Dear Friends,

We are honored to present you with this description of another month filled with activities initiated by or involving EcoPeace: from a US Congress letter to President Trump, and a groundbreaking Israeli State Comptroller Report that confirmed many of our claims, to dozens of tours and presentations that brought EcoPeace’s work to the attention of key stakeholders and audiences worldwide.

To our Muslim readers – – RAMADAN KAREEM.

EcoPeace Middle East


US Congress letter to U.S. President Trump

US CongressFollowing up on EcoPeace’s congressional briefing earlier this year, U.S. Congress Members called on U.S. President Trump to move forward on water issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“In your effort to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians… we urge you to prioritize the issue of water,” the lawmakers wrote Trump in an official letter…. (click here for an article in the Jerusalem Post).

 

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Israel’s State Comptroller Report on Transboundary Water Issues

The Israeli State Comptroller’s report, published in May 2017, reveals the dire reality of present cross-border Israeli / Palestinian water שער דוח שנתי 67בissues. The report backs EcoPeace’s claims regarding policy failures and highlights the need to foster cooperation between Israeli and the Palestinian governments. The report calls for the formulation of a master plan of formulating an orderly government policy that assigns responsibility, leadership and coordination to one government body, in consultation with civil society organizations experienced in the field of environmental cooperation.

Click here for a link to the Executive Summary (EcoPeace’s non-official English translation), as well as our press release on the issue, and a subsequent Jerusalem Post article.

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POLICY WORKSHOP: Gaza 2020: Imagining another Future

INSSOn May 25th, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung convened an expert workshop on the future of aid, reconstruction and development in the Gaza Strip.  A decade after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the situation there is both urgent and critical, from a security, economic, environmental, humanitarian, and political perspective.

EcoPeace Israeli Co-Director Gidon Bromberg and EcoPeace staff Giulia Giordano and Uri Ginott participated in the workshop together with key Israeli, Palestinian and international stakeholders. They contributed to discussions on Gaza’s future by highlighting the urgency of the water and sanitation solutions needed.

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EcoPeace participates in the Euromed Conference:  Desalination for Clean Water and Energy: Cooperation around the World

The European Desalination Society (EDS) conferences around the Mediterranean were Giulia_Conferenceinitiated after the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, to strengthen relations between Mediterranean countries. EcoPeace’s Giulia Giordano was invited to open the Cross-Border Cooperation session at the 8th Conference in the EuroMed series in Tel Aviv. Her presentation focused on our Water & Energy Nexus (WEN) project.

The WEN project, inspired by the European Coal and Steel agreement post WWII, aims at creating a water energy community between Israel, Jordan and Palestine. In addition to the mutual exchange of water and renewable energy, potential benefits include the strengthening of ties and the creation of healthy inter-dependencies between the countries. In their opening remarks, Ambassadors to Israel of Italy and the EU, Francesco Talo and Lars Faaborg-Andersen, emphasized the necessity to strengthen cooperation over water and energy, especially in the Middle East.

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Water & Energy Nexus Project – National roundtable events in Ramallah and Amman

WEN_eventThe Water & Energy Nexus project held 2 National Round Table events this month – in Ramallah and Amman.  In Amman, it was held at the Crowne Plaza on 21 May 2017 and included three presentations on water, energy and geopolitics, followed by an open discussion session where participants from the Jordanian government, private sector, academia and civil society provided feedback on the preliminary findings of the pre-feasibility study that is being conducted as part of the project.

Beyond the natural resource issues at stake, everyone seemed to agree on the importance of such an innovative approach for peace building and mitigating the impact of climate change on future generations.

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Ramallah 

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EcoPeace Global Outreach News

With the establishment of our Program on Water Security based in Washington DC, Wilson Center eventEcoPeace is now advancing activities to bridge the gap between academic environmental peacebuilding theory and practical implementation.  The Director of the program, Marina Djernaes, has made presentations at several universities to date, including Johns Hopkins University, American University, George Washington University and New York University, to discuss EcoPeace’s practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding and attracted a very engaged audience of students. The program was also featured during a Wilson Center event held in February, called “15 Years of Environmental Peacemaking”.

Salzberg Global Seminar Pub.Additionally, Marina Djernaes participated in a recent Salzburg Global Seminar session, a project in the ten-year collaborative platform to transform and catalyze leadership and action to deliver the Promise of Sydney. The seminar, called “The Next Frontier: Transboundary Cooperation for Biodiversity and Peace“, convened a diverse range of practitioners and innovators with policymakers and influencers, bridging sectoral, generational and regional divides. Participants identified the most promising approaches, catalyzed collaborations and pilot projects and delivered practical tools that deliver benefits for inclusive and sustainable development, regional economic growth and cohesion and peacebuilding.  The final report of the session can be found here.

An intern from New York University working with our Program on Water Security, traveled to Iraq this month to meet with Iraqcommunity members in the Kurdish areas to evaluate opportunities for applying the EcoPeace “Good Water Neighbors” approach to advance water security in the area.  Stay tuned for updates!

 

The Program on Water Security is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung

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Jordan Valley Master Plan gets exposure

  • Rabbi David Rosen was asked to speak at the World Economic ForuJRMP_Rabbi Rosen presenting at WEFm held earlier this month at the Dead Sea in Jordan, on the panel titled “Shaping the Arab Sustainable Development Agenda” which reviewed several of the economic, social and ecological agendas in the region.  We are delighted that he chose to present EcoPeace’s Jordan Valley Master Plan as a good example of these agendas, and the work we have been doing with faith communities on the Jordan River.
  • Our EcoPeace Palestinian staff, Malek Abualfailat, participated in the ökoRAUSCH Eco-Design festival, in Cologne, Germany, where he presented Palestinian water and environmental challenges and opportunities toward sustainable development. The Jordan Valley Master Plan was presented as a case study.

Jordan River learning continues

  • EcoPeace staff continues to highlight the importance of the rehabilitation ofJR Tour_Dorot the River Jordan, emphasizing the need for recognition of Palestinian water projects in the Valley, and moving forward on water issues in the region. This month, a group of U.S. students on the Dorot Fellows program were offered a presentation from EcoPeace on these issues – appropriately – on site, at the Kaser El Yehud Baptism Site on the Lower Jordan River.
  • EcoPeace was delighted to be a part of the Leader’s Quest program this year, Leaders Questpresenting to a diverse group of leaders from all over the world the complex and challenging transboundary water issues in the region. EcoPeace staff led two Leader’s Quest groups over 2 days touring sites along the Jordan River, weaving together the stories of nature, history, politics, peace, and last but not least, hope.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, including its faith-based activities, are supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.

