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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 14, 2017

Workshop on Empowering Young Women at SHE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Jumana Al Bakheet

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 8, 2017

Women in Regional Environmental Leadership

Happy International Women’s Day!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Written by: Sophie Clark, EcoPeace Intern, Tel Aviv

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Cross Border Women’s Tour in Jordanwomens mtng

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

 

Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark had a busy month!

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

EcoPeace Speaks With Palestinian-Israeli Bereaved Families Forum

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

 

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

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EcoPeace Water & Energy Nexus

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

 

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


 

Keeping the Dead Sea Afloat (in the news)

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

 

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

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Auja EcoCenter news

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

 

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

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J Street Conference 2017

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

 

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

 

 


 

EcoPeace staff Speaks with the Visiting Danish Minister of Environment

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

 


EcoPeace Washington DC Internship Opportunity

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

 

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

 


 

DON’T FORGET!

Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

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

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day

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

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


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

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

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

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Women Wage Peace group (October, 2016)

 

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

 

Leymah Gbowee

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

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

 

 

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

 

An Interview With Leymah Gbowee:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | February 8, 2017

Popping the Bubble

This weekend I had the privilege of going to EcoPeace’s EcoPark in Ein Gedi along with a group of 22 Israeli teenage youth water trustees. Working in the office in Tel Aviv, I was becoming worried about getting stuck in a bubble where I’d see the issues that EcoPeace deals with, the talk of a peace solution, and most importantly, the future generations that they inspire, as separate entities, as hypotheticals. But being on the ground, amongst those kids, seeing the issues first hand, and witnessing them bond with people who would usually be seen as ‘the other side’ brought to life for me how real and how vitally important EcoPeace’s work is.  sophie-photo-for-blog-1

When we arrived the kids immediately threw themselves into the outdoor activities, and, worried about a language barrier, I threw myself into the fresh pita and tahini and my role as photographer. But, being the inclusive and outgoing people that they are the kids pulled me over and insisted that I join their team for one of the games. Being cheered on in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, is an experience I will never forget.

This same spirit of inclusivity carried over into dinner where they showed me videos of their favourite singers and tv shows, and tried in vain to teach me how to dance. It’s clear that no matter the language I’ve got two left feet, but if my terrible dancing could give them all something to bond over then maybe it’s a blessing after all.sophie-photo-for-blog-2

The next day they got to practice being environmental leaders by leading discussions and presentations on a nature hike. Despite not understanding a lot of what they were saying, it was clear that they were all passionate and invested in the future of the environment in the region. The walk not only exposed me to the incredible landscape of Ein Gedi, but it was also a great opportunity to talk with a lot of the water trustees, to learn about their lives and their aspirations to be doctors and singers and teachers, to laugh, sing, and compare languages.sophie-photo-for-blog-3

Growing up in England and America all of the news surrounding Israel is bleak. It’s rare to see any sort of good-news story about the region, and if there is one it’s usually viewed as a ‘feel-good’ fluff piece on a slow news day. If you’ve never been here it’s easy to be pessimistic about the area based on what’s served up as pure fact. It should be mandatory for anyone with this mindset to go on a trip with the Youth Water Trustees. These kids are incredible. Firstly, most of them can read and write in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, that’s not just three languages it’s three alphabets. Nobody needs to worry about the intelligence of our future leaders. Secondly, they’re invested in the issues that really matter. They were there to talk about the Dead Sea and its lack of water, it didn’t matter to whom or with whom they were giving presentations, just that they could make a difference to their environment. The presence of different peers certainly factored into the experience but it wasn’t the defining point of the trip, and the normality with which they treated their friendships amongst each other was incredibly heartening to me. Thirdly, at the risk of sounding cliché, they’re all just normal teenagers. On Friday night we turned the music all the way up and had a dance party. We talked about boys and added each other on Snapchat as if we were in any other part of the world. So I would say to anyone who’s never been here: the future is filled with incredibly intelligent, relatable, people who are perfectly capable of putting biases aside to deal with the real issues at hand. It gives me a lot of hope which you should have too.

