Dear Friends,

Staff at EcoPeace traveled the world this month, speaking at conferences in Bogota Colombia (don’t miss this video) and Rome, Italy;  attending a film workshop at the Sundance Institute’s Utah resort, and a MEDFORVAL sites meeting at the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon .

Next month it will be Directors going abroad; including a public event at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. on November 15th from 9-11:30 am (click here if you would like to attend).  If you would like to meet with our Directors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington or Stockholm, email Giulia Giordano.

Please read “Jordan Water Crisis Worsens as Mideast Tensions Slow Action“, written by AP; New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News and Fox News.

EcoPeace Middle East



Diplomat Tour “Gaza on the Edge”

On October 24th, EcoPeace staff led a group of representatives of diplomatic missions Diplomat Tour around Gazaand international organizations on a study tour of the Israeli areas neighboring the Gaza Strip. The tour “Gaza on the Edge” showed the transboundary implications of the Gaza water and sanitation crisis on the Israeli communities, proving that political borders do not apply to the environment. The participants had the chance to meet with Mayor Alon Shuster, one of the Israeli mayor signatories of a letter addressed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Lieberman demanding that Israel takes action to solve Gaza’s water, energy and sanitation crisis.

This event was undertaken in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Israel office.

EcoPeace at “One Young World” Summit – Bogota Columbia

One Young World_RotemRotem Weizman, EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator, was chosen to represent Israel at One Young World Summit in Bogota, Colombia. Rotem was chosen as one of the five delegates to present their work during the conference at the Peace & Reconciliation Plenary Session. She was introduced by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, who also spoke about the importance of Environment and Peace Building and praised EcoPeace’s work both on stage and on Twitter. Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and other young delegates spoke about their efforts to promote peace around the world.  This is a speech you must listen to.


“Dead Sea Guardians” team in a Sundance Film Institute Lab – Utah, USA

EcoPeace was honored to receive an invitation, together with two Israeli filmmakers working on a documentary based on our last year’s Dead Sea Swim event, called “Dead Sea Guardians“, to participate in a 4-day “Stories of Change” Lab by the renowned Sundance Film Institute. The “Dead Sea Guardians” were 1 of 4 teams from around theDead Sea Guardians world chosen to attend the workshop, held in the beautiful Sundance Resort in Utah.  Each team was comprised of filmmakers and social entrepreneurs, with each one at a different phase of film development. Stay tuned for the full length feature!

 


Water & Climate: Meeting of the Great Rivers of the Word, International Summit – Rome, Italy

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Project Coordinator, Mira Edelstein, was invited to present the m13organization’s efforts on the rehabilitation of the Jordan River at the “Water & Climate: Meeting of the Great Rivers of the World” International summit, that took place from October 23-25 in Rome.  Along with other great rivers around the world, including the Amazon, Mississippi, Yangtze, Danube, Rhine, Murray-Darling and many more, this conference aimed at raising the importance of including climate change mitigation into river management. The declaration of the conference will be presented at the upcoming Climate Conference in Bonn.

 


New Halhul Environmental Course Opens with EcoPeace

Hahul hikeEcoPeace’s Palestinian staff was contacted by the Halhul Municipality and its Youth Council to present our work in the field of environment and water at the opening of their new environmental course in Halhul City. The course began with a 6 kilometer nature hike with a number of institutions and representatives from the Hebron Governorate in attendance.  We look forward to continued cooperation in this important course and applaud those that helped in its development.


EcoPeace Teaches Sustainability at YOCOPAS

On October 27th, as part of the Eastern Mediterranean International School YOCOPASYOCOPAS conference, Rotem Weizman, ‘Good Water Neighbors’ project’s Community Coordinator of the Yarkon Basin, led a workshop for students from around the world about community activism. The students built a drip irrigation bottle garden and learned about how these activities can break language barriers, bring people together and make sustainability accessible to all. In two hours the students changed their school’s entrance from a boring fence to a recycled blooming garden.