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Visit to Sewage Collection Facility in Meitar

The EcoPeace coordinator in the Hebron-Besor basin initiated an important meeting Meitar visit to water facilitybetween the Director of the Meitar Local Council, the Director of the Sanitation Department and the Director of the Sewage Separation Facility situated next to the Meitar border crossing

The facility treats the wastewater from the Hebron Stream. It separates the crushed stone residue of the stone cutting industries from the Hebron city’s wastewater to make it possible to treat and reuse the water. The strong smells of sewage, which are one of the by-products of this sludge treatment, are a serious annoyance in Meitar and the Director of the Meitar Local Council appreciated EcoPeace’s efforts to help solve the cross border pollution issues, in this case by advocating for the treatment of the sewage at source in Hebron

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EcoPeace staff and World Bank representative visit Waste Water Treatment Plants

Nablus WWTPOn May 16th EcoPeace joined a visit to the Alexander-Zomar basin with several World Bank representatives. The objective of the visit was to learn more about the Alexander basin history regarding the operation of the West Nablus Waste Water Treatment Plant and its cross border impacts.  This is a state-of-the-art facility, and participants were provided with lessons that could be adapted in Hebron, especially regarding removal of sludge.

The delegation then went on to visit the “Yad Hanah” treatment facility in Israel, where the situation is quite different.  Here, industrial and domestic waste flows into the facility from across the border, a mixture of the treated wastewater with untreated wastewater and industrial sewage from communities south of the West Nablus plant.  The clear lesson of a more holistic approach to deal with sewage treatment and reuse was discussed for the purposes of avoiding a repeat of issues in the future in the Hebron Stream.

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New Hydroponics system installed in Kefar Bara

12 young women from Kefar Bara, in the Yarkon Basin, underwent an environmental Baka hydroponicscourse with EcoPeace Community Coordinator, Mohamad Biadsi in the context of their “Community Service Year”.  Their end of year activity was building a hydroponic system from 60 plastic bottles on the gate of the community center in Kefar Bara, showcasing low-tech water saving techniques and an innovative way to reuse plastic bottles.  This activity was in partnership with the Ecological Greenhouse at Ein Shemer.

 

More hydroponics!

Meitar hydroponics paintingOn May 29th, the Meitarim high school held an inauguration ceremony attended by the head of the Meitar local council for the new hydroponic system donated by EcoPeace. The system enables the students to conduct research and deepen their knowledge on environmental issues. The students talked about their achievements in environmental education, future plans and prepared a vegetable salad from vegetables they grew in the hydroponic system!

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and USAID West Bank/Gaza CMM.

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EcoPeace Staff on an Ecological Field Visit in Lebanon

EcoPeace staff member, Eng. Abed Sultan, participated in a field visit to the Shouf Abed_LebanonReserve in Lebanon this past month. The visit focused on restoration plans for degraded lands, local community participation, education, and ecotourism activities. The experiences shared by the Shouf Reserve and participants were very valuable. Abed Sultan presented EcoPeace’s Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark‘s forestation, education, and community engagement initiatives as well as the MEDFORVAL network and its objectives.  He highlighted the process EcoPeace is undertaking to promote a sustainable Jordan Valley and how national and regional experts’ meetings will lead to the production of a National Biodiversity Master Plan.  The trip was supported by MEDFORVAL.

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On May 15th, at the Annual Conference of the Israel Water Association, EcoPeace staff member Nadav Tal  presented our research findings on “Decoupling National Water IWANeeds for National Water Supplies: Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin”. This research demonstrates a promising avenue for improved regional water security within the current limits of water availability, drawing on regional best practices and showing significant knowledge and institutional challenges to achieve this. The conference included water experts from all over Israel, government ministers, academics, and professionals from the private sector.

This research was funded by the British Council and took place in partnership with Oxford University in the UK and the WANA Institute in Jordan.

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Dear Friends,

April was another busy month for EcoPeace, combining high-level advocacy in a variety of settings worldwide with youth education and leadership building in local communities in the Middle East.

Check out our new website to learn more about EcoPeace and click here to support our activities.

Happy May Day,

EcoPeace Middle East

 

 

Wembley Central Mosque Event, UK

Wembley eventEcoPeace Jordanian and Israeli co-directors Munqeth Meyhar and Gidon Bromberg were invited to take part in a multi-faith event at the Wembley Central Mosque in London titled “Discussing the Journey to Freedom, Ethical Responsibility and Practical Collaboration”.  EcoPeace’s practical work to advance cross-border cooperation on environmental issues, specifically water, was the topic of discussion.

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IISS London: Water, Security and Peace: Environmental Issues in Israeli-Palestinian RelationsIISS

Gidon Bromberg and Ambassador Oded Eran were invited to speak at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London about the strategic and security implications of water and other environmental issues on the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as their impact on neighboring countries including Jordan.

Although the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has stalled, cooperation continues on common environmental issues. These issues, especially relating to shared water resources, have implications for both the security and the quality of life of Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbors.  Dana Allin, IISS Senior Fellow, moderated the discussion.

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EcoPeace Co-Directors in Oxford

with World BankEcoPeace Jordanian and Israeli co-directors Munqeth Meyhar and Gidon Bromberg attended the Skoll World Forum, which took place in Oxford in early April.  Each year, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and strategic partners gather to exchange ideas, solutions, and information. The directors also had a chance to meet with World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim.with Lord Alderdice

A highlight of the trip to Oxford this year was their opportunity to meet with Lord Alderdice, former leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland who played a significant role in the talks on Northern Ireland, including the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Middle East region certainly has much to learn from him.

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EcoPeace Director at the European Parliament

brusselsThe Multinational Policy Development Dialogue of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organized an experts’ lunch discussion in the European Parliament on the water-security-nexus in the Middle East.

