger regulatory framework, needed to drive mainstreaming. However, interventions also provide for voluntary measures to be taken up by the industry itself—over and above the standards (experience showing that ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ are needed to encourage mainstreaming). This comprises an ecotourism charter including a set of standards is developed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) and adopted by eco-tour operators, eco-lodges and environmental camp site and a nationally approved biodiversity-friendly certification system for hotels is developed as part of the classification system of MoTA and adopted by hotels. This will allow companies that apply good practice to be recognized for their efforts. The national certification scheme will take into consideration WTO’s “Recommendations to Governments for Supporting and/or Establishing National Certification Systems for Sustainable Tourism”. The Government prefers that a national certification system be developed, linked to the national standards rather than adopting an off the shelf approach utilizing an existing certification framework. This is because they wish the system to specifically accommodate national sustainable development objectives.
Component 2. Improved institutional framework for the implementation of biodiversity friendly tourism development measures in high conservation value areas. This component will assess and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different institutions involved in the surveillance, enforcement and prosecution of tourism development activities including the tourism police, the environmental police, the local police and RSCN. The project will then strengthen institutional delivery capabilities with respect to enforcement—linked to the national standards. This component will also strengthen the capacities of the authorities of the tourism regions/zones to assess and license development—taking into account biodiversity management needs and the national standards. A special focus will be given to the establishment and implementation of a biodiversity monitoring system which will allow the tourism regions/zones to evaluate acceptable limits of change in biodiversity-important areas, in order to take adaptive measures to reduce negative impacts. This component will also develop and promote new biodiversity friendly economic opportunities in the tourism regions/zones by investigating the feasibility of developing ecotourism and NBT in the tourism regions/zones and their surrounding areas and will identify economically-feasible options for the local population and the private sector for developing ecotourism and NBT services and products including hotels, eco-lodges, environmental camp sites, eco-products and environmentally-friendly transportation (the Government has established a US$ 500 million investment scheme for SMMEs; though not formally a part of this project, the initiative will seek to facilitate investments from the fund in BD friendly enterprises. Finally, interpretation facilities will be developed to sensitise tourists to regulations and good practices.
A key threat from tourism on biodiversity is the loss of connectivity between protected areas/ habitats. The small size of some protected areas such as Dibeen and Ajloun in the Ajloun Development area affects their sustainability, and if suitable habitat in surrounding areas is lost or degraded, their conservation value will be compromised. There is a need to ensure that Oak forests in the tourism zone around the archeological city of Jarash (a key tourism attraction) are protected. These forests comprise a natural extension of the forests of both PAs. Similarly, the Petra Region lies at the center of an ecosystem complex stretching from Dana Nature Reserve North of Petra, to the Jebel Mas’uda newly proposed protected area South of Petra. This area represents a critical link between highlands on the eastern side of the Jordan Rift Valley. In the case of the Dead Sea, tourism development has been confirmed as a cause to recent fragmentation and habitat loss of the remnant tamarisk woodland, the last breeding refuge for the Dead Sea Sparrow along the Dead Sea. This area must be restored and connected to similar habitat along the Jordan River in order to maintain the viability of the wildlife population, particularly the Dead Sea Sparrow. Interventions planned under component 2 will be specifically geared towards addressing these specific pressing conservation needs.
Component 3. Strengthened ecological and financial viability of PAs to address emerging threats from tourism. This component will enhance visitor management capabilities in PAs within the tourism regions/zones through training and the construction of visitor infrastructure (including interpretation centres and trails etc). Rangers will be trained to better manage visitors—acquiring the necesssary skill set. This component will also strengthen the protected areas and tourism regions/zones financing system through the development of business plans for PAs around tourism regions/zones promoting the development of ecotourism and NBT in the PAs and in the ecological corridors between the PAs and surrounding tourism regions/zones. The protected areas financing system will be strengthened through adapting the gate and concession fees, collection and fee management system, and fiduciary management controls. The aim is to channel the additional financial resources generated from ecotourism and NBT into biodiversity conservation with a view to improving the financial sustainability of the targeted protected areas.
The global environmental benefits of this project derive from the fact that the project is addressing the direct and indirect threats of globally significant biodiversity caused by the current and future growth of tourism. The project will seek to address habitat fragmentation in the Rift valley, where tourism is concentrated, by influencing the placement of infrastructure, and internalizing the requirement habitat conservation measures in development. By maintaining and restoring corridors, the initiative will improve the conservation status of species that require larger ranges, such as Blanford’s fox, the striped hyena and the grey wolf. The project will also address habitat disturbance linked to high visitors numbers in sensitive sites and protected areas; this is designed to enhance the conservation status of species such as the Dead Sea Sparrow, Bonelli's Eagle and the Short-toed Eagle. By promoting environmentally-friendly regulations and guidelines in the tourism sector the project will also contribute to the reduction of solid wastes and wastewater discharges and will reduce extensive abstraction of water thus reducing the risks of forest fires, loss of the water balance of fragile ecosystems and other disturbance of the ecologically-sensitive sites. The project will engage the local population in sustainable tourism activities and thus avoid encroachment on the natural resources in sensitive areas and intensive resource use to support their livelihood needs and will thus reduce the indirect impact of tourism on biodiversity due to unsustainable local economic activities.

