Jordan River Peace Park goes 3-D:

One of EcoJR Peace ParkPeace’s greatest visions is the creation of a transbounday Peace Park on the Jordan River, to expand what is today the “Peace Island”, and to include the surrounding areas in Israel and Jordan. On the site was once a hydroelectric power plant that back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, supplied electricity to Northern Jordan and Mandate Palestine. EcoPeace has identified outstanding potential here for the development of ecotourism that would provide much-needed jobs in the area, as well as opportunitiJR Peace Park Swisses for biodiversity protection, cooperative management, joint research programs, education and collaboration on nature-based tourism.

This month, a group of Swiss professors came to the region to do hi-tech 3-D scans of the site ahead of a student Design Studio scheduled for next year. Another step forward for the proposed Peace Park!

Women of Faith visit the Lower Jordan River

This mLJR Tour photo 1onth, EcoPeace staff gave a presentation and then a tour of the Lower Jordan River for a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian women involved in the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development Women’s Faith & Ecology program. The importance of the rehabilitation of the River Jordan was presented in a multi-faith perspective as part of EcoPeace’s efforts to advance the creation of larger stakeLJR Tour photo 2holder circles supporting the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

Sites visited on the tour included the Kaser el Yehud Baptism site, the Dir Hijla Monastery, and the (Northern tip) of the Dead Sea, also greatly affected by the demise of the River. Participants eagerly endorsed the Jordan River Covenant, a visionary document which both highlights the degradation of the valley and expresses our vision of a healthy, living river. Read more about our faith-based advocacy campaign here.

Kinneret Conference

EcoPeace’sKinneret Israeli Director and Jordanian Yana and Youval RabinAssistant Director presented at the 8th International Conference on Tourism organized by Kinneret Academic College. After an overall introduction with examples from around the world about tourism and peace, they discussed how the implementation of EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan will open up the region, attract tourism, bring more prosperity and abundance to the Jordan River Valley and advance peace.

World Bank Visits Jordan Valley

EcoPeace, Jordan Valley Regional Council members, and representatives of the Kinneret and Lower Jordan River Drainage Authorities gave World Bank representatives a tour of World Bank Tourthe Israeli side of the Jordan Valley on January 15th to better understand and visualize projects proposed in our Jordan Valley Regional NGO Master Plan. These types of tours help give international stakeholders a better understanding of the plight of the Jordan River but also the concrete positive change that has taken place in the past decade!

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

 

———————————————————————————————————————-

EcoPark Updates

SHE EcoPark wetland full of water

When it rains, it pours! And our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan benefits from the rain in a big way! The wetland at the site is now full with water, and will supply much

SHE Wetland

????

needed water to the flora and fauna returning to the area!

Womens cooking workshop in Auja EcoCenter

On January 13th, a group from the Chicago Theological Seminary visited the Auja EcoCenter. A presentation was given to participants about the political and ecological situatAuja workshopion in the Jordan Valley as well as the benefits of implementing our vision of the Regional NGO Master Plan. Additionally, the group took part in a cooking workshop that taught them how to make two tasty Palestinian dishes: maqloube, and khubeza, as well as mixed grill vegetables.

 

Mud Workshop in our Ein Gedi EcoCenter!

Ein Gedi workshopThe Festival of mud took place at the beginning of January at the Ein Gedi EcoCenter and was very successful! Participants from all over the country had a fun mud ecological experience. Together adults and children built and decorated the walls with mud, prepared pizzas in a tabun (outdoor oven), visited the small zoo on the site, and enjoyed the unique aspects of the EcoCenter. We are already looking forward to the next event!

 

EcoPeace Contribution to UNECE PublicationUNECE

EcoPeace is proud to announce it was a recent contributor to the UNECE Water Convention’s Policy Guidance Note on the Benefits of Transboundary Water Cooperation: Identification, Assessment and Communication, which was recently adopted during the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention. The document represents a unique tool for supporting transboundary water cooperation’s worldwide and includes approximately 30 case studies. It aims to support Governments and other actors in fully realizing the potential benefits of transboundary water cooperation, emphasizing opportunities and benefits of a close collaboration.

“Good Water Neighbors(GWN) Cross Border Youth Camp

A GWN cross borYouth Camp (2)der youth camp was held at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan from January 14th to 16th with 32 Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli participants. The camp began with introductory “ice breaking” games to get the youth acquainted with each other. On the second day, the group had fun hiking the hills above the Ziglab Dam and held an outdoor barbeque lunch.Youth Camp (1)

The camp was a great experience for all, demonstrating that even in these difficult times we are able to bring youth together to better understand the water reality of each side and become strong advocates for a more just and sustainable water future.

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

 

———————————————————————————————————————-

 

EcoPeace “Water and Energy Nexus” (WEN) Project Featured in the Economist

EcoPeaceEconomist’s Water/Energy Nexus project (WEN) was featured in the Economist this past month, welcoming the initiative that introduces more efficient means to provide energy for desalination of water and promote cooperation in the region. The project is still in its early stages of research and development and is looking at how Israel, Jordan and Palestine can use water and energy to build a win-win relationship. We welcome this article and the gaining popularity of our study.

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

———————————————————————————————————————-

Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

Amazon

Now, when you shop on Amazon, you can help EcoPeace receive 0.5% of the price of your purchase by using Amazon Smile. It’s an easy way to donate to EcoPeace!

“WEN” National Conferences in Amman and Tel Aviv

EcoPeace’s Amman and Tel Aviv offices held their national conferenceWEN Ammans for the Water/Energy Nexus project (WEN) on December 2nd and 3rd respectively in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Both events brought together experts, stakeholders, scholars, environmental activists and government officials to discuss the national report of the project. The AmmanWEN Israel conference was divided into four sessions, which included presentations by the CEO’s of Kawar Energy and Philadelphia Solar who spoke about their successes and challenges in relation to renewable energy. The Tel Aviv conference included panel experts such as the USAID West Bank/Gaza Mission Director, Dave Harden, Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation, MK Ayoob Kara, World Bank representatives, and leading academics and political figures.

Read more in these Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz articles on the project’s press coverage page

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.