EcoPeace Middle East Israeli co-director Gidon Bromberg was invited to present EcoPeace’s perspective on regional water security issues, together with Mr. Marc Frings, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung office in Ramallah, and His Excellency Shaddad Al Attili, former Head of the Palestinian Water Authority and lead Palestinian negotiator for water and former Minister of Water.

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Young Female Environmental Leadership Camp – Ein Karem

A young female environmental leadership seminar was held in Ein Karem, near Jerusalem, this month.  A group of Jordanian, GroupPalestinian and Israeli girls from different communities participated and stayed in the ‘St. John in the Mountain’ Monastery.

They took part in planting activities, toured in nearby Ein Rafa with a local female urban planner and community leader. This was followed by a women’s leadership workshop about environmental leaders such as Koenjari Matay, Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall. The participants analyzed the leadership attributes of these environmental icons, such as courage, belief, empathy and persistence. The camp concluded with creative writing and reflections in the beautiful area of the Monastery.

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Regional Youth Camp – MEDFORVAL

medforvalA 3-day regional workshop was held this month in the context of the MEDFORVAL project at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan – with Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli youth.

Over the 3 days, the students took part in several activities that focused on biodiversity and its impact on the environment. They were given tools to understand the importance of environmental sustainability in our region. They toured the EcoPark and learned about forestation, biodiversity and solid waste management. They performed tasks about biodiversity and vegetation, helped clean the EcoPark while separating the waste to be collected for recycling and designed slogans to emphasize the need to protect the environment. Read more in this blog.

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New Hydroponic System Installed

As part of the Youth Water Trustees training in the Besor-Hebron Basin, EcoPeace installed a hydroponic system at the Meitarim HydroponicsBranko Weiss High School. The 8th grade science class together with their teacher and Ecopeace community coordinator Shlomit Tamari, planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, and other vegetables.

The students learned how to check the fertilizers’ rates in the water by measuring the water’s electric conductivity. Thanks to the new system, the students can perform different experiments and enjoy a salad made from the vegetables they grow themselves.  A hydroponic system can be placed on walls, balconies and roofs, and uses 11 times less water than a normal vegetable garden. Eyal Barkan, Farmit agronomist, installed the system and taught the students about its different usages.

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EcoPeace at the Climate March

Climate marchIn honor of Earth Day 2017, climate marches were held across the globe, with citizens from all walks of life coming out to voice their concerns.

EcoPeace joined the many people that marched in Tel Aviv, particularly highlighting the effects that climate change can have on the regions’ already scarce natural water resources.  Diminishing our water resources with dangerous climate policies threatens Middle East security and could translate into regional instability; it was in this context that we marched and spoke out!

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ALLMEP Annual Community Fair 

EcoPeace participated in the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) Regional ALLMEP fairConference in Jerusalem this past month.  This year’s conference theme was “Scaling Up: A Practical Guide,” bringing together a diverse range of organizations, both Israeli and Palestinian, and Jewish, Christian and Muslim men and women from the region; all with the mission of coexistence, partnership, cooperation and development.

Mr. Donald Blome, the U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem opened the conference with inspiring words about the challenges in the region. EcoPeace distributed materials and explained how our work creates cooperative relationships to protect the environment and water resources.  Read more in this blog.

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Annual Environmental Education Conference in Israel: “The World’s Hottest Story”

Education conf.EcoPeace participated in the Annual Environmental Education Conference that dealt with climate change and extreme phenomena caused by these changes – desertification, dehydration of lakes and seas, global warming and extinction of species in the sea and on land, extreme storms such as hurricanes, and more.  The implications and effects of these phenomena on humans and the environment were examined while discussions were led to assess climate change on the personal, educational and national levels.

EcoPeace is paying close attention to all these issues, and will engage teachers and educators on these topics in future meetings and workshops.

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Two important meetings were held this month between representatives from the U.S. MalekConsulate and our Palestinian staff.  One with the Consul General to discuss youth and young professionals’ challenges and to promote sustainable projects involving water and environment; and another held in Hebron with the Consul of Public Affairs, together with other entrepreneurs, where discussions focused on the importance of grassroots projects and the good work being carried out in Hebron by the U.S. Department of State Alumni.

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and USAID West Bank/Gaza CMM program.

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New Publication

Check-out EcoPeace’s new publication as part of our series of faith based toolkits about the Jordan River; this one is a multi-faith toolkit titled “River out of Eden: Water, Ecology and the Jordan River in the Abrahamic Religions.”  It follows earlier  publications which separately discuss Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions related to the Jordan River.

This toolkit describes the demise of the River, what went wrong and why it matters; it provides a compilation of writings about the Jordan River, texts, prayers, essays and lesson plans to assist educators in designing a program, as well as suggestions for how your community can support regional efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, including faith-based activities, are supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.

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http://mailchi.mp/588be7424cdf/ecopeace-environmental-peacebuilding-newsletter

 

USAID logo

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | April 19, 2017

EcoPeace at the Alliance for Middle East Peace 2017 Regional Conference

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege to represent EcoPeace at the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) 2017 Regional Conference in Jerusalem. The conference brought together a variety of organizations all with the same goal: to promote peace in the Middle East. There were a diverse range of organizations present, both Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim and men and women all with the mission of coexistence, partnership, cooperation and development.

Sara photo blog

For me, the conference was one of the coolest opportunities I have had since starting my internship at EcoPeace. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Donald Blome, the U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem who opened the conference with inspiring words about coexisting among one another in a region where conflict is engrained in upbringing.

Working for EcoPeace has exposed me to many people, cultures, political views and ideas that I would have never even fathomed before working here. Coming from the United States we constantly hear only about conflict in the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. We never turn on our televisions or radios and hear about the hundreds of different organizations both in Israel and in Palestine whose sole purpose is to bring together all sides, work together and build bridges and not walls. Being introduced to so many ideas, so many organizations, so many opinions, I have learned the true importance of building relationships not only with Israelis and Palestinians, but with people in general. There are so many “solutions” that have been put on the table, but with the wrong approach. EcoPeace, like many other organizations part of ALLMEP, use the bottom-up and top-down approach to build long-lasting and impactful relationships with Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis. One of my favorite parts about EcoPeace is their ability to create long-lasting relationships that stem from coming together to protect the environment and water resources. We have recognized that environmental issues and water security have no borders, so why should we disagree on a matter that, at some point, will affect everyone in the region regardless of if they live in Israel or Palestine.