Sapir Academic College – EcoPeace’s 1st Academic Course

Sapir College

This summer, a joint course was held by the Sapir Academic College and EcoPeace Middle East, the first of its kind, led by Dr. Shlomit Tamari, ‘Good Water Neighbors’ project’s Community Coordinator of the Hebron-Besor Basin, and lecturer in environmental education at Sapir College. 37 students took part in the course on ‘Environmental Activism and Peace-Building’.  One student, a Bedouin resident of the town of Rahat, wrote in the final paper of the course: “I was never interested enough to delve into environmental and water issues, but this course made me start thinking about them”.


Hands of Peace alumni – EcoPeace tour and workshop in P’ki’in

hands of peace logoAs part of our efforts to build partnerships with like-minded organizations and create a collective impact, Adam Waddell, our Good Water Neighbor’s project Community Coordinator in the Jordan Valley presented EcoPeace’s vision of cross-border environmental dialogue and regional cooperation to a group of Hands of Peace alumni, which held a retreat in P’ki’in, a village located in a mixed Arab-Jewish area where coexistence is a way of life. We both hope to foster continued cooperation between the two organizations.


Cross Border Jordanian/Palestinian Municipal Visit

Madaba ObeidaEcoPeace sees a major development between the two Good Water Neighbor’s municipalities of Madabe (Jordan) and Obadieh (Palestine). They organized a regional visit, exchanged ideas and promoted more cooperation on tourism and sanitation. On the 17th of October, ten participants from the Obadieh City headed by the Mayor, visited Madaba. The visit included discussion on continuing the ‘twinning’ between the two municipalities, finding common solutions to a number of environmental and tourism problems, and continuing general information exchange. The Palestinian group was welcomed by the Mayor Eng. Ahmad Salameh Al Azaidah.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza.

EcoPeace gets briefed on Hebron issues

EcoPeace’s Palestinian Director and senior staff conducted a series of visits to the Hebron district municipalities to discuss water, sanitation, and infrastructure challenges andHebron meeting opportunities in the region. The visits included Hebron, Dura, and Yatta municipalities where discussions stressed the importance of civic engagement, women’s participation, and the promotion of the Hebron Waste Water Treatment Plant. Also included was a site visit to Sussiya, where the team met the Head of the Council and witnessed the harsh reality of residents not having proper access to water, sanitation, and energy.

This project is supported by the Government of Canada

MEDFORVAL annual meeting – Lebanon

EcoPeace Amman staff Abed Sultan participated in the 3rd annual MEDFORVAL meeting held from October 23rd – 25th at the Shouf Biosphere Reserve in Lebanon.  Members from 19 Mediterranean Sites (our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark is a proud member site) gathered to discuss the ecological values of Mediterranean Forests. Participants MEDFORVALbrought up ideas for future projects and the prospects of expanding to other sites in the Mediterranean region. The meeting included additional topics such as active community participation, authentic local food diets, best nurseries practices, seedling strength and adaptation to climate change in relation to forests.  Click on this video for a good summary of the annual meeting.


Activities, groups and events at our SHE EcoPark

We had a very busy and exciting month at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark.

Some of the highlights:

  • Seeds of Peace youth from Amman engaged in several activities including geodesic btydome building, a hiking tour, the Zipline and the Giant Swing;
  • a tour of the EcoPark led by Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director, who showed them the facilities and gave an introduction about the Park’s objectives;
  • Rotary Club brought the Prince Aliah School from Amman to visit the EcoPark, hearing lectures about hygiene and water, and toured the EcoPark with all its different environmental education stations;

 

  • 50 orphans were hosted at the EcoPark who came via the Local Charityxx Foundation; seeing their faces on the Giant Swing at the Park made us very happy;

 

  • Garden of Good” – the Italian Embassy inSHE_memorials and delegates Jordan, “Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide (Gariwo)”, a non-profit organization that deals with culture, education and memory, and EcoPeace, inaugurated a “Garden of Good” at the EcoPark this month. 7 memorials were erected for 7 Jordanian personalities who have made notable efforts and sacrifices for humanity. In attendance were Mayors, the Governor, as well as family members of the fallen who planted 7 trees near the park’s Deluxe Cabins area. (read more in this Jordan Times article or in this Gariwo article)

 

 

Advertisements
Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | October 29, 2017

Kizuna Means Bond

My name is Maryam Hammad and I’m a Palestinian from Jerusalem. I was a participant IMG_1035in Kizuna summer camp 2017. I’m happy to share that I created and found bonds with nature and great ongoing friendships with all the participants in the program.  And it was very nice to see the girls from the previous EcoPeace camps.