 

 

Good Water Neighbors at YOCOPAS Conference

On December 10 and 11, Palestinian and Israeli Alumni and Youth “Water YOCOPASTrustees” participated in the first Regional Youth Conference for Peace and Sustainability (YOCOPAS) hosted by the Eastern Mediterranean International School at HaKfar HaYarok. The youth also took part in a role-play simulation that used aspects of the EcoPeace Environmental Education Resource Guide to experiment with power relations among stakeholders in different watersheds.

The simulation broke the participants up into groups, to act as one of the three stakeholders: Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians. They were asked to pretend that they were at an international water summit, representing their stakeholder, and to come up with a solution for the shrinking Dead Sea. Throughout the simulation the participants learned about the environment of the Dead Sea, the hot desert climate with very little rainfall. Due to the decreasing water level, open and developing sinkholes are becoming increasingly problematic. Industrial exploitation and the deteriorating environment are impacting all of the local communities. With this information in mind, the participants had to negotiate some sort of consensus based on joint interest and mutual benefit for all the involved parties.

One of the facilitators of the workshop from EMIS and an EcoPeace Water Trustee, Maksim Lezginov, said this about his experience running the simulation:

”This workshop has provided me with a lifetime experience of facilitating a workshop in which people from 3 opposing sides participated and came up with a very surprising and well-built solutions to a complicated problem, showing that a peace can exist but only through joint cooperation.”

Yerous Getoo, another EcoPeace Water Trustee from EMIS, had a similar to view Maksim, saying:

“I was surprised to discover that we all had the same aim eventually and most people agreed with each other. I really enjoyed taking part in the workshop and participating in it, and above all watching others being exposed to the subject for the first time and considering it seriously.”

This is workshop was a great accomplishment for both the EMIS students and the EcoPeace youth. They were able to convey an important message that joint cooperation is one of the pathways towards peace.

 

Water Trustees Experience Transboundary Water

The local Community Coordinator of the Kishon Watershed took a group of 10th grade Water Trustees on a Neighbors Path tour to better understand transboundary water basins aWater Trusteesnd the relationship between humans and the environment. The visit also demonstrated the cultural heritage of the region where stories from the Bible take place in this special landscape. The group started at an impressive overlook near the entrance to Moshav Barak and continued on to Ramon, where the Kishon stream crosses the Green Line, coming from Jenin. Later they held an improvisation play about the history of the place and continued on to Kishon Park to learn about the rehabilitation of the polluted stream and steps being taken to remove heavy metals from the water.

 Workshop Tour to the Judean Hills Springs

The first of a series of on-site workshop tours to the Judean Hills Mountain Springs was held on December 25th. The workshop series is an outcome of the Mountain Springs Masterplan initiated by EcoPeace. Springs SoreqCooperation with the Soreq Environmental Unit and Nature & Parks authority brought about this exciting program in which local activists meet with a wide range of professionals to gain knowledge and awareness of conservation and development around the local springs and terraces.

 

Fifteen residents from around Mate Yehuda as well as hydro-therapists from Tel Aviv participated. They were introduced to a variety of issues and opinions that mark the mountain springs as “hotspots” in our environment and culture. The next meeting will be held in February focusing on the local habitat, ecosystem and archeology.  If you are interested in joining please contact us at info@foeme.org

 

 

Full Moon Xmas Hike with Auja EcoCenter

On December 25th, a group of 15 people from France, U.S., Belgium, Germany, and Palestine participated in Auja EcoCenter’s Full Moon Hike to see and experience the local environment and wild life at night. The hike started from Auja on Highway 90, winding between the area’s farmsFull Moon and agricultural fields. The hike is done without the use of artificial light and requires participants to use all of their senses, including sight, and hearing and touch under the light of just the moon. The hike ended with an authentic Bedouin dinner where food is cooked in an underground pit (Zarb). Future hikes are planned for the late winter and early spring.

 

 

 

Come join us in a Mud Workshop in our Ein Gedi EcoCenter!

 

Ein Gedi Workshop

Come join us! 2 days of a fun mud ecological experience in our Ein Gedi EcoCenter!

We invite you to a natural fun building activity with mud.

Let’s connect with nature, Mother Earth and nice people.

No special knowledge required. Only motivation, a good mood and work clothes!

Pizza from an earthen oven will be sold on premises!

 Friday and Saturday, January 8 and 9 between hours of 10:00 – 14:00.

If interested or for further details contact info@foeme.org

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

 

 

 


 

EcoPeace at Two Conferences in Turkey

EcoPeace staff presented our organization’s work at two conferences in Antalya, Turkey this month. The Arab Peace Initiative organized a conference on December 17th to highlight the positive contribution religion can bring to societies to foster understanding and peace. Theanwar in turkey conference was organized in the framework of the EU’s Partnership for Peace Program. A number of religious leaders and political figures from Palestine, Jordan and Israel presented and attended. The second conference, the Arab Peace Initiative: Towards the State of Palestine on the Ground discussed the Arab Peace Initiative in light of the decisions of the 2015 Arab Summit in Cairo.

 

EcoPeace Directors visited the US

EcoPeace’s Israel Director, Gidon Bromberg, Palestine Director, Nader Visit to USKhateeb, and Jordan Assistant Director, Yana Abu Taleb visited the US in the early part of December. Key meetings included a briefing on Gaza in the House of Representatives and presentation of our Water Energy Nexus project to the World Bank. We would also like to congratulate Congress for releasing funds to USAID West Bank/Gaza as these are urgently needed to solve Gaza’s water and sanitation issues.

 

 

 

From all of us at EcoPeace Middle East

Happy New Year!!!

2016

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | December 17, 2015

Youth Conference on Peace and Sustainability

Two of our interns are sharing their experiences during the youth conference on peace & sustainability on the 10th and 11th of December.


 

Imran:

I visited the EcoPeace office in Tel Aviv with another friend, Ahmad, from GWN and we broke the tension barrier!!!

We met awesome and nice people; they gave us such greImran (1)at hospitality. Then we went to HaKfar HaYarok (The Green Village) north of Tel Aviv to participate in a conference on peace and sustainability at The Eastern Mediterranean International School.

