Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | April 8, 2014

April 1st, 2014 – EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East – Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Water Cannot Wait – Campaign

In the context of our “Water Cannot Wait” campaign, a second round of ads were published in all major Israeli newspapers on Sunday March 23rd, noting International World Water Day. a1


This is part of a series of ads and events in Israel and Palestine that will continue to take place in the next weeks and months in support of the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry to move the peace process forward with recognition that water and environmental issues are priority issues for the benefit of both parties.


FoEME’s Water Cannot Wait Campaign is supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).




Good Water Neighbors Cross Border Youth Campsa2

In keeping with FoEME’s commitment of bringing together people from across the divides to learn about each other, our different water realities and our shared environment, the Good Water Neighbors project held several cross border youth camps this month.


a3In Emek Hefer, youth from the community hosted peers from their partnering community of Tulkarem, coming together for a fun-filled weekend of outdoor adventure activities; making art projects with recycled material such as newspaper and plastic bottles, bicycling as a group along the Alexander Stream – the beautiful, yet polluted, stream that runs through both their communities – a fun evening of debka dancing, and more…. Read more about this camp in this blog.


Another camp brought together youth from the Israeli communities of Gilboa, Beit She’an and the Springs Valley RC, Jalameh in Palestine and South Shouneh, Jordan.  Their activities included a tour in an agricultural farm and learning about irrigation systems designed to save water, and practicing outdoor training in a beautiful nearby forest, for first-hand experience in joint leadership skills.


Youth “Water Trustees” from Baka Gharbia and Baka Sharkia met in FoEME‘s Auja EcoPark, and helped to erect a geodesic dome on the site – an environmentally friendly building technique. A visit to the local Auja Spring gave them an understanding of the water challenges facing Palestinian residents in the Jordan Valley area.


All youth camps aim to educate on water disparities and the interdependent nature of the water resources, break down stereotypes to build connections, and to learn about the need to protect our shared environment.


Good Water Neighbors “Water Trustees” host Japanese youth delegation

Israeli and Palestinian youth “Water Trustees” that participated in last summer’s visit to Japan hosted a group of Japanese youth who came this time to visit several Good Water Neighbors communities in the region. These exchanges are part of the Peace Field Japan program run by a Japanese NGO that nurtures a ‘culture of peace’ through dialogue and exchange of youth in conflict areas such as Israel and Palestine.a4a


a5Water Trustees from Israel met the delegation for an overnight reunion in FoEME‘s Ein Gedi EcoCenter, where they shared some special moments seeing each other again after last year’s program.  They did fun environmental education activities such as mud building, baking a cake using a solar oven and using mosaics to write the Japanese word “Kizuma”, meaning “bond”, stamping the mission statement in their artwork.


‘Good Water Neighbors’….in Bosnia Herzegovina?

A delegation of 3 FoEME staff travelled to Bosnia Herzegovina during the last week of March; this was the last of 4 exchange visits that aimed to explore the possibility of adapting FoEME’s environmental peacemaking methodology, especially our “Good Water Neighbors” program, in the conflict-ridden area of the Balkans.a6


The Center for Ecology and Energy, a Bosnian environmental NGO, themselves comprised of the different ethnic factions in the area, organized meetings with different stakeholders; local ministries, academia, and mayors, centered around the Spreca River Basin in northern Bosnia. All were anxious to learn about our grassroots work and how community involvement can raise awareness about shared water resources, shared responsibilities, and the need to work together to find solutions.  An exciting pilot project in the Balkans is presently being developed.


a7The FoEME / Balkan exchange visit program was supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung.

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is funded by 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)




Draft Regional NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River Valley Baseline Report

Released February 2014 – This Baseline Report issued by Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) in partnership with CORE a8Associates (Palestine), MASAR (Jordan) and DHVMED (Israel) on behalf of FoEME and its partners SIWI and GNF, provides the first ever attempt to synergize data from Israel, Jordan and Palestine on a wide range of critical areas necessary for sustainable water and integrated development of the Lower Jordan River Valley.


The report describes the existing reality on issues including: land use and infrastructure, water resources and supply, environment and ecology, cultural heritage, and the climate change related impacts on the basin as well as socio-economic issues such as population, agriculture, tourism and industry and current water allocations. The baseline report includes a detailed digitized environmental flows study from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea using the WEAP model. An aim of the NGO master plan is to envision integrated regional sustainable development in the valley under a two state solution of the peace process where all of the West Bank areas of the Jordan Valley are part of the future Palestinian State.


