Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 5, 2017

September 1st, 2017 Environmental Peacebuilding Newsletter

EcoPeace at World Water Week

Munqeth_WWWJordanian Co-Director of EcoPeace Middle East, Munqeth Mehyar, participated in the annual World Water Week in Stockholm that took place from August 27th – September 1st. World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues, and is attended by more than 3,000 people from 130 countries. This year’s event focused on “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse” with a long list of sessions and panels. On August 29th, EcoPeace’s Jordanian Director was a panelist in a session managed by the World Bank on the topic of “Water Security and Water Integrity Challenges in the MENA Region” and on August 30th, in a special session on “Water & Faith”, where he presented EcoPeace’s interfaith engagement in the rehabilitation process of the Lower Jordan River and the role that faith communities can play.

US Envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, and Israeli Mayor, Alon Schuster, discussing the Gaza crisis

Greenblatt_SchusterEcoPeace Middle East’s “Good Water Neighbors” project again proved its worth by showing its ability to motivate mayors to take leading action on cross border water issues; in this case, trying to prevent further deterioration in the Gaza water and sanitation crises. Learn more in these Jerusalem Post articles:

Israeli Mayors to the U.S.: Help Resolve Gaza Electricity, Water Crisis  and COGAT Works to Thwart Disease from Sewage Pollution

Tour with Israeli MK Zouheir Bahloul

MK tour

EcoPeace toured the Israeli communities that are situated around the Gaza Strip together with Member of Knesset Zouheir Bahloul (Labor Party), who is a member of the Interior Affairs and Environmental Protection Committee. The visit included the Erez checkpoint where sewage flows into Israel from Gaza, the Ziqim beach that was recently closed due to water pollution from Gaza, and the viewpoint of Gaza from the Anzac monument. Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, described to MK Bahloul the current environmental and humanitarian issues in Gaza and their direct impact on Israel including the health risks on both sides of the border.

Japan Seminar for Girls

JapanSeveral Palestinian and Israeli female graduates of EcoPeace’s educational program were invited to participate in the Kizuno project camp in Japan, hosted by “Peace Field Japan“. The girls learned and experienced the culture of Satoyama – an agricultural culture that has existed in Japan’s forested regions for hundreds of years and is considered a model of sustainable relations between humans and the environment. The group returned to their communities with a new understanding of environment and culture.

Girls Seminar at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark

Girls seminar_SHE

During the last days of the summer holiday EcoPeace held a special gathering that brought together young Jordanian and Israeli women. The gathering focused on empowering the women as environmental leaders in their respective communities. The women toured our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, and learned about different topics such as water in the Middle East, women environmental leaders in the area and the world, the water issues in Gaza and the Dead Sea and EcoPeace’s suggested solutions. They also experienced doing local crafts and making ‘seed balls’ as part of a sustainable agriculture workshop.

“Neighbor’s Path” Tour for Israeli Geography Teachers

Geography teachersMid-August wasn’t too hot for senior Geography teachers in Israel to venture out and learn first-hand about transboundary water issues in the Besor-Wadi Gaza Basin.  Starting from Beer Sheva, driving west to outlooks over the Gaza strip, the teachers heard about the history of water in the area – from biblical times to today. The teachers discussed the complex issues of the water and sanitation crisis in Gaza and how it is impacting Israel. The tour demonstrated the educational value of study tours to understand that water and sewage have no borders, and that there is an interdependency between neighbors in the basin which can’t be ignored.

ALLMEP Alumni Fair

alumni fairEcoPeace was excited to join ALLMEP‘s first “Peace Programs Alumni Fair”. EcoPeace staff was joined by several “Water Trustees” Alumni who shared their experiences in their years’ of participation in our “Good Water Neighbors” program. We also presented our work in general and how our alumni stay engaged. We offered simple solutions for alumni of other programs to continue spreading the message of environmental peacebuilding through introducing our “Neighbor’s Paths” and offering them to join our ongoing activities.

Jordan River Tours to “Interfaith Partners for Peace”

JR tourThis month, EcoPeace staff was invited to speak to 2 tour groups visiting the region through the “Interfaith Partners for Peace” organization.  Both groups included high level clergy from around the United States who were interested to hear EcoPeace’s perspective about water and faith, and how the two issues can teach us to promote a better culture of peace in the region. EcoPeace staff gave these talks on-site, at the iconic Jordan River, a River so iNewsletter Sept. 2017_Finalmportant to the 3 monotheistic religions, as an example of how people can come together to work on rehabilitation efforts in their respective faith communities back home.

EcoPeace’s Othman Tawalbe at the United Nations Youth Assembly

Othman at UNOthman Tawalbe, manager of our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, was honored to receive a grant by the ‘King Abdullah II Fund for Development’ in order to represent Jordan at the UN Headquarters in New York and to observe the 20th Session of the Summer Youth Assembly. The Youth Assembly reviewed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and explored cross-cutting issues and solutions for sustainable development in the social, economic, and environmental dimensions – with a special focus on youth – who are believed to have a unique set of skills and perspectives in today’s ever-evolving world and are at the frontlines of innovation and change.  Mr. Tawalbe is excited to bring back his lessons learned into youth activities at the EcoPark.

Student Groups Visit EcoPeace in Jordan

the Philos ProjectOn July 30, 2017, a group of 27 leaders from the Philos Project visited EcoPeace Middle East’s Amman office to learn more about the efforts on the rehabilitation of the Jordan River and the peace process. The Philos project is the network hub for leaders and future leaders who are committed to promoting positive Christian engagement in the Middle East. Attendees were briefed on the Jordan River Valley’s current situation, the River of Jordan recent rehabilitation achievements, the faith – based campaign and the first ever Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley. Regional environmental issues in the Jordan River Valley require an international partnership for promoting the ecological rehabilitation to guarantee a prosperous long lasting peace.

Columbia studentsA group of 22 students of different nationalities from Columbia University visited Jordan and our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark between August 16th -19th to learn more about the region’s conflict, its complexity, and possible means to solve them. Water, biodiversity, agriculture were among the topics discussed. Site visits included the communities of Deir Allah and Hemmah, as well as the ancient ruins of Um Qais and the Yarmuk River reserve. EcoPeace assisted on the Eastern side of the Jordan to enrich the students’ information; the group will also visit the western side of the Jordan River in order to gain a regional perspective.

Owen Wise, a 16 year old member of Seeds of Peace from New York, learned aboutOwen Visit EcoPeace and the work we do to rehabilitate the environment and build peace between our neighbors. Owen decided to spend 10 days of his vacation at the SHE EcoPark to help improve the educational materials and to work on the Park’s water stations; examples that help illustrate wise-water use to students and visitors of the park. Owen helped with the building of a model gray water system, reuse of plastic bottles as alternative building materials for the bird hide, and many other tasks. In return, he learned much about the Jordan Valley environment, politics and people.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza.


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