Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | December 5, 2013

December 1st, 2013 – Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

1“Good Water Neighbors” Annual Regional Conference

EcoPeace / FoEME’s annual “Good Water Neighbors” (GWN) conference, held this year on the occasion of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, brought together more than 300 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian political officials, international diplomats, municipal representatives, water experts, local residents and civil society representatives in Herzliya, Israel, on November 13-14, 2013.

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Against the background of the renewed Israel / Palestinian peace talks, the conference was designed to highlight the urgency and opportunities for all sides of addressing the unresolved cross-border water and sanitation issues.

 Conference panels gave stage to high officials from Israel, the PA and Jordan as well as representatives of the international community. A live video link up between the GWN conference in Tel Aviv and The Hague Institute for Global Justice conference also being held on the occasion of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation in The Hague, Netherlands closed the 2nd day of the conference.3

FoEME staff also gave updates on advances made on last year’s selection of concrete cross border projects called ‘Priority Projects’ and following community level participation released a new publication “Community Based Problem Solving on Water Issues:  Cross Border Priority Initiatives of the Good Water Neighbors Project” that details a new set of target water and sanitation priority projects.

Click here for more details on our website’s events page, including links to the agenda, presentations, photos, blog and the media release sent out following the conference.

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is funded by USAID’s Conflict Management and Mitigation Program, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the European Union’s Partnership for Peace Program and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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EcoPeace / FoEME held a region wide conference “Rehabilitation of the Jordan River: A Commitment to Faith” on November 10-12, 2013 on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan, where senior clerics and representatives from the 3 monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – gathered together to learn about the current state of the Lower Jordan River and to endorse the “Covenant for the Jordan River” calling on regional governments to work together towards its rehabilitation.

 5By engaging Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Jordan, Palestine and Israel as well as internationally, through its widespread faith based advocacy campaign, FoEME aims to leverage support from faith based communities toward the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

Faith Based ‘Toolkits’ including Briefs for ChristianMuslim & Jewish 6communities were presented at the regional conference, giving an introduction to the issue of the demise of the Jordan River as well as suggestions for how communities can act to support the river’s rehabilitation. More in-depth ‘Sourcebooks‘ are also available, offering a rich collection of scripture, sermons, essays and poems, songs and other tools to help leaders of each faith to engage their communities on the need to rehabilitate the River.

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 EcoPeace / FoEME was recently invited to participate in the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Area’s 8Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group’s meeting on transboundary conservation principles.  The meeting brought together a wide range of experts in an effort to revise the IUCN WCPA Best Practice Guideline on Transboundary Conservation.

 EcoPeace / FoEME shared its experience related to the political implications of transboundary conservation in the Jordan River Valley and with regards to advancements on the proposed Jordan River Peace Park. For more information on this meeting please visit www.tbpa.net.

The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Osprey Foundation.

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 This month, EcoPeace / FoEME’s program staff participated in the annual Steering Committee meeting of the 7European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) program.  The meeting included updates and presentations from all SWIM Demonstration Projects including EcoPeace /FoEME’s regional NGO master plan program as well as high level discussions regarding the SWIM program, its achievements and future priorities with Ministers, Members of Parliament and other officials from the MENA region.

 EcoPeace / FoEME’s Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) Project is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.

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 Auja EcoCenter – New Billboards and Weather Station

We are delighted to report that it is now much easier to find our EcoCenter in Auja!  Billboards advertising the9 EcoCenter have now been placed in several key locations in the area; in the Kidron Valley Road, on the Qalandia / Ramallah Road, and at the entrance to Jericho.  We hope to see you there soon!

10Also, we are proud that a new weather station has been placed on the EcoCenter building rooftop, with up-to-the-minute electronic information being relayed back for timely weather updates.  Auja’s EcoCenter is a focal point for many environmental education activities, and we are happy to incorporate as many aspects as possible.

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Hands on training for sustainable farming

A course on sustainable agriculture was held in Israel within the framework of the ‘Protecting Ground Water’ project. Municipality and state officials, farmers and environment activists took part in the four day training, which included both lecture presentations and field trips. Each day, the course was hosted in a different municipality from north to south; hence the course went through different geographical conditions and agricultural environments.

 Participants learned and experienced many aspects of sustainable agriculture such as: organic waste disposal, sustainable farming standards, preventing ground water pollution from fertilization and pesticides, agricultural tourism, precision agriculture, cross border solutions for agriculture-environment challenges and many more.

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 The “Protecting Ground Water” project is supported by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Program.

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 Please consider supporting FoEME at this time with a generous US tax-deductible contribution.

 Water Cannot Wait here in the region. The time for a new Israeli-Palestinian water accord is now, on the way to13 peace.  We need your support to help us carry on our campaign promoting such an accord, along with our overall environmental peacemaking efforts through youth education, grassroots community organization on issues of shared environmental concerns, and for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the stabilization of the Dead Sea.

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