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Costa and Sahara Forest Project join forces for sustainable farming in Jordan

Costa Diadema, one of four ships Costa Cruises ships calling in Aqaba in the coming 14 months
Costa Group, through its Costa Crociere Foundation, has joined forces with the Sahara Forest Project Foundation to enlarge the scope of the innovative initiative to revegetate the desert in Jordan with sustainable technologies.

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

Royal patronage

The mission of the Sahara Forest Project - inaugurated under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan and HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in September 2017 - 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.

The support from Costa Group - through its two brands Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises - will allow to scale-up the project to 20 hectares of commercial facility.

Guests cruising on Costa and AIDA ships calling at Aqaba will have the unique chance to taste at least ten different vegetables produced by using solar power and saltwater in the Jordan desert, through special recipes created by the brand’s executive chefs.

Combating global warming

‘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 of the Sahara Forest Project.

Thamm commented, ‘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,' he added.

Currently, the Sahara Forest Project operates 3 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 financing and supporting the unique 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, bringing more than 45,000 guests.