Dear Friends,

We are delighted to publically announce that the Board of Directors of EcoPeace Middle East accepted the recommendation of a select committee to appoint Ms Nada Majdalani as the new Palestinian co-director of the organization.

Nada joins us with many years of experience as an environmental expert and a long-standing commitment to the vision of EcoPeace.

When next in the region please come by and visit Nada and our new Palestinian office now being opened in Ramallah.

–          EcoPeace Middle East

 

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New Water Agreement Between Israel and the PA

Water_DealWe at EcoPeace are glad to share with you the news of a very positive development regarding water issues in the region. After years’ of negotiations, on July 13th, under the auspices of U.S. Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt, a deal was finally reached between Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, and Minister Mazen Ghoneim, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority.  According to the agreement, Israel will sell 33 million cubic meters (mcm) of water to the PA, 10mcm of which will go to Gaza and 23mcm to the West Bank.

EcoPeace contributed to the developments that led to this deal and we congratulate all the parties involved in this important achievement. The additional water for Gaza is of particular importance at this time. It is important to remember however that while it will alleviate the dire water crisis that is affecting the lives of millions of Palestinians, this is still a technical deal and not the political agreement that we at EcoPeace have been advocating for many years. For further details see the media articles – and the U.S. House of Representative press release below:

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EcoPeace Speaking Up in the Israeli Knesset

Gaza sewage_cGidon Bromberg, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, voiced our concerns at an emergency session of the Knesset’s Interior Affairs and Environment Committee convening to discuss the Gaza sanitation crises.  Sewage flowing from the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean led to the Israeli Health Ministry closing down two beaches, and a ground water pumping station due to sewage accumulating in Wadi Hanun, near the Israeli border. (Photo opposite)  With no better example than this to demonstrate the interdependency of our shared environment, EcoPeace is calling on all sides to reconsider the cut in electricity to Gaza in order to avoid a humanitarian, ecological and security disaster. Read more in these articles by the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.

Later in the month, at the Knesset’s Dead Sea Caucus, Mr. Bromberg presented Knesset_DSEcoPeace’s position on how best to stabilize the receding level of the Dead Sea. We were encouraged by words from the Jordanian Ambassador who was in attendance as well, who specifically mentioned the good work being carried out by EcoPeace on regional water issues.

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EcoPeace “Water Cannot Wait” Project Highlighted in New Academic Research Report

Neds reportA new research report, A future for Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding, authored by Dr. Ned Lazarus, a visiting Professor at George Washington University and before that the Middle East Program Director for Seeds of Peace, shows that; grassroots Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding projects work!; are a vital missing ingredient in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; and should receive much more support from the international community.

EcoPeace’s ‘Water Cannot Wait’ project was a case study for the report, with one of the key findings stating that “Peace building projects change policy”. The report is also prefaced by Jonathan Powell, the chief British negotiator during the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

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Regional Alumni seminar

DSCN3949The heat of July in the Jordan Valley didn’t discourage EcoPeace young leaders from Palestine, Jordan and Israel to meet together and learn about the complexities of water issues in the Middle East and explore the solutions that EcoPeace suggests. The young leaders are Water Trustee Alumni who grew up, some from the age of 13, in the Good Water Neighbor project in their local community.

Equipped with background on their local water problems and vision for a sustainable future, the youth discussed their model of environmental leadership. They analyzed how water has affected regional trends, such as women’s place in society, climate change and conflict. They went on to assess how EcoPeace’s projects, such as the Jordan River Master Plan and the Water Energy Nexus initiative, can address regional challenges and aspire to a better future. The Alumni also developed activity stations and a special treasure hunt to explore the environmental aspects of the SHE EcoPark.  At the graduation ceremony Mr. Munqeth Meyhar, Jordanian EcoPeace Director, congratulated the young leaders and said they give him hope for a better future in the Middle East. Read more in this blog written by one of the Alumni.

