Middle East
19 Jun 2013

New Chairman for BirdLife International

By Martin Fowlie

BirdLife’s incoming Chairman Khaled Anis Irani is President of The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN, BirdLife Partner in Jordan). He brings a wealth of experience, both from his time at RSCN, and from his work as one of his country’s most dynamic and influential politicians. Most recently, he served in Jordan’s Government, first as Minister of Environment, then as Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources. Between 1996 and 2005, he was Director General of RSCN, which has a royal charter to safeguard the Kingdom of Jordan’s natural heritage and an agreement with the Ministry of the Environment to manage Jordan’s Protected Area system. He took the lead in setting up four nature reserves covering more than 1.5% of the total area of Jordan, and played a key role in the preparation of the national biodiversity strategy and action plan. While Director General of RSCN, he was able to draw upon his experience as Manager of Jordan’s Protected Areas Department. He was instrumental in the development of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) proposal which enabled RSCN to establish the Dana Wildlife Reserve (an Important Bird Area) as a Protected Area. Dana is regarded as a model project that integrates conservation with socio-economic development, and has won five international awards. He contributed to the development of a regional training and capacity building programme, working with the main environmental institutions of the Arab region, and led the establishment of an endowment fund for nature conservation. As Minister of the Environment, he developed the institutional capacity of his Ministry, and took a lead in improving and introducing environmental laws, and preparing the national environmental strategy. He set up the Royal Environmental Enforcement Agency, the environmental enforcement arm of the country. He mobilised donor funds to support work for the environment, created links with the private sector, and raised the profile of environmental conservation throughout Jordan. He also managed to phase out lead in fuel. While Energy Minister, he steered the adoption of the renewable energy and energy efficiency law, and the development of the renewable energy transaction policy that allows investors to participate in large renewable energy projects. On leaving the Government, he founded e2e, a company providing environmental and clean energy solutions to the region. Khaled Irani has Masters degrees in National Parks Management and Tourism (New Mexico University) and Arid Land Use (Jordan University), and a B.Sc. Degree in Soils (Jordan University).