During my time studying at university and working I am constantly reminded that communication and education is key when trying to make an impact or promote change. A good friend of mine once said, “you can’t change all that is happening in the world without first educating and involving people.” At the end of the day collecting and proving data isn’t going to be what makes the difference and brings about change, it is going to be the passion of the people who you are able to involve, educate and inspire.

Written By: Sara Diamond, EcoPeace Research Intern (Tel Aviv Office), BSFR in Wildlife Biology from the University of Georgia, USA

 Welcome to our new newsletter format, now in sync with our New Website!

Our new website address is http://www.ecopeaceme.org

(Hebrew and Arabic coming soon…)

new website1

Comments? (write to mira@foeme.org)

(& please excuse possible birthing pains!)


Dear Friends and Supporters of EcoPeace,

Please welcome Dr. Alfred Abed Rabo and Mrs. Nada Majdalani as interim acting Palestinian Co-Directors of EcoPeace Middle East. 

  • The EcoPeace Board of Directors

 

Rotary logoRotary Support for New Partnership

We are looking to partner with Rotary International groups to help support a new initiative between EcoPeace and Outward Bound.

EcoPeace and Outward Bound Peacebuilding are seeking a Global Grant from the Rotary Foundation’s World Fund. Part of that process includes securing support and endorsement from Rotarians and Rotary Clubs all over the world. If you are a member and would like to learn more, or would consider adding your name in support of our proposal, please email dalit@foeme.org to find out more.

 


World Water Day ActivitiesAuja Fair and Consular Blome

This March 22nd marked the United Nation’s 24th World Water Day. EcoPeace offices held numerous events and activities across the region and abroad, including (1) a visit from the U.S. Consul General Donald Blome to the World Water Day Fair at our Auja EcoCenter; (2) a presentation at the U.S. State Department‘s George C. Marshall Center in Washington DC; (3) a national teacher’s training in Israel, and (4) the compilation of a short video highlighting the importance of the human right to water.

 

  • Consul General Donald Blome visited our Auja EcoCenter to learn more about the work environmental organizations are doing throughout the West Bank. He was very impressed by our work with the EcoPark and was introduced to a group of students studying solar energy from the Palestine Technical University in Tulkarm. Watch Consul General Donald Blome’s experience in his own words.
  • Our Israeli Co-Director, Gidon Bromberg, gave a presentation at the George C. Marshall Center in Washington DC on Water Security and Transboundary Cooperation. He discussed priorities and challenges within the Middle East in relation to water, and focused on elevating water as an international priority.
  • Additionally, the Community Coordinator of the Besor watershed held a national Shlomit WWDteacher’s training to mark World Water Day for 21 teachers from all over Israel. The teacher’s expressed great interest in issues of water and trans-boundary cooperation and were motivated to learn more on the importance of environmentalism coupled with peacebuilding activities.

 

For Int. Women Day


 International World Women’s Day Activities

Wednesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, the ideal day to highlight EcoPeace’s campaign for women’s empowerment in the region. Although always a priority for us, we are now focusing on this issue with renewed emphasis as we see women as a crucial sector in reaching water equality. Women and girls are often the people most affected by water shortages, yet, there are barely any women in the engineering sector or in political positions to be able to address this issue. To bring attention to the subject and our work, we penned two blog pieces for International Women’s Day. The first; on EcoPeace staff’s participation in the “Women Wage Peace March” along with an Women Workshop at SHEinterview by a former Youth Water Trustee with Nobel Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. The second; highlighting EcoPeace’s plans for the growth of our Women’s Empowerment Program, including holding more camps for women and girls such as the camp held in February which was written up in a  third blog article published in March. This camp brought together 20 girls from around the Jordan Valley, and aided in enabling them to think about their role in preserving water and their abilities to be independent thinkers and people.

 

Arab Water Week in Amman, Jordan   arab water week

EcoPeace’s Jordanian Co-Director Munqeth Mehyar and Deputy Director, Yana Abu Taleb participated in the 4th Arab Water Week at the Kempinski Hotel-Dead Sea, Jordan from March 19th to 23rd.

Ms. Abu Taleb was a guest panellist for two significant sessions: the first was organized by the World Bank, outlining EcoPeace’s concept of cooperation within the Jordan Basin and the inevitability of a regional approach as the ultimate solution to regional water scarcity. The second session, organized by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), focused on women empowerment. Ms. Abu Taleb reflected on the impact water scarcity has on women and on EcoPeace’s approach to increase women’s participation in the water sector.

Mr. Mehyar presented EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley, and explained the importance of a holistic approach to tackle water issues as an alternative to the traditional-fragmented approach which can only produce a mitigating effect at best.

 


Tour of Baka Al Gharbia with Foreign Affairs Ministry

Our Community Coordinator in Baka Gharbia, Mohammad Biadsi, and our Israeli Baka Group PhotoGovernment Relations Officer, Uri Ginnot, were very busy this month giving a tour to the North American Division of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry which included Consul Generals from North American Consulates. The tour showcased EcoPeace’s work implementing our Good Water Neighbors program in the Baka watershed and the positive Biadsi in Bakaimpact it has had on the local community. Local residents and the Mayor of Baka Al Gharbia were also in attendance. In addition Mr.  Biadsi organized a conference in Baka Al Gharbia to discuss the environmental crisis and deteriorating health conditions in the area. He premiered the documentary about the dire environmental situation in Baka that was later featured on Israeli TV Channel 1.

 

Cross Border Events with our Youth Water Trustees!

March was a busy month for EcoPeace’s youth ‘Water Trustees’. The month kicked off onYWT Yarkon Qana March 11th with youth Water Trusees from the Israeli/Palestinian Yarkon/Qana watershed participating in a cross border event at the Qana Nature reserve. Through playing games, enjoying nature, and engaging in discussions, the students learned about the joint problems in the basin, the concept of a shared water resource, and the importance of cooperation.

YWT Besor-HebronThen on March 17th, youth Water Trustees from Yatta, Palestine visited their cross-border peers at Kibbutz Ze’elim in Israel. After a full day was spent discussing environment and water issues, they crossed a foot suspension bridge with water as a symbol to represent their shared water resources.