The KIZUNA Project aims to provide an opportunity for Israeli, Palestinian and Japanese youths to experience the “SATOYAMA” (a mountain village area in Japan) as a way of life. Kizuna means “bond”, so by living and learning about this model of positive relationships between people and nature and people and people they can return home and aspire to be future leaders in their communities that can work towards a sustainable society. With various activities in a nature-rich mountain village where people have been succeeding their own traditions and cultures through generations, participants learn about sustainability in order to take action in their own community after the camp. Participants are expected to establish relationships with each other, based on the knowledge of the Satoyama, as youths living in the same world and establish a human network for the future.

I have always wanted to make a change in my community and be a great leader of IMG_20170809_100002_HDRtomorrow. As they say “the change starts from you,” so I want to say a massive thank you to PFJ, because the program opened my eyes to the amazing, and unforgettable healthy ways of living. I’m proud to say that now I can live this way because I experienced it. Starting from being thankful and having appreciation for everything on earth. Also knowing the importance of culture and the concept of a sustainable society. All of these things will always stay in my mind and it will help me change myself and make changes in my community. The program means many things to me because it opened up my perspective on different issues in my personal life and it gave me a feeling of inner peace with participants in every activity. I have incredible memories.

I remember one of the nights that we were having a long night chat. We talked about IMG_2153ourselves, sharing funny as well as serious moments. We were all in a circle but I didn’t feel we were all a circle of normal girls having a night talk. That night by sharing similar thoughts, funny stories, as well as serious conversations, we felt very close. I felt like I found my twin versions from different worlds.

 

I can proudly say that I found positive growth in myself and acquired more knowledge than I could have imagined. In the end I want to say that change is possible and it all starts from you.


Written by: Maryam Hammad, Palestinian participant in the Kizuna Japan camp.

5th Regional Teachers SeminarDSCN4555

For the 5th consecutive year, EcoPeace held a Regional Teacher’s Conference, gathering together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli educators, teachers and environmental activists to create a platform for teachers to connect across borders, to celebrate the work they are doing, and to learn best practices for incorporating environmental education into the curriculum. By bringing together education professionals interested in learning more from their peers and colleagues, the conference supports leaders for the next generation. The seminars throughout the weekend, held at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, helped construct a framework for regional water education and classroom strategies for approaching the topic of food and water security. Underlying all of the seminars was the assertion that there is a need for more water diplomacy.  Read more in our blog post.


Jenin Waste Water Treatment Plant updates

Jenin visitNada Majdalani, the new Palestinian Director of EcoPeace, together with Palestinian staff from the “Good Water Neighbors” project visited the Jenin area this month. They toured the Jenin Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) and learned about the status of the facility at a meeting with representatives from the municipality of Jenin. They discussed possible future cooperation, especially on fundraising opportunities that could design, build, and operate solar fields to provide the Jenin WWTP with electricity.  See an article in Maan news about this visit with the Mayor of Jenin.


Tel Aviv Cities Summit; Baka Gharbiya in the spotlightTel Aviv

On September 5th, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, presented the organization’s work in the 8th Tel Aviv City Summit. The summit brought together speakers from around the world to address questions such as ‘How can cities become beacons of democracy?’; ‘How can we create the cities of tomorrow?’; ‘What role does innovation play in helping cities plan their future?’.

Gidon gave an example from our “Good Water Neighbors” project whereby the project brought together Israeli residents of Baqa Al-Gharbiya and Palestinian residents of Baqa Al-Sharkiya to advocate for the rehabilitation of Wadi Abu Nar, a stream that flows through both communities, and is highly polluted.  Subsequently, the Mayors of both communities identified the opportunity to remove the stream’s pollutants: Baka Al Sharkiya’s sewage could be sent and treated in the newly built Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Baka Al Gharbiya, and signed on a Memorandum of Understanding stating their cooperation to promote this idea.  Importantly, EcoPeace continued to help with getting the necessary approval by the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Water Committee (JWC) and in securing the financial support to build a sewage collection system for Baka Al Sharkiya and the neighboring communities.


