Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 5, 2017

June 1st 2017 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacebuilding Newsletter

Dear Friends,

We are honored to present you with this description of another month filled with activities initiated by or involving EcoPeace: from a US Congress letter to President Trump, and a groundbreaking Israeli State Comptroller Report that confirmed many of our claims, to dozens of tours and presentations that brought EcoPeace’s work to the attention of key stakeholders and audiences worldwide.

To our Muslim readers – – RAMADAN KAREEM.

EcoPeace Middle East


US Congress letter to U.S. President Trump

US CongressFollowing up on EcoPeace’s congressional briefing earlier this year, U.S. Congress Members called on U.S. President Trump to move forward on water issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“In your effort to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians… we urge you to prioritize the issue of water,” the lawmakers wrote Trump in an official letter…. (click here for an article in the Jerusalem Post).

 

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Israel’s State Comptroller Report on Transboundary Water Issues

The Israeli State Comptroller’s report, published in May 2017, reveals the dire reality of present cross-border Israeli / Palestinian water שער דוח שנתי 67בissues. The report backs EcoPeace’s claims regarding policy failures and highlights the need to foster cooperation between Israeli and the Palestinian governments. The report calls for the formulation of a master plan of formulating an orderly government policy that assigns responsibility, leadership and coordination to one government body, in consultation with civil society organizations experienced in the field of environmental cooperation.

Click here for a link to the Executive Summary (EcoPeace’s non-official English translation), as well as our press release on the issue, and a subsequent Jerusalem Post article.

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POLICY WORKSHOP: Gaza 2020: Imagining another Future

INSSOn May 25th, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung convened an expert workshop on the future of aid, reconstruction and development in the Gaza Strip.  A decade after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the situation there is both urgent and critical, from a security, economic, environmental, humanitarian, and political perspective.

EcoPeace Israeli Co-Director Gidon Bromberg and EcoPeace staff Giulia Giordano and Uri Ginott participated in the workshop together with key Israeli, Palestinian and international stakeholders. They contributed to discussions on Gaza’s future by highlighting the urgency of the water and sanitation solutions needed.

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EcoPeace participates in the Euromed Conference:  Desalination for Clean Water and Energy: Cooperation around the World

The European Desalination Society (EDS) conferences around the Mediterranean were Giulia_Conferenceinitiated after the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, to strengthen relations between Mediterranean countries. EcoPeace’s Giulia Giordano was invited to open the Cross-Border Cooperation session at the 8th Conference in the EuroMed series in Tel Aviv. Her presentation focused on our Water & Energy Nexus (WEN) project.

The WEN project, inspired by the European Coal and Steel agreement post WWII, aims at creating a water energy community between Israel, Jordan and Palestine. In addition to the mutual exchange of water and renewable energy, potential benefits include the strengthening of ties and the creation of healthy inter-dependencies between the countries. In their opening remarks, Ambassadors to Israel of Italy and the EU, Francesco Talo and Lars Faaborg-Andersen, emphasized the necessity to strengthen cooperation over water and energy, especially in the Middle East.

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Water & Energy Nexus Project – National roundtable events in Ramallah and Amman

WEN_eventThe Water & Energy Nexus project held 2 National Round Table events this month – in Ramallah and Amman.  In Amman, it was held at the Crowne Plaza on 21 May 2017 and included three presentations on water, energy and geopolitics, followed by an open discussion session where participants from the Jordanian government, private sector, academia and civil society provided feedback on the preliminary findings of the pre-feasibility study that is being conducted as part of the project.

Beyond the natural resource issues at stake, everyone seemed to agree on the importance of such an innovative approach for peace building and mitigating the impact of climate change on future generations.

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

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EcoPeace Global Outreach News

With the establishment of our Program on Water Security based in Washington DC, Wilson Center eventEcoPeace is now advancing activities to bridge the gap between academic environmental peacebuilding theory and practical implementation.  The Director of the program, Marina Djernaes, has made presentations at several universities to date, including Johns Hopkins University, American University, George Washington University and New York University, to discuss EcoPeace’s practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding and attracted a very engaged audience of students. The program was also featured during a Wilson Center event held in February, called “15 Years of Environmental Peacemaking”.

Salzberg Global Seminar Pub.Additionally, Marina Djernaes participated in a recent Salzburg Global Seminar session, a project in the ten-year collaborative platform to transform and catalyze leadership and action to deliver the Promise of Sydney. The seminar, called “The Next Frontier: Transboundary Cooperation for Biodiversity and Peace“, convened a diverse range of practitioners and innovators with policymakers and influencers, bridging sectoral, generational and regional divides. Participants identified the most promising approaches, catalyzed collaborations and pilot projects and delivered practical tools that deliver benefits for inclusive and sustainable development, regional economic growth and cohesion and peacebuilding.  The final report of the session can be found here.

An intern from New York University working with our Program on Water Security, traveled to Iraq this month to meet with Iraqcommunity members in the Kurdish areas to evaluate opportunities for applying the EcoPeace “Good Water Neighbors” approach to advance water security in the area.  Stay tuned for updates!