We met beautiful people from all over the world, attended and participated in very valuable seminars and workshops which gave us more knowledge, and participated in a simulation about conflict resolution; relating it to the current situation and discussing how to deal with it in a positive way.

Finally, I would say that even in this current situation, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!


Darya:

The Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS) is a place that truly fosters the spirit and passion that are inherent in this special group of young people. EDarya Photo-1MIS is an International Baccalaureate school at HaKfar HaYarok (The Green Village) north of Tel Aviv that focuses on peace and sustainability along with cultivating innovation in a challenging academic environment.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend an afternoon visiting with some of these inspirational young people from all over the world on the day of the opening ceremonies for their inaugural Youth Conference on Peace and Sustainability (YOCOPAS). The school was buzzing with excitement and preparation for all the myriad important visitors who would be arriving to discuss youth leadership, dialogue facilitation, conflict resolution, environmental sustainability and much more. A couple of girls who didn’t have pressing commitments in the hours leading up to the opening ceremony gave us a tour of their campus and the surrounding Kfar, of which the students are also able to take advantage. There is a newly built music center, with an entire building dedicated exclusively to classical music. They have horse stables and a riding area, a petting zoo and a dairy farm. Many of the EMIS students spend time with the animals. We were told that if you help in the stables you get free riding lessons. The girls also mentioned that most of the student body became vegan last year because of their close proximity to the cows.Imran (2)

The YOCOPAS events started in the early evening with the opening ceremony. There were remarks by the head of the school, Oded Rose, and a few other important stakeholders in the school. The students also announced the awards for their international writing competition in which they had at least 50 submissions from a variety of countries. The main event of the evening was the keynote speech by Prof. Jay Rothman of Bar-Ilan University. He’s an expert in Conflict Resolution and spoke about his path towards having a PhD in the field. It was an engaging speech, with audience participation and captivating stories. My favorite part was when he gave us the task to find one word about why we were at the conference. Then he had a few people provide their word which he wrote on a whiteboard. Only at the end of his speech he explained why he wanted to hear some words from the audience. He connected all of the words into an inspirational sentence: “Our journey into perspective taking will foster understanding in order to assure our future and provide opportunity for hope.”Imran (3)

As I was leaving the filling and spirited dinner I thought about how I didn’t want to leave. The school, partners and students were all so inspirational. I wish that I could have gone to a school like EMIS. But after spending a number of hours with the students and staff at their beautiful campus I know that each and every one of them will take full advantage of all the incredible opportunities that surround them and going forward they will be leaders in peace and sustainability. It gave me hope for the future to see so many people dedicated to the mission of EMIS and I will be watching to see where the graduates end up.

 

EcoPeace at the European Parliament

Brussels Conference 3

EcoPeace’s 3 Directors from Bethlehem, Amman and Tel Aviv were invited to the European Parliament in Brussels, where they presented our Water and Energy Nexus project. The initiative seeks to utilize the strengths of each country and create a mutually beneficial exchange of energy from solar fields in Jordan and desalinated water from Israel and Palestine.

 

EcoPeace at the Israel Energy & Business Convention

EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, participated in the Israel Energy & Business Convention on November 23-24, leading a panel that discussed how best to promote cooperation between Israel, Jordan and Israel Energy and Business ConfPalestine in the fields of water and energy. Additional esteemed panelists included Dr. Yossi Beilin, former Minister of Justice, Adi Ashkenazi, Director of the Economics and Research Department at the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, Yosef Abramowitz, founder of the Arava Power Company, Dr. Amit Mor, conference organizer and Noam Segal from the Israel Energy Forum. They discussed the options and alternatives available to continue advancing partnerships between the countries.

As part of the Ha’aretz peace conference held on November 12th in Tel Aviv, EcoPeace organized and held a high level panel on the water, panelists Gaza side eventsanitation and energy crisis in Gaza and its geopolitical implications. The panel entitled “On Our Doorstep, Water & Energy Crisis in Gaza”, focused on the humanitarian crises facing 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, which, if not urgently dealt with, is likely to lead to a health, environment and security crises region wide.

 

Read more on our Events page that includes links to our press release about the panel, as well as the full conference agenda.

 

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

 

 


 

“Model Farm” project inching forward…

Moving forward with the cross border Israeli / Jordanian “Model Farm” project, EcoPeace staff traveled with members of the Israeli Tamar Regional Council, the head of the R&D Center of the Central Arava, and the project manager of the future farm, to choose the best of 3 suggested Model Farmfarms in Jordan. The visit concluded with a specific farm being chosen, and gladly, one that has potential for a large impact.

 

To read background about this project, read the 3rd item in our July 2014 newsletter, our press release, this blog, and this Jerusalem Post article.

 

Good Water Neighbors Alumni training in Israel

On November 27-28, a 2-day Alumni leadership training seminar was held in the Israeli Jordan Valley Regional Council area, bringing together Alumni froAlumni1m the Kishon/Harod Basin, the Sorek Basin, Ein Gedi, Baka Gharbia and the Jordan Valley Regional Council. Here is an account from one of the participants:

 “We went down to the Jordan River Valley and discussed how to protect it, along with protecting other bodies of water in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. We learned how to lead activities to prepare us as counselors. We each had a theme to discuss, we had to think of how to present it to the rest of the group in creative ways that would make sure that everyone paid attention and learned, but also had fun….It was a very enjoyable trip. I learned a lot about leadership and the water crisis and I also had a lot of fun with people that I met on the trip. I am very much looking forward to our next meeting!


 

 

 

EcoPeace Organizes & Participates in 2 Climate Marches

On November 27th, ahead of the Climate Change talks being held in Paris, EcoPeace Middle East, the Israel Bicycle Association and Green Course, organized a large event in Tel Aviv to advocate for clean, renewable energy sources. The March began at the Rabin Square, where the French Climate Change TLVAmbassador, the Israeli Environment Minister and other MK’s addressed the participants. EcoPeace “Water Trustees” from our Good Water Neighbors project represented the future generation with an inspiring speech about environmental peacebuilding in 3 languages – Hebrew, Arabic and English. EcoPeace also organized an event near the Sea of Galilee for youth “Water Trustees” involved in our Good Water Neighbors project there.Climate Change heart

 

Participants at the two events formed huge green hearts, calling on the Israeli government to commit to reducing emissions and chanting “We can’t wait any longer – it’s time for 100% renewable energy!” Hundreds of activists participated in these events hoping that clean energy would get the attention it deserves.