New Hydroponics system in Youth Villagehyudroponics

For the new upcoming school year, EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator in the Emek Hefer area, Nadav Tal, together with 9th graders from the Hadassah Ne’urim Youth Village School built a hydroponic system.  As a ‘deep water culture’ facility this hydroponic system is different from previously build hydroponic systems.

The students took part in a study program where they learned how to monitor the concentration of the hydroponic fertilizer in the storage tank while measuring the growth of the plants. This teaches the students how to reduce resources and maintain water-efficient agriculture that can be maintained on the walls and roofs of buildings. They will continue to monitor results throughout the year, and share their findings with their peers.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza.


Hebron – Gaza watershed activities

In partnership with several organizations and activists, EcoPeace helped organize a Sderot_meetingHope instead of War” event in the southern Israeli city of Sderot.  This ‘Town Hall’ style event brought together Israelis from the Regional Councils around the Gaza strip, who called on the Israeli government to take immediate action regarding the situation in Gaza – for the benefit of the entire region.

Among the speakers were MK Amir Peretz, Sigal Moran, Head of the B’nei Shimon Regional Council and Ahmad, a resident of Gaza who, via phone, explained to the group the dire situation in Gaza.  MK Peretz’s closing words were clear: “Those who claim that this is their problem, and not ours, are wrong. We cannot ignore the situation“. We couldn’t agree more.

 This project is supported by the Government of Canada.


EcoPeace Director gives a TedX talk during WATEC exhibition

TedX

On September 13th, Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg participated in the first ever TedX Tel Aviv Salon talk on WATER, which was organized within the framework of the WATEC Exhibition and Conference. Mr. Bromberg, together with other prominent water experts, was asked to share his thoughts on the role people can play in preserving the most valuable resource for humanity.

Building on his 23 year experience as co-founder and co-director of EcoPeace Middle East, Mr. Bromberg addressed issues of water security in the region, highlighting how water diplomacy is fundamental in ensuring equitable access and sustainable use of water resources. The video of the talk will be available next month – stay tuned!


EcoPeace staff at the Euro-Israel Forum for Strategic Dialogue – and at Yale University

FSD_logo

On September 25th, the Euro-Israel Forum for Strategic Dialogue, the European Leadership Network, (ELNET), and the European Policy Center (EPC) held a conference in Brussels that focused on regional cooperation and stabilization, and Israel – EU relations.  EcoPeace’s Government Relations Officer, Uri Ginott, moderated a panel named “Tackling Water Diplomacy and Security in the Middle East” that included high level panelists from both the EU and Israel.

Mr. Ginott then continued on to the U.S., to present our work at the Macmillan Center for International Studies at Yale University, and to participate in workshops aiming to develop ideas on how to create regional academic hubs in the Middle East.


EcoPeace at the ‘AWRA’ conference

AWRAThe American Water Resources Association (AWRA), together with the Water Research Center of the Tel Aviv University, held a conference on September 10th-11th called Cutting Edge Solutions to Wicked Water Problems at the Porter School of Environmental Studies.  A wide range of presentations were given tackling the issue of water problems around the world (full program here), including 2 from EcoPeace:


EcoPeace at the Climate Chance Summit, Morocco

EcoPeace Palestinian staff member, Malek Abualfailat attended the Climate Chance Malek in MoroccoSummit in Agadir, Morocco which took place from the 11th-13th of September.  Mr. Abualfailat participated in the panel “Addressing the Role of Youth in Climate Change Policies” through the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network, of which EcoPeace Middle East is a founding organization. The session was funded by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Morocco, and the Union for the Mediterranean.