B.3. Describe the socioeconomic benefits to be delivered by the Project at the national and local levels, including consideration of gender dimensions, and how these will support the achievement of global environment benefits.

This project is being developed at an opportune moment—in conjunction with the implementation of the National Tourism Strategy and a Government drive to increase the economic share of tourism in the economy. A key socioeconomic outcome of the project is the expansion of tourism options and the optimization of competitiveness of the tourism sector as a whole. With the project’s support, the share of ecotourism and NBT is expected to grow from 7% in 2010 to at least 10% in 2015, which will lead to double the number of these tourists from the current 500,000 to around 1 million, given that the total number of tourists will increase from 7 million visitors in 2010 to 9.4 million visitors in 2015. Ecotourism and NBT investments will be based on sound economic, social and ecological feasibility assessments as well as on a modern and strong legal and institutional set up which will allow the private sector to engage in this type of investment programme. The project will also allow a reduction in poverty rates in the tourism regions/zones and around protected areas through its reinvestment schemes geared towards community tourism and conservation initiatives. The current share of employment of the local population in the tourism industry remains very limited and does not contribute to the local economy; in the Petra region for example only 6% of the population is employed in the tourism industry; while in Ajloun, this rate drops to 2.4%. The project will increase employment rates and will allow the diversification of employment from a current trend based on hotels and restaurants as the main providers of jobs (36% and 41% respectively at national level); to more innovative and sustainable investments (this aspect will be specifically addressed 1. in the promotion of ecotourism and nature based tourism and 2. in the design of work under components 2 and 3 respectively—which could include for instance labour intensive ecosystem restoration work schemes). This project will particularly focus on engendering the active participation of women in these efforts through collaboration with community-based women’s associations, aiming to reduce the rates of women’s unemployment in the tourism regions/zones to reach the national standard of 25% (as an example, the unemployment rate of women in the Petra region is 60%). The project will also strengthen the financing system of protected areas and tourism regions/zones and will allow channeling additional financial resources generated from ecotourism and NBT into biodiversity conservation.

The project will influence the policies and investments of several Government agencies and parastatal institutions responsible for tourism sector development and land use management, including PA estate management. Moreover, the project will transform the investment practices of private sector investors. Collectively, the planned interventions will ensure that tourism development is avoided in the most biodiversity sensitive areas, and that impacts are reduced, mitigated and offset as necessary elsewhere, thus reducing pressures on biodiversity. This will change the development trajectory of the tourism sector—ensuring the compatibility of production practices with biodiversity management into the future. The participating institutions have confirmed their commitment and the availability of funding, to sustain the new management measures that will be put in place under the project—and which render mainstreaming sustainable over the longer term. The project has made necessary provisions for ensuring the adoption and implementation of the regulatory / enforcement framework and the incentive system for biodiversity mainstreaming, by strengthening the capacities of institutions vested with the responsibility for implementation (noting that responsibilities for licensing tourism development are shared by the national government and tourism authorities). The project strategy has anchored the policy and regulatory reform process in MoTA – which is responsible for tourism planning and marketing and licensing major developments. The project will specifically enhance the capabilities of this Ministry, to take biodiversity management needs into account in development planning, business licensing and marketing. However, measures are also proposed to strengthen the capacity of the tourism authorities (tourism development regions/zones) which have been empowered with financial and administrative autonomy for land use planning and management, and which must also approve physical development plans. Such a two pronged approach is critical to ensure effective implementation of the mainstreaming framework at the landscape level. Moreover, the project takes specific measures to strengthen management—on the ground – of protected areas facing pressures from mass tourism. In this regard, the project seeks to reduce these pressures, with a view to enhancing conservation status. Financial sustainability will be sought by tapping into tourism as a vehicle for PA funding applying the principle of user pays. This financing opportunity is best tapped and sustained through a comprehensive sector wide approach as proposed herein. Funding has been allocated to ensure the implementation of regional land use planning and tourism management measures (amounting to US$ 10 million per year—beyond the life time of the project). The total recurrent costs needed to sustain the incremental mainstreaming framework to be operationalized through the project is estimated to be in the range of US$ 1.5- 2 million per annum, once the one time set up costs have been underwritten. These costs are well within the absorptive capacity of the Government and will be financed from budgetary appropriations.

