EcoPeace Participates in Women Wage Peace March of Hope
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This past month was busy with EcoPeace staff participating in the Women Wage Peace March of Hope. Israeli and Palestinian staff, forum members, and alumni joined thousands of participants at various points along the route including Naharayim, Neve Shalom Village, the march-of-hope_1Baptism Site on the banks of the Jordan River and in Jerusalem.  The events included speeches from Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, prominent politicians, and peace activists, as well as performances by Israeli and Palestinian singers. The two week march which started in Rosh Hanikra was a call to government leaders to start working with respect and courage towards a solution to the ongoing violent conflict, while including the full participation of women. The march culminated in Jerusalem in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence with thousands of participants demanding a restart to peace negotiations.

 

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

 


 

Another Year at YOCOPAS!

Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian alumni and Youth Water Trustee’s from our Good Water Neighbors project participated for a second year in the Regional Youth Conference for Peace and Sustainability (YOCOPAS) held from October 26th to 28th at tyocopashe Eastern Mediterranean International School on Hakfar Hayarok, a youth village and educational campus in the center of Israel. On the second day of the conference, EcoPeace Community Coordinators, from the three offices, led a workshop and simulation exercise about shared water resources between Palestine, Israel and Jordan.  The students were divided into three groups simulating the three parties and discussed each side’s water allocation and water demands while taking into consideration the other’s needs. This helped the students learn of creative but realistic solutions to meet the needs of the region but still suit the lifestyles of those involved, providing a win-win situation that aids in peacebuilding efforts by sharing common resources.


 

Alumni Hard at Workisraeli-alumna

Good Water Neighbors alumni are taking their work to the next level. A jenin-alumnaformer Youth Water Trustee and now participant in the alumni program established her own group of Youth Water Trustees in Jenin. She has been working hard at garnering interest and participants in her community and has held 3 meetings so far. She even contacted the village council to get permission to work in the council’s hall and garden with the trustees.

Additionally, an Israeli alumna participated in the Women Wage Peace rally and spent the day with Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee. She gave an insightful lecture and discussion about EcoPeace while traveling to the different locales throughout the day.

 

Palestinian Office has signing ceremony

On October 19th a delegation of municipal leaders from the Madaba Municipality in Jordan travelled to Obediya in Palestine for a signing ceremony of a twinning agreement under the invitation of H.E. Mazen Ghneim, Head of the Palestinian Water Authority. Additional side meetings were held besigning-ceremonytween Jordanian and Palestinian stakeholders of the Madaba/Obediya watershed. Additionally, H.E. Rule Ma’ay’a, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, visited the Jordanian delegation to discuss Jordanian-Palestinian cooperation in relation to tourism development in the area.

 

EcoDesign Workshop at Auja EcoCenterauja

Our Auja EcoCenter hosted an eco-design workshop from October 28th to 29th organized by the ökoRAUSCH Think Tank of Germany. The workshop in Auja was part of a kick-off event that started in Israel and ended in Palestine for Eco Design Forum International which involves designers, artists and creative thinkers from all over the world who want to explore green ideas and develop sustainable products.

 

Biodiversity Workshop at EcoPeace’s Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark

From October 26th to 27th, EcoPeace conducted a workshop at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark in relation to forest and river restoration and sustainable development. The workshop was supported by MEDFORVAL which helps protect, manage or restore forested areas of high ecological value. Discussions and presentations included different medforvalsuggestions for educating communities and decision makers on the ecological and economic value of forests as a means to advance cooperative protection efforts and achieve rehabilitation of forest habitats in the Jordan Valley. The first day included presentations and discussions, and the second day offered participants the opportunity to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna in an outdoor excursion.new-toilets

New Additions to SHE

EcoPeace has continued the momentum of expansion at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark in Jordan. We have now incorporated private bathrooms into the twelve older cabins on site. These twelve cabins have air-conditioning and wifi, two are wheelchair accessible, and now all have attached bathrooms. This significant expansion allows guests to stay comfortably for a longer period of time and enjoy local eco-tourism along the Jordan River. Come check us out by reserving rooms here!

 

EcoPeace Directors Participate in a World Council of Churches Event

The three EcoPeace Directors participated, via Skype, in a World Council of Churches event in Geneva to celebrate and welcome their induction into the “blue community,” meaning world-council-churchesrecognition of safe and clean drinking water as a human right. The renowned water activist Dr. Maude Barlow delivered the keynote address and the “water man of India” and Stockholm Water Prize laureate for 2015, Dr Rajendra Singh, addressed the gathering as well. Our directors underlined the importance of human rights in relation to water access in the Middle East and discussed water as a means to help work towards peacebuilding efforts.

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


New Project in the Kidron Basinkidron

EcoPeace is participating in a new project in cooperation with UNESCO-IHE to assess the state of the Kidron/Al-Nar stream which flows from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. The stream is considered an environmental and public health hazard due to the disposal of untreated wastewater into its waters. The project involves faculty from Al-Quds University and the Hebrew University, local authorities and grassroots organizations working together to develop practical and innovative wastewater management schemes while building trust and people-to people relations.

 

This project is supported by UNESCO-IHE


 

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Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | November 2, 2016

Water not war, but Water is Peace

The context of complexity in the middle east where four countries collapsed due to recent revolutions, where ISIS has taken control and destroyed development throughout the  MENA region. With bad water management practices and lack of political will in Palestine/Israel where the occupation is taking place is a good reason to justify conflict, clashes, and tensions between both sides.

