Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 15, 2017

January 1, 2017 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter:

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND SEASONS GREETINGS TO ALL OUR READERS

Join us in wishing that 2017 will be a year of peace, prosperity and good health!

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 EcoPeace, KAS and INSS – Water Conference

inssIn cooperation with the German foundation ‘Konrad Adenauer Stiftung – Israel’ (KAS), and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), EcoPeace Tel Aviv held a roundtable event entitled “Can Water Bring the Political Process to A Safe Shore? Water Issues; from Source of Conflict to Vehicle for Regional Cooperation and Stability” at the INSS, in Tel Aviv.

The event brought together Israeli water experts and international stakeholders to discuss the benefits of moving forward on water, and included panel discussions together with the keynote speech by Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Ayoub Kara.  One of the conference’s highlights was a statement made by Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the EU Delegation to Israel: “We’ve spent too much time promoting an Israeli-Palestinian solution that is all or nothing, (…) We have got to revise our approach to the peace process, which would allow us to address the issue of water and a number of other issues also (…) What we need to do is build up basic confidence on the ground through an approach of small steps.” This change of approach has the potential to bring about new and more effective policies to advance the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian water issues.

Click on the hyperlinks for a video of the speech made by EU Ambassador Faaborg-Anderson, and for a Jerusalem Post article about the event.

 We thank our long-standing partners KAS and INSS for assisting us in creating the occasion for such a needed discussion.

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Jordan River Regional Tour Guides Training in Jordanjr-tour-guides

EcoPeace’s Jordan River project held its 3rdCome Together at the River” training in early December.  These regional trainings aim to bring together pilgrimage and religious tour guides from Israel, Jordan and Palestine to acquire a greater understanding about the regional context of the area’s rich sites, highlighting the case of the Jordan River and sacred religious sites associated with it.

Alongside visits to several sites along the eastern bank of the Lower Jordan River, participants were introduced to the Jordan River’s rich cultural and natural heritage. EcoPeace staff also explained the impacts that human actions have had on the shared water resources of the region, and how people – even visitors and tourists – can participate in efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Participants were encouraged to discuss the role of tourism and how sharing the stories of the Jordan River Valley, ancient and modern, can inspire others to care for its protection.  Click here for a Facebook photo album of this training.

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

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Cross Border Regional Youth camp youth-camp-she

A regional youth camp took place at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan as part of the MEDFORVAL Project Program. Participants from Jordan, Israel and Palestine had the opportunity to gain and share knowledge about Forests Protection and Biodiversity. On the first day, after engaging in social activities, participants learned about the unique bio-geography of the region. On the second day they went on a lengthy tour of the EcoPark and learned how to undertake an ecological survey witnessing first-hand the EcoPark area’s habitats and biodiversity.  On the last day the group was taught how to differentiate between exotic and endemic species.

Women’s Empowerment at Kaser el Yehudgirls1

A group of Israeli female ‘Water Trustees’ came to meet Palestinian female ‘Water Trustees’ at the Kaser el Yehud baptism site on the Lower Jordan River.  The girls were divided into 3 groups, and each was assigned to study a different time period of the River: past, present and future.  The ‘historians’ learned that the water in the River Jordan was once so abundant that boats were lost in its strong flow! The group researching the present saw pilgrims at the site being baptized in polluted water and were shocked that this is permitted,  and the ‘fortune tellers’ drew a picture of the river slowly coming back to life.

girls2The girls presented their short research to a group of tourists who were visiting the site, ending with the song written a few months earlier “We Will Change It“.  Holding hands in a circle before their farewell, each participant choose a word that she will take with her from the day: hope, love, trust, cooperation, friends, future.  What a nice way to say goodbye!

Read more in our blog “Girl Power at the Jordan River”.

Cross Border Youth Visit between Hebron and Bsor communitiesyatta

In yet another cross border activity this month, this time focusing on the Hebron / Be’er Sheva watershed, youth from the Negev area in Israel braved the rainy weather forecast and greeted their Palestinian counterparts from the upstream village of Yatta.  Luckily, the skies cleared up, and the group was able to visit the wastewater catchment facility located near the Green Line, between their communities.

The second part of the day took place near the Beer Sheva Stream, at the Freedom Bell Park, where participants heard the bell ringing and reflected that it sounded like a call for “every one of us to take part in the rehabilitation of the River”.

EcoPeace’s GWN staff –”Top 50 Social Activists” by Israeli Daily Newspaper biadsi_yediot

We are delighted that our Good Water Neighbors Community Coordinator from Baka el Gharbia, Mohammed Biadsi, was named 1 of the “Top 50 Social Activists” by the leading Israeli Daily Newspaper, Yediot Aharonot.   Indeed, EcoPeace can confirm that Mohammed has been working tirelessly on environmental education in his community for as long as he can remember! Congratulations to Mohammed on the recognition!

 

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

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EcoPeace participates in an IUCN / PANORAMA Webinar; “Transboundary Protected Area Solutions” webinar

IUCN and GIZ invited EcoPeace to present our “Good Water Neighbours” (GWN) program as a transboundary solution on their series of webinars on Protected Areas. EcoPeace’s Marina Djernaes presented our efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River through transboundary cooperation in the GWN program.

The presentation identified how areas outside of the region could use the program to raise awareness of their communities’ shared water reality based on EcoPeace’s methodology of utilizing local interdependencies to develop dialogue and cooperation for sustainable water management, and ultimately to advance peacebuilding. The webinar had more than 140 people signed on with the audience positing questions & comments following the presentation.

Click here for the video recording of the webinar, and here for all the presentations made during the seminar.