 

Finally, with spring in full bloom in the Jordan Valley, EcoPeace held a large cross border event from March 23rd to 25th that included three of our watersheds. As the weather was beautiful, the youth spent all their time outdoors, YWT Reg Campstarting with icebreaking games for the students to get to know each of their shared watersheds. They spent the second day in the Amoud Valley learning about the environment and geology of that area through water footprint activities and recognizing the diverse flora and fauna. On Saturday, the youth participated in the third annual “Streaming to the Jordan” event of which EcoPeace was one of the event organizers. The event consisted of a communal walk along the banks of the rehabilitated Lower Jordan River, followed by a festive gathering of the local community with music, food, and activities for the whole family, part of which was run by our students.

 

National Teacher Training

On March 15th, EcoPeace held a national teacher’s training in Israel to help familiarize geography teachers with our Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. The teachers and members of EcoPeace’s staff visited the Meitarim border crossing and Beer Sheva stream to better understand the complexity of shared water management, the area’s water heritage, relations between the city and stream, and the importance of teachers as environmental leaders. They also discussed ways to incorporate relevant questions from EcoPeace’s work to students’ final exams in High School.

 

Tour of the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Netanya

On March 29th, Palestinian farmers from four watersheds visited the Netanya Waste Netanya WWTPWater Treatment Plant to better understand the benefits of water reuse as part of our Good Water Neighbors Project. The day began with a tour of the Plant where the farmers learned about the process of water purification for irrigation re-use. They later heard a lecture by representatives of ‘Netafim’ – the global leader in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions – about treated water in agriculture and cutting-edge technology developed by Netafim. The farmers also had the opportunity to see greenhouses in action using Netafim’s technology.

 

Global Outreach

EcoPeace’s Program Manager in Amman, Abed Sultan, was busy this month conducting US Univ studentsglobal outreach at home and abroad. In mid-March he gave a lecture to a group of university students from the U.S. focusing on the water reality in the Middle East, including common threats and challenges. Later in the month, Morocco ConferenceMr. Sultan represented EcoPeace at the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week Conference in Aquadir, Morocco presenting the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark as part of our long term initiative to save and rehabilitate the Jordan River. Participants of the conference pushed for more integrated efforts against desertification and the creation of conventions to combat climate change and improve biological diversity in the MENA region.

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and USAID West Bank/Gaza CMM program.

 


Tour Guides learn the bigger picture about the Lower Jordan River

Tourguides groupEcoPeace Jordan River staff concluded the last in a series of 4 trainings for tour guides about the Jordan River, this one on the western side of the River.  25 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian tour guides spent three days visiting religious and historical sites – as well as environmental hot spots – on the Jordan River.  Our aim is to expand the circle of supporters for the rehabilitation of the River Jordan through tour guides & their tourists.

Jordan River faith based tourJR faith tour

EcoPeace will not rest until we see more advances being made towards the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.  EcoPeace staff took yet another group to the River, this time volunteers and staff from the Augusta Victoria church in Jerusalem, to learn about what has happened to this once ‘mighty’ – and still ‘holy’ – river….

Jordan River presented in the RiverGathering Conference, Tbilisi Georgia

EcoPeace was invited to present our work on the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River in the “RiverGathMira in Georgiaering conference” in Tbilisi, Georgia this month.  This was a gathering of more than 80 organizations and activists from around the world, all coming together to share their knowledge of the effects of unsustainable River management.  EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Coordinator, Mira Edelstein, actively participated at the conference speaking at the opening plenary, leading one of the sessions on Campaign Techniques, as well as presenting our Jordan River Rehabilitation project in yet another session on Sustainable Development.  We are pleased to say that the Jordan River is now one notch higher on the world agenda!

 

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, including faith-based activities, are supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation

 


 Center for Water Security Activities

Al Gore’s Climate Reality project invited people representing more than 30 countries to a Marina and CWSconference in Colorado to advance projects addressing climate change.  Marina Djernaes, the Director for EcoPeace’s new Center for Water Security represented EcoPeace and our 23 years of best practice experience in practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding. The new Center engages conflict zones across the globe that share transboundary water resources and develops the capacity of these communities to establish relationships of cooperation and develop trust. Read more in this blog.

 

Israeli Co-Director Touring the U.S.

Gidon in DCEcoPeace’s Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg was busy touring the U.S. during the latter half of March, participating in discussions and conferences from New York to Washington DC.  Mr. Bromberg and the Director for EcoPeace’s new Center for Water Security, Marina Djernaes, represented EcoPeace on March 20th at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Their topic of discussion was titled “From Scarcity to Security: Water as a Resource for Middle East Peacebuilding”.

Additionally, Mr. Bromberg presented a briefing at the U.S. Congress on water security issues in the Middle East. He presented the concept that water diplomacy can play a significant role to improve the livelihoods and enhance stability within the region. He spoke of the recent agreement to renew the joint Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, the water and sanitation crisis in Gaza, and opportunities for moving forward on water issues.

This project was made possible through funding from Robert Bosch Stiftung

 


Seminar on the Sea of Galilee

In early March, Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli farmers and stakeholdChecking Irrigation System Oxford Confers met at the Sea of Galilee to discuss and better understand Israeli technology in the agriculture sector. The seminar was part of a joint research project funded by the British council and led by Oxford University in partnership with EcoPeace and the West-Asia North-Africa (WANA) institute in Jordan.

The participants learned about potential agricultural water saving methods, toured the Zemach research station, and visited a multi crop farm. It was a very successful meeting; helping to plant seeds for continued teamwork between farmers in the Jordan basin.

This project is in partnership with the University of Oxford and supported by the British Council UK

 


 

Our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark is now online for bookings!!

 

Go to:

Booking.com

Airbnb

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Stay in this incredible part of the world and support EcoPeace’s vital preservation work in the Jordan River

 Jordan EcoPark Flowers


 

Lastly, we would like to wish our Jewish readers a Happy Passover

and our Christian readers a Happy Easter!

 


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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | April 5, 2017

Regional Youth camp at SHE

 

A three-day youth camp has been held at SHE between 30 March and 1 April as an activity related to the MEDFORVAL project. The camp’s participants were from Jordan, Palestine and Israel and it included a workshop on biodiversity and its impact on the environment.