Water knows no borders, between Palestine and Israel it can be used as a tool to enrich people’s lives with projects for good economic growth leading to a tremendous decrease in unemployment provided both sides agree to promote development projects in water, sanitation, solid waste, agroindustry, cultural heritage, and optimizing tourism in the Jordan Valley.

In 2015, EcoPeace succeeded to publish the first ever Regional NGO Master Plan  for sustainable development in the Jordan Valley, with 127 projects and an investment cost of 4.6 billion USD . The Plan can bring prosperity and sustainability for all residents of the three countries and create more than 1M job opportunities, playing an important role in decreasing unemployment and increasing GDP from an estimated $10 billion annually to $72 billion.

These accomplishments will never be achieved by improving military technology or by promoting conflict, but by a good willingness to achieve and improve the performance of dialogue and negotiations from all governments in the region and support of the international community.

People ask me “Is there hope for peace in this area where Israel is occupying a majority of the Jordan Valley?” My answer is “Yes, It is the hope”. We can contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in our region and end poverty when all partnering countries play a role in the development of agro industrial projects that will employ many Palestinians and Jordanians. It will take the region to a more stable situation and develop people’s confidence that the land belongs to them. We want to develop our land for the sake of our next generation.

Our people can cooperate over water, sanitation, and other vital components of development in the Jordan Valley. We can all cooperate to achieve and implement what is needed.

EcoPeace ME success to create the base and guidelines for the government to restore the Jordan River and protect water quality and quantity sustainably while developing viable livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development in a climate of peace and political stability for current and future generations. Now, the ball is in the government’s court to lead in the implementation to a more prosperous and peaceful future.

 


Written By: Malek Abualfailat – EcoPeace – Bethlehem

Jordan River outreach continues…mira_jr_germantv

Several outreach activities took place this month to make sure the Jordan River continues to be talked about; they included filming for an item on German TV that will be aired nextmira_jr_euphrates month; filming for a full length documentary about the Jordan River with the French-German ARTE company to be aired later in the Spring; as well as tours and presentations given to international delegations visiting the region such as the Telos Group, the Euphrates Institute and the Young Muslim Leaders group.

 

Bringing back some Jordan River water to the Pinchas Rotenberg legasept-20-2016-zero-canal-waterfall-event-w-jordanian-ambcy

EcoPeace was delighted to attend a ceremony held at Naharayim that inaugurated the rejuvenation of the ‘overspill dam’, with water from the Jordan River brought in via the ‘zero canal’.  This is a small section naharayim_waterfallof the infamous hydro-electric power plant built in the 1930’s by Pinchas Rotenberg that harnessed the waters of the Yarmouk and Jordan Rivers together to produce electricity.  This is also the area of EcoPeace’s Jordan River Peace Park initiative.  In attendance at the ceremony was the Jordanian Ambassador to Israel, the mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, and other invited guests.

 

 

EcoPeace Participates in International Workshop on Transboundary Conservation in Montana and Meets the Friends of the Mississippi in Minnesotagidon-at-conference

As part of a U.S. visit this month, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director participated in a 4-day workshop, Hands Across Borders, with leaders from 28 transboundary conservation initiatives located on 6 different continents. Through a mix of presentations, problem-solving clinics, and field trips, the participants shared their experiences in catalyzing, enabling, and sustaining transboundary conservation initiatives. The conference was held in partnership with University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy and Glacier National Park.

 

 

 

mississippiAdditionally, the Director toured parts of the Mississippi around St. Paul, Minnesota, with Friends of the Mississippi, to better understand the pollution plaguing this historical river. You can read more about the Mississippi River’s condition here. Friends of the Mississippi River engages citizens to protect, restore and enhance the Mississippi River and its watershed, in a similar way EcoPeace works to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Shared values, a common mission and agenda make them a new great friend of EcoPeace’s.

 

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

 


 

EcoPeace’s Sharhabil Bin Hasseneh EcoPark Named in the Top 100 Green Destinations for 2016!sustainable_destina141ac70_20162

EcoPeace’s Sharhabil Bin Hasseneh (SHE) EcoPark was named as one of the Top 100 Green Sustainable Destinations for 2016.  The award celebrates the efforts of tourism destinations that maintain responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives and is a follow-up to National Geographic Traveler’s Destinations Stewardship surveys and the 2014 Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100. The Top 100 initiative aims to recognize tourism destinations that have worked hard to make a difference and take sustainability seriously.

 

EcoPeace is the 100th Grantee of USAID’s West Bank / Gaza CMM Program

usaid-signingOn September 7th EcoPeace participated in a momentous occasion as it signed on as the 100th grantee of USAID’s West Bank / Gaza Mission’s Conflict Management and Mitigation program. We are proud to be a recipient of such a significant award which allows us to promote our Good Water Neighbors project for the next two years. We will especially be focusing on increasing the involvement of women and girls in water related projects throughout the region.

 

Cross Border Forum Meets with Wadi Attir Projectwadi-attir-visit-1

On September 8th approximately 25 members of the Hebron / Besor cross borderwadi-attir-visit-2 forum participated in a tour of the Wadi Attir Project to help with brainstorming of potential branding ideas for the watershed. They also had the chance to meet and discuss ideas with Dr. Mohammad Al-Nabari, the current Mayor of Hura and a founding member and co-chairman of the Project.  The Wadi Attir Project is a groundbreaking initiative which demonstrates an approach to sustainable desert agriculture that leverages Bedouin traditional values, know-how and experience with modern-day science and cutting edge technologies. It is a project of the Hura Municipal Council and The Sustainability Laboratory.

