Businesses employ design thinking to expand economic opportunities for Syrian refugees and Jordanian communities hosting them

Jan 28, 2018

Amman – Representatives from the Jordanian and global private sector, government, civil society and international organizations convened today in the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, in the Dead Sea to explore and develop new business solutions to create jobs and enhance economic prospects for Syrian refugees and communities hosting them across the Kingdom.

The 2-day (28-29 January 2018) consultation employs innovative group collaboration techniques of “design thinking” to engage entrepreneurs, people involved in skill-building, livelihoods, and economic development in discovering breakthrough solutions that will generate jobs for refugees and host communities, in order to mitigate severe impact of the Syrian crisis –now in its seventh year—on the economy in Jordan.

The event is being convened under the Patronage of HE, Mr. HE Ali Alghezawi, Minister of Labor, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The stakeholder consultation is organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Microsoft. The consultation builds upon the recommendations made in the Jobs Make the Difference: Expanding Economic Opportunities for Syrian Refugees and Host Communities assessment, published in 2017. The report was prepared as a partnership between the donor partners of the Regional Development and Protection Programme for the Middle East, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The Human-Centred Design Thinking Approach is a proven innovation process developed by Stanford University. According to Dr. Samuel Rizk, the Manager of the UNDP Sub-Regional Response Facility, ‘this national consultation is another milestone in advancing the resilience agenda in the sub-region, and one in a series of curtain-raisers before the European Union convenes the global community in responding to the Syrian crisis, emphasizing the importance of expanding the eco-system of economic opportunities for refuges and host communities.”

In his opening address, Mr. Anders Pedersen, the United Nations Coordinator set the tone for consultation, reinforcing the multi-stakeholder process and the centrality of the private sector. “While all of us have an important role to play in achieving the goal of creating decent jobs in response to the crisis, this consultation is an opportunity to highlight the crucial role played by the private sector and jointly reflect on what is working and what is not. We need the support, investment, and partnership with the private sector, to be able to create the decent jobs and economic opportunities for Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians as well.”

"In view of the upcoming Brussels conference, it is of paramount importance of bringing all actors together and evaluate our achievements before we start building on them. The consultation is an excellent opportunity to look back at the objectives we set, assess their performance and sustainability, and create more synergies. But above all, in our discussions we should keep in mind that the impact of our actions should not be measured by mere numbers; it should be about people, and our ability to create opportunities and hope for the future," underlined H.E. Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to Jordan.

On its first day of this highly interactive consultation, representatives of UN Agencies, businesses, international donors, including the European Union, and the Jordanian government made a series of presentations and engaged in panel discussions to take stock and define current challenges, opportunities and responses to expanding economic opportunities. The second day engages participants in brainstorming, prototyping and developing breakthrough solutions and an implementation plan that will generate jobs and support a robust economy in the region.

As the Syria crisis will soon enter its eighth year, new solutions are needed to stimulate the business climate and create jobs in Syria and affected neighbouring countries. Given the complexity of the situation, there are many challenges and uncertainties requiring expanded partnership and catalytic investments in knowledge, capacities and resources to generate business growth, attract investment, and create jobs.

“As a global corporate citizen, we’ve made a long-term commitment to working with government agencies, nonprofits and other private sector companies to provide aid to all those affected by humanitarian crises and natural disasters, and help them lead better lives,” said Ghada Khalifa, Director, Microsoft Philanthropies, Microsoft Middle East and Africa. “As the number of people displaced by conflicts has grown, we have expanded our efforts to increasingly help more refugees. This is a critical component of our goal to empower and support all people on the planet to achieve more.”

Contact information

Jason Pronyk: jason.pronyk@undp.org

Phone number: +962(6)2003187

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