Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | December 4, 2011

FoEME December Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

November 1-2 – Cross border farmers meeting in Jordan

At FoEME, the month of November began with a cross border farmers meeting in the area of Ghor Mazraa and Ghor Fifa in Jordan. Israeli experts from the Tamar Regional Council, Palestinian farmers from Auja, and local Jordanian farmers, all from FoEME‘s Good Water Neighbor communities, met together with representatives from the local authority in Jordan and the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss shared environmental concerns that are affecting the agricultural industry.

Topping the list were issues such as the houseflies problem, how to deal with the destructive tuta absoluta insect, the excess use of non-treated organic fertilizers and more. The group toured several farms to investigate the farming environment and then proposed action plans and concrete next steps. All agreed to hold frequent cross border visits between farmers to exchange experiences.

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November 14 – Cross border mayors meeting to FoEME’s Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark

On November 14th, in response to the request of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, FoEME organized a cross border visit for the Mayor and 11 municipal staff, who were joined by representatives of the Spring Valley Regional Council, both part of the Good Water Neighbors project.

The group visited FoEME‘s Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark to learn about FoEME’s unique endeavor to introduce Eco-Tourism to the area, and later met with 3 local mayors of the Jordanian partnering communities. Discussions focused on concrete steps undertaken to remove pollutants from the Jordan River (Waste Water Treatment Plants are being built on both sides of the border). The day ended with a lookout from the historic site of “Um Quais” – a Roman era city, similar to Beit She’an – where the Israeli delegation had an opportunity to view the Sea of Galilee and their own community from the East.

Click here to view photos of this event on our Flickr page.

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November 17-19 and 25-27 – Two Regional Youth Camps in Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark, Jordan

During two weekends in November, Water Trustees from different pairs of communities from the Good Water Neighbors project travelled to FoEME‘s EcoPark in Jordan to learn eco-building skills — and have a chance to interact with their neighbors.

During the camps, the youth rotated between three workshops; mud building, composting, and a workshop on structure. At the mud workshop, they used inorganic waste to create the base of mud building, using that to construct a bench from old tires and used plastic bottles. The composting workshop concluded with the creation of an herb spiral, using sheet mulching from compost provided by the EcoPark. For the workshop on structure, youth learned about Geodesic Domes and constructed one from bamboo.

A final tour in the EcoPark led to a discussion of the importance of restoration and rehabilitation of the Jordan Valley, as well as a discussion on the problems facing the Jordan River.

Read more on our blog.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA, the Belgium Foreign Ministry’s Peace Building Desk, and the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation.

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Nov. 16 – JR conference, Kinneret College

On November 16, FoEME‘s Tel Aviv office and the Kinneret Academic College hosted a conference to discuss national efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River. The results of a FoEME-commissioned study which modeled potential opportunities for rehabilitating the river was presented to the public at the conference. The presentation was followed by a high level panel of respondents including representatives of all the major national authorities and the local government. Following the conference, FoEME initiated a special round-table discussion entitled “Redistributing water between Agriculture and Nature: The Lower Jordan River Basin case study” which aimed to directly engage local stakeholders on this issue. At this event FoEME‘s Tel Aviv office released its new policy paper on Water for Agriculture, based on a more detailed research paper on the same issue.

To learn more, visit the events page for conference presentations, this Flickr page for pictures and other related publications.

Visit our Jordan River press coverage page for recent articles from Ynet, NRG, Ha’aretz, the Marker, the Jerusalem Post and more.

The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by SIDA, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation and the Osprey Foundation.

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Nov. 15-17 – “TAP” regional meeting

On November 15th-17th, 30 Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli residents took part in a cross-border meeting organized through the “TAP” project. The meeting took place on the Israeli side of the Jordan Valley just below the Sea of Galilee. The “heart” of the meeting was the conference organized by FoEME and the Kinneret Academic College, as described above. In preparation for the conference, TAP residents heard an in-depth explanation of the research study which modeled potential opportunities for rehabilitating the River. At the conference itself, Palestinian and Jordanian representatives provided “the neighbors view” to the Israeli audience, reminding them that rehabilitating the Jordan River is not just an Israeli concern.

After the conference, TAP residents visited the “Peace Room” at Bet Gabriel, where the late Itzhak Rabin and King Hussein reconfirmed the Israel-Jordan peace treaty in 1994, and toured two historic sites — Bet She’an archeological park and the Peace Island at Naharayim – to learn about the current and potential tourist potential of the Jordan Valley.

The Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians (TAP) Project is supported by the European Union’s Partnerships for Peace program

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New Publication

FoEME‘s Bethlehem office released a new publication this month entitled “Agricultural Water Demand Management in the Palestinian Territories.” As a follow-up to the policy paper focusing on best practices of Agricultural Water Demand Management in Israel, this research paper looks into policy options for the Palestinian Territories. It discusses Agricultural WDM tools such as irrigation, water pricing, removal of trade barriers and agricultural planning, as well as on-farm efficiency and their applicability to the Palestinian context. This paper, written by a former FoEME intern, was completed as part of the TAP and Jordan River Rehabilitation Projects. To learn more, read our blog entry about this new paper.

FoEME‘s work to advance dialogue surrounding best practices in agricultural water management is supported by the Green Environment Fund.

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Nov. 21 – “Funeral” for the Dead Sea

Following the Dead Sea losing the vote as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders, an additional blow to the Dead Sea occurred when the Israeli Legislative Committee rejected a proposed bill, brought forth by MK Dov Hanin, that would provide full and comprehensive solutions to the challenges facing the dying Sea. Rehabilitation of the Dead Sea in the spirit of this bill included the return of water to the Sea from the Lower Jordan River, less pumping from the Northern Basin of the Sea and harvesting of salt sediments financed by the Industries – essential in order for future generations to enjoy this shared wonder of nature.

FoEME staged a “mock funeral” in front of the Israeli Parliament building, with activists dressed in black, holding a stretcher carrying a symbolic corpse of the Dead Sea, and chanting Chopin’s classic death dirge. The bill will be brought to the table again in a few weeks, where FoEME urges the Committee to reverse this rejection.

Read more in our press release.

Visit our Dead Sea Press Coverage page for the many articles this event generated, including the Jerusalem Post, Ynet, Nrg, Israeli Radio, Green Prophet, Channel 2 Israel TV and more…

Click on our Flickr page to view photos of the event.

FoEME‘s work to save the Dead Sea is supported by the Green Environment Fund.

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November 30 – Merhav conference in Ashkelon

On November 30th, FoEME Tel Aviv took part in the conference “The City as an Engine of Economic Growth” held in the city of Ashkelon, Israel, organized by the Movement for Israeli Urbanism.

FoEME staff presented our recent research paper entitled “Promoting Green Jobs and Exports in a Green Water Economy in Israel” that clearly indicates how a water conservation economy is preferable to one of desalination, both in terms of the quantity and quality of jobs it would produce. This paper further promotes our vision that demand management water policies are preferable over supply management policies. (Click here for the Executive Summary in Hebrew).

FoEME‘s efforts to promote a greener economy are supported by Heinrich Boell Stiftung.

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