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Major Responsible Competitiveness Oportunities await Jordan, Report Finds

Amman, Jordan – Today His Excellency Samir Rifai, the Prime Minister of Jordan, hosted a launch event for a new report analysing Jordan’s potential to enhance responsible competitiveness strategies in three key sectors. ‘Responsible Competitiveness in Jordan: Strategies for the banking, insurance and meat processing sectors’ assesses how competitiveness can be enhanced from responsible business practices.

“Responsible competitiveness is about building sector competitiveness from a social, economic and environmental perspective that is comprehensive and participatory, and it is based on the development of skills, services, innovation and a responsible business climate in every sector. Through this participatory process and the combined efforts of these [government, business and civil society] parties, the positive results of sustainable development will be clearly reflected on our communities and environment. This, in turn, provides great benefits to the companies themselves, increasing their prosperity and expanding their economic activities.”
His Excellency Dr. Jafar Hassan, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation

The report includes forewords by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Her Excellency Suhair Al-Ali, Former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, and was released alongside Jordan’s annual ‘National Competitiveness Report 2008-2009’. The report is the culmination of a one year research process conducted by AccountAbility and Sustainability Excellence.

‘Responsible Competitiveness in Jordan’ is the first such study in the region building upon the Arab Responsible Competitiveness Index launched in May 2009 at the World Economic Forum. Jordan is one of the first countries in the world to have conducted a Responsible Competitiveness study focused on significant national sectors. This demonstrates Jordan’s commitment to the innovative and sustainable development of its economy, while taking a lead in addressing global challenges.

“Responsible competitiveness is about the way public policies, business action and social enablers all contribute to building markets that are responsive to, and benefit from, improved sustainability performance. The use of international benchmarking in this report illustrates Jordan’s progress to date and identifies the action that leaders can take in the future.” Alex MacGillivray, Director, AccountAbility

Analysis of other nations’ competitiveness strategies has found that most countries that adopt responsible and sustainable business strategies can gain US$1,000 GDP per capita for every one point gained in their Responsible Competitiveness Index score. Jordan scored 60 out of a possible 100 in the 2009 ranking, therefore implementing the sector specific recommendations found in this report, would result in a major boost to the economy.

“The report aims to demonstrate how these sectors can increase their competitiveness while actively addressing priority national economic, environmental and social issues.” Darin Rovere, President, Sustainability Excellence

The report assesses the performance of each sector according to the responsible competitiveness framework established around the seven drivers of responsible competitiveness: Responsible Business Climate; Smart Philanthropy; Attracting and Developing Talent; Business Standards and Compliance; Responsible Supply Chains; Product and Service Innovation; and Responsible Communications. Using these indicators, companies in Jordan have been benchmarked against performance in OECD countries to illustrate the range of opportunities for Jordan to be able to set a new standard for future development.

The findings in the report highlight common conclusions for increasing competitiveness across the sectors. In particular:

  • Disclosure and transparency is a critical component to building trust and accountability.
  • Adherence to various voluntary standards – such as the Equator Principles for banks, the principles of UNEP’s Insurance Working Group, and ISO 14001 for meat processors, help attract international customers and improve access to regional and international markets.
  • Increasing engagement with a wider range of stakeholders, including consumers, NGOs and business associations, can lead to product and service innovations.
  • Specific recommendations have been put forward for business, government and regulators, and civil society for each sector.

    Recommendations for the banking sector include:

  • Integration of environmental and social risks into lending criteria i.e. signing up to the voluntary standards such as the Equator Principles;
  • Sustainability reporting by each bank, including public reporting on economic, social and environmental performance;
  • Sustainability related product and service innovation, such as micro-finance for lower income groups, and green mortgages.
  • Insurance sector recommendations:

  • Allow tiered-pricing of insurance that incentivises and rewards responsible actions of Jordanians;
  • Focus on product and service innovation to address 2-3 major national sustainability issues, i.e. lower income groups, energy and water consumption;
  • Greater efforts towards smart philanthropy – resulting in greater stakeholder engagement and a better understanding of underserved markets.
  • Meat sector recommendations:

  • Improve environmental performance (reduce water/energy consumption and waste production) through improved resource management. Focus on innovations that reduce and promote reductions in carbon impacts (since product mix will increasingly include an assessment of carbon footprint);
  • Ensure increased awareness of the supply chain, to identify opportunities to add economic and social value to the product while reducing environmental impacts throughout the value chain – from farm level, to transport, to processing, to packaging and marketing;
  • Increase product innovation through offering healthier and organic products, and collaborate on consumer awareness of the benefits.
  • The ‘Responsible Competitiveness in Jordan’ initiative is the result of a partnership between the global not-for-profit think tank AccountAbility, Jordanian consultancy Sustainability Excellence, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and Jordan’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC). The report is available for download at www.responsiblecompetitiveness.org.