After a brief explanation of the camp rules, participants engaged in an “ice-breaking game” followed by a video on forestation and biodiversity. The first day ended with designing a slogan emphasizing the need to protect the environment.

Photo for the blog

On the second day, the participants were divided into five groups, each with certain tasks. The tasks focused on biodiversity and vegetation in Jordan through tours around the park and educational exercises. The final activity of the second day was related to environmental sustainability and aimed at helping participants to recognize its importance and magnitude.

The main activity of the last day was about solid waste management. Students were asked to help clean the EcoPark and to separate solid waste to be collected at a later stage for recycling.

The camp ended with a feedback session asking participants to explain what they learned, and to share their suggestions for future camps.

Written by: Jumana Al-Bakheet

 

 

 

Al Gore’s Climate Reality project invited people representing more than 30 countries to a conference in Colorado to advance projects addressing climate change. Marina Djernaes, the director for EcoPeace’s Center for Water Security represented EcoPeace and our 23 years of best practices experience in practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding. The center engages across the globe and climate change elevates the challenges everywhere. Climate Reality delivered more knowledge in regards to the magnitude of the challenge and provided a network of people engaged in environmental work across the globe.

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The magnitude of the climate change challenges that we face is colossal. Extreme temperature events used to cover only 0.1% of the Earth now they cover 14.5%. The scale and the consequences experienced in this world caused by these extreme weather events are enormous. We are facing major challenges across the world, but not the least in the already hot climates such as in the Middle East and Africa. Pollutants not only deliver a hotter climate with the accompanying increased frequency of extreme weather events providing increasingly challenges for water security as dry areas become dryer and as precipitation in other areas and with increasing frequency may arrive as torrential rainstorms. Climate change will also spread physical and mental diseases, diminish nutrition in produce, and deliver increased infestation by pests. Without actions and commitment to the Paris Agreement, it is a dire future.

It can be a dire future, but a vibrant and advancing green economy delivers a strong beacon of optimism. Green renewable energy has achieved cost effectiveness competitive to fossil fuels. This year green energy capacity will grow 77 times faster than forecasted for 2010.  Renewable energy provided an estimated 19.2% of global energy consumption in 2014, with an estimated additional 147 gigawatts of renewable power in 2015. In 2016, more than 70% of the new electrical generation in the USA was renewable.

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EcoPeace’s experience with Good Water Neighbors provides a perfect model to advance citizen engagement and seek local solutions to mitigate climate change effects and advance water security. Efforts on to advance water security will also help communities to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Al Gore urged local communities to engage for political support of local climate change measures. The grassroots needs to secure political support to advance cost-effective green energy, and demand reduced support and subsidies for costly fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas. Committed citizens can work together to protect the political pledge in the Paris Agreement.

The event delivered a strong feeling of optimism. The necessary technologies exist and when combined with citizen’s engagement it is possible to contain the effects of climate change to 2 ͦC.. EcoPeace has the ideal experience to advance work in water security and thereby secure local communities capacity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Our Center for Water Security with our experts can facilitate the advancement of local Good Water Neighbors programs in communities globally and develop the necessary capacity to advance local solutions for water security and diminish the effects of climate change.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 14, 2017

Workshop on Empowering Young Women at SHE

A workshop has been held on 17-18th Feb 2017 as an activity related to the Good Water Neighbours project. The main theme was “Women empowerment and the role of women in local communities and in preserving water resources.

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A group of 20 girls from all over the Jordan Valley attended this workshop at SHE Park. The event began by playing games designed to reinforce team work, motivation, innovation and thinking out of the box.

Community coordinator Mohammad Al Nawasrah gave a motivational lecture about women empowerment in their local communities especially in the Jordan Valley. He also provided real-life examples on women contribution in taking the lead developing various sectors in their communities. However, he insisted that there is plenty to do to encourage more women to participate in specific sectors such as medicine and education.

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The most exciting session was when the trainees Jumana and Bara’ inspired the audience by sharing their experience with the Good Water Neighbours program, starting as water trustees, then developing as alumni to eventually becoming  a part of Ecopeace’s staff.

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On the following day, all of the participants did a community service at SHE including cleaning and planting. Other activities were undertaken from the resource guide such as simulating a case in the court where participants were divided into three teams: A team advocating the government, the second playing the role of the Sharhabil bin Hassneh Municipality, and the last lobbied for women empowerment in the Jordan Valley.

What can be taken from the event is based on common sense, that is: women have the right to self expression, to take part in decision making and should not be denied their basic rights as equal partners in society.

Written by: Jumana Al Bakheet

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 8, 2017

Women in Regional Environmental Leadership

Happy International Women’s Day!

We strongly believe that progress cannot be made without the input and leadership of women and girls in their communities.

It seems fitting that this week we welcome three new female interns to each of our offices. Through these interns we hope to build a new generation of female leaders in environmentalism and peacebuilding measures in the region. We welcome them to our team and look forward to the work they will do with us and in the future.

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 Mira Edelstein IL Jordan River & Dead Sea Projects Manager (left) and Amy Lipman-Avizohar, IL Education and Good Water Neighbours Co-ordinator (right)

 

We are excited this year to expand upon our branch of Good Water Neighbours (GWN) focused on gender equality and empowering girls and women in cross-border watershed communities.

The only way to succeed in GWN’s mission of “common problem solving and peace IMG-20170118-WA0029building among communities” is to include the entire population, and to do so we must empower women to the point where they too feel capable of occupying leadership platforms.

It is also women who suffer the most on a daily basis from a lack of water. It is women who have to face daily intermittent water supply and lack of sewage and solid waste sanitation services when trying to undertake domestic tasks. And, in rural areas, particularly in the Jordan Valley, it is women’s agricultural work which suffers from lack of access to water and pollution, limiting their work for their families’ livelihoods.

On the most practical level, it makes no sense that women are almost entirely shut out from working on the water crisis that they are so directly affected by. The technical disciplines of engineering, hydrology and planning are heavily underrepresented by women. Women are almost completely absent from local water boards, to national water agencies and cross border water institutions, are rarely mayors, have low representation in parliament. and have never been the ministers of water in Jordan, Palestine or Israel.

