Costa and Sahara Forest Project: Sustainable Farming in the Desert of Jordan

Costa Group, through its Costa Crociere Foundation, has joined forces with the Sahara Forest Project Foundation to enlarge the scope of the initiative to revegetate the desert in Jordan with sustainable technologies, according to a press release.

The agreement was signed today by Lars Myren, Chairman of the Sahara Forest Project Foundation, and Michael Thamm, Group CEO Costa Group and Carnival Asia. The signing happened onboard the sailing ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl at Arendalsuka.

The mission of the Sahara Forest Project is to green desert areas and create local green jobs through production of food, freshwater and clean energy, using saltwater and sunlight as the main input factors, according to a press release. 

The support from Costa Group, through its two brands Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises, will allow the project to scale-up to 20 hectares of commercial facility, realizing the potential where every vegetable produced will suck out CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in revegetated land, according to a press release. 

Guests cruising on Costa and AIDA ships calling at Aqaba will have the unique chance to taste at least ten different environmentally friendly vegetables produced by using solar power and saltwater in the Jordan desert, through special recipes created by the executive chefs of the two cruise companies to emphasize their taste and quality.

“The new long-term agreement for the supply of vegetables to Costa and AIDA ships will pave the way for an expansion of our project in Jordan, while raising international awareness for the need to scale-up innovative solutions to combat global warming and create local jobs in desert areas,” said Myren. “In 2050 there will be almost 10 billion people on the planet who will need sustainably produced food, freshwater and clean energy. It is urgent to prove that it is possible to shift away from current agricultural practices traditionally using 80 percent of scarce freshwater resources and contributing with 25 percent of CO2 emissions in many dry countries and scale up concepts that are good for the environment, social development and business.”

“We are proud to support this path-breaking project that represents a model for future sustainable farming in desert areas,” added Thamm “By supporting the Sahara Forest Project, we serve our guests vegetables grown in a way that fights the spread of deserts and creates a sound livelihood for the local population, in line with our sustainable development strategy and our concrete commitment to creating a greener planet. Costa Group is leading the cruise industry when it comes to sustainability, as demonstrated by the introduction of the first ever LNG powered cruise ship earlier this year and by the significant investments in shore power and innovative technologies for a zero-emission future”.

Currently, the Sahara Forest Project operates a three hectares-commercial size facility 12 kilometers north of the port of Aqaba, combining saltwater-cooled greenhouses, solar energy panels and different techniques for outdoor revegetation in dry areas. The governments of Jordan and Norway, the European Union Commission and USAID have been crucial in financing and supporting the facility.

From October 2019 to October 2020, four Costa ships (Costa Mediterranea, Costa Victoria, Costa Diadema and Costa Deliziosa) and four AIDA ships (AIDAvita, AIDAbella, AIDAprima and AIDAblu) will be visiting Aqaba, for a total of 20 calls.

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