Public Hearings in Jordan and Palestine on the LJR Baseline Report

Following the release of the Lower Jordan Valley Baseline Report, FoEME held Public Hearings in both Amman and Ramallah to present, involve and receive feedback from relevant stakeholders and decision makers in Jordan and Palestine. Click here for a broadcast of the event in Amman.a9a


The Hearings were well attended, but nevertheless, additional meetings will also be organized to hear further reactions and comments, before continuing to the next project phase of advancing the NGO Master Plan.  Click here for a set of photos from the Amman Stakeholders Consultation Meeting


The Baseline Report and the Public Hearings are part of the Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) Project, supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.


Lower Jordan River – Faith Based Tour in Jordan

“Crossing the Jordan Tour: Partnering in Good Faith towards the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River” are a series of tours intended to garner support of religious figures in advocating for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River in their congregations.a10


To this end, FoEME’s Amman office organized 100 Christian teachers and clergy who participated in a full-day study tour and group learning experience focused on the Jordan River. They traveled to several sites along the Eastern bank of the Lower Jordan River, explored the River’s current condition and received extensive explanations from FoEME staff about the rich cultural and religious significance that the Jordan holds for the Christian faith – as well as FoEME’s efforts toward its rehabilitation. They engaged in discussions related to the environmental, cultural, and historical value of the Lower Jordan River, concluding with Prayers and Hymns recited in both Arabic and Syriac; a dialect of Aramaic. Read more in this blog.


Lower Jordan River – Faith Based Tour in Palestine

FoEME’s Bethlehem office also conducted a “Crossing the Jordan Tour: Partnering in Good Faith towards the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River” tour to the Jordan Valley area for more than 125 participants from all over Palestine. The tour aimed to familiarize participants about the importance of the River’s religious, historical and geographical aspects. The group included students from all Universities and Colleges in addition to employees from the Ministry of Education who work on environmental awareness, employees from the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, with Muftis and General Managers of the Directorate from all over the country.a11


The tour began at the Auja Eco-Center explaining FoEME’s overall vision, activities, and future efforts for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River, and then headed to the Kaser el Yehud Baptism Site, to the Dir Hejleh Monastery, the old Hotel Lido on the northern shores of the Dead Sea, and ended with a visit to the Russian Museum in Jericho. Media coverage of the event included this article by Maan News as well as coverage on Maan/Mix TV in the evening.


FoEME’s Jordan River Faith Based Advocacy Program, part of the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.


2nd Traithlon at FoEME’s SHE EcoPark

a13On a perfect spring weather day on March 29th, the 2nd Triathlon and Duathlon was held at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark and the adjacent Ziglab Dam. This year, the race was organized by Experience Jordan, in partnership with Friends of the Earth Middle East and Wild and Free Adventures. The Triathlon combined open-water swimming, on and off-road cycling and cross-country running. The Duathlon consisted of a cross-country run, a cycle leg and a second cross-country run. Read more info in this blog, and click here for a set of beautiful photos!a12

Both races tested the fitness and commitment of the 70 people that signed up this year, doubling last year’s participation!  Missed it this year?  Start exercising for next year’s event!



Protecting Ground Water – short films about environmental challenges and hazard alleviation

Local governments have a vital role in environmental management.  The ‘Protecting Ground Water‘ (PGW) project aims to empower local authorities with tools and knowledge in order to improve environmental management and quality of life for their residents. Of course, the challenges are great and need to be addressed in long term processes.a14


Short films are being produced for each municipality participating in the project illustrating the main local environmental challenges, the work that has been done, and the further work needed. Enjoy!


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


“ENTITLE” project meeting

FoEME is one of 11 partners in the ENTITLE project that is training 18 researchers in the emerging field of Political Ecology. FoEME’s Palestinian Director attended the recent ENTITLE project meetings at Lund University where presentations were given of all partners’ achievements, the work of the post-doctoral fellows, and research of the PhD candidates.  FoEME’s contribution to the project includes the paper “Do Virtual Water Flows Actually Flow?” which analyzes virtual water flows in the Jericho Governorate. Next year, FoEME will host several site tours in the region for the project.a15


The ENTITLE project is supported by the EU 7th Framework Program (FP7).


Book Launch – “Water & Post-Conflict Peacebuilding” a12a

The Environmental Law Institute, United Nations Environment Programme, University of Tokyo, McGill University, and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment held a book-launch event – of the fourth book in the series on
strengthening post-conflict peacebuilding through natural resource management entitled “Water and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding“.  The event was held on March 21st at the Environmental Law Institutein Washington DC.


FoEME contributed a chapter in Part 3: Peace Processes, Cooperation, and Confidence Building, called “Transboundary Cooperation in the Lower Jordan River Basin“.






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