Such a large group of people with such personal stakes should have more of a say over how it is handled and fixed, which is why EcoPeace is so excited to announce their plans to offer 3 Female Youth Water Trustee Alumni in each country an Alumni Leadership Scholarship each year. They will assist with cross border trips, help to plan Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp and Female Cross Border Watershed Forum Training, identify 20161019_111403women leaders in each watershed for Forum Site visits, and identify local women-owned businesses for Watershed Fairs. We are looking forward to being kept up to date with their progress through their shared blog!

We are also going to emphasise education focused towards women in leadership, especially with teachers, many of whom are female. As well as conducting an annual Regional Youth Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp to train future female leaders in environmental peacebuilding, and hosting an Annual Regional Female Watershed Forum Training for adult female participants on the role of women in environmental cooperation and advancing shared water and sanitation projects of common concern.

We hope that IMG-20170206-WA0009this move towards promoting female empowerment in the region will create an even bigger catalyst for change. We cannot wait to see all of the great things these leaders will do for the region, and know that with their help, progress towards a lasting peace will be closer than ever.

 

 

Written by: Sophie Clark, EcoPeace Intern, Tel Aviv

 

 

 

 Ein-Gedi “Alumni” Youth Campyouth water trustees ein gedi

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project gathered together 22 youth for a regional “Alumni Water Trustees” camp in Ein Gedi earlier this month. They came together to leEin Gediarn about the Dead Sea and its lack of water, the challenges that need to be dealt with in the area, and then did a practical exercise; leading the “Neighbors Path” hike in the area where they were the ones giving the presentations and developing the discussions.  Read a blog written by one of our interns about her experience in this Youth Water Trustees Camp.

Ein Gedi also houses one of EcoPeace’s EcoParks.  (Others include the Auja EcoCenter in Palestine and the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan – more on them below…) Here in Ein Gedi, environmental education focuses on sustainable practices in a dry, desert atmosphere, including mud building, solar cooking, water conservation techniques and more. A new feature is our greenhouse that grows many organic vegetables – enough so that the park can provide lunch to the local elderly community!

 

Cross Border Women’s Tour in Jordanwomens mtng

On February 12th-13th, EcoPeace held a gathering for the Women of the Dead Sea. Women from the Tamar Regional Council in Israel and women from Safi, Jordan came together to discuss the future of the region. These women shared their stories, struggles and successes in order to join forces and become leaders in the region. The women also visited an EcoPeace model farm in the region, saw the sinkholes on the Jordanian side, and spent some time at the Women’s Center in Safi where they learned about natural dyeing techniques.

 

Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark had a busy month!

SHE1If you happened to be at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark SHE2(SHE) this month, you would have seen incredible action!    (1) The EcoPark was the chosen site for the Nahj Training & Development NGO to hold their leadership skills workshop; (2) the EcoPark hosted a 2-day seminar for several Jordanian and Palestinian “Alumni” of our Good Water Neighbors program that included cleanup campaigns and activities related to environmental awareness; (3) a one-week retreat for a group of American CIEE study abroad students in cooperation with Jordan University, who are here studying Arabic and engaging in community service in Jordan.  They visited the municipality, the local schools, and enjoyed their time with the local Bedouins as well; and (4) an amazing 2,500 visitors that came to picnic and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere last Friday. The SHE EcoPark is clearly “on the map” in Jordan!

EcoPeace Speaks With Palestinian-Israeli Bereaved Families Forum

EcoPeace staff presented our programming to a group of Israelis and Palestinians fromuri the Bereaved Families Forum.  The organization brings together over 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost a family member due to the ongoing conflict. The families participate in joint activities to show that reconciliation between people and the two nations is indeed possible, and is a prerequisite to having “sustainable peace.”  We were pleased to learn that the group was interested in local and cross border environmental issues – and asked how they can join in our activities.

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and USAID West Bank/Gaza CMM program.

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EcoPeace Water & Energy Nexus

We invite you to take 4 and 1/2 minutes of your time to watch this terrific video describing Solar panels1EcoPeace’s Water & Energy Nexus project – a project that aims to create healthy interdependencies over natural resources between Israel, Jordan and Palestine.  Another way to create better water security and unity in the region!

 

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung                                                                                                     


 

Keeping the Dead Sea Afloat (in the news)

Dead SeaIn continued efforts to keep the Dead Sea in the public’s limelight, EcoPeace was interviewed by several media outlets this month; both regarding the historic Dead Sea Swim event as well as about the Dead Sea’s  environmental crisis in general.  To read more about the Dead Sea Swim event, The Business Insider Article and Science Alert Article are good places to start!  A double page spread of the Dead Sea Swim was also included in the ‘Journal for Science and Environmental Policy’ special edition focused solely on the Dead Sea, (by The Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences – not available on line). To learn more about the ongoing environmental issues facing the Dead Sea in general, read The Times of Israel article – – with much input from EcoPeace.

 

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, including faith-based activities, are supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.

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Auja EcoCenter news

The Auja EcoCenter hosted a Green Building Training, entitled “Palestine Go Green!” on Auja green building seminar2February 14th.  The workshop focused on 3 main topics: Introduction to Green Business and Buildings; Case Studies from Palestine and the U.S.; Potential Opportunities for Green Building in Palestine. Participants included mid-career level professionals in renewable energy, green building and sustainable development, working in governmental positions or in NGO’s.

 

This capacity building workshop is part of an environmental education project being funded by the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem

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J Street Conference 2017

jstreet conferenceOur very own Mary Alexander represented EcoPeace at the Annual J Street National Conference in Washington, D.C. on February 25th-28th. The conference brings together thousands of Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace leaders and advocates from around the world to help strategize ways to solve the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and how to send these messages to the United States Congress.

 

To learn more about the conference, check out their website; they have a detailed summary of what went on in Washington, D.C.

 

 


 

EcoPeace staff Speaks with the Visiting Danish Minister of Environment

The Danish Ambassador to Israel invited EcoPeace staff to give an overview of IsraeliDanish Minister Palestinian cross-border water issues to a delegation of visiting diplomats from Denmark, including their Minister of Environment & Food, and several Embassy staff.  Focusing on our “Water Cannot Wait” campaign, and especially the water crisis looming in the Gaza strip, we explained that with today’s desalination bolstering Israel’s water economy, Israel can afford to share water more equitably with Palestinians, as no sector in Israel would have its water allocation reduced.  And the “political gain” of such a move would be extremely welcomed internationally!  The Minister was deeply appreciative of EcoPeace’s approach, and said on Danish Public Radio following the meeting, that he will do what he can to help move this issue forward!  