EcoPeace joins Women Wage Peace’s “Journey to Peace”

This year, Women Wage Peace – a grassroots organization of (not only) women, who WWP“will not stop until a viable peace agreement is reached” – is conducting a 2-week long “Journey to Peace”.  The kick-off day, October 24th, was held in the Western Negev in Israel, with EcoPeace staff and interns joining in the march, participating in the learning circles, and listening to many speeches and presentations throughout the day.  Additional staff participated in the following days, in Dimona and Um Batin, and taking to the microphones to explain the cross border work being carried out by EcoPeace in the water sector.


Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark wins ‘Top 100 Green Destinations in 2017’ – again!

EcoPeace is proud to announce that for the 2nd year in a row; our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan was named as one of the Top 100 Green Sustainable Destinations for 2017.  We’re on the map!  TOP 100 WIDE

The award celebrates the efforts of tourism destinations that maintain responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives and is a follow-up to National Geographic Traveler’s Destinations Stewardship surveys. The Top 100 initiative recognizes tourism destinations that make a difference and take sustainability seriously.  Contact us to come for a visit!


International Community School at the SHE EcoPark

btyOn September 14th – 16th, a group of 40 students and teachers from the International Community School visited the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark, taking part in a wide range of activities. The group learned about the advantages of dome architecture (visiting the large Dome structure on site), they were taught how to gauge biodiversity indexes (by identifying the different flora and fauna in the EcoPark), and participated in adventure activities (i.e. cycling, zip-lining and hiking) and learned about the benefits of local community service.  In the evening, they watched the movie “Solar Woman” that sparked lively discussions about climate change and solar energy.The school principal announced that he sees the SHE EcoPark as a “hub” for environmental education and recreation, and will continue to bring students there for a positive learning experience.


“Lens” Trainings

Three sets of trainings were held at the SHE EcoPark this month covering the topics ofbty food hazards, hospitality, and ecotourism and adventure tourism.  Together with EcoPark staff, these trainings included staff from 20 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) from the local communities who are working with the EcoPark as service providers, including women’s organizations and local tour guides.  Participants expressed their appreciation for the knowledge gained on each issue, enabling them to better develop their skills, each in their own field of work.

Rotary Schools Training on Water Harvesting and Hygiene Rotary

On September 22nd and 23rd, 2 full day trainings were held at the SHE EcoPark in partnership with Rotary International and Amman West Clubs.  Each day, a group of 50 students came to learn about good water practices, especially rainwater harvesting, as well as general health and personal hygiene issues.  EcoPeace continues to develop the EcoPark to be a learning center for many schools, organizations and clubs in the area – for environmental education and other important issues.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | October 2, 2017

EcoPeace marches with Women Wage Peace

Within the first month of interning at EcoPeace, we traveled in person to places of WWPimportance as it concerns boundary areas and transboundary water basins, starting near Gaza in the lower part of the Hebron-Besor-Gaza Basin, making our way to the upper part towards Hebron. Through our travels, it became clear that water issues are not restricted to one area or people, rather, it is an issue that concerns many communities throughout the region. Furthermore, it became apparent that cooperation and understanding are essential to effectively address transboundary issues.

As EcoPeace representatives, we joined the first of eleven days of The Journey to Peace 2017, organized by Women Wage Peace. The journey started in Sderot on Sunday, 24 September. The goal of the events is to bring Israelis of all political and religious spectrums together with Palestinians to spread the notion that peace in the region between all parties is possible, starting with peaceful interaction.

The theme of the first day’s journey took us through historically significant areas and sparked lively group discussions with reference to the past rift between Abraham’s wives, Sarah and Hagar, the mother’s of Ismail and Isaac (forefathers of Muslims and Jews, respectively), and the possibility to reconcile those feelings of dislike by bringing peace between the different sides in current times.

The day commenced with a demonstration along a busy road in Sderot, in the south of Israel near Gaza. Women as well as men walked and sang along the road, some holding flowers and a few proudly displaying the banner of the Women Wage Peace organization. Cars passed, honking or waving in support.

The procession made its way to a junction where three arches stood, embodying the name of the area, Sha’ar HaNegev, gateway to the Negev. Here is where the opening ceremony took place. Regional authorities gave speeches and the organization’s declaration of peace was read aloud.