B.4 Indicate risks, including climate change risks that might prevent the project objectives from being achieved, and if possible, propose measures that address these risks to be further developed during the project design:




Political support to adopt and implement environmental regulations for tourism development, rather than allowing economic development to proceed without necessary environmental guidelines in place


Jordan has set ambitious tourism growth targets which can only be met if the tourism sector remains competitive, which in turn requires greater sustainability. This is also applicable for the tourism development regions/zones. The project will mitigate the risk of insufficient political support through the promotion of a policy dialogue which will allow all concerned partners, including policy makers, community-members, and the private sector to capture in a technical and hands-on approach the benefits of balanced economic development and biodiversity conservation.

Political unrest in the region negatively affects the tourism development in Jordan


Jordan has embarked on a tourism strategy building upon its national heritage and diversity and disconnecting its tourist packages from the regional tourism market. Moreover, the stable political situation in Jordan will allow mobilization of regional tourists (a growing segment of the market) who would have otherwise visited other countries in the region. As an example, in 2011, and despite regional unrest, Petra has still emerged as one of the top 25 worldwide destinations, with its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Private sector is not willing to invest in biodiversity friendly tourism services and products


The risk mitigation strategy of the project includes the following: (i) Increased regulations and surveillance -related to the certification and standards; (ii)Clear business plans and valuation which will confirm the economic feasibility of the BD friendly tourism products and services and will make them attractive (iii) complementing regulatory measures (the stick) with voluntary measures (code of practice and certification system) to recognize good corporate citizenship. This will be linked into national tourism marketing campaigns, to gain visibility. Finally the project supports the development of financial incentives to promote good performance.

Risk that long-term changes in climate will exacerbate or present additional and unforeseen challenges for biodiversity conservation in Jordan as a whole


The objective of the project is to support biodiversity conservation efforts and alleviate current and future threats and pressure, including those presented by climate change. There is already evidence of the negative impact of sustained drought in Jordan on biodiversity, and this project will directly contribute to alleviate climate change impact, as the activities under the project are climate resilient and the project complements related initiatives addressing climate change impacts.

B.5. Identify key stakeholders involved in the project including the private sector, civil society organizations, local and indigenous communities, and their respective roles, as applicable:

Several key institutions are directly involved in the design and execution of this project. These include the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA), which has the overall responsibility in Jordan for ensuring the conservation of historic cultural sites and for supporting the tourism industry, at policy planning and implementation level; the Authorities in charge of tourism development in Petra, Ajloun and Dead Sea regions/zones; and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which is officially mandated with the responsibility for protected area management in Jordan. Other key stakeholders include the Ministry of Environment (MoE), which is the Operational Focal Point for the Convention of Biodiversity and is the key institution responsible for environmental regulation and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC), which is responsible for planning and coordinating all national and internationally supported development activities in Jordan. Other key stakeholders involved in the project are the representatives of the private sector in the tourism industry such as the Hotels Association, tour operators and guides syndicates. The local stakeholders in the tourism zones/regions will also be clearly identified during PPG implementation and closely involved in the project development and implementation. The project will also closely cooperate with key donors involved in the tourism sector and ecotourism development, specifically USAID.

B.6. Outline the coordination with other related initiatives:



Coordination with project

UNDP/GEF “Mainstreaming conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) into key productive sectors along the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway”

The aim of this regional project is to mainstream BD considerations into the production sectors along the flyway that pose the greatest risk to the safe migration of these birds-principally hunting, energy, agriculture and waste management-while promoting activities in sectors which could benefit from these birds, such as ecotourism in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen. Total GEF funding is $ 6.7 million.

Jordan has selected hunting as the sector which poses the greatest threat on MSB and will therefore address hunting under the fly way project. This threat is accordingly not addressed under the tourism BD mainstreaming project.

World Bank-GEF “Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Jordan Rift Valley”

The project’s goal is to secure the ecological integrity of the Jordan Rift Valley as a globally important corridor. The project development objective is to mainstream integrated ecosystem management practices in the Jordan Rift Valley pilot areas. Total GEF funding is $ 6.15 million.

The project’s objectives are complementary to the project proposed as it addresses land-use planning and Integrated Ecosystem Management for biodiversity conservation. The proposed project will draw upon lessons and good practices already identified to inform policy and legal processes for mainstreaming biodiversity in the tourism sector more specifically, targeting the Tourism authorities.