 

Aquaponics in Ein Gedi

Our new Aquaponics garden is up, running and growing food! in the Ein Gedi EcoCenter! A must-see for anyone wanting to learn a nEin Gedi aquaponics 2ew method of growing crops! The system combines aquaculture (i.e. raising fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.

 

Water from the fish tank is fed to the plants where the by-products are broken down into nutrients that can be utilized by the plants, with the water then recirculated back to the aquaculture system. What a wonderful way to conserve water in the desert climate of Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea!

 

 

New Developments at the Auja EcoCenter

The Auja EcoCenter, located near Jericho, has been hard at Auja Giftshopwork improving and developing the property. Recently an attractive ‘Gift Corner’ was added to the center, showcasing ceramics and crafts that visitors can purchase as a memento of their experience at the Center. Other improvements were in landscaping, adding ne3w plants, a covered outdoor seating area, and more. Come visit and see for yourselves!

 

Also at Auja: a visiting UK group that included photographers Jill Enfield, Frank Dabba Smith and Sally Enfield Rabinowitz, who visited the Middle East and stayed at the Auja EcoCenter, led an extremely creative art project to help bring awareness to the environmental challenges facing the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Click here to see a video they prepared.

 

International Children’s Day River Clean-Up

In honor of International Children’s Day, EcoPeace Water Trustees from Emek Hafer and Baka Jat communities in Israel were seen working together cleaning up the Alexander River.Kids Project

 

They took water samples from the River, used a portable lab to check its quality, and held discussions on how to protect their shared River from further pollution. They were even featured in the leading daily newspaper!

 

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

 

 


 

NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley presented in several events this month

EcoPeace staff took advantage of several opportunities this month to present our NGO Regional Master Plan for the Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley and to promote our ‘Marshal Plan’ vision that aims to convert a polluted river and highly depressed economic area to a model for river rehabilitation, economic growth, and regional stability.MP cover w_b

 

We presented at the (1) Amsterdam International Water Week Conference, the world’s most cross-cutting conference for integrated water solutions, that was held on November 3-4, (2) in Brussels, before staffers of several Members of the European Parliament, and (3) in Luxemburg, before representatives of the EU Sustainable Water Integrated Management programme, the mechanism that supported the development of the Master Plan.

 

 

 

 


 

Faith Tourism on the Jordan River

On the 22nd of November, EcoPeace Middle East was invited to present our interfaith and ecotourism project work at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IfPO) at a Workshop entitled “Faith tourism in the Islamic World: Between Practice and Heritage Issues” in Jordan.Helen_IfPO_conference

 

Sharing our interfaith and ecotourism work with an international community of academics allowed us to be part of a wider discussion on the importance of sustainability and stakeholder consultation in developing tourism within the region.

 

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


 

 

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | November 8, 2015

Second Year of Activities With Alumni

This year began our second year of activities with Alumni to help engage these young adults in regional environmental Featured imageefforts and scale up cooperation on shared water resources. The positive impact from being involved in cross border activities and community work can be seen through the eyes of three alumni who gave speeches at the teacher’s conference this past August.

(M.S) is an Israeli alumna from Kfar Vitkin. In her speech, she explained how getting involved with EcoPeace and the GWN project was a turning point in her life:

“It all started when i was in ninth grade, a community coordinator from EcoPeace took my class to a field trip, and since then, i joined many camps and met many youth from Jordan and Palestine and learned a lot about the environment and the water problems our communities have. During my second year in the youth program, EcoPeace allowed me to join a camp in Japan with Palestinian and Japanese girls”

In the following short sentence, she movingly described her thoughts about the world she lives in:

“In our world, the vast majority of people base their entire world view on knowledge they get from their society. We have been sFeatured imagepoon fed by our societies and we are satisfied with their descriptions. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear.”

And she ended her speech by expressing gratitude to EcoPeace:

“EcoPeace opened my eyes, and allowed me “to break the wall” and to experience firsthand how similar we all are as human beings”

The second speech was given by a Palestinian alumnus (O.A) from Jalamah – Jenin. Standing behind the podium he spoke about his involvement with EcoPeace:

“I have been involved with EcoPeace for six years, and it has been a great experience. I learned a lot about the environment, and what does it mean to be a “good neighbour””

“Living in Jalamah gave me an advantage because of its proximity to the border, which means dealing with our neighbours “the Israelies” on a regular basis”

He also shared with the audience his views on what should be done duriFeatured imageng times of conflict.

“When there is conflict, it means we should intensify working for peace. We have much more in common than differences. We breathe the same air, drink the same water and share the same environment”

The last speaker was an alumnus from Jordan. (E.A) from south area of the Dead Sea and has been a GWN participant for three years:

“During my first participation with EcoPeace, i was very excited, but at the same time scared because joining camps in Israel was unthinkable, but i challenged my inner fear and decided to go”

“To my own surprise, Israel did not look very different from Jordan! They have the same animals, the same plants, and very similar topography. The idea that i am visiting another country started to diminish and i felt that i am only visiting a friend or a family member who lives nearby”

And his very last statement revealed how wise he is despite his young age:

“From what i have learned from EcoPeace, i have a question to our leaders: why can’t we set aside our differences to secure a better future?

The Directors and staff of EcoPeace Middle East recognize this month’s newsletter is being issued at a time of continuing violence and hostility in our region. We remain determined as ever to advancing cooperative relations between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians that help resolve on the ground issues that impact people’s daily lives for the better, and by doing so, help create the trust and political will needed to achieve regional peace, justice and sustainability.


Good Water Neighbors Cross Border Meetings throughout the Region

On Sunday October 18th, EcoPeace / FoEME in cooperation with the Water Resources Action Project (WRAP), inaugurated a constructed cisteFeatured imagern system at the Al-Sedeeq Primary School located in the Village of Husan in the West Bank, an area with an average annual rainfall of only 500ml. Attendee’s included Nisreen Amr, the Director of Education and Bassam Jaber, the Deputy Director of Education both from the Bethlehem Governorate.Featured image

On October 20th, EcoPeace GWN activists visited the largest Wastewater Treatment Plant in Jordan, the As Samra WWTP, which currently serves 2.3 million inhabitants. As Samra provides high quality treated water which Jordanian farmers use as an alternative option for crop and plant irrigation. It is especially significant to note this advancement as Jordan currently faces high water demand due to the refugee crisis in the region.