WWP2Next, the group spent lunch listening to personal stories of people who lived within communities of the Negev: often times stories involving experiences of violence, but hoping for and working towards a better, peaceful future.

We then arrived at a kibbutz, the proximity such that one could see an open waste dump in the bordering Gaza strip. The waste management in Gaza is a concern for Palestinians and Israelis alike, as water contamination from poorly treated sewage has contaminated beaches on both sides of the border. Ultimately, transboundary water issues show the necessity for Israelis and Palestinians to work together. Meanwhile, in the kibbutz, study groups were formed, and biblical and modern texts were discussed in connection to what lessons one may take from the readings regarding relationships between people.

WWP3The last activity was that of crossing the rope bridge that hangs over a wadi, the river Besor, in the lower part of the water basin that runs from Hebron in the West Bank down through the south of Israel (Negev) through Gaza to the Mediterranean. This activity was symbolic of engaging and making peace between the various parties.

On Wednesday morning of the same week, we traveled to the upper part of the basin to meet at a Bedouin secondary school in Um Batin, where we learned of some troubles that they had with attaining a marked bus stop and crossing sign to safely access public transportation to school, and the continued question of whether or not the local water was safe for domestic use, despite having been through two rounds of treatment so far. The murky green appearance and evident pollution, such as plastic bottles, made the reason for questioning very clear.

The visit to the Bedouin village was a milestone in the Women Wage Peace organization’s history, and it is with great hope and expectation that each party works together in the future to make everyone in the region more equal.

While the events effectively fostered dialogue between all communities, it was surprising to notice the disparity between age groups and the low turnout of youth during the peace demonstrations. The demonstration taking place on Sunday, one could argue that most of them were kept busy in school or in the army. Yet, it seems the issue of peaceful entente is losing momentum among Israeli youth. The elderly who are genuinely contributing to this endeavor will need to be relayed soon enough, displaying the necessity for the youth to get more involved in such issues.

Overall, each day was full of talks and discussion, often accompanied with song and dance, an example of peace and harmony that is hoped for between all Israelis and Palestinians, and all nations for that matter, in the future. Through dialogue, openness to other perspectives and empathy with fellow human beings, the shared goal of peace becomes more easily attainable.


Written by Samy Graia and Racquelle Ramirez, interns of EcoPeace at the Tel Aviv office

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 18, 2017

Trans-boundary Water Management in the Classroom

DSCN4345From September 7-9, teachers and environmental activists from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine came together at EcoPeace’s SHE Park for the 5th Regional Teachers Conference. This regional conference was designed to create a platform for teachers to connect across borders, to celebrate the work they are doing, and to learn best practices for incorporating environmental education into the curriculum. By bringing together education professionals interested in learning more from their peers and colleagues, the conference supports leaders for the next generation.

DSCN4547The seminars throughout the weekend helped construct a framework for regional water education and classroom strategies for approaching the topic of food and water security. Underlying all of the seminars was the assertion that there is a need for water diplomacy between Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The Education Manager of the Tel Aviv Office commenced the seminars with a discussion of the “Four Principles for Regional Water Education,” which aim to prove that water goes beyond borders by characterizing the seminar participants by the nearest water basin (such as Yarkon, Jordan River, etc.) rather than by their nationality. This concept is called “regional thinking,” and is used to remove the political borders that are automatically set up when someone says they are from Jordan, Palestine or Israel, and to prove that water really does move “along, across, and under political borders.” These seminars provided teachers the opportunity to learn how to use environmental education as a tool towards cooperative stewardship.

DSCN4484In a discussion with a geography teacher from Arava, she highlighted the challenging nature of undertaking these discussions but emphasized that her students illustrated willingness to embrace studying environmentalism through a regional lens. She also described her intention to take an interdisciplinary approach when she returned to the classroom, and had plans to enlist fellow teachers in the chemistry, physics, and history departments to develop a lesson plan around the irrigation system of Masada in order to show the many ways to approach environmental education. Another teacher, from the Alexander/Zomer basin, said during the conference, “As a leader and as a teacher, you can identify the strength of each student, and when everyone or each of us will find our strengths, we can promote the goal of sustainability.” These teachers, and the others in attendance, illustrate the ability educators have to promote environmentalism in the context of the classroom.