 

The Program on Water Security is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung

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Jordan Valley Master Plan gets exposure

  • Rabbi David Rosen was asked to speak at the World Economic ForuJRMP_Rabbi Rosen presenting at WEFm held earlier this month at the Dead Sea in Jordan, on the panel titled “Shaping the Arab Sustainable Development Agenda” which reviewed several of the economic, social and ecological agendas in the region.  We are delighted that he chose to present EcoPeace’s Jordan Valley Master Plan as a good example of these agendas, and the work we have been doing with faith communities on the Jordan River.
  • Our EcoPeace Palestinian staff, Malek Abualfailat, participated in the ökoRAUSCH Eco-Design festival, in Cologne, Germany, where he presented Palestinian water and environmental challenges and opportunities toward sustainable development. The Jordan Valley Master Plan was presented as a case study.

Jordan River learning continues

  • EcoPeace staff continues to highlight the importance of the rehabilitation ofJR Tour_Dorot the River Jordan, emphasizing the need for recognition of Palestinian water projects in the Valley, and moving forward on water issues in the region. This month, a group of U.S. students on the Dorot Fellows program were offered a presentation from EcoPeace on these issues – appropriately – on site, at the Kaser El Yehud Baptism Site on the Lower Jordan River.
  • EcoPeace was delighted to be a part of the Leader’s Quest program this year, Leaders Questpresenting to a diverse group of leaders from all over the world the complex and challenging transboundary water issues in the region. EcoPeace staff led two Leader’s Quest groups over 2 days touring sites along the Jordan River, weaving together the stories of nature, history, politics, peace, and last but not least, hope.

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

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Visit to Sewage Collection Facility in Meitar

The EcoPeace coordinator in the Hebron-Besor basin initiated an important meeting Meitar visit to water facilitybetween the Director of the Meitar Local Council, the Director of the Sanitation Department and the Director of the Sewage Separation Facility situated next to the Meitar border crossing

The facility treats the wastewater from the Hebron Stream. It separates the crushed stone residue of the stone cutting industries from the Hebron city’s wastewater to make it possible to treat and reuse the water. The strong smells of sewage, which are one of the by-products of this sludge treatment, are a serious annoyance in Meitar and the Director of the Meitar Local Council appreciated EcoPeace’s efforts to help solve the cross border pollution issues, in this case by advocating for the treatment of the sewage at source in Hebron

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EcoPeace staff and World Bank representative visit Waste Water Treatment Plants

Nablus WWTPOn May 16th EcoPeace joined a visit to the Alexander-Zomar basin with several World Bank representatives. The objective of the visit was to learn more about the Alexander basin history regarding the operation of the West Nablus Waste Water Treatment Plant and its cross border impacts.  This is a state-of-the-art facility, and participants were provided with lessons that could be adapted in Hebron, especially regarding removal of sludge.

The delegation then went on to visit the “Yad Hanah” treatment facility in Israel, where the situation is quite different.  Here, industrial and domestic waste flows into the facility from across the border, a mixture of the treated wastewater with untreated wastewater and industrial sewage from communities south of the West Nablus plant.  The clear lesson of a more holistic approach to deal with sewage treatment and reuse was discussed for the purposes of avoiding a repeat of issues in the future in the Hebron Stream.

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New Hydroponics system installed in Kefar Bara

12 young women from Kefar Bara, in the Yarkon Basin, underwent an environmental Baka hydroponicscourse with EcoPeace Community Coordinator, Mohamad Biadsi in the context of their “Community Service Year”.  Their end of year activity was building a hydroponic system from 60 plastic bottles on the gate of the community center in Kefar Bara, showcasing low-tech water saving techniques and an innovative way to reuse plastic bottles.  This activity was in partnership with the Ecological Greenhouse at Ein Shemer.

 

More hydroponics!

Meitar hydroponics paintingOn May 29th, the Meitarim high school held an inauguration ceremony attended by the head of the Meitar local council for the new hydroponic system donated by EcoPeace. The system enables the students to conduct research and deepen their knowledge on environmental issues. The students talked about their achievements in environmental education, future plans and prepared a vegetable salad from vegetables they grew in the hydroponic system!

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

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EcoPeace Staff on an Ecological Field Visit in Lebanon

EcoPeace staff member, Eng. Abed Sultan, participated in a field visit to the Shouf Abed_LebanonReserve in Lebanon this past month. The visit focused on restoration plans for degraded lands, local community participation, education, and ecotourism activities. The experiences shared by the Shouf Reserve and participants were very valuable. Abed Sultan presented EcoPeace’s Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark‘s forestation, education, and community engagement initiatives as well as the MEDFORVAL network and its objectives.  He highlighted the process EcoPeace is undertaking to promote a sustainable Jordan Valley and how national and regional experts’ meetings will lead to the production of a National Biodiversity Master Plan.  The trip was supported by MEDFORVAL.

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On May 15th, at the Annual Conference of the Israel Water Association, EcoPeace staff member Nadav Tal  presented our research findings on “Decoupling National Water IWANeeds for National Water Supplies: Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin”. This research demonstrates a promising avenue for improved regional water security within the current limits of water availability, drawing on regional best practices and showing significant knowledge and institutional challenges to achieve this. The conference included water experts from all over Israel, government ministers, academics, and professionals from the private sector.

This research was funded by the British Council and took place in partnership with Oxford University in the UK and the WANA Institute in Jordan.

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