EcoPeace at the International Water Association Conference

Featured image

EcoPeace gave several presentations at the International Water Association conference held at the Dead Sea, Jordan from October 18 – 22, 2015. Our Jordanian Deputy Director, Yana Abu Taleb, presented about lessons learned from our Good Water Neighbours project while Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar, presented at a side event organized by SIDA titled “Learning from regional water cooperation in the MENA region“. He presented EcoPeace’s Water Energy Nexus project as a catalyst for regional peace.

Finally, Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg’s presentation focused on constituency building around water in the midst of conflict, and how digital technology and development can further empower that interaction. The experience of EcoPeace in the GWN project was highlighted.

High Level SIDA Delegation VisitFeatured image

Also this month, EcoPeace was delighted to accompany a high level delegation from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to several of our GWN project sites. The delegation was led by Ms. Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director-General of SIDA.

The delegation visited Wadi Fukin and Battir in Palestine to see the cross border community success of protectinFeatured imageg the areas terraced cultural landscape and met with community entrepreneurs led by the mayor of Battir as part of Battir’s 2020 project. After crossing Allenby Bridge the delegation toured the southern mouth of the Jordan River before its exit to the Dead Sea. Together with Jordanian government officials the delegation saw first-hand the demise of the Jordan River and heard about both community lead and national and regional advocacy efforts that have led to real improvements on the ground.

Featured image

At the Haaretz Peace conference, November 12th, to be held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, EcoPeace will be holding a special morning side event on the urgent need to solve the water and energy crises facing 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and the humanitarian and security implications of failing to do so.

A special group discount price is offered to registrants through EcoPeace. Please sign up here to register and we shall follow up with you to confirm.

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

The Water & Energy Nexus is part of the Water Cannot Wait campaign of EcoPeace Middle East. This project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.


 

Presentation of the Regional NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River

Featured imageFollowing a successful presentation at a high-level international conference in Jordan, EcoPeace’s Jordanian Deputy Director, Yana Abu Taleb, was invited by the European Commission to present EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan in the European Commission in B

russels, explaining continuing efforts towards its implementation.

The main EU event was an experts meeting on international water issues which brought together representatives from the environment/water and foreign affairs departments mainly from EU member states. The fact that a side event was allocated to present the Regional NGO Master Plan shows that high level of interest and awareness of the environmental challenges facing the Jordan River is constantly increasing.

 

EcoPeace and GNF, Continued PartnersFeatured image

Check out EcoPeace in this month’s Global Nature Fund’s online newsletter describing our cooperative efforts towards rehabilitation of the Jordan River, including work related to the Regional NGO Master Plan.

 

Regional Investment Strategy for Jordan River Valley Master Plan

This report prFeatured imageovides the first building block of developing national and regional investment strategies with concrete steps to advance the implementation of the NGO Master Plan including recommendations, identification of no-regret actions and interventions for staged implementation.

The investment strategy reviews potential sources of public, private, and international financing for a short list of 26 identified priority interventions in Jordan, Palestine and Israel to act as a catalyst for regional cooperation and development of the Jordan Valley. Investment profiles are developed for eight priority pilot interventions in the field of water, environment and pollution control.

 

EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Program.


 Green Economy Initiatives project ends with 2 Final Events and …. 4 Cross Border Itineraries!

 Featured imageAt the close of the “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project, EcoPeace held two Final Events in the form of “Eco-Fairs”; one on September 3rd in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council in Israel, and one on Sept. 8th in the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan. In both events, Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian project participants, together with project ‘vendors’ who share our regional vision of environmental interdependency and concepts of peaceful cross-border environmental the local municipalities, as well as representatives from tourism departments in the regiFeatured imageon; Israeli, PalestincoopeFeatured imageration, showcased their goods and the specific outputs of the project; 4 cross border touristic itineraries. Also in attendance at both events were representatives from ian & Jordanian. In the Israeli event, the Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Mr. Ayoub Kara, attended and praised the project for bringing together people from the region in this innovative cross border tourism initiative. In the Jordanian event, the Governor of Irbid did the same. Learn more by visiting EcoPeace‘s blog about the event in Israel, and a blog and more photos of the event in Jordan.

The Green Economy Initiatives project is supported by USAID’s Conflict Management & Mitigation Program.


 

EcoPeace featured in Stockholm WaterFront Magazine

EcoPeace’s Directors from Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and Amman were recently featured in the Stockholm WaterFront Magazine discuFeatured imagessing the use of water as a catalyst for change, citing our Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project’s methodology and success stories. The magazine article focused on GWN’s community efforts, benefits of cooperation and also the challenges of working together in a region of conflict throughout the last 20 years. The article describes some of EcoPeace’s recent success stories such as advocacy efforts that helped to bring about the doubling of water pumped into Gaza and the release of a first-ever Regional NGO Master Plan to rehabilitate the Jordan River.

 

Good Water Neighbors Cross Border Meetings throughout the Region

On September  5th & 6th , EcoPeace held a “Cross Border Forum” visit for Jordanian and Palestinian stakeholdFeatured imageers representing the Zara Maain – Wadi Al Naar watershed. EcoPeace began the visit at Ubeiydia Municipality which was followed by a tour of Wadi Al Naar, Wadi Sarar and the Mar Saba Monastery. Participants discussed common problems of their watershed, solutions for water and environmental challenges, and the potential of signing an agreement between Madaba and Ubeiydia to continue cooperation efforts related to implementing projects within the watershed. Click here to view media coverage of the meeting from Maan News (in Arabic).