From Tamara’s personal perspective as a recent graduate from EMIS, a school with a mission to “make peace and sustainability in the Middle East,” it was particularly impactful to see teachers sitting and listening as if they were students, willing to change a student’s life as well as change their surroundings. On the other hand, Sarah, comingDSCN4555 from the perspective of a young professional, felt it was powerful to see the opportunities provided for professional development by EcoPeace, and to see teachers’ willingness to participate in challenging discussions and develop strategies for successful implementation at home. Attending this conference highlighted the importance of EcoPeace’s work towards developing a network of grassroots activists who are dedicated not only to becoming leaders in their field, but also to educating the next generation of environmental stewards.


written by: Tamara Kanner (Tel-Aviv Office Intern) and Sarah Huckins (Amman Office Intern).

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 5, 2017

September 1st, 2017 Environmental Peacebuilding Newsletter

EcoPeace at World Water Week

Munqeth_WWWJordanian Co-Director of EcoPeace Middle East, Munqeth Mehyar, participated in the annual World Water Week in Stockholm that took place from August 27th – September 1st. World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues, and is attended by more than 3,000 people from 130 countries. This year’s event focused on “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse” with a long list of sessions and panels. On August 29th, EcoPeace’s Jordanian Director was a panelist in a session managed by the World Bank on the topic of “Water Security and Water Integrity Challenges in the MENA Region” and on August 30th, in a special session on “Water & Faith”, where he presented EcoPeace’s interfaith engagement in the rehabilitation process of the Lower Jordan River and the role that faith communities can play.


US Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and Israeli Mayor, Alon Schuster, discussing the Gaza crisis

Greenblatt_SchusterEcoPeace Middle East’s “Good Water Neighbors” project again proved its worth by showing its ability to motivate mayors to take leading action on cross border water issues; in this case, trying to prevent further deterioration in the Gaza water and sanitation crises. Learn more in these Jerusalem Post articles:

Israeli Mayors to the U.S.: Help Resolve Gaza Electricity, Water Crisis  and COGAT Works to Thwart Disease from Sewage Pollution


Tour with Israeli MK Zouheir Bahloul

MK tour

EcoPeace toured the Israeli communities that are situated around the Gaza Strip together with Member of Knesset Zouheir Bahloul (Labor Party), who is a member of the Interior Affairs and Environmental Protection Committee. The visit included the Erez checkpoint where sewage flows into Israel from Gaza, the Ziqim beach that was recently closed due to water pollution from Gaza, and the viewpoint of Gaza from the Anzac monument. Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, described to MK Bahloul the current environmental and humanitarian issues in Gaza and their direct impact on Israel including the health risks on both sides of the border.


Japan Seminar for Girls

JapanSeveral Palestinian and Israeli female graduates of EcoPeace’s educational program were invited to participate in the Kizuno project camp in Japan, hosted by “Peace Field Japan“. The girls learned and experienced the culture of Satoyama – an agricultural culture that has existed in Japan’s forested regions for hundreds of years and is considered a model of sustainable relations between humans and the environment. The group returned to their communities with a new understanding of environment and culture.


Girls Seminar at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark

Girls seminar_SHE

During the last days of the summer holiday EcoPeace held a special gathering that brought together young Jordanian and Israeli women. The gathering focused on empowering the women as environmental leaders in their respective communities. The women toured our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, and learned about different topics such as water in the Middle East, women environmental leaders in the area and the world, the water issues in Gaza and the Dead Sea and EcoPeace’s suggested solutions. They also experienced doing local crafts and making ‘seed balls’ as part of a sustainable agriculture workshop.


