Brussels, Contributed by Hussam Hussein, former FoEME intern at the Amman office, and Elizabeth Ya’ari, Jordan River Rehabilitation Project Coordinator at FoEME
On June 29th at the invitation of the Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats Group, a Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) delegation presented the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project to a full audience at the European Union Parliament. The FoEME presentation entitled “Jordan River: Rehabilitation and Trust-Building” was co-chaired by Members of the European Parliament Paolo de Castro, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Jo Leinen, Chair of the Committee on Environment and Adrian Severin, Vice-President of the Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament.
The FoEME presentation aimed to raise awareness about the critical state of the Lower Jordan River and the opportunities to advance regional peace building through cooperation on this critical issue. FoEME’s presentation highlighted the Jordan River’s rich cultural and natural heritage as well as the results of two new scientific studies published by FoEME several months ago. FoEME’s Environmental Flow study found that the extensive diversion of the river’s natural flow has left the river with only 2% of its historic flow – with dramatic implications for the River’s biodiversity while FoEME’s Economic Study identified nearly a billion cubic meters of water that could be saved through the implementation of better domestic and agricultural water management practices. Furthermore, FoEME has established for the first time a Regional Advisory Committee with the involvement of government representatives from Jordan, Israel and Palestine – an important step towards bringing the region’s decision makers together.
FoEME underlined that the Jordan River is not only of great local and regional importance, but is a significant site of world heritage requiring responsible world leaders, such as the Members of the European Parliament, to act to save it. Furthermore as the security, stability and prosperity of the EU’s neighborhood are a priority for Brussels, a strong European role in advancing a solution to the state of the Lower Jordan River is justified.
Many Members of the European Parliament and diplomats took part in the discussions following the presentation. The conference chairmen also raised awareness about United States Senate Resolution 387 passed unanimously in November 2007 which called attention to the critical state of the Lower Jordan River and the need to advance a transboundary solution to rehabilitate the important river. The chairmen indicated their support for a European Union Parliamentary proposal on this issue and called upon the other Members of Parliament to join them in their cross party effort to advance a resolution on this issue. Together with MEP Veronique de Keyser, the conference chairmen have submitted an oral question on the issue as a first step towards passing a resolution. The Parliament Members hope to have an EU Parliament plenary debate on a draft resolution in early fall 2010.
At the conclusion of the conference, the FoEME representatives awarded the three chairmen the “Jordan River Championship Award” for their leadership in advancing support for the regional rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.
Related blog post:
A Conference to Bring Back the Jordan River Rapids, Rapidly