On Sept 2nd – 4th, EcoPeace held a “Cross-Border Forum” for the Northern communities of the Lower Jordan River. The delegation included stakeholders from Israel and Jordan, mostly from the tourism industry, as well as the mayors and municipal representativFeatured imagees of the communities. Site visits were conducted to the tourist attractions along the northern part of the Lower Jordan River; the Yardenit Baptism site, the Beit She’an archeological site, the new Springs Park of the Springs Valley Regional Council, the Kfar Rupin Birdwatching center, the Peace Island at Naharayim and the nearby “Three Bridges” tourist site. Presentations, lectures and discussions throughout the 2 days focused on the potential of cross border tourism in the region. At the end of the formal visit, the Jordanian delegaFeatured imagetion continued on to the “GEI” final event (as mentioned above) where they learned about the examples of cross border tourism development.

A week later, on Sept 8th – 9th, the Cross Border Forum met again, this time in Jordan, visiting touristic sites on the Eastern side of the River; the Ajloun Castle, a guided hike in Wadi Orjan, a visit to a local community B&B, and more. Ideas for cross border tourism and regional cooperation were raised at the final discussion, and will be incorporated in the Forum’s upcoming year’s work.

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


 

EcoPeace Presented at the 2nd German-Israeli Climate Talks

EcoPeace’s Israel Director presented the organization’s Water-Energy Nexus project at the the 2nd German-IsraFeatured imageeli Climate Talks at the Porter School of Environmental Studies of Tel Aviv University. The presentation entitled: “A Water Energy Nexus Across the Jordan for Stability and Climate Change Mitigation” focused on the rationale for creating a water-renewable energy community based on interdependence among Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, where much needed water is produced through desalination on the Israeli and Palestinian Mediterranean coasts, and additional electricity needs are met by extensive investment in solar renewable energy in Jordan’s eastern deserts.

The Water & Energy Nexus project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

 


EcoPeace named as Runner-Up in the Thiess International Riverprize

Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg travelled to Brisbane, Australia last month where EcoPeace was named as a runner-up in the prestigious Thiess InFeatured imageternational Riverprize for efforts related to rehabilitating the Jordan River. The Lake Eyre Basin in Australia won first prize with the Jordan River and Mur River in Austria as the runners-up. This prize is one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards, given to organizations that have demonstrated their outstanding achievement and commitment to restoring and protecting the world’s rivers. We are honored to receive this recognition and will continue to work towards rehabilitating this vital River!

The trip to Australia also included an evening presentation on the state of the River Jordan at the Newton Synagogue in Sydney where Malek Abu Alfailat, EcoPeace Auja EcoCenter Director, joined the evening discussions via Skype as part of the faith based Jordan River program.

Media interest in the Jordan River was high with a TV and Radio interview on Australia’s ABC station. Click here to view the video and here to listen to the radio broadcast.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.


EcoPeace on International Day of PeaceFeatured image

In celebration of International Day of Peace on September 21st, Sister Cities International hosted an International Day of Peace +SocialGood Google Hangout surrounding this year’s theme, “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”. Sister city partnerships and citizen diplomacy play a crucial role in peace-building at a grass roots, person-to-person level. EcoPeace was one of 3 panelists on this day.

Click here to watch the video.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 22, 2015

September 1st, 2015 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Kate Rothschild, International Advisory Committee Member, gives insight into recent visit

Kate Rothschild, a member of EcoPeace’s International Advisory Committee, had an Op-ed published in the Huffington Post after her Featured imagerecent tour of the Hebron Stream with EcoPeace. Kate followed the flow of the polluted stream from Hebron, through the Negev desert and into Gaza. Her experience left her with heavy feelings but also “one small, unfurling seed of optimism; knowing that if water could be disentangled from the war, it presents a genuine opportunity for co-operation and relationship building between neighbours“. The visit to Gaza was timely, as EcoPeace continues to promote the need to solve the urgent water and energy crises facing Gaza’s 1. 8 million Palestinian residents. A newly released UN report concludes that Gaza will no longer be a livable place, in just five years, if urgent actions are not taken. See report. The writing is very much on the wall for not only Gaza but for the rest of the region if Gaza’s life blood, clean water, is allowed to totally collapse.


Good Water Neighbors – Cross Border Meetings throughout the Region

On August 12th an ecologist from the Israeli Yarkon River Authority guided Palestinian and IsrFeatured imageaeli stakeholders of the Qana-Yarkon watershed. The visit included learning about the environmental challenges of this shared watershed, progress and opportunities of stream rehabilitation and ideas for future projects. The stakeholders discussed efforts of stream rehabilitation and hiked to a lookout that included both the Israeli and Palestinian side of Wadi Qana, a tributary of the Yarkon. The visit also included a nearby waste water treatment plant, a waste management site, and constructed wetlands designed to improve the quality of treated water before returning to the Yarkon stream. After visiting numerous activities along the stream, the group ended their tour at the port of Tel Aviv where the Yarkon flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Participants left with many ideas for future cooperative projects.

On August 23rd EcoPeace held a cross border forum visit to the Zomer Valley for Palestinians and Israelis of the Zomer — AlexandeFeatured imager watershed. The group learned about the problems created by olive mill waste, techniques used by olive mills and possible solutions to dispose of the waste in a proper way. The issue of olive mill waste is not just limited to this watershed but is a regional problem found in most places where olive mills are located and can pollute ground water. For the short term the stakeholders think the best technique is using controlled amounts of olive waste as fertilizer and will hold additional follow up meetings and exchange of regional knowledge to achieve a long term solution.
On August 30th and 31st, EcoPeace held a cross border forum visit to Madaba, Jordan for PalesFeatured imagetinian and Jordanian stakeholders representing the Wadi Al Naar – Zara Maain watershed. EcoPeace began the visit at the Greater Madaba Municipality and Madaba Water Directorate followed by a tour of the wadi, the pumping stations of Wala & Lib, and the Madaba wastewater treatment plant. Participants discussed common problems they faced, solutions for water and environmental challenges, and continuing cooperation to improve the watersheds sustainability.

Palestinian and Israeli Youth head to Japan

Eight Israeli and Palestinian youth (female) “Water Trustees” from EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project had a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to travel to Kosuge Village, Hokuto, and Tokyo, Japan. The girls were part of the Kizuna Project initiative, an environmental-coexiFeatured imagestence summer camp supported by Peace Field Japan (PFJ) and offered to Palestinian, Israeli and Japanese youth to experience “SATOYAMA”, the Japanese concept of harmony between man and nature. During the visit the participants learned about the cultural landscape, traditional farming, protection of forests, responsibility for taking care of waste and natural cycles of the environment. A bond was also created between the youth as they learned about each other by- dancing, learning, and hiking together.