“Neighbor’s Path” Tour for Israeli Geography Teachers

Geography teachersMid-August wasn’t too hot for senior Geography teachers in Israel to venture out and learn first-hand about transboundary water issues in the Besor-Wadi Gaza Basin.  Starting from Beer Sheva, driving west to outlooks over the Gaza strip, the teachers heard about the history of water in the area – from biblical times to today. The teachers discussed the complex issues of the water and sanitation crisis in Gaza and how it is impacting Israel. The tour demonstrated the educational value of study tours to understand that water and sewage have no borders, and that there is an interdependency between neighbors in the basin which can’t be ignored.


ALLMEP Alumni Fair

alumni fairEcoPeace was excited to join ALLMEP‘s first “Peace Programs Alumni Fair”. EcoPeace staff was joined by several “Water Trustees” Alumni who shared their experiences in their years’ of participation in our “Good Water Neighbors” program. We also presented our work in general and how our alumni stay engaged. We offered simple solutions for alumni of other programs to continue spreading the message of environmental peacebuilding through introducing our “Neighbor’s Paths” and offering them to join our ongoing activities.


Jordan River Tours to “Interfaith Partners for Peace”

JR tourThis month, EcoPeace staff was invited to speak to 2 tour groups visiting the region through the “Interfaith Partners for Peace” organization.  Both groups included high level clergy from around the United States who were interested to hear EcoPeace’s perspective about water and faith, and how the two issues can teach us to promote a better culture of peace in the region. EcoPeace staff gave these talks on-site, at the iconic Jordan River, a River so iNewsletter Sept. 2017_Finalmportant to the 3 monotheistic religions, as an example of how people can come together to work on rehabilitation efforts in their respective faith communities back home.


EcoPeace’s Othman Tawalbe at the United Nations Youth Assembly

Othman at UNOthman Tawalbe, manager of our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, was honored to receive a grant by the ‘King Abdullah II Fund for Development’ in order to represent Jordan at the UN Headquarters in New York and to observe the 20th Session of the Summer Youth Assembly. The Youth Assembly reviewed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and explored cross-cutting issues and solutions for sustainable development in the social, economic, and environmental dimensions – with a special focus on youth – who are believed to have a unique set of skills and perspectives in today’s ever-evolving world and are at the frontlines of innovation and change.  Mr. Tawalbe is excited to bring back his lessons learned into youth activities at the EcoPark.


Student Groups Visit EcoPeace in Jordan

the Philos ProjectOn July 30, 2017, a group of 27 leaders from the Philos Project visited EcoPeace Middle East’s Amman office to learn more about the efforts on the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the peace process. The Philos project is the network hub for leaders and future leaders who are committed to promoting positive Christian engagement in the Middle East. Attendees were briefed on the Jordan River Valley’s current situation, the River of Jordan recent rehabilitation achievements, the faith – based campaign and the first ever Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley. Regional environmental issues in the Jordan River Valley require an international partnership for promoting the ecological rehabilitation to guarantee a prosperous long lasting peace.

Columbia studentsA group of 22 students of different nationalities from Columbia University visited Jordan and our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark between August 16th -19th to learn more about the region’s conflict, its complexity, and possible means to solve them. Water, biodiversity, agriculture were among the topics discussed. Site visits included the communities of Deir Allah and Hemmah, as well as the ancient ruins of Um Qais and the Yarmuk River reserve. EcoPeace assisted on the Eastern side of the Jordan to enrich the students’ information; the group will also visit the western side of the Jordan River in order to gain a regional perspective.

Owen Wise, a 16 year old member of Seeds of Peace from New York, learned aboutOwen Visit EcoPeace and the work we do to rehabilitate the environment and build peace between our neighbors. Owen decided to spend 10 days of his vacation at the SHE EcoPark to help improve the educational materials and to work on the Park’s water stations; examples that help illustrate wise-water use to students and visitors of the park. Owen helped with the building of a model gray water system, reuse of plastic bottles as alternative building materials for the bird hide, and many other tasks. In return, he learned much about the Jordan Valley environment, politics and people.


The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza.

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

 

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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:

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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!)

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

 USAID logo

——————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

8

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.

11

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.

DSCN3679

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.

DSCN3949

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

USAID logo

 

 

 

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.

USAID logo

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.

NSLI-Y (4)

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

Older Posts »

Categories