 


EcoPeace Washington DC Internship Opportunity

4.1.1EcoPeace is looking for interns to work in Washington DC in conjunction with our newest initiative: the Center for Water Security. This initiative works on expanding our work globally, taking our knowledge of practical consensus building around environmental issues to other crisis-stricken, troubled, and water-scarce areas.  The Center will offer training, educating, and consulting services to civil society organizations in different regions around the world with the goal of empowering civil society to resolve and respond to conflict issues over shared water resources.

 

This minimum 3-month internship is an opportunity for high-caliber international students and young professionals to gain first-hand experience in the emerging field of environmental peacemaking, as well as providing support for EcoPeace’s ongoing projects and programs. More information on this internship can be found here.

 


 

DON’T FORGET!

Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

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Now, when you shop on Amazon, you can help EcoPeace receive 0.5% of the price of your purchase by using Amazon Smile. It’s an easy way to donate to EcoPeace!

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day

Environmental progress and peacekeeping cannot, and will not, happen without the involvement of women and girls in their communities.

International Women’s Day, March 8th 2017, is a day to highlight women’s accomplishments around the world, and to kickstart EcoPeace’s updates of our work on Women’s empowerment across the region.


In October 2016 EcoPeace staff joined up with Women Wage Peace – a grassroots movement whose members are women from across the political spectrum, Jewish, Arab, religious, and secular, all united in a demand to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through peaceful means – on their March of Hope aimed at raising awareness to the importance of female leadership and political engagement. Women Wage Peace honored Amy Lipman-Avizohar EcoPeace’s Israeli Good Water Neighbours Education Co-ordinator, and Yerousalem Getoo, an Israeli alumni of Good Water Neighbours, with an invitation to their event with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee.

On the day, Yerousalem had the incredible opportunity to be able to have a conversation with Leymah to discuss the role of women in peacebuilding, which we are publishing in commemoration of International Women’s Day.

The wisdom passed on by Leymah is enough to encourage change and drive in all of us. And the fact of a young woman getting to ask questions of another woman who has done so much good in the world, is inspiration to continue on believing that women can, and will, enact positive change around the world, and to work tirelessly until this is a reality.

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Women Wage Peace group (October, 2016)

 

The full transcript of the interview, along with Yerousalem’s commentary on the experience can be read below:

 

Leymah Gbowee

“On the 7th of October 2016 I had the honor to meet an amazing woman and a leader who succeeded that against all chances to bring a change to her country (Liberia) which was in a civil war that time. Gbowee initiated a non-violent movement that its purpose was to stop the war. Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

Meeting Leymah, interviewing her, and mostly hearing her answers to my question refilled me with the hope for a better future. Leymah returned my belief in true leaders (not politicians) true, honest people that want to lead a change, want to make good. Leymah is a very strong woman, full of energy and willingness to do so and I learned a lot from her. I hope that maybe, just maybe, on one of the days I will be strong as her, and brave enough to fight in the right way for what I want in my country.” – Yerousalem Getoo

 

 

 20161018_144016In conversation: Leymah Gbowee (left) Yerousalem Getoo (right)

 

An Interview With Leymah Gbowee:

–          “Do you believe that every conflict can be stopped by a non-violent movement?”

Leymah: “Yes, I do. Imagine, what will happen if I will punch you in your face right now?  What would you do, how would you react? You would probably like to revenge, wouldn’t you? But you would like to hurt me even harder. So you will take a gun and shoot me back.  And then I will be filled up with revenge, so I will call my friends to help me out. Then of course, you will bring your friends to help you against my friends.

The result would be a group of people that fight against each other, kill each other, just because of our small initial fight. So many people will get hurt because of something that doesn’t even have a direct connection to them. An endless circle of violence. What I am trying to say is that at the end violence as a tool to solve problems actually does not solve anything at all. We need to find another way, one that does not include violence.”

 

–          “Do you think a magnificent change in the world should/would be led only by women?”

Leymah: “I think it is impossible for any change to happen as long as women will not take a part in it. It cannot be. Why? If I will cover one of your eyes (and as she talks Leymah covered one of my eyes with her hand), will you be able to see all the people in this room? No, you will see only half of the people in the room. If we will need to make a vote now, would it be fair to allow only the half you see to participate? Women are 52% percent of our world. How can there be any change when only one half takes part in it, only one of the sexes? Therefore women must contribute their part in order for a change to happen.

Additionally, I think that we as women, whom have the ability to give birth to life into the world, can appreciate life better.”

 

–          “From the conflict in your region; was there any specific event during the civil war in Liberia that made you realize you would like to change your current reality? And in order to achieve peace you would be prepared to risk your life for it? If so, what was the event?”

Leymah: “I wouldn’t say there was any specific event that made me realize I wanted a change, because the war took years, it became my reality and so my willing to change was developed throughout the years. And it wasn’t as if I woke up one day and understood I wanted to change my reality. It took time and grew within me, but the reason for it was my children. I had something to protect on, and then this willing to change got stronger and I was motivated to do something. I told myself this isn’t the world I want my children to be grown up to.

 

–          “From where did you get your strength and motivation to start your non-violent movement and more importantly to continue?”

Leymah: “My partners. I have a friend who lost everything in the war; her house, her child. But instead of being full of hatred, revenge and hopelessness she decided to join to non-violent movement and didn’t give up on the option for peace. Her pain and lost could have taken her to a whole different place but she decided to continue believing and fighting for peace no matter what. Every time I looked at her, and thought about her story I knew I couldn’t give up as well. Who am I to give up when she finds the strength to continue? Also, in some point women from both sides of the war joined to the non-violent movement. Women who were basically enemies of each other decided to gather together as one and stop the war because of their common fear as mothers to their children. Their motherhood connected them. And at the end the only way to bring a change is by collaborating.”

Can you imagine yourself sitting together with Palestinian girls in one room and doing the same thing? How wonderful would it be?

 

–          “What is your dream for a better future? What is a better future in your opinion? What would it look like?”

Leymah: “A future in which people will not be discriminated regarding their sex, skin color, race, gender… But especially a better future for our children, a one in which I would like my children to live in.”

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