“Arigato Gozay Masta!” (“Thank You!”) to PFJ and the local villagers who hosted us and took us into their homes and hearts. More photos can be viewed here .

Educating for Regional Environmental Leadership

Educating for Regional Environmental Leadership was the theme for EcoPeace’s annual Regional Teachers’ Seminar held in Amman from August 3-4, 2015. The seminar included Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian pFeatured imagearticipants who were introduced to EcoPeace’s educational curriculum which focuses on creating a sense of environmental belonging among students through activities designed to increase connection with nature. Other workshops included “Diving into the Water” which explained the Good Water Neighbors methodology for environmental conflict resolution. Participants chose one of five cross border water basins. Through role play they learned about the state of the water and environment in each basin.
The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


GWN Exchange with Bosnia

Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg , and Executive Assistant, Michal Milner, were in Bosnia the third week of August to see the results of Good Water Neighbors (GWN) being implemented by the Center for Ecology and Energy. This was GWN’s first year in the conflict riddenFeatured image area of the Balkans and includes four communities along the Spreca River – two comunities in the north and two in the south, with each pair including Muslims and Orthodox Christians. The communities in Bosnia face similar problems to the EcoPeace communities as the river represents the ethnic border as well as the dumping ground of waste and sewage. Read more about GWN going global by clicking here.

The Good Water Neighbors project in Bosnia is funded with support of Robert Bosch Stiftung


 

Further Development of our Jordan River Rehabilitation Project

A work in progress;  EcoPeace has commissioned the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) toFeatured image prepare a report presenting options available for the development of a regional governance structure for the Lower Jordan River.  SIWI presented an Inception Report at our recent conference in June in conjunction with the release of the Jordan River Master Plan and a first draft was submitted recently.  The report will be used as a policy tool and is envisioned as a consulting mechanism to facilitate discussion among stakeholders as to what type of governance option would be mutually beneficial to the Jordan River and its riparians.  Stay tuned for the final report to be submitted in early 2016.

EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.

 


Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 20, 2015

August 1st, 2015 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

 EcoPeace Selected as Finalist for the Thiess International Riverprize

EcoPeace was named a finalist for the 2015 Theiss International Riverprize, one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards! The prize is given to organizations that have demonstrated their outstanding achievement and comFeatured imagemitment to restoring and protecting the world’s rivers. We will present our achievements along with the two other finalists at the International Riversymposium in Brisbane, Australia. The winner will be announced in front of an international audience of river practitioners at the Riverprize Gala Dinner on September 22nd. We are honored to receive this recognition and will continue to work towards rehabilitating this vital River!

Read more about our achievements rehabilitating the Jordan River.

International Media Tour Showcasing our NGO Masterplan for the Jordan Valley

 Featured image

On July 9th EcoPeace organized a tour of the Jordan Valley for International Media representatives, starting in Jericho and winding our way along the western side of the Jordan River to the Sea of Galilee. The tour focused on concrete interventions and projects that can move forward today, highlighted in our recently released Regional NGO Master Plan. Stations included the Qasr El Yehud Baptism Site, the EcoCenter in Auja, different springs in the Jordan Valley, the newly operational Bitunya Waste Water Treatment Plant, water being released into the Jordan River at the Alumot Dam, and progress on the  . Media representatives had a chance to meet with Yossi Vardi, Head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council and EU Ambassador H.E. Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

The was prepared by the Dutch consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV, together with local experts, and with the financial support of the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Program.

EcoPeace’s Amman Office hosts a Jordan River Advocacy Symposium

EcoPeace’s Amman office hosted an Advocacy Symposium on July 29th presenting our National JFeatured imageordanian Master Plan Interventions. Participants included Jordanian Mayors, Members of Parliament, and relevant ministry representatives and concluded with a presentation of an Investment Strategy Analysis illustrating the financing mechanisms of prioritized interventions from the plan. A representative from the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) presented the priorities of MoPIC, its 2025 strategy initiative, and synergies with the Master Plan. A discussion followed where MPs, Mayors and local residents expressed their concerns, fears, and hopes for sustainable economic and environmental development of the Jordan Valley in line with the Master Plan. They discussed issues of immediate concern and indicated their desire to help revive the valley.

 

EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


Water & Energy Nexus Roundtable Events

The first two national rounFeatured imagedtable discussion events of the Water Energy Nexus prefeasibility study were held in Israel and Jordan at the end of July, following advocacy efforts in Brussels and Berlin. The round tables aimed at introducing the water energy nexus approach and the pre-feasibility study to raise national interest and buy-in within the relevant government, NGO, and international agencies. Many recommendations, suggestions and lessons learnt from similar actions were raised and will be incorporated into the study. An additional roundtable session will be held in early August in Palestine. Both roundtables concluded with a clearer understanding of the project objectives while most participants expressed a willingness to work towards achieving its goal and create healthy inter-dependencies that could be the pillar for peaceful coexistence between our neighboring countries.

The Water & Energy Nexus is part of the Water Cannot Wait campaign of EcoPeace Middle East. This project is supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung


Good Water Neighbors Delegation of 8 Participates in the Big Jump Challenge in Brussels

Our project sent 8 Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian youth river ambassadors for a week of events surrounding the Big Jump Challenge in Brussels. The EcoPeace delegation was selected, along with other young activists, from over 120 youth campaign groups in 28 countries, to bring their ideas and demands on water protection to the attenFeatured imagetion of policymakers in Brussels. On July 13th, after the Big Jump into the Senne River, these young activists presented their Youth Manifesto for Water Protection at the European Rivers Parliament. Additionally, each young activist group presented their river’s water issues and their methods to promote awareness of better water management. Our delegation was the only presentation that included a joint regional effort. One of the organizers stated “One of the inspiring aspects of EcoPeace’s attendance in the event was the very presence of Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians all together. It made a great impact on the other participants…and sent a strong message of: if it is possible in the Middle East, certainly the whole of Europe can cooperate in the management of joint river watershed management.”