Palestinian and Israeli Staff Learningdesal-plant

It’s not often that all staff get to go out in the field but on September 20th, Bethlehem staff joined the Tel Aviv office for an educational tour of the Ashkelon Desalination Plant where we learned about the technology behind the science, toured the plant and discussed the past closures due to wastewater seepage from Gaza; just another aspect proving Israeli and Palestinian shared water resources and the need to promote an agreed-upon water accord. The day ended with a tour close to the Gaza border to discuss the severe over-extraction rates of the coastal aquifer which suffers from seawater intrusion. The situation is aggravated by seepage of wastewater leading to high nitrate measurements. As the current unilateral actions have proved ineffective and are not providing affordable sanitation and water supply schemes, this has become one of EcoPeace’s dominant projects; calling for urgent and effective transboundary cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli governments.

 

EcoPeace Presents at UK’s Wilton Park

wilton-parkRepresentatives from the Amman, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv offices as well as Khalifeh Ad-Dayyat, Mayor of the Jordanian town of Deir Alla came together last week with colleagues from around the world at Wilton Park to discuss the challenges of water scarcity and innovations to benefit water scarce communities. The EcoPeace team gave a joint presentation about “Sharing Innovation to Address Water Challenges in the Levant.”

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


 

 

 

EcoPeace Middle East would like to wish its

Muslim and Jewish supporters a Happy New Year!

 

 

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 EcoPeace Advances Jordan Valley Solutions at World Water Week, Stockholm, Sweden

EcoPeace, together with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), held a Side Event during World Water Week, entitled “Financing Sustainable Growth in the Jordan Valley“.The event included a presentation of our Jordan Valley Master Plan financing strategies WWWand an update from the Lower Jordan River Drainage Authority, as well as SIWI’s joint infrastructure financial vehicle – a financing proposal designed to host a wide range of investments that will provide shared benefits and sustainable growth across transboundary basins.  The panel that followed the presentations saw Israeli and Jordanian government officials, together with financial experts from the World Bank and the private sector (SEB) discuss financing options, including the establishment of a Jordan Valley Trust Fund.

 

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

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Positive Movement for Gaza Sanitation Solutions and Regional Water Security

 

Following the disclosure by EcoPeace that the Ashkelon desalination plant had been closed earlier this year because of untreated sewage from Gaza reaching the Israeli shoreline, political attention has been drawn to the need for a reliable supply of electricity to power the newly built wastewater treatment plant in Gaza (NGEST)

 

Israeli PM Netanyahu’s statement on Gaza:

In a speech on the recent reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, PM Netanyahu justified the agreement by emphasizing the need to reach new understandings regarding water security and the need to advance the construction of a desalination plant and power station in Gaza;

 

US call for water solutions in Gaza:

A letter by a leading group of US congressmen addressed to Israeli Ministers Yuval Steinitz and Avigdor Lieberman expressed alarm at water security issues with Gaza and asked for a long term solution for the provision of power to NGEST.

 

Referring to the congressional letter, Globes Newspaper published the article ‘US Congressmen: Gaza Pollution Threatens Israel‘ and the Jerusalem Post outlined high level support for several options in its article ‘Gaza Sewage Plant Will Receive Electricity from Israel‘.

 

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“Water Has No Borders” – at Emek Hefer Festival

The annual ‘Bridges over the Stream‘ festival was held in Emek Emek HeferHefer this month, with EcoPeace Youth “Water Trustees” constructing and manning an EcoPeace booth.  The festival included several days of art and music activities held on the banks of the Alexander River.  Our message of “Water Has No Borders” was displayed at the entrance to the festival and served as a great conversation starter for the hundreds of residents and visitors that attended.

 

EcoPeace in Seoul, Korea

On the 71st Liberation Day of Korea, the Archdiocese of Seoul hosted aMunqeth_Korea series of peace promotion events, inviting people from conflict-affected countries to strengthen peace-building efforts from around the world.  EcoPeace was honored to be invited to the “2016 Korean Peninsula Peace-sharing Forum” where our Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar, presented our environmental peacebuilding work.

 

Touring the Yarkon Watershed

A tour to the town of Jaljulia on the Israeli side of the Yarkon watershed was held at the Yarkonend of the month, attended by the Mayor of Jaljulia’s Local Council, the Head of the Yarkon River Authority and EcoPeace staff. The tour focused on cross border environmental problems in the area and identified possible areas of cooperation.  The group toured the area’s beautiful historic sites, where they learned about the need for rehabilitation and for resources and witnessed the huge piles of garbage polluting the Kana River. This pollution is due to the closure of the local waste facility, and no alternative has yet been given for proper disposal of solid waste.

 

Cross Border Meeting in Baka Al Gharbia

GWN_Baka_branding20 residents from Baka Al Gharbiya and Baka Al Sharkiya, representing the Hadera / Abu Nar watershed, gathered together at the Al Qasami College to tour the campus and its labs. The tour was followed by a discussion about the challenges facing the shared watershed in which residents discussed a possible watershed ‘branding campaign’.

Stay tuned to learn what they came up with!