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  • 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 | December 29, 2016

Girl Power at the Jordan River

Out of the rain and into the sunny Jordan Valley a group of Israeli female water trusstees came to meet Palestinian female water trusstees.20161216_110904

Alumni from both sides lead the ice breaking games and laughter soon echoed at the quiet Baptism site named Qaser el Yahud.

To start the activities we linked arms, closed eyes, and passed arround a full glass of water, trying not to spill it. Reflecting on the metaphor, the girls said that the water felt very precious and they needed to communicate without words and cooperate to make sure they didn’t waste any water.

At the river, pilgrims dressed in white robes went into the Jordan for the most spiritual experience of their life, into water that is far from being the holy water that they fantasized about for years, brown murky water.20161216_111304

The girls divided into 3 groups. Each group studied a different period of the river – past, present and future. The historians found out the water in the river was once so abundant that boats were lost in its strong flow. The group researching the present time found that the pilgrims are dunking in polluted water and were shocked that this is allowed. The fortune tellers drew a picture of the river slowly getting back to life.

We presented our short research to a kind group of tourists who were visiting the site with the Auja Ecocenter and ended with the song we wrote a few months earlier “We will change it“. The tourists applaued the ecopeace singers who presented real girl power!

We continued to the nearby Monastery Dir Hijla, where Sandra, Palestinian participant guided the girls in the church and its surroundings, explaining in English the stories and traditions.20161216_134212

After lunch we finished with the tale of two donkies who are tied to each other and each donkey tries to pull to a different side to eat, untill they got to the conclusion that they can eat together.
The girls quickly understood the connection to the need for cooperation over our water sources. We need to find a solution together, that both sides will benefit.

Holding hands in a circle before farewell, each participant said a word she will take with her from the day – hope, love, trust, cooperation, friends, future.

Written By: Amy Lipman-Avizohar 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | December 15, 2016

December 1st, 2016 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Seven Hour Swim across the Dead Sea

November 15th was a historical day as 25 swimmers swam across the Dead Sea for the first dead-sea-swimtime in recorded history in order to raise awareness about the environmental damage facing this shrinking body of water. EcoPeace, along with the Tamar Regional Council and the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, organized the event that garnered a record number of news releases and dead-sea-signextensive media coverage. The team of 25 dedicated swimmers from around the world swam the 17-kilometer (11-mile) challenge in seven excruciating hours from the Jordanian to the Israeli shore with the help of special full-facial masks that prevented salt from entering their eyes and lungs. A video of the event can be viewed here and press footage can be viewed on our website.

 

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

 


 

Annual International Conference: Water Security and Sustainable Development for our Common Future

EcoPeace held its annual International Conference on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan conf-plenaryfrom November 22nd-23rd under the patronage of the Jordanian Minister of Water. The event, titled Water Security and Sustainable Development for our Common Future, discussed water and peace issues in the region and is one of the only public gatherings where Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian ministerial participation takes place. Over 250 high level regional and international officials, local leaders and activists attended the two day event. Topics of discussion included thebasin-commissioenrs-dr-megdal water and sanitation crisis in Gaza and the promotion of a Palestinian/Israeli water accord. The second day included presentations from international experts on transboundary water management relevant to the plight of the Lower Jordan River; from the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers in US &Mexico, from the Sava River in the Balkans, from the Rhine River in Central Europe and from the Orange-Senqu River in Southern Africa.

 

 

Joint Palestinian-Israeli Youth Environmental Training Dayyouth-activity

On November 25th Palestinian and Israeli youth from Auja and the Lower Jordan River participated in environmental activities at the Baptism Site on the River Jordan. This event is part of EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project and a new initiative funded by the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Participants had the opportunity to partake in outdoor training activities and learn about the Jordan River and about water issues through direct interaction. The group also participated in a humus workshop to learn about “virtual water” in food.

 

 

EcoPeace Participates in International Conferences

EcoPeace Bethlehem staff participated in two significant international conferences this past month.transf-conf

The first involved a network of 7 youth organizations that came together to present the results of their collaboration initiative: the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network (MYCN), aimed at uniting the young climate community of the region. The event also included the official signing into effect of the MYCN’s Charter and Governance system.

In addition, EcoPeace participated in the First Palestine Resilience Conference in Amman, Jordan from November 24th-25th. The conference was organized jointly by the Government of Palestine and the United Nations Development Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People and provided the setting for practitioners, donors, government actors, non-government actors, and the private sector to meet and discuss ways to influence resilience-based programming across Palestine.

 

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

 


 

Roundtable in Cooperation with Oxford Universitybritish-council-project

On November 13th EcoPeace held a national roundtable in cooperation with the University of Oxford for the Defining Food and Water Security in the Levant (DeFWS) project. The meeting was held at the EcoPeace office in Tel Aviv with participants from the Office of the Quartet, Ben Gurion University, Israel’s Water Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Service, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation and the Ministry of Economy.

This research-based project aims to produce new knowledge on achieving sustainable agriculture and water sectors in Jordan, Palestine and beyond, which balance food and water security as well as sustainable regional development.

This project is in partnership with the University of Oxford and supported by the British Council UK.



 Conference on December 8th in Tel Aviv

Can Water Bring the Political Process to A Safe Shore?

ISRAELI and INTERNATIONAL ROUNDTABLE Event:
Water Issues, from Source of Conflict to Vehicle for Regional Cooperation and Stability


logos-inss-conf

 

The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
40 Haim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv

 

Click here to register

EcoPeace Participates in Women Wage Peace March of Hope
march-of-hope_2

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.

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