Written by: Sophie Clark

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Israel and the Palestinian Authority Re-establish Joint Water Committee

As many of our supporters may know, we have spent the past few years, via our Water Cannot Wait campaign, highlighting the lose–lose implications of prevailing water arrangements between Israelis and Palestinians. Though all the details have yet to be made public, the Joint Water Committee is now being re-initiated under njwc-water-dealew terms. This will help advance on-the-ground water supply and sanitation solutions to improve the livelihoods and environment for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The agreement however, still falls short of our objective to reach an equitable agreement on the fair and sustainable management of shared water and environmental resources.  An equitable agreement will have a transformative impact that will contribute to the building of trust and confidence between the parties. Read more about these developments here.


Regional Conference Proceedings

conference-proceedingsIn November 2016, EcoPeace held its annual regional water conference entitled “Water Security and Sustainable Development for our Common Future” in Jordan, as reported in our December newsletter.  The full Conference Proceedings are now finalized, including transcribed speeches and links to presentations and videos of all sessions.  They can be viewed here.

 

 National Teacher’s Seminar in Jordan

Our Amman office organized a National Teacher’s seminar at Sharhabil bin Hasseneh EcoPark  from January 5th to 7th with seventy teachers participating in the event.  The teacher-seminarseminar focused on best methods for knowledge transfer of environmental issues to students. Teachers shared experiences of working with students and were presented with the EcoPeace’s Resource Guide for Environmental Education’s methodology on how to raise awareness on water issues. With the help of our Community Coordinators, they became familiarized with the systematic approach of the guide before actively participating in activities outlined in the text.

 

Chinese Students’ Visit

chinese-groupOn January 17th our Community Coordinator from the Alexander Stream took a group of 60 students from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Beijing University on a tour in Emek Hefer. They were introduced to the issues that face the Alexander/Zomer Basin, and to EcoPeace’s activities in the Basin. Students were also given a presentation on cross-border environmental initiatives.

 

 

Youth Water Trustees at Ort Mekif Aravi Ramle School

youth-trustees-2On Monday, January 23rd, 37 students of the Ort Mekif Aravi Ramle Youth Water Trustee’s program inaugurated a new hydroponic system on the school’s grounds. All students will be able to use the system as a tool towards understanding water conservation and conducting experiments as part of the school’s environmental studies course. During the ceremony, the students described the system’s design to the National Environmental Studies Supervisor, Ms. Sarah Zaoui.

 

Then, on January 24th, Youth Water Trustees went on a field trip to the Yarkon Basin as part of the Good Water Neighbors Project. The day began with a tour of the Shafdan youth-trustees-1wastewater treatment plant, where students learned about reclaimed water. The plant currently treats 370,000 m3/d of municipal wastewater from a population of over two million in the Greater Tel Aviv area and uses its secondary effluent as irrigation water in the arid southern part of Israel. The group later visited Seven Mills in the Yarkon Park, where they learned about the history of the basin from the late 19th century until today, and visited the nearby constructed wetlands to learn more about the Yarkon Rehabilitation plan.

 

Honoring Jordan’s National Tree Planting Day

she-eventOn January 15th Sharhabil bin Hasseneh EcoPark hosted an event in honor of Jordan’s National Tree Planting Day under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah the II. Her Royal Highness Princess Basmah bint al Hassan led the event with the planting of a carob tree. The crowd was also fortunate enough to hear the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Khaled Huneifat, speak about SHE’s current reforestation initiative.

 

Attendees included the Governor of Irbid, representatives of the Jordan Valley Authority and the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, as well as many volunteers. EcoPeace Middle East is overjoyed that our EcoPark has received the attention of such influential figures, who will hopefully aid us in our next aim of registering the park as a Special Conservation Site.

Excerpts of Australian Intern Steven Brine’s Experience in Auja

auja-intern-1“…After years of watching countless stories of political conflict in the Middle East, I was amazed by the severity of the region’s environmental crises, the inspiring work of EcoPeace Middle East, and the enthusiasm with which Mr. Bromberg spoke. As Mr. Bromberg was whisked away by Departmental officials, I managed to briefly convey my admiration for his work. “Why don’t you apply for an internship?” he replied, “We’d take you tomorrow…”

 

“…  My experiences on these first few days would be repeated throughout my time in the Jordan Valley, continually eradicating any pre-existing expectations I may have had. I gradually began to understand a complex and contradictory atmosphere of cooperation and tension between auja-intern-2communities. On the one hand, the structural constraints of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank were unmistakable. On the other, cross border cooperation and coexistence inspired hope of change. …

 

“… Auja EcoCenter was a remarkable facility to learn about the region’s challenges  I wish Auja EcoCenter every success in the future in sowing the seeds of change in the minds of the region’s youth, and shining a light on local issues to its foreign visitors. Most of all, I wish for lasting peace, justice and prosperity in a land that means so much to all.”