 

Enhancing the Playground Area at the SHE Ecopark

What can one do with an old, unused bus?  At our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark (SHE) in SHE_busJordan, together with students from the Kings Academy, we turned an old bus into a playground element: first lifting it off the ground, then building monkey bars underneath it, with two slides and four new swings. We decorated and painted it, being careful to remove any sharp edges.  The play area is now shaded as well, giving visiting children an additional eco-facility to enjoy at the EcoPark. This element is a great example of how to reuse old materials in a creative fashion

 

Visit to the Model Farm Project, Safi, Jordan

model farm-1On August 14th a delegation that included representatives from the Tamar Regional Council, the Arava R&D Center, and EcoPeace crossed to Safi, Jordan to meet the Jordanian farmers working on the Model Farm project. The group toured the area, discussed the farm’s progress, and identified the next steps towards its continued successful operation.  Pictured here is the water tank recently installed in the farm.

 

Tree Planting in Madaba, Jordan

As part of the Good Water Neighbors project, we are maintaining and building new Madaba_treeeco-facilities in all of our communities.  In Madaba, Jordan, in cooperation with the municipality, Youth Water Trustees planted some 50 Carob trees alongside the main tourist road in the city.  A large campaign was conducted in order to include the public and increase their participation.  Shop owners on the road were very pleased, saying “… these trees that were planted today do not belong only to the municipality…. they are ours, and it is up to us to protect them and water them.  Thank you so much for this activity”.

 

 

Additional Recent Press Articles on Water Security

 

A Solution to The Water Crisis?

 

Israel’s Mediterranean Desalination Plants Shift Regional Water Balance

The role that Israeli desalination plants might play on the regional chessboard from The Circle of Blue.

 

Heat Wave Aggravates Chronic Water Problems In Occupied West Bank

An article in the LA Times on water scarcity in the West Bank

 

New Hope That Water Can Be a Bridge to Mideast Peace

Op-Ed written by Gidon Bromberg and MK Hilik Bar and published in the Huffington Post

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 4, 2016

Fourth Annual EcoPeace Regional Teacher Seminar 2016

Teachers are the conduits of knowledge. They interact with and serve as role models for youth during some of the most formative years of their students’ lives. Teachers have the ability to instill a sense of environmental stewardship and responsibility within their students. This is why it is essential that they be included in efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage.

 

From 26th – 28th July 2016, the fourth annual EcoPeace Regional Teacher Seminar brought together teachers from Jordan, Israel, and Palestine to learn about current shared water issues in the three countries as well as collaborate and learn from each other. Hosted in the beautiful Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, the seminar provided teachers with a place to strategize how they would strengthen environmental education in their communities. Over the three day seminar, EcoPeace experts shared their knowledge on hot button issues such as the Red Sea Dead Sea Canal, the water situation in Gaza and the Water-Energy Nexus, biodiversity, and the Jordan River.

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Participants were assigned to their initial working groups based on river basins. They began the seminar discussing their personal connections to water, be it playing in the stream during their childhood or experiencing water shortages at home. The more the teachers shared, the more they discovered shared experiences and common concerns around water.

 

During the study group sessions, participants analyzed complex situations and identified benefits for transboundary water cooperation. This analysis allowed the teachers to identify stages of cooperation between parties as well as how increased cooperation would benefit the economy, human well-being, environmental sustainability, and  political stability of the countries involved.

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In one session, participants identified key water issues facing Gaza. They discussed how today, 90% of the water from the Coastal Aquifer, which Gaza relies on for most of its supply, is undrinkable without proper treatment. Teachers spoke about the rising levels of salinity in the drinking water, further compounded by pollution and nitrate runoff from sewage and irrigated farmland. The participants divided into two groups and role-played the two sides of the Gaza water debate. The group then collectively agreed upon four main recommendations towards transboundary water cooperation.

 

This momentum for collective analysis continued throughout the seminar. Teachers from Jordan, Israel, and Palestine enthusiastically collaborated to make strategies for strengthening environmental education. Each participant brought a unique perspective to the table, which when combined with the thoughts of others, helped to develop effective plans and solutions.

 

Towards the end of the seminar, some participants went out of their way to express what they enjoyed about the event. EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator from the Jordan Valley, Adam Waddell, said that the seminar was, “one of the highlights of the yearand “was especially impressive considering the caliber of educators present and equally rewarding to be part of a dialogue that will impact our youth and the future of our communities.”

 

EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator in Deir Alla, Jordan, Baker Hasan Barakat, commented that he “liked what was done” and that “the arrangements and the logistics were excellent. He noted that he has talked to other participants and they have “all given back positive comments” about the seminar.

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Baker Hasan’s counterpart in Palestine Mahmud Dreat also commented: “ I met so many great people who are really passionate about the environment and committed to solve the environmental challenges our region is currently facing especially in relation to water scarcity and fair distribution of water”

 

Throughout the three-day seminar, teachers collaborated in order to strengthen environmental education in their home municipalities. They learned not only about current water issues in the three countries from the EcoPeace experts, but also about innovative solutions from each other.  In this way, the Teacher Seminar reinforced the message that local communities are themselves a part of the solutions to some of the region’s most challenging environmental problems.

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This regional seminar creates dividends for environmental education. Teachers take back what they learned to their students, who will, in turn, share it with their parents and grandparents, who will share the information with their neighbors. In this way, a discussion that began at the EcoPark spreads within and between communities to transform how people think about the environment and their relationship to it.

 

EcoPeace and the author of this blog Ms. Sarah Dahnke wish all teachers and students a good school year

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 11, 2016

Lessons Learned at the Berlin River Camp

The following is written by Liron, one of our water trustees who participated in the Berlin River Camp

Water.  Think for a moment about the concept of water.  Think about the different uses we have for water.  Begin with drinking, then to washing in the bathroom to be clean, and then to the various uses of water sources for pleasure.  I think that in our lives, in daily life we barely think about water.

