International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Gulf of Aqaba Environmental Action Plan

The Red Sea, which contains globally unique ecosystems and biodiversity, is threatened with serious degradation as a result of pollution, physical destruction and unsustainable exploitation of marine and coastal natural resources. The primary environmental "hot spot" of the region, the Gulf of Aqaba, is threatened by significant recent and planned developments that are leading to transboundary degradation of Red Sea ecosystems. As a result of its semi-enclosed nature, the Gulf of Aqaba is particularly susceptible to marine pollution and ecosystem degradation. Development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy and plan for environmental protection of the entire Red Sea will require a considerable gestation period. A framework for collaboration and cooperation among the littoral nations must be established, one which would demonstrate its replicability for integrated management and development of Red Sea natural resources appropriate for the region.

Links with Regional Strategic Work.

The proposed project would address priority threats to the international waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and Red Sea in a comprehensive manner. It would facilitate development of an approach to halt and prevent marine pollution, and protect globally important coral reefs throughout the Red Sea area. As the primary "hot spot" activity it represents, this project is being prepared in parallel to the recently GEF-approved Strategic Action Programme for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Region, which supports the Programme on the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA). The proposed project would also contribute to operationalsing the Regional Convention for the Conservation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden Environment (Jeddah Convention). The project complements ongoing and planned GEF projects which address broad development impacts on the Red Sea.

These include:

  • (a) Egypt Red Sea Coastal Zone Management, focusing primarily on tourism impacts; and
  • (b) Yemen Marine Ecosystem Protection, targeted primarily at environmental monitoring and mitigation of oil-based pollution activities.

Other current efforts designed to facilitate regional environmental cooperation between Red Sea littoral states at a policy level include United Nations Environmental Protection Agency's (UNEP) ongoing Regional Seas Programme and the recent signing by Jordan of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78). In addition, coordination with the Bank's program in the region - including the Egypt Private Sector Tourism Project, the proposed Jordan Second Tourism Project, the proposed Jordan Aqaba Thermal Power II Project, and the Rift Valley exercise -is ongoing. The proposed Aqaba program would provide an important sub-regional activity and an essential complement to ongoing activities, catalysing the development of a more comprehensive and coherent system of resources management and ecosystem protection for the entire Red Sea region. National and Regional Actions in the Gulf.

In November 1991, the Jordanian Government requested that a proposal for a regional Gulf of Aqaba Environmental Action Plan be submitted to the GEF participants. The Jordanian Government asked the Bank to facilitate the preparation of the proposed Aqaba program. Subsequently, a World Bank mission assisted the Government in preparing a framework for an environmental action plan for the Jordanian portion of the Gulf of Aqaba. In May 1992, the Government of Jordan (GOJ) presented the framework for a proposed Environmental Action Plan to the Multilateral Working Group on Environment of the Middle East Peace Process (WGE), in Tokyo. In October 1993, the Government of Jordan, with GEF and World Bank assistance, prepared the "Gulf of Aqaba Environmental Action Plan, Jordan" (GAEAP). The Plan was presented at the 4th meeting of the WGE in Cairo, in November 1993.

The project has been upgraded to satisfactory status following good progress on the agreed action plan. Project implementation is now satisfactory. Mainstreaming with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) has been positive thus far. Coordination with GTZ and USAID continues. The project has been extended a second time to 12/31/01.

Land-Based Sources/Coastal Zone

Red Sea (LME)

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Documents & Resources
General information
IBRD ID 5237
Project type Full-Size Project
Status closed (Project Closure)
Start Date 13 Jun 1996
End Date 30 Jun 2002
GEF characteristic:
Focal Area International Waters
GEF Allocation to project USD 2,700,000
Total Cost of the project: USD 12,672,500
YES - See results data (72)

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (WB)

Project contacts
Bilal Al Bashir Project Manager
Nicole Glineur Senior Environmental Specialist/Task Team Leader