 

To read more about the Auja EcoCenter, visit their website. A full account of Steven’s experience can be viewed on our EcoPeace blog

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


Keeping the Dead Sea Afloat (in the news)i24-interview

This month, EcoPeace staff gave a full day tour of the state of the Dead Sea, its environmental challenges and its proposed solutions to journalists from i24 news, for their debut broadcast in the U.S.   EcoPeace aims to keep the ecological crisis of the Dead Sea on the front burner of the media’s attention.

Keep an eye out for their broadcast.

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

 


 EcoPeace Washington DC Internship Opportunity

4.1.1EcoPeace is looking for interns to work in Washington DC in conjunction with our newest initiative: the Center for Water Security. This initiative works on expanding our work globally, taking our knowledge of practical consensus building around environmental issues to other crisis-stricken, troubled, and water-scarce areas.

 

The Center will offer training, educating, and consulting services to civil society organizations in different regions around the world with the goal of empowering civil society to resolve and respond to conflict issues over shared water resources.

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

More information on this internship can be found here.


 

Stay Tuned for our New Website!

EcoPeace is finalizing our new and modern website in the coming weeks.  Our new address will be http://www.ecopeaceme.org and will go online sometime in February.  Stay tuned!

 new-website

 


Upcoming Events:

EcoPeace will be an exhibitor at the annual J-Street Conference, February 25th-27th.

jstreet

 


DON’T FORGET!

Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

 amazon

 

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

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 30, 2017

Reflection on my experiences at Auja EcoCenter

My journey with EcoPeace Middle East began with a chance encounter with a friend who alerted me of Gidon Bromberg’s upcoming presentation at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. After years of watching countless stories of political conflict in the Middle East, I was amazed by the severity of the region’s environmental crises, the inspiring work of EcoPeace Middle East, and the enthusiasm with which Mr Bromberg spoke. As Mr Bromberg was whisked away by Departmental officials, I managed to briefly convey my admiration for his work. “Why don’t you apply for an internship?” he replied, “We’d take you tomorrow.” As the various arrangements fell into place, I soon found myself on the tarmac at Sydney Airport aboard a Turkish Airlines flight bound for Tel Aviv.

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Although some family and friends believed they had seen me for the last time, I arrived in Israel at the beginning of Shabbat amid an atmosphere of tranquillity. The drive to the city of Jericho was equally majestic as the car descended below sea level surrounding by sweeping barren sands and jagged mountains. My experiences on these first few days would be repeated throughout my time in the Jordan Valley, continually eradicating any pre-existing expectations I may have had. I gradually began to understand a complex and contradictory atmosphere of cooperation and tension between communities. On the one hand, the structural constraints of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank were unmistakable. On the other, cross border cooperation and coexistence inspired hope of change.

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Auja EcoCenter was a remarkable facility to learn about the region’s challenges. After all, it was in the Jordan Valley, rural, Area ‘A’, adjacent to a major Israeli highway, in proximity to Israeli outposts and visible from Jordan. Under Mahmoud’s supervision, I understood the complex political and ecological reality. Mahmoud’s gifted ability to convey the everyday reality to visiting groups provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a robust understanding of concepts learnt in the classroom back in Australia. Some of the most valuable conversations would occur late at night over coffee on the front porch of the Center, as the moon ascended over Al-Salt’s glimmering lights in Jordan.

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The Auja Spring was a valuable water resource that allowed me to understand local water management issues. Auja’s residents conveyed stories of how the Spring had been depended on for generations, and had gradually dwindled through overconsumption.

Excursions to Bethlehem, Nablus, Jericho, Jerusalem and Amman provided a 360-degree perspective that enabled me to comprehend the severe water shortages faced by millions and collective sense of injustice.

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Time after time, people welcomed me with open arms. A 20-minute meeting with Jericho municipality turned into a 3-hour tour of the city’s water infrastructure. These instances were not isolated and I constantly encountered the kindness of locals.

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As the sun sets on my time in Auja, it is worthwhile to reflect and give thanks to Mahmoud, Mohanad, Ahmed and Nufus for their wisdom and hospitality. I wish Auja EcoCenter every success in the future in sowing the seeds of change in the minds of the region’s youth, and shining a light on local issues to its foreign visitors. Most of all, I wish for lasting peace, justice and prosperity in a land that means so much to all.