UNDP GEF “Mainstreaming marine biodiversity conservation into coastal zone management in Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ)”

This project aims to conserve the unique marine biodiversity in Jordan and ensure the long-term survival of the coral reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba as well as promote equitable sharing of the benefits of the ecosystem services they provide. This will be achieved by mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in the planning process of ASEZ, and its economic sectors, notably tourism. GEF funding is $1million.

Given that the ASEZ Authority has been established long before the other authorities of the tourism regions/zones, many lessons and good practices can be drawn from the ASEZ experience, despite differences in their activities. The proposed project will ensure close coordination and exchange of information with the ASEZ project, which can be easily facilitated since UNDP is the GEF agency for both projects, specifically with regards to policy and regulatory process for ecotourism and NBT.

C. describe the GEF agency’s comparative advantage to implement this project:

C.1 Indicate the co-financing amount the GEF agency is bringing to the project:
UNDP-Jordan will commit $1,000,000 as co finance to this initiative. The project will also benefit from UNDP support to the government of Jordan’s plans to promote decentralization (which will improve regional accountability). The project will also benefit from UNDP support for the roll out of a national and sub national tax and procurement system. Finally, the project will also benefit from UNDP’s leading role in supporting the Government to examine the role of Micro, Small, or Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the Jordan’s Human Development Report and UNDP’s support to the Entrepreneurial Capacity Building Programme (Empretec).

C.2 How does the project fit into the GEF agency’s program (reflected in documents such as UNDAF, CAS, etc.) and staff capacity in the country to follow up project implementation:
UNDP-Jordan is a key player in the arena of environmental management and biodiversity conservation in Jordan and has a long history in responding to Jordan’s evolving national priorities for biodiversity conservation. This project is also in line with UNDP’s four strategic pillars: poverty alleviation, good governance, climate change and environment, and disaster management which are described in the Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) for 2008-2012 (the active programming cycle). The UNDP Country Office in Jorda9n will ensure rigorous supervision and project implementation of this project through the support of its permanent 12 staff-members programme unit successfully managing a portfolio of technical assistance and capacity building initiatives in the areas of biodiversity conservation, prevention of land degradation, and climate change in addition to the support from operations and senior management. This team is also supported by UNDP/GEF Regional Coordination Unit composed of 14 technical advisers and support staff.
This project will also benefit from UNDP’s global efforts in the field of sustainable tourism. UNDP believes that tourism can play an important role in raising levels of human development and achieving sustainable poverty reduction outcomes. Tourism development inevitably concerns issues that extend far beyond the boundaries of the sector and reach into cross-sectoral linkages, such as in food value chains, biodiversity conservation and the cultural industry. This wider perspective is required if tourism development is to make positive impacts on poverty reduction. Properly shaped, tourism can generate opportunities for growth, poverty reduction, and incentives for environmental protection. In partnership with UN agencies and other organizations, UNDP has been implementing pro-poor interventions in support of the tourism sector under its poverty reduction, private sector and environment programmes. UNDP’s Ecosystems and Biodiversity programme is currently implementing 57 projects in 48 countries that work with the tourism sector. These projects are strengthening the capacity of countries around the world to develop sustainable tourism ventures, and to manage the adverse effects that tourism may have on the environment if unregulated. Projects have made important strides in creating enabling environments for sustainable eco-tourism; developing certification standards for tourism and its related products; and partnering with the private sector, local organizations and others to create jobs for poor communities. Countries with these tourism-focused projects include in the Arab region include Morocco and Egypt and will allow regional specificities to captured by the proposed project in Jordan and to exchange lessons and good practices.

part iii: approval/endorsement by gef operational focal point(s) and GEF AGENCY (ies)

A. Record of Endorsement of GEF Operational Focal Point (S) on Behalf of the Government(S): (Please attach the Operational Focal Point endorsement letter(s) with this template).





Saleh Al-Kharabsheh

GEF Operational Focal Point/ Secretary General

Ministry of planning and international cooperation


B. GEF AGENCY (ies) Certification

This request has been prepared in accordance with GEF/LDCF/SCCF policies and procedures and meets the GEF/LDCF/SCCF criteria for project identification and preparation.

Agency Coordinator, Agency name




Project Contact Person


Email Address

Yannick Glemarec, UNDP/GEF Executive Coordinator

September 15, 2011

Mirey Atallah, EBD

+421 2 59337262

Annex 1: Tourism Regions/ Zones in Jordan



1 The country has availed of the flexibility provided under the GEF V STAR policy—allocating funds from multiple focal areas towards a single focal area outcome (biodiversity)

2 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Nature-based tourism may be defined as “Tourism that relies primarily on the natural environment for its attractions or settings.. From Building Biodiversity Business. Shell/IUCN. 2008.

3 MoTA will continue to issue licenses outside the Tourism regions/ zones.

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