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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Good Water Neighbors II in Bosnia-Herzegovina

CEE_BosniaA 2nd phase of the Good Water Neighbors project has begun in Bosnia-Herzegovina, led by the NGO Center for Ecology and Energy (CEE) in Tuzla, (supported by the Bosch Foundation).  Following a successful one year pilot project focused on youth and GIS mapping in the Spreca River Basin, they are now expanding to the adult sector.

This next phase will see the development of a “Neighbors Path”, a “Big Jump” event, and other activities that follow our model of environmental peacebuilding.  We wish them continued success and will stay in close contact to assist if needed.

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EcoPeace at the Israeli Ecology & Science Conference

Nadav reportAnother opportunity to present our newly published research paper “Decoupling National Water Needs for National Water Supplies: Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin” was at the Annual Ecology and Science Conference in Herzilya this month. EcoPeace staff Water Officer Nadav Tal, explained how the report 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 ecology and science experts from all over Israel, 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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EcoPeae Website Goes Trilingual

trilingual websiteOur website has gone trilingual!  Look for the language buttons on the top of the homepage, near our red Donate button.

We also updated our “share” buttons, now found on the right side of each page, and have updated all our emails to end in @ecopeaceme.org, similar to our website domain (although @foeme.org emails will still be forwarded!)

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EcoPeace’s 5-Year Strategy

5-year brochure_coverWe are happy to share our brochure summarizing our 2017-2021 Strategic 5 Year Plan that outlines our mission, vision, the strategic objectives of both our bottom-up and town-down programming. Helpful as well is as a concise, visual one-page “pyramid” version of this strategy.  They are both posted on our new webpage “Our Strategy“.

 

Please share the documents to those that might be interested in learning about our work and mission.

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 30, 2017

A Summer Time Cross Border Experience

From the 17th to the 19th of July, 2017 Ecopeace hosted the second Regional Alumni Seminar at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh Eco-park. The event included Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian students and was facilitated by staff members from the three Ecopeace offices. Many of the participants were formerly involved with the water trustees and now, post-graduation are considered Alumni of the program.

The seminar consisted of three stages with each containing four areas of education. Many students were strangers and visibly anxious prior to the beginning of the event so the facilitators began with ice breaker games. In a matter of minutes everyone was laughing and sporting broad smiles regardless of nationality.  Once everyone felt more comfortable, introductions were given as well as wonderful presentations by current Ecopeace interns. These presentations were especially powerful as they not only provided information, but also meaningful insight to their personal life experiences as water trustees and their involvement in environmental issues.

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Following this introduction, the seminar began in earnest with the first scheduled stage. The general concept for the first stage was to introduce or further students thinking on specific topics relating to the region. Many participants possessed firsthand knowledge on the topics from experiences in their communities. The first stage included sessions based on demography/women’s role in society, conflict resolution, green economies and participants expectations of learning outcomes. Within the sessions, student representatives from each country presented their personal life stories and how their local communities are involved in environmental work. For example the Palestinian representative discussed her campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags. The Israeli representatives presented their work in raising awareness about urban trash and its removal throughout the Baka municipality.

These personal testimonies, allowed the student to really open up and connect with one another on a much deeper level. Afterward, students were divided into groups where concepts of environmental leadership were discussed. More specifically, students were given pictures depicting different leadership techniques and were asked to choose pictures which they felt most closely related to them followed by an explanation of their selection. The idea here was to really get people thinking abstractly about what leadership means to them and how it can be represented in non-traditional ways. Having an activity of this sort helped students to acknowledge that there are many ways in which they can serve as leaders.

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Day two began with providing a lecture on the regional water crisis and modern day realities of climate inconsistencies and dynamic weather patterns. This information was presented within the context a larger context of Ecopeace’s efforts in sustainability and the formulation of a regional master plan.  The lecture gave students insight to the motivation and origins of Ecopeaces work.

Following the lecture, students split into groups and took time to present some excellent work they had completed during the first stage.