Written by: Steven Brine

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 23, 2017

A life changing summer

When I found that I had secured an internship with Friends of the Earth, Middle East and will be stationed in Jordan for the summer, I was really excited. This would have been my first time in the Middle East and I was looking forward to experiencing an all-new culture and learning about a completely different part of the world. Little was I aware that this summer would turn out to be one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I will be saying less when I say that summer 2013 will always remain close to my heart.
When I told my friends and family that I was spending my summer in the Middle East, everyone’s first reaction was “That’s crazy!”. I guess, my desire to live the crazy life helped me secure what turned out to be the best experience of my life.
With English as my only medium of communication, I gladly packed my bags and hopped on to a flight from US and landed in Amman, the Capital of Jordan. Only when I arrived here did I actually realize that I had a challenging

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summer ahead of me in the Middle East! With constant support from the EcoPeace-Friends of the East, Middle East’s (FoEME) staff and unconditional love and welcome from the people in Jordan, my experience only got better with each day. Living in a country, surrounded by two countries having their civil wars going on, it was truly a very overwhelming experience. Having shared a roof with a few Syrian and Palestinian refugees and hearing their stories of how they had to flee from their country, quitting their education was heartwarming and overwhelming at the same time. However, this experience helped me overcome my inhibitions and associate with people from different nationalities, practices and religious beliefs.
When I was told that at FoEME, I shall be working on South Asian Cooperation Movement, a climate change and disaster risk mitigation effort to promote sustainable water sharing over the Hudiara drain between India and Pakistan, I gladly accepted it. Having given the responsibility to write a grant for this initiative, I learnt of the various catastrophic effects of climate change that have been affecting both the nations. Though it was overwhelming experience, it drew my commitment to climate change more than ever. I was involved in this project with people from different nationalities: namely Indians, Pakistanis, Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians. This initiative was a great life experience, which
taught me to appreciate and cooperate with people from different communities representing different interests, yet aimed at collective development. I have never visited Pakistan, but had always heard it is a beautiful country and places like Karachi and Lahore are definitely worth visiting. I always imagined Pakistan to be very similar to Lucknow, a Nawabi city in India and expected to see some of the beautiful architecture with the arches and red sandstone monuments in Pakistan too. I somehow believed that Pakistan and India were pretty much the same nation just divided by territorial limitations. Otherwise, both countries essentially shared the same undercurrents, ancestors and history. In spite of such an intertwined existence, the idea of writing a grant proposal for Indo-Pak collaboration and peace building was a challenging thought. However, little did I know that “Seeing is Believing”, one of the objectives of the Climate Change Initiative was truly going to change my outlook towards things. I saw a very implicit underlying connection between Jordan, Israel, Palestine, India and Pakistan. Even though Jordan, Israel and Palestine were greatly influenced by the Greeks and the Romans while India and Pakistan were influenced by the Mughals, I was able to see how the architecture, food, language, clothing, culture and beliefs seemed to be all stemming from a similar ancestry. It felt like all these aspects have branched out from the same tree, picking up variations along the way, incorporating new cultures and civilizations only to become more unique and  beautiful.

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While in Jerash, Irbid, looking at a small piece of carving, which highly resembled the carvings on the walls of temples of South India, I felt a rush of belongingness flow through my veins. In that moment, what struck me made me believe in my cause more strongly than ever before.

If Jordan, Israel and Palestine could share similar food, architecture, monuments, ancestry, cultural beliefs and language with India and Pakistan, then why can’t India and Pakistan follow Jordan, Israel and Palestine on lines of environmental cooperation and build amicable ties over water resources, similar to what the Middle East adopted under FoEME’s guidance? Jordan, Palestine and Israel are known to be mother of all controversies and problems and in spite of the acrimonious past, these countries are peacefully involved in the Good Water Neighbor’s project. This should be taken as an inspiration by India and Pakistan to initiate peace building efforts. With an encouraging mentor like Yana, who was always willing to provide insightful guidance at all times and constant help and empathy from Abeer, my experience at FoEME was made very memorable. I was able to overcome all the difficulties that I faced in settling in and at work. Our Director of Amman office, aka ‘Boss’ was very welcoming and was willing to help the interns in any way possible to make their stay in Jordan comfortable.  I made very good friends with my co-workers, Abdullah and Hana whom I was directly working with besides having struck an amicable relationship with every staff member in the office.
Another experience I thoroughly enjoyed was the henna party that I attended at Dana’s (my co-worker and very good friend) cousin’s wedding. Attending this ceremony, I was able to witness the traditions of Jordanian weddings and see all the beautiful women adorned in the most exquisite attire. It was a fun and memorable night that I shall always cherish.