Read more in this blog, see photos from our album, and watch a video of our “Youth Water Trustees” message.

Directors Participate in Berlin Roundtable on Sustainability and Peace

The PalestiFeatured imagenian and Israeli EcoPeace Directors participated in a roundtable at the Free University Berlin, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, on sustainability and peace building within the Middle East. One of the highlights of the roundtable was a presentation by researchers, Tobias Ide and Christiane Fröhlich, regarding the project. The study compared the Israeli and Palestinian national water debate between the general population and those involved in the GWN project. The research found that participants in GWN conceive each other more positively than non-participants and largely agree about the nature of and reasons for shared water problems. By contrast, within the general population, Israelis and Palestinians blame each other for water problems facing the region. Additionally, GWN activists perceive the importance of water due to its importance for life rather than as a nationalistic perspective, which is a far more inclusive understanding of water as a resource.

EcoPeace Presents at a Workshop of the International Association for Mediterranean ForestsFeatured image

Mr. Abdel Rahman Sultan, Assistant Director of our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark, participated in a workshop organized by The International Association for Mediterranean Forests. The workshop focused on the MEDFORVAL project (Network of forested areas of High ecological value) which aims to create collaboration between practitioners and decision-makers from different sectors in the Mediterranean on concrete action to protect, manage or restore the ecological values to forested areas. The MEDFORVAL project will last for three years and promotes forests as important ecosystems to be protected while engaging decision makers, public participation, and scientific collaboration.

 

EcoPeace Participates in World Leaders’ Conservation Forum on Jeju Island, Korea

Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar, participated in a World Leaders’ Conservation Forum aimed at finding a path to lead people to peace, coexistence and sustainable development. Mr Mehyar gave a keynote presentation on the proposed Jordan River Peace-Park. The three-day forum included 43 experts and leaders from around the world to discuss the importance of nature conservation and to brainstorm ways to create a better balance between nature and humans. The location of the forum was on a Korean island known for its ricFeatured imageh biodiversity and has been a great benefactor of green policy initiatives. A relevant example to the rest of the world; almost 600,000 islanders live off tourism which made sustainable development a priority for the island’s leaders.

 

Water Water Everywhere Traveling Media ExhibitFeatured image

New viewings have been announced for the traveling media exhibition Water, Water Everywhere, Paean to a Vanishing Resource which includes our Our Good Water Neighbors film. If you will be in the cities below, please feel free to visit the exhibition.

  • Alexei von Schlippe Gallery at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point,

September 11 to October 26, 2015

  • Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia,

September 19 to June 19, 2015

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


To find out more about our projects please visit our website or to make a donation to EcoPeace Middle East, please click here.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 14, 2015

“Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) – Final Event

After 18 months of hard work, dedication, planning and intensive national & regional cooperation, EcoPeace is pleased to announce that the Green Economy Initiatives project has been a great success story and achieved its objectives.

The project focused on five business areas: Tour Guides and Operators, Adventure Tourism, Food Industry, Permaculture and Women’s Empowerment Groups.Featured image

To celebrate the achievements, EcoPeace held the final project bazaar event at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark on 8 September 2015. Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian participants that were involved in the project presented their products together at the bazaar. Guests included entrepreneurs from the local communities, representatives from the tourism industry and government officials from the Jordan Valley.

The event began with opening statements by The Governor of Irbid Dr. Sa’ad Shehab, a Former Representative of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism Mr. Mohammed Hourani, and the Head of Environment Department at Mateh Yehuda Mr. Moshe Swissa.

After welcoming the guests and the opening statemeFeatured imagents, the bazaar that included different types of local products was inaugurated by the governor of Irbid. As a bee gathers honey from the flower without injuring its color or fragrance, buyers and sellers came together in a beautiful scene that symbolizes harmonious coexistence between human beings especially in a politically-unstable region like ours.

Between lunch and the evening workshop, a few chose to relax and enjoy the landscape, but the majority had the energy to engage in some adventurous activities like the giant swing and the zipline which were also a result of the GEI project at Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark.

At the evening workshop, the directors of Ajloun, Irbid and Jerash Tourism Departments made preFeatured imagesentations and eloquently shared their insights and knowledge on how to expand cross-border cooperation in a way that benefits all parties and have a positive impact on the environment and the challenges that face tourism in the region.

In the evening, participants used dinner as an opportunity to discuss further issues before they spent the rest of the night either engaging in friendly conversations or enjoying the quietness of the EcoPark.

Next morning, after breakfast, the group took the bus and headed to Pella for a guided tour, enjoying the beautiful scenery, the friendliness of the local community, and the historical significance of the site. They also got introduced to the future plans for developing and marketing the site.

Between Pella and Ajloun Castle which was the next stop is approximately one hour by bus. The scenery was breathtaking and its easy to notice how the flora and fauna is similar to the other side of the river. Nature indeed knows no borders and this is the beauty of it.

Upon arrival to Ajloun Castle, theFeatured image director of Ajloun Tourism Department personally greeted the visitors and accompanied them for the rest of the tour. His humility and warmth is an example to follow.

Ajloun Castle is unparalleled in its majestic beauty. Even though a tour guide was present and willing to answer any questions, the place itself speaks volumes.

Time usually flies when people are having a good time! For many, one hour at the castle was not enough, but as they had to follow the pre-planned itinerary they had to move on.Featured image

On the way to lunch, there have been two stops: The first was at a soap house where a variety of locally-made soaps and other natural product can be found. The second was at a cookies house where one can try samples of “herbal cookies” which does not taste like conventional ones yet very delicious. It’s also difficult not to notice the generosity and the kindness of the visitors towards the locals.

Lunch was served at a local community guest house. The smell of freshly baked bread, the singing of the birds and the hospitality of the house owner all made it an Featured imageunforgettable experience. Simplicity and innocence are the two most important ingredients of peace and happiness.

A perfect tour ended in the most perfect way, the group gathered at a cave below the guest house and started singing for peace before departing safely to sheikh Hussien Border Crossing.

This project made possible with the generous support of the American people  Featured image

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,659 other followers