As the day progressed, participants shifted their focus to stage two which followed a similar schedule as day one. The content, however, had students shifting their focus to a new set of topics. The groups included food security/agricultural water reuse, water energy nexus, eco-tourism and Ecopeace’s regional master plan. After being presented with this information, the students were engaged in a discussion session where they were able to further their understanding of the concepts.

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After stage two, participants engaged in an open space session where they were given time to speak freely and comfortably about sensitive topics of the region. During the session, there was some basic facilitation but other mainly, the students were given direction over the conversation. The idea here was that students would feel more comfortable and able to ask questions and lead the conversation if they were in charge rather than program facilitators. In addition, the open session gave students an opportunity to address these issues with limited oversight from facilitators.

Stage three was not completed due to time constraints.

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The seminar concluded with a student led feedback session in which students suggested improvements to future programs and if their expectations were fulfilled. This was also a crucial aspect of the event as it provided the program facilitators with valuable information as to their performance. This was followed by a graduation ceremony and the presentation of participation certificates. Overall, the three day event was a great success for everyone involved. It was enriching and inspiring to see Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli youth coming together and interacting with one another on such positive terms. With hope, these students will become the future of environmental protection and conflict resolution in the region.

 

Written By: Dina Almuhtadi and Ian Meier

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 30, 2017

Alumni Seminar – Personal Reflections

Sandra from Palestine

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

This quote has always inspired me to be the best leader, so with this quote in my mind I have chosen to be with Ecopeace to let them see my hard work, passion, ambitions and dreams to be a good leader in my community. I wish to be the change and to make the change. When they gave me the chance to be part of this environmental group, I said yes, this is my chance to improve my life.

My ambitions to be here allow me to take every single word, information and presentations in a serious way. Because of this I have listened very carefully to everything in order to be sure that I can understand and learn from everything, especially this camp.

This camp has opened my eyes to see the real problems and how much it effects on many other things in life. Actually, my heart is broken because of the hard situation I have heard about. In conclusion with the knowledge I’ve looked into and the friendships I made and through my ability to get through both the fun moments and the sad ones, I am going to show people that I can make the change with a lot of energy.

“Through you, nothing is impossible”

 

Tamara from Israel

Elhamdulela is the first word I learned when I first decided to make an attempt to speak in Arabic. ElHamdulela I decided to go to the Ecopeace alumni seminar in Jordan because im pretty sure it was one of the best decisions I have made. Before Jordan and Ecopeace seminars, I went to an international high school for the past year in Israel where there are 20% Israelis, 20% Palestinians, and the last 60% is from all around the world who came to specifically partake in this crazy adventure of a program in hopes of achieving the schools goal: “A force for peace and sustainability in the Middle East.” I have lived with Palestinians and as an Israeli; I can say peace is possible, and understanding and appreciating each other is possible, regardless of which side of the border we are on. Attending the Ecopeace conferences only made me more sure of what I already believed, that politics don’t necessarily separate me and my friends across the border. In my first conference I was laughing, and dancing with my new Palestinian and Jordanian friends. One Jordanian girl told me we were like sisters who found each other. A Palestinian boy told me he will never forget me. So elhamdulela for the mentors who supported us students during the mini-journey of meeting our family that we never really realized we were connected to. Elhamdulela for Ecopeace, who simply made it possible for us to meet, because this mini-journey will be imbedded in our memories. Elhamdulela.

 

Malak from Palestine

The 17th of July camp in Jordan that lasted three days with Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli girls was my second time to be in Jordan. However, this has been different from any other camp I have attended in the past. The participants are so great and active. They all want to learn, to improve, they want to learn about each other’s culture and language. Also a highlight of the camp for me was meeting my old friends who traveled to Japan with me. Also, I tried during this camp to teach the participants how to do morning exercises. I felt as a leader, so I also engaged in the debate about the Zeqlap dam.  It was a really great experience. I learned more about how to be a good leader.  Also I received new knowledge about how to solve problems as an individual or as a group.