Along the course of my work, I got an opportunity to go on many field visits to communities of South Ghor, North Shouneh, and South Shouneh. Interacting with these communities on various issues was a very enriching and fun experience. It was enriching because, this was the first time I was involved in community based work where I got to interact with community leaders and discuss their issues and find probable solutions to their problems. I learnt a lot about the Middle East and the Arab culture and have grown very fond of it. I also managed to learn a little bit of Arabic, “ shweiya shweiya” to be precise. It was equally fun because we used to drive through the scenic Jordan valley for each field visit accompanied by my amazing colleagues, and of course, I got to finally witness the miraculous Dead Sea! Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful water bodies I have ever seen!

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The field visit to SHE Eco park was however one of the highlights of my stay and my favorite field trip. Spending an entire day amidst nature made me feel closer to myself than ever before. Walking on the trails, looking at the Beduin camps and seeing the solar installation was very impressive. FoEME has done an excellent job at preserving nature and bringing it to man kind at its untampered best.

Outside of work, I was able to do a lot of travelling over the weekends. Petra, Wadi Rum003 and Wadi Mujib are by far the three most enigmatic places I’ve ever visited in my life.  Over the three weekends that I spent in these places, I felt close to nature and developed a lifelong bond with strangers whom I met during the travel. Besides being a life changing experience, it has made me realize how much I enjoy doing community related work and has made me believe in this cause.

My fellow interns and also my roommates were a vital part of my stay in Jordan. I have built a very special bond with Brittany and Eddie and they feel like family to me. During our little struggles, multiple adventures and learning experiences, we were together in it all. I shall forever retain this bond with them and hold on to the memorable experiences we had together in Jordan.

On my last day at work, I was given a T-shirt signed off by everyone and got the opportunity to take a group picture. Undoubtedly one of the sadder days in Amman, as I was leaving that day. But I know for a fact that I will definitely go back to Jordan one day as the country has mesmerized me. I have nothing but positive things to talk about the country and feel like I have found a second home there.

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My experience in Jordan and the Middle East has been life changing one. I left the country with a new spirit and deepened passion to make a difference to the world.

I was amazed by King Abdullah for believing in peacemaking efforts, I have due respect for Queen “Laila” for saying “Educating a woman is educating a nation”, I am surprised by the awareness and efforts Jordan is taking towards Environmental issues. The
beauty and expanse of the country and all the enigmatic adventure travel has a lot to offer to its tourists. I am still in awe of the Arab culture.
To end, I would say that summer 2013 has been by far the best summers of my life and forever shall remain close to my heart. I hope I can retain this passion to do meaningful work and make a difference to the world.

Written By: Anusha Lagannathan

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 22, 2017

Community coordinator regional staff meeting – 16 January 2017

This week’s meeting at Auja EcoCenter provided an opportunity for EcoPeace Middle East’s community coordinators to enhance the skills that have enabled them to successfully implement their grassroots campaigns.

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Once everyone had arrived, EcoPeace Middle East’s co-directors outlined some recent achievements, including advocacy efforts that doubled Gaza’s water supply and renewed the Joint Water Committee.

EcoPeace’s Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar addressed the considerable opposition that community coordinators face when striving to convince the public of the need to collaborate with one another. “What do we do in this situation?” asked Mr. Mehyar, “We face them by emphasizing that regional cooperation to protect the environment is in the best interest of everyone!” he added.

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EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg then illustrated the organisation’s core values with the same enthusiasm that has secured countless achievements over 23 years.

Next, participants engaged in Mohammad Biadsi’s, community coordinator for the Hadera/Abu Nar basin, outdoor training (ODT) activities, which highlighted the importance of planning, communication and patience to ensure that collective efforts continued to produce results.

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The day concluded with planning sessions that provided community coordinators with the tools to ensure their regional cross border activities were successful.

The day’s events stressed the indispensability of working together to promote cooperative efforts that bolster the region’s environmental sustainability and advance the common desire for peace.

 

Written by: Steven Brine

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