Introduction (also available in Arabic)

Since its establishment, CSBE has been intimately concerned with issues relating to the built environment and to urban living. A major topic that CSBE has attempted to deal with is the challenges posed by Jordan's condition as a resource-starved country. CSBE has had the chance to work in different parts of Jordan on both environmental and urban projects. Through these projects, we have built up an interesting archive of knowledge that offers practical solutions to making our homes and cities more sustainable, particularly in their consumption of water and energy. The need for such knowledge in Jordan is dire considering the overwhelming and continuous rise in the country's energy bills; how renewable energy sources, particularly the sun, continue to be left untapped; and considering the abuse to which we continue to subject our natural resources. We are in need of an "Arab Environmental Spring" that would effectively transform our daily living practices.

This series of essays, which takes on the heading Moustadam (the Arabic term for "Sustainable"), is a continuation of CSBE's efforts relating to issues of sustainable urban living. It aims at spreading information about some of the latest sustainable initiatives taking place around the world, and at helping explain practical approaches that may lead towards greener, more sustainable modes of living.

Luckily, we in Jordan are aware of the challenges we face, but we still have made very little progress in terms of identifying - let alone implementing - possible solutions. We read every now and then about possible amendments to existing regulations that would allow people to produce electricity in their homes.  We read about a possible installation of wind turbines in Aqaba to produce electricity, or about a sizable project aimed at lighting up the city of Tafileh through solar energy. These however remain isolated initiatives that need to be part of a clearly-thought-out sustainability master plan.

I therefore will try to introduce though these essays ideas about changes we can make to our existing daily living practices that may make them more sustainable. I also hope that these essays will encourage readers to share with us their insights and experiences about the subject. We have made a big mess in terms of how we have used (or, more accurately, misused) our natural resources, but this doesn’t mean that we cannot find ways to change things for the better.  We need to figure out a way to move forward.

Through my personal experiences, I have had the chance to work on issues relating to urban planning and management in two Jordanian cities, Amman and Aqaba. Through these experiences, I have come to the clear conclusion that we simply cannot go on living as we do. Jordan's population continues to increase, and the services that the city needs to provide to its residents have to keep up with this population increase. Our infrastructure systems need continuous maintenance and upgrading. All these are serious challenges that are becoming increasingly difficult to meet.

In addition to my experiences in Jordan, my travels have taken me to four of the world's seven continents. These travels have given me the opportunity to investigate how a sizable part of the world's population is living. I have seen development and underdevelopment; I have experienced "clean" cities and polluted ones; I have been in congested, high-density, as well as sprawling cities; and I have been able to walk comfortably in some cities, but could not move in others without a car. As often is the case, my travels have provided me with a deeper understanding of the cities in which I have lived.

Through the upcoming essays of Moustadam, I will take a good look at the mess in which we have put ourselves. I will try to identify what went wrong and when things started going wrong. From there, I will move to identifying the consequences of our living patterns and also to suggesting solutions to our predicaments. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it.


About the Author:

Nourhan Al Kurdi: is an architect who has been a Research Associate at CSBE since 2011, and had served as a Research and Coordination Officer at CSBE in 2002. She studied architecture at the Jordan University of Science and Technology and the University of Jordan, and holds an MBA from the École Supérieure des Affaires (ESA) / ESCP – EAP in Beirut. Her experience has been in architecture, management, planning, social development, and overseeing public-private partnerships in Amman and in Aqaba. More recently, she has been concentrating on issues relating to sustainability, green buildings, and sustainable cities. She has obtained a Renewable Energy Professional (REP) certificate from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and a certificate in Sustainability Management from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and also is a LEED Green Associate. In December 2012, she started writing a series of essays under the heading of Moustadam. These essays, which appear on the CSBE website, address the subject of sustainability in Jordan and the Middle East.


Table of Contents:

Moustadam #10: An Illusive Spark of Energy: Natural Gas Fracking (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #9: Political Planning for Change (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #8: Planning for Change (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #7: Stereotyping Sustainability (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #6: Beyond Green Buildings (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #5: Who Owns the Clouds? (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #4: Understanding Carbon Markets (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #3: The Rising Renewables (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #2: Rethinking Urbanism (also available in Arabic)
Moustadam #1: Moustadam - Sustainable (also available in Arabic)