 

Mohammad from Palestine

I am Mohammad from Palestine living in the West Bank. I joined Ecopeace in 2013 and I am proud to say that I am an active member there. Ecopeace has affected me and my colleagues positively. For me, it changed my life and developed my personality. Since Ecopeace holds lots of events and workshops, I have participated in many national and regional camps, events and workshops. For example, I attended two events in Auja and 3 ones at SHE in Jordan. Each seminar that the organization holds has a specific goal which does its best to achieve it. One of these events that I have been a member of was the tour guide workshop at Auja/ Palestine and its goal was training students to get ready for working in the field under the umbrella of the Alumni program. And also, I have participated in an Ecopeace workshop at SHE/ Jordan which aimed to emphasize the importance of the environment, how to protect it, and focusing on dealing with environmental cases. Finally, I hope that Ecopeace will keep on being active and hold more events in the future.

Asal from Jordan

Confidence is one of the most personal aspects that Ecopeace develops for its participants, so I am very lucky to be one of them. I have gained a lot through taking part in the events and workshops, also I became more able to open up and speak without hesitation or being shy during sessions. In addition, Ecopeace makes me more aware towards the situation of water and environment in the region. It also teaches me how to deal with environmental issues. As a result, I have awareness of the importance of water and balanced ecosystems. Moreover, I see Ecopeace as a successful NGO on the level of the collaboration and breaking the ice between people from different places and beliefs. For example, I participated in the last regional Alumni seminar on this month which involved students from Palestine, Jordan and Israel. I have been able to communicate perfectly; we shared our cultures, traditions and our social media accounts. During activities of the seminar, I noticed that the stereotypical image that had been pictured in my mind was changing for another honest and positive one. In conclusion, I wish more success and development for this honourable organization and to be the top 1 institute that does environmental activities.

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A session with a group of high school students from The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) took place on 4 July 2017 at Ecopeace Middle East’s Office in Amman. The aim of the session was to raise awareness in relation to environmental degradation and to inform the students about EcoPeace’s efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River.

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The session began by introducing EcoPeace as a projects oriented organization with an overall objective of promoting peace and cooperation over the shared environment in the region.  EcoPeace’s Jordanian assistant director Mr. Abd al Rahman Sultan focused on the quick demise of the Jordan river and explained how conflict and lack of cooperation led to the current sorry state of the river. Consequently, the students began to understand the importance of EcoPeace’s solutions to help reviving the river, not as an isolated stream of water, but as a part of a larger eco-system.

The importance of the Jordan River is not limited to its natural value, but also to its cultural significance. The Jordan River is considered holy by more than half of humanity as it is mentioned in the holy books of Muslims, Jews and Christians. The students were able to see how the spiritual value of the River can play a vital role in rehabilitating it.

The session ended by introducing EcoPeace’s master plan for the rehabilitation of the Jordan Valley. One of the main challenges to any sustainable solution is how to manage human activities in a way that  does not damage the environment. Convincing different actors to work together in a harmonious way is never easy and the students were able to relate as this challenge is a global one and not restricted to a certain region.

Finally, the whole experience was beneficial for both sides. The students had the opportunity to learn, and their perceptions as outsiders helped EcoPeace’s staff to view what they do with fresh eyes.

 

Written by: Jumana Al Bakheet

Dear Friends,

This summer newsletter is released with the water and sanitation crises in Gaza at the forefront of our concerns. Please do follow our efforts to avert a disaster from taking place by sharing our alerts through social media.

EcoPeace Middle East

 

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IDC event with EcoPeaceIDC_roundtable

On June 20, EcoPeace Middle East, INSS and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung held a roundtable event on “Water Security – Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperation in the Middle East” as part of the prestigious Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya Conference. The event welcomed a great number of distinguished experts, academia, representatives of the international community and government officials, to discuss challenges and opportunities regarding water security in the region. Our presentations and much of the discussions focused on the need to promote a broader water security understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and the need to develop a water security dialogue between Israel, her neighbors, and the international community.