The week before last week, I went to a youth conference in Berlin which dealt with water and rivers.  I want to share some insights with you (all of the concepts are things that I learned in the conference and the concept of water where I live, Israel).

The first insight, which may be the most significant thing in the conference, is taken for granted and should not be so. I think that when we regularly want to drink, here in Israel, we simply open the water faucet and “poof” we have a drinkable cup of water  in hand. At the conference, I learned that there are places that are suffering from severe water shortage, such as Jordan, where it is not always possible to simply open the faucet and drink clean water.  There isn’t potable water in all faucets, and there are places that limit the amount of water that is given to each family.  On the other hand, Berlin’s drinking water comes from a local river, the River Spree.  Because the water is from a river that flows year round, there is no shortage of water.  Although there is plenty of water, when I was in Berlin I went to a restaurant and asked for water.  The waiters in the restaurant said that I could only buy the water.  There, access to water is obvious and has become a consumer product.  Three examples that have given rise to problems here, in Israel the water is simply granted, despite being so critical for us.  Where there is water shortage, people find it difficult to get the amount of water they need, and with limited water their basic water necessity is damaged.  However, where there is plenty of water, water should be moved to places with water shortage or given to them for free, because water is a basic necessity for life and should not become a commodity.  Only the highest bidder is able to get water.  This is sad and a shame, and I really believe that all people deserve an adequate amount of water.  If there are people that live in dry places with water shortages, and if there are people that live where there is plenty of water, they must pay them.  People are people no matter where they live.  Everyone deserves to have proper water and to enjoy it.  In the conference, the participants were from 18 different countries, mainly in Europe.  Each representative from each country was asked to bring a small bottle of water from the river in the country that they represent.  We had a ceremony in which we poured the water we brought into a bowl.  By doing this, water from different parts of the world blended together in peace and quiet.  I think that this small ceremony taught me something very important, or rather showed me something important: I saw that water in truth has no boundaries, because water is water.  This is a basic thing in the whole world and reaches everyone.  Whether it’s for people who come from Germany, or Latvia, or Israel.  All of humankind deserves to be able to get water without restrictions or distress.  Water is water, there is no difference where in the world it is.

The second insight is important for me to write because it is a matter of the attitude we have towards the present and the near future, compared to respect to the distant future.  Even here I must clarify what I mean: in the conference I noticed that people only refer to water in the context of the present or near future, but don’t consider what happens to the water and the environment in the future.  It is difficult to look at the overall situation of water.  For example, it is convenient to put Central Berlin’s sewage into the Berlin River, this is probably the easiest way to deal with the sewage, but this is not thinking about the long-term damage caused to the environment.  The same thing is happening in Slovenia.  In Slovenia, there is plenty of water.  Because there is so much water, it was decided to exploit the water and use it to produce energy.  This is done by hydroelectric dams.  These dams are damaging the ecosystems.  Interference with natural ecosystems has both immediate and long-term damage.  Although there is damage, in the immediate term it is producing energy and people have difficulty seeing anything beyond the resulting energy.  We find it difficult to understand that they and their environment currently pay or will pay a heavy price for their desire to produce energy through intervening with nature.  Also here, in Israel, when transporting the Dead Sea water to evaporation ponds to produce minerals or for tourism, we are only seeing the immediate future impacts.  Seeing the money put into mineral extraction or tourism but not the damage and danger that there is for a place so beautiful and unique. It is difficult to step a little out of our comfort zones, and to do or make small concessions that will protect the water resources and our entire environment.

In summary, these are important things that I learned at the conference I took part in.  Now I challenge you to open your eyes, pay attention, and do not take water for granted.  Water does not become a consumer produce and do not also just look at what is happening in front of us, just lift our eyes, looking, paying attention, and think about the future.  If each of us really do these things, I am sure that we will make a better, more pleasant future for ourselves.

 

EcoPeace’s Marina Djernaes Presents at the UN

On July 14th, our Director of EcoPeace’s Center for Peacebuilding Marina Djernaes, was a panelist at the 2016 UN Conference High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Djernaes focused on the importance of finding joint solutions to cross border problems, stating that even though water is not necessarily the root of conflict, marina at the UN 2conflict impedes states’ ability to advance on many issues such as water. Emphasizing that the environment can become hostage to conflict, Djernaes illustrated EcoPeace’s approach to this problem; by looking at ways to get people to work together to solve shared problems. Djernaes suggested that the UN consider catalyzing this cooperation by helping engage civil society in creating sustainability among environmental, social, and economic areas. Check out the recorded session and photos.

 

Regional Teachers Seminar

Regional Teacher SeminarFrom July 26th to 28th, EcoPeace held its annual Good Water Neighbors Regional Teachers’ Seminar at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan. During these three days of discussion and interaction, study groups analyzed cross border water issues related to the Dead Sea, Jordan River and Gaza. The group also enjoyed numerous excursions in and around SHE EcoPark. We thank all the teachers and educators for participating!

 

GWN Youth Alumni Graduation

On July 19th, ten Israeli Youth Water Trustee alumni joined together to celebrate graduating from the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) program and to reflect on their past few years’ of involvement. To celebrate, the alumni participated in a team building activityAlumni at the climbing wall in HaYarkon Park, where Israeli Education Coordinator Amy Lipman-Avizohar instructed them to think about all the obstacles they have overcome and achievements they have made as they climbed the tower together. After the fun activities in the park, the group joined Director Gidon Bromberg for a graduation ceremony, where each alumnus discussed what they have gained through participating in the GWN program and received a certificate of appreciation. Congratulations to all!

