IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature called for developing an institutional model for the environmental Waqf (trust fund) using a modern methodology through a consultation session on the New Vision on Waqf for Environment and Sustainable Development, which was organized by IUCN Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA) under the patronage of Minister of Environment HE Eng. Khaled Al Irani and the Chief Islamic Justice Dr. Ahmed Helayel in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Environment and the Jordanian Society for Desertification Control and Badia Development.
IUCN presented its proposed model on Waqf for Sustainable Development illustrating methods of investment in Waqf funds for developmental purposes taking into account the overall sustainability of such projects, and thus ensuring the growth of returns from these projects to the beneficiaries.
“Islamic Waqf is not only limited to mosques, it is a holistic Waqf that includes everything that contributes to the development of human wellbeing. It is also a gateway for outstanding generosity that helps in creating healthy environments,” said Chief Islamic Justice Dr. Ahmed Helayel. He also mentioned the instructions that the Holy Quran and Sunnah called upon, emphasizing the importance of conserving the environment and condemns the misuse of nature and environment in all aspects.
“Environment has now become one of the most critical issues in our world; it is incorporated in the priorities sustainable development plans, therefore there is an urgent need to launch the Waqf for environment by calling for an Environmental Waqf Fund that supports and contributes to the enhancement of the environmental reality and creates an effective partnership with the Islamic institutions and harnessing their spiritual and practical impact on the society,” said Minister of Environment HE Eng. Khaled Al-Irani.
“In light of the global financial crisis and the decline of external funding sources for all sectors, especially the environmental sector, it is essential to develop the Waqf institution to serve the sustainable development projects, which requires innovative knowledge in the economical, financial and managerial domains,” said IUCN West Asia Regional Director Dr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi.
A case study on a Waqf project for cultivating palm trees in Jericho, Palestine was presented by Ms. Razan Zuayter, Chairperson of the Arab Group for Protection of Nature in Jordan. She called for capitalizing on this experience in the Arab region to fulfill the concept of food security through nature conservation.
In conclusion, the participants highlighted the importance of establishing the Waqf Fund in Jordan and following up on its institutionalization through a steering committee to handle the adoption of new ideas and contacting the decision makers. Participants also noted the necessity of integrating the modern environmental techniques such as renewable energy in developing and managing public Awqaf. They also emphasized on the role of media in spreading the awareness on environmental Waqf, particularly concerning charitable activities like planting trees and controlling environmental pollution.
Financial institutions, media, ministries, researchers from various Jordanian universities and a number of NGO’s such as Jordan Society for Sustainable Development (JSSD), Arab Group for Protection of Nature (APN) and Jordan River Foundation participated in the Waqf workshop.