 

This event was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Israel

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Following up on Israeli Comptroller’s Report

Gidon_Comptrollers_review_mtngFurther to the item in our last newsletter regarding the Israeli Comptroller’s Report, that revealed the dire reality of present cross-border Israeli  Palestinian water issues, Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli Director spoke at two events this month that reviewed the recommendations of the report.  At a session during the annual Environment Day in the Israeli Knesset, as well as in the Rivers’ Workshop – that this month was dedicated specifically to reviewing the Comptrollers report – Mr. Bromberg reiterated its findings as regards to cross border water management: the need for orderly clear government policy that assigns responsibility, leadership and coordination to one government body.  He presented the urgency of the situation in Gaza as an example of the failure of past policies.

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Madrid Conference Madrid_Conf

EcoPeace Middle East was invited by the Spanish NGO “Fundacion Promocion Social de la Cultura” to hold a round table discussion titled “From Crisis to Opportunity – Water and Sustainable Development in the Middle East” on June 13th in Madrid, hosted by the Casa Arabe and with the support of the Spanish Cooperation. Gidon Bromberg, Nada Majdalani and Giulia Giordano spoke on regional water security issues, including the case of the Jordan River and the water crisis in Gaza. The roundtable saw the very positive participation of high level speakers, including H.E. Mazen Ghuneim, Palestinian Minister of Water.

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EcoPeace staff participates in a Water Workshop in MIT

Giulia_MIT_water_workshopEcoPeace staff Giulia Giordano was selected to participate in the ‘Water Diplomacy Workshop’, which was held at M.I.T., in Boston Massachusetts in June 2017. The Water Diplomacy Workshop is a joint-learning experience, combining the science of water with the negotiation instruction methodologies developed by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard’s Law School. Interactive lectures, problem-solving method instruction, and role-play simulations helped participants learn the techniques and strategies presented in the Water Diplomacy Framework.

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“WEN” Roundtable – Israel

Further to the previous two roundtables that took place in Amman and Ramallah last month (reported in our previous newsletter), WEN_Isr_roundtablean Israeli roundtable was held in Jerusalem in the end of June. Initial data from the pre-feasibility study of our Water and Energy Nexus project was presented by researcher Dr. David Katz, to a wide group of stakeholders; including representatives from government ministries (Energy & Water, Environment, Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation), as well as the private sector and academia. It was encouraging to hear that all attendees expressed their initial support for the project, followed with thoughtful, important feedback that the next stage of research will seek to incorporate.

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

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Jordan River tour to UK Interfaith Delegation

UK_Interfaith_group_JRThis month, EcoPeace staff from Jordan, Israel and Palestine, took turns hosting an Interfaith Delegation from the UK led by Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith.  The group started their study tour in Jordan by visiting our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark and learning about the environmental challenges facing the region in general, and the Jordan River in specific. They then spent several days in Israel and Palestine, visiting sites on the Jordan River where possible, at Naharayim and at the Kaser el Yehud baptism site, and learned about our faith based program that calls on religious leaders to contribute their voices to the need for the rehabilitation of the River.

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

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Presentation to Israel Geography Teachers

EcoPeace Middle East Israeli Hydrologist, Nadav Tal, was honored to be the opening Nadav_Isr_Geog_Teachersspeaker at the Annual Israeli Geography Teachers Conference.  Nadav’s one hour lecture on “Water in the Middle East – Geopolitical issues in light of climate change and developing needs”, presented to the teachers current water issues such as the decrease in rainfall in the north of Israel in the last few years, the state of the Sea of Galilee, changes in the water sector following desalination and water reuse and opportunities for regional cooperation. He also presented innovative ideas for the future such as the Water-Energy Nexus and the results of a new study on Food Security.  Certainly a lot of water for thought!