 

EcoPeace Staff Tour West Nablus Wastewater Treatment Plant

Senior EcoPeace staff from both our Bethlehem and Tel Aviv offices toured the West Nablus WWTPNablus Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) which began operation in 2013. The tour and site operations were fully professional; staff also viewed the next stage of expansion which includes plans for waste water reuse and sewage collection from the neighboring towns. The advancement will help solve environment and water issues in the area.

 

Staff Tour Kishon River Clean-Up Site

Kishon River CleanupOffice Staff from our Tel Aviv office joined our Community Coordinator in the Kishon Basin for a tour of the Kishon River clean-up site in early July. On their visit, they were struck by the incredible amount of pollution on the river floor from decades of oil waste. EcoPeace is excited to see this water source finally being cleaned up and restored to an acceptable ecological status.

 

 

Staff Presentations Everywhere this month!

EcoPeace staff were at a number of conferences this past month!

Jordanian staff member Eshak Alguza’a presented at the second Water, Growth and Stability Conference in Hammemet, Tunisia where participants established a cloud-based Water, Growth and Stability network and public awareness campaign to keep water experts and practitioners in the Middle East and North Africa connected. The EcoPeace delegation also aided in the development of a water action plan for four Jordanian municipalities present at the conference and strengthened ties wiEshak in Tunisiath colleagues at the Prince Bassma Bint El Hussien community center in South Shouneh.

 

Israeli staff member Shelley Lev-Sherman gave a presentation about EcoPeace’s model farm project at Tel Aviv University’s third annual Israel, Sustainable Agriculture and the Developing World Workshop. This workshop brought together experts in the field of sustainable agriculture to discuss current technologies and potential areas for future activity. Shelley introduced EcoPeace’s model farm concept, which encourages cross-border cooperation by serving as a center for research and knowledge exchange related to crop selection and agricultural processing methods such as irrigation, fertilization and plant protection.

 

Palestinian staff member Malek Abualfailat participated in the Mediterranean Youth Climate Forum (MYCF) and MEDCOP22 in Tangiers, Morocco where he represented EcoPeace by conveying the organization’s messages and becoming a partner of a new network called the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network (MYCN). EcoPeace is excited to be a partner in this new network that will be based in Morocco and promote climate change adaptation.

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

 


 

Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli Youth go to Berlin!

EcoPeace’s delegation to the Berlin River Camp 2016 was a huge success. Our team included nine Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis who travelled to Berlin for a week-long youth conference discussing water issues in Europe and the Middle East. The group gave a presentation and showed a video at the German Parliament about our Jordan River Parliament_Grouprehabilitation campaign. Both the parliament members and participants from other countries were impressed by the presentation and EcoPeace’s “shared water as a shared interest” concept which advocates for cooperative efforts on water issues. The team also participated in different educational activities such as testing local water sources for pollutants, a “Big Jump” into the Spree River, and discussions about water issues with students at a local German-French school.

 

Save the Date: August 28th at World Water Week!

SIWI WWWEcoPeace Middle East, together with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), will present our Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley as well as a financing model designed to host a wide range of investments – at a side event during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. For more details, click here. If you plan to be there, plan to attend!

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


EcoPeace Joins the Peace NGO Forum in Ramallah

EcoPeace staff joined the Peace NGO Forum in a meeting with Mohammed Madani, the Peace NGO Forum MeetingHead of the Palestinian Civil Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society. The Committee meets with local Israeli politicians, academics, journalists, and citizens to explain the PLO’s position and engage potential partners for peace.  The Forum promotes ongoing cooperation and interaction between Palestinian and Israeli Peace non-governmental organizations. Both the EcoPeace Palestinian Director and EcoPeace Israeli Director are current board members for Peace NGO Forum Palestine and Israel.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 8, 2016

EcoPeace Middle East Participated the Berlin River Camp 2016

During the week of July 6th to 12th, 2016 six youth representatives from EcoPeace Middle East’s transnational Good Water Neighbors program traveled to Berlin, Germany to participate in the 2016 Berlin River Camp, a program aimed at encouraging students from many countries to engage together in international dialogue on water protection policies. The EcoPeace team was made up of three coordinators and two students from each of the three partner branches of the organization in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.

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The students participated in many activities, including a trip to the Berlin River and presentations about both pressing environmental challenges and the initiatives aimed at strengthening public engagement with the river. In addition, the students had the opportunity to learn simple methods of water quality testing meant to detect the kinds of pollutants in the river. Mohammad, one of Ecopeace’s participants saw the learning experience as a very informative one, saying “we brought a kit that’s used to measure the concentration of various elements in the water and calculate the percentage of the pollution the water suffers. I think EcoPeace…should have a kit like that because it’s very practical to follow up with the water improvement if any happens in the future and we can have scientific documentation of our work on Jordan river improvement.” This experience highlighted the importance at the camp of not just of inspiring students to act in their home communities, but also giving them the tools to pursue relevant knowledge themselves.

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Perhaps the central event of this week however, was EcoPeace’s participant group’s opportunity to briefly present some of the water challenges that the Jordan River Basin faces through  a short speech and a video at the German Parliament building on the third day of the trip. Both the parliament members and most of the participants from other countries were impressed by the presentation, the core of which was about “Water Conservation as a tool for Peace in Times of Crisis” as Mohammad described it. For the audience, transboundary cooperation over water between Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians made them feel that if such political and environmental challenges can be overcome in the Middle East, there is a great deal of hope for similar successes in other parts of the world as well. The presentation was followed that night by an intercultural dinner, where the camp’s participants got to share some of the music and food of their cultures with their international peers. Salar, one of the other participants recalled “we brought dates Brazg, and Ghraybeh with us and it blew everyone’s mind and we had such a wonderful time telling people about our [culture].”

