From its dawn, it has been clear that 2018 will keep us on our toes. From political shifts to regional stability, we are all bracing ourselves for what the new year will bring to the world and the Middle East in particular. But with a new year also come 12 months of opportunity.
From 23-26 January over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organisations, civil society, academia, media and the arts, including His Majesty Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker descend upon the Swiss Alps to discuss solutions to some of world's most pressing challenges at the 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. This year's theme of "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World" seems extremely fitting to the current state of our world. It is also perfectly aligned with the European Union's Global Strategy priorities, which aims to create and build on stable partnerships – not only with countries, but also international actors, civil society, and the private sector. But above all, the value of a 'shared future' reflects what Jordan is aspiring to achieve in 2018.
This year the Middle East will remain at the centre of political debate. For the EU, 2018 will be about enhancing the region's resilience and stability. We will continue to work hard with our partners in order to promote a political solution to the Syrian conflict, while ensuring that countries that have borne the brunt of regional instability are given the tools to build on their strengths.
This is why Jordan is at the centre of our efforts. Its unique position, its empathy towards refugees from all over the region and its people's ability to endure and overcome obstacles, create the conditions for a shared future. However, we should not deny that regional fragmentation has had an impact on Jordan.
To face the fallout from such fragmentation we need to stay creative with our solutions. Every generation hopes and dreams that it will be better off than the previous one, both professionally and as a society as a whole. For many in Jordan, this aspiration is being put to the test.
To ensure that people in Jordan remain optimistic about the future, we need to work together to ensure economic growth is both sustainable and collectively shared. We need to put youth and women at the centre of our policies and programmes. This is why we are collaborating with the Jordanian government and other donors on three key issues:
First, quality education for all. Education is the fuel for innovation and it is the key to bridging the gap that prevents youth to realise their potential. This is why we are working closely with the government to ensure that anyone, may they be boy or girl, refugee or Jordanian gets access to both resources and ideas that will help them achieve their aspirations.
Second, the development of a competitive private sector. To re-launch its growth and create more jobs, Jordan will have to take advantage of its human capital, male and female, and leverage its geopolitical position. Jordan is an incredible pool of talent and it is thus important to have a system that ensures that companies can operate freely, engage the most talented women and men, invest in high added value sectors, and export to new markets. Our support to SMEs and the relaxation of trade rules with the EU aim at creating such foundations and promote an increase in our bilateral trade. In 2018, we also plan to reach out to more EU companies and link them with investment opportunities in Jordan.
Third, protecting Jordan's resources. In the coming years, we will be working with the government, local authorities, and the private sector to ensure that Jordan increases its energy independence, protects its scarce water supply, and manages its waste flow. This comes from a duty to protect our planet for future generations and a recognition that we are all at greater risk if our environment deteriorates.
All these plans may be disrupted by exogenous shocks. But to be innovative and resilient means to rely on the potential that lies in every single one of us. At the EU, we believe that we have the greatest influence when we partner with others. Shaping the future will require an unparalleled effort in co-design, co-creation and above all collaboration. Our partnership with Jordan is a prime example of such collaboration. This will hopefully make Jordan stronger in facing what the New Year has to bring.
H.E. Andrea Matteo Fontana is the Ambassador of the European Union to Jordan.