Posted by: thelandthatdevours | November 9, 2009

Hundreds of Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians Convene at the 6th Annual Good Water Neighbors Conference

FoEME 2009 GWN Group Photo

Participants in FoEME's Sixth Annual Good Water Neighbors Conference pose for a group photo outside the Royal Automobile Musem in Amman, Jordan.

Last week, FoEME held our biggest annual Good Water Neighbors Conference to date!  Over 250 representatives of our 25 field communities in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine gathered in Amman, Jordan for dialogue, discussion, and a ton of delicious food!

Good Water Neighbors (GWN) is an internationally praised project established by FoEME in 2001 to raise awareness of the shared water problems of Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis. The GWN methodology is an original idea that is based on identifying cross border communities and utilizing their mutual dependence on shared water resources as a basis for developing dialogue and cooperation on sustainable water management.  The initial project, which included 11 communities in all three nations, was so successful that it has now grown to include an additional 14 communities. (For more information on GWN, visit FoEME’s website here).

The annual conference is an opportunity for GWN participants to meet and talk with each other, and to reflect on the past year’s successes and challenges.  This year, participants attended three discussion sessions focused on the topics “My Neighbors’ Water Reality,” “Why Cooperate?” and “What is the Community Role in Influencing Decision Makers?”  They also watched a series of short films highlighting each of these topics.

GWN Conference Session

Representatives of FoEME's Good Water Neighbor communities participate in a discussion session

Conference members also got a chance to interact with youth from FoEME’s Community GIS project.  Over the past months these youth have been involved in using GIS software to identify environmental hazards in their communities, and they joined us in Amman to share their results.

GWN Youth Speakers

Youth from FoEME's Community GIS program speak to the conference about their experiences.

Last but not least, participants got to share dinner and discussion with parliamentarians from countries all over the world (Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Tanzania, Italy and Belgium to name a few), who were attending the EastWest institute’s conference on water and preventative diplomacy.

All in all, the conference was a great success – it’s not every day that you see hundreds of people from a conflict region coming together across political, geographical, and linguistic borders to talk to each other about water!

This post was written by FoEME intern and NIF/Shatil Fellow Rachel Bergstein.  Rachel is based in FoEME’s Tel Aviv office.

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