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After a day given over to the participants to explore the city on their own, the students from EcoPeace participated in an activity called the Big Jump, where students from all the different nations represented at the camp got to jump together into the Berlin River while another group stood holding a banner from on top of the bridge beside them prepared beforehand to proclaim messages about the importance of cooperation over water.  The participants from EcoPeace finished off the day with a visit to the old Berlin wall, learning about its history and the difficulties it brought to the lives of the citizens of Berlin in those days, reflecting on the walls much closer to home in the Middle East that divide them. The final day of the trip brought with it another opportunity for the student participants to demonstrate their creativity in the development of an application meant to inform people about where the best sites for swimming in the river are located, what the quality of the water is like, and all the information necessary for people to have the best possible access to the river. As a result the participants and students productively shared ideas and designed a model of that application. Salar had some experience as a game developer and so was able to contribute some of her unique expertise in testing the application.

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A sometimes challenging but overwhelmingly rewarding experience, the Berlin River Camp gave its participants an invaluable opportunity to discuss and put into use their notions of good water governance and thoughtful conservationalism with their peers from across the world. In the conclusion of her reflection on the trip, one of the participants Liron said the following: “Now I challenge you to open your eyes, pay attention, and do not take water for granted…we need to not just look at what is happening in front of us, but lift our eyes, looking, paying attention, and think about the future.  If each of us really does these things, I am sure that we will make a better, more pleasant future for ourselves.” Liron’s words communicate well the spirit of international cooperation and devotion to the protection of our natural resources that was at the center of the Berlin River Camp and stand as a testament to the deep commitment that all of EcoPeace’s student participants demonstrated during this trip; a commitment that was strengthened during this trip, but which they will continue to carry with them into their daily lives.

 


This article contributed by Skylar Benedict. Candidate for Masters of Arts in Arab Studies,Georgetown University,Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

EcoPeace Ranked in the Top 200 NGOs in the World

EcoPeace was recently ranked by NGO Advisor as a top 200 NGO of the World. We were selected out of thousands of NGOs for outstanding impact, innovation and governance. NGO Advisor is a Geneva-based independent media organization that produces the Top 500 NGOs, a series of rNGOeviews of the best nonprofit organizations from around the world. Currently on its fourth edition, NGO Advisor combines journalism with comprehensive research to highlight innovation, impact, and governance in the nonprofit sector. We are very excited to have received such an honor.

 

EcoPeace Wins Energy Globe Award for Palestine

On June 5th, World Environment Day, our Youth Water Trustees program was selected as the Palestinian winner for the Energy Globe Award. The Energy Globe Award was founded in 1999 by Austrian energy pioneer Wolfgang Neumann and is one of today’s most Energy Globeprestigious environmental awards. The award presents successful, sustainable projects with the Energy Globe Certificate, an internationally recognized hallmark for sustainability that organizations can proudly display on their websites, promotional materials, and in their offices. This Energy Globe Award will broaden EcoPeace’s audience in the sustainability and environmental community and comes one year after our Jordan River Rehabilitation project won the Energy Globe Award for Israel.

 

Basin Leaders Come Together at Cross-Border Branding Meetings

Branding mtngEcoPeace is continuing the development of branding campaigns in the different watersheds in our Good Water Neighbors program. About 30 Israeli and Palestinian leaders from the Kishon/Muqataa watershed came together on June 2nd to tour the Ta’anach Sewage Treatment Plant with representatives from the Gilboa Effluents Corporation and discuss potential branding ideas. On June 14th, 10 local leaders from Hadera and Baka Al Gharbia addressed the current status of their watershed in a national meeting. These branding forums are in the early stages of developing a vision for what a shared watershed will look like. The final plans will be presented at a regional conference in November.

 

Youth Water Trustees Explore Neighbors’ Paths

Good Water Neighbors Youth Water Trustees from Bet Yerach High SchoYWT Neighbors Path Tourol in the Jordan Valley Regional Council wrapped up their school year with a Neighbors’ Path Tour. The main stops included the Water Authority’s Sapir Pumping Station at the Sea of Galilee, the Bitaniya Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the Chagal Waste Dump. The group of teenagers discussed the regional strategic importance of the Sea of Galilee, the importance of water treatment and recycling, and the impact of sub-group water sources, and enjoyed a tour that was both educational and entertaining.

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

 

Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli Youth Meet at Jordan River Baptism Sites

On June 3rd, Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian Youth Water Trustees met at the Baptism YWT at Baptism SiteSites on both sides of the Jordan River to learn about healing their shared environment along the banks of the Jordan River. The day began with Israeli and Palestinian youth meeting at the old Lido Restaurant site near the Dead Sea for a discussion of the area’s history and dire water situation. From there, they traveled to the Baptism site on the west side where the Jordanian youth were already waiting on their side of the Jordan River at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. While Israelis and Palestinians stood and sang from the western bank of the river, the Jordanians joined in from the eastern bank, singing a rendition of “We Can Change It,” which was written by EcoPeace alumni in a past seminar. Check out the video here, which will be presented in the German Parliament at the beginning of July.