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Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Stockholm Junior Water PrizeTwo “Water Trustees” from the ‘Ort Mekif Aravi’ Ramle School, from the Good Water Neighbors project’s Yarkon Basin, Ranadi Abu Rizak and Shirin Abu Riash, won the Stockholm Water Prize for small research projects. They were presented with the Certificate by the Biology Officer of the Ministry of Education. The two students used the hydroponic system that was built as part of the Good Water Neighbors project (featured in the last 2 newsletters) to research hydroponic lettuce growth.  Needless to say, EcoPeace applauds their efforts for this innovative research on water conservation and are very proud of their achievement.

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Tours and Lectures to U.S. students

Last week, EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator from Emek Hefer, Israel, took a group of Nadav_US_group_tourstudents from the Sabra Institute from New York City to see the water reality in the Alexander Watershed. The students were exposed for the first time to cross border pollution issues and began to understand the complex reality and the need for cooperation with the other side.  We are pleased at what Mr. Irving Safdieh, the President of the Institute said following the tour: “the experience really opened the eyes of our students to a side of multi ethnic cooperation they did not know before”.  EcoPeace looks forward to leading additional groups such as this one – to be able to open more eyes that can understand the complex reality in the region, and the need for environmental peace.

Rotem_Malek_Tulane_UnivOn June 20th, Palestinian and Israeli Good Water Neighbors staff, Malek Abualfailat and Rotem Weizman, gave a joint lecture to students from the Tulane University at Hebrew University’s Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace about the Good Water Neighbors Project. They discussed the achievements as well as the struggles of working on community initiatives under conflict, stressing the importance of environmental peacebuilding and the opportunities it can bring to the region.

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Emek Hefer / Baka Gharbia Youth day

As a special final event in the Good Water Neighbor’s program this school year, EcoPeace EH_Baka_youth_daystaff took youth Water Trustees from the ‘Ramot Yam’ School in Emek Hefer, to meet the youth Water Trustees from the neighboring community of Baka el Gharbia. For some of the Jewish students, it was the first time they met Arab youth, learning about the month of Ramadan, as well as the difficult environmental problems facing Baka el Gharbia, their neighbor.

 

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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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 2, 2017

The Best Day of My Life

I’m Malak Bkierat and have been involved with EcoPeace for the last six years. I’m 18 years old from Jerusalem and I’m currently studying English literature at Bethlehem University.

Thursday, 6th April, was one of the best days of my life. I was invited to participate in a three-day camp in Ein Karem with Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli girls. The camp was just for women, a fact that I really liked. When I arrived I was amazed to see the beautiful nature of that place. To be in nature, where everything is green,  makes the soul feels peaceful. I noticed that other girls at the camp had the same feeling.

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I participated in youth camps with Israeli girls before, but this was my first time to be with Jordanian girls, which made the whole experience more pleasing. I consider EcoPeace to be my second family. and I feel that i can be myself when I am with them.

We engaged in many activities, but the activity I enjoyed the most was “role playing”, acting as famous women who really suffered in order to be independent and leaders. Women, such as Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai were environmental leaders and had a positive impact on the environment. It was a great opportunity to gain knowledge about many things that I didn’t know before.

I played the role of Wangari Maathi. I was really nervous at the beginning, but later I felt like a leader who wants the best for her community and who wants to help other women. After we finished this activity, I started to think how difficult it was for Wangari to achieve all of these things without motivation from anyone at the beginning, but then i felt that this is what I really want.

On the last day of the camp we went to the forest to talk about our feelings and about what we can take with us from this experience. Then we were asked to sit by ourselves; everyone had to sit alone and to be aware of the surrounding nature. At that moment I started to notice things that I have never paid attention to before. For instance, I listened to the wind blowing and to the birds singing. I started to think about the impact of human activities on nature

At a deeper level, there is a bond between humans and nature, it is something I felt when I traveled to Japan, it was another camp for women where we learned how to protect nature and how to recycle trash to make it useful, an attempt to create balance between human activities and nature achieving harmony and sustainability.

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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

 

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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

TripAdvisor

 

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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