 

Rabbi Forman Memorial Day Activity at the Jordan River

EcoPeace was honored to lead a Jordan River study tour for family and friends Rabbi Forman Activity (2)of the late Rabbi David Forman, as part of the annual Rabbi Forman Memorial Activity Day on June 3rd. The group was diverse, from small children to older adults, but the get-wet-and-clean-up activity at the Auja stream was enjoyed by all. In between the group discussing the dire situation of the Jordan River and why rehabilitation is so important; they also joined together to sing songs about the River. As a bonus, Rabbi Forman Activity (1)group members met the group of Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli EcoPeace youth who were also at the baptism site [see above]. Pausing in their activities, the young EcoPeace activists taught the friends and family tour their original song about the Jordan River called “We Will Change It.” View their sing-a-long clip here.

 

Jordan River Peace Park Development Advances

Development of our Jordan River Peace Park has advanced this month, with a new sign and Peace Park2viewing structure added at Al Bakoora / Naharayim, where the small “island of peace” exists at the junction of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers. With water flowing in the zero canal for the first time since Peace Park11948, thanks to local community efforts, the Peace Park is advancing as an ecotourism and cultural heritage project and joint venture between the Jordan Valley Regional Council, the Springs Valley Regional Council, and the Jordanian Muaz Jabal Municipality, in cooperation with EcoPeace.

 

 

New Cabins Added at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark

SHE CabinsFour new cabins were built at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark in Jordan, increasing the park’s overnight capacity from 24 to 36 guests. The new cabins have attached bathrooms with toilets and showers, as well as full Wi-Fi and electric capabilities. This significant expansion of available resources at the SHE EcoPark will allow more guests to stay for longer to enjoy cross-border cooperation and develop local eco-tourism along the Jordan River.

 

Virgin Helping Promote the Dead Sea Swim Challenge

On November 15th, a team of some 30 swimmers from around the globe will embark on the Virgin Photo6-hour swim across the Dead Sea, using special full-facial masks to prevent salt from entering their lungs. At the launch and at its conclusion, the Challenge will house public events involving communities affected by the changes taking place at the Dead Sea, seeking to attract decision makers who will be called on to take action to prevent its further demise. Check out more on Virgin’s promotion page for information on why this project is so important and exciting.

 

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

 


 

EcoPeace Sparks Interest at Annual Conference of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Conference of Ecology and environmental sciencesFrom June 21st to the 23rd, EcoPeace representatives presented EcoPeace’s Water Energy Nexus project at the Annual Conference of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the Tel Aviv University. People from across the environmental field in Israel participated in the conference, including professionals from the Ministry of the Environment, the Water Authority, and many researchers from around the world. People showed high interest in the presentation as the idea of regional environmental cooperation attracted many.

 

Socialists & Democrats Group of the European Parliament FeS&Datures EcoPeace

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament featured EcoPeace in their June 3rd press release on the Middle East Peace Conference in Paris. The press release emphasized that any potential peace agreement is contingent on support from both the Israeli and Palestinian public. The S&D Group Vice President Victor Bostinaru stated his desire for continued cooperation with “local NGOs bringing together Israelis and Palestinians – such as EcoPeace Middle East … with the aim of supporting concrete initiatives and projects which create people-to-people contacts and dialogue between both sides.”

 


 

These projects and others have been made possible thanks to the generous support of our friends and donors.

To make a contribution to EcoPeace Middle East efforts please visit our website’s donation page.

For more information on ways to support EcoPeace please contact Resource Development at michalr@foeme.org

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 9, 2016

Water Has No Borders

As the only point of access to the river in Jordan – “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” and one of the few outlets in Israel -“Qasr el Yahud”,  symbolizes a common ground for people on both sides of the border. It further represents a sacred place for people of different faiths as Muslim, Jewish, and Christian pilgrims from around the world pass by the Jordan River on their spiritual treks. In order to prevent the deterioration of this cherished resource, youth water trustees are leading the way towards rehabilitating the Jordan River through shared environmental stewardship.

IMG_5281On Friday, June 3rd, Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian youth water trustees stood by the banks of the Jordan River to participate in a cross-border event.  At “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” – where John the Baptist baptized Jesus – the Jordanian youth water trustees lined up along the river, facing their Palestinian-Israeli counterparts across its waters. The Palestinian-Israeli youth began a song calling for the rehabilitation of the river. The Jordanian youth trustees joined in for the chorus. “We will, we will change it,” they sang and clapped in unison. Although signs were not allowed on the Jordanian side, the Palestinian-Israeli youth proudly held up posters with messages calling to rehabilitate the river.

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Since 2001, Good Water Neighbours (GWN) has worked with communities on either side of the border to create mutually agreed upon solutions to common water problems. The project encourages cross-border dialogue and information sharing. Youth water trustees are at the heart of the project’s design. The project engages school communities to come up with creative methods for more efficient water use and designs outreach education and awareness programs. It also invites alumni of the project to teach younger students about sustainable living and the ecology of the Jordan River Valley.

I asked an alumni of the water trustees program about the condition of the river. He told me that the river once contained 1.3 billion cubic meters of water and supported a lush and diverse ecosystem. Today, the river is small and polluted. Untreated sewage and agricultural runoff contaminate its waters. Climate change threatens the already unstable ecosystem, in which the biodiversity has been diminished by a staggering 50% since the 1970s. He explained that in order to protect this vital resource, youth from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan work together to educate others about the state of the river and the steps necessary to rehabilitate the river.

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


This article contributed by Sarah Dahnke. Sarah is an intern in Amman office while she studies for her MA in International Development studies.

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