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

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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.

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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

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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

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | September 10, 2015

GEI Event: Cross Border Evening in Tzur Hadassah

On September 3rd, Ecopeace held a large cross-border Green Economy Initiative’s (GEI) event, which took place at a beautiful horse-riding farm in Tzur Hadassah, a community located in central Israel. Featured image

Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian GEI participants, EcoPeace staff and locals came together to celebrate their achievements and newfound enrichments thanks to the initiative. The event allowed these participants to exchange ideas on advancing cooperative measures among businesses in crossborder communities and how to work towards sustainable use of shared environmental resources.

The evening’s first item on the program was a visit to the surrounding countryside: the whole group Featured imagedid a brief hike around the beautiful landscape of the Judean Hills, which ended at a lookout point on Jerusalem during sunset.

After returning to the horse farm the group enjoyed regional, organic food and had the opportunity to learn more about local products. At the visitor center fresh baked bread was served with vegetables and homemade lemonade and included a terrace overlooking the riding arena. Palestinian schoolgirls sold self-made beauty products that smelled of honey and chocolate. Another stand had hand-stitched bags while a different one showed preserved vegetables and olive oil.

The EcoPeace Team was also happy to announce the launch of four new cross-border itineraries. These tours, which are undertaken by tour operators and tour guides, are an effort to develop “green“ regional cross-border tourist itineraries: One bicycle, two hiking and one general tour itineraries were finalized and are now being marketed. Travel operators from the region worked together to form these exciting tours. There is the Pedaling Coexistence, Cross Border Bicycle Itinerary, the Regional Eco-Hiking Itinerary, the Cross Border Jordan Valley Hiking Itinerary and the “Nature and Culture” Itinerary.

These Tours are a unique opportunity to experience three separate countries, fantastic natural environments and a mix of cultures. All four tours were born out of the EcoPeace vision of promoting both regional co-operation and the protection of shared environFeatured imagemental heritage. The tours are part of an economic approach creating healthy interdependencies and diversifying income for our Good Water Neighbors communities.

Speeches and a slide show were followed by live music.

For more information about the individual itineraries look at EcoPeace’s website:

This project made possible with the generous support of the American people  USAID

Media Department – EcoPeace

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 25, 2015

Sinkholes: Nature’s Payback

DSCN7975One might assume that the pictures in this blog were taken in Aleppo or in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil war. They were not. These pictures were taken on August the 23rd, 2015 in Ghor Mazraa, Jordan Valley.

What was once part of a thriving agricultural community with well-paved well- lit roads, surrounded by banana fields, and a factory that employed the residents of the community is now reduced to nothing.
The ruins of the Numera factory, the devastated roads and the broken electricity poles stand witness to nature’s revenge after withstanding years of abuse. The land now is of no monetary or agricultural value and the future of the local community looks grim.

The Sinkholes phenomenon appeared in the 90s in Jordan according to EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator in South Ghor Fathi DSCN7956Alhweimel. The waters of the Dead Sea began receding due to excessive damming of the sea’s tributaries, mainly, the Jordan River. Potash, Bromine and Magnesium factories on both sides of the sea have also played a significant role in accelerating the shrinkage of the Dead Sea. Fresh water from the surrounding mountains melts the salt particles, creating sink holes that are 20 to 30 meters deep. Several incidents were reported on the Jordanian side where farmers, animals or vehicles found themselves in the middle of a sinkhole.

Governments believe that the Red-Dead Canal project will save the Dead Sea. EcoPeace, however, argues that the project is not feasible and environmentally threatening.  To illustrate, the impact of pumping vast quantities of seawater out of the Gulf of Aqaba on the fragile coral reefs in this area is not clear. Construction of the proposed 110 mile water and water conveyance DSCN7964afterwards will have an unknown impact on the natural landscape of the Arava Valley.  Threat posed by gypsum and other microorganism growth from the mixing of Red Sea and Dead Sea waters is not addressed.  Solutions for silt and potential leakage of water during transport are not presented.  Most importantly is the fact that mixing the Red Sea with Dead Sea waters could irreversibly alter the latter’s unique characteristics damaging its health benefits; which is the major drive for tourism.

DSCN8025In addition to the aforementioned problems, actual implementation of the project requires many years and the problem of the sinkholes is urgent and needs immediate attention.  Therefore, EcoPeace Middle East proposes an alternative solution that is feasible with no environmental threats, i.e., the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, the main tributary of the Dead Sea and an already natural conveyor. A rehabilitated Jordan River will set a model for river rehabilitation, stabilize the Dead Sea thus solving the problem of the sinkholes promising in turn economic growth, and regional stability.

Albums for sinkholes in Jordan/ Israel

Pictures taken by Samar M. Salma and Gundi Shachal/ Community Coordinator “Tamar Regional Council”

This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, Media & PR officer at EcoPeace Middle East

Media Department/ Amman

EcoPeace Releases NGO Masterplan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley

J1EcoPeace Middle East / WEDO and its consortium partners at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and Global Nature Fund (GNF) presented the Integrated Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley at a regional conference held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dead Sea, in Jordan from June 9-10, 2015, under the patronage of the Jordanian Minister of Water, Dr. Hazim al Nasser.

The conference marked the conclusion of a 3-year European Union ‘SWIM’ funded program and brought together an impressive number of high-level government officials from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, international diplomatic representatives, international development agency representatives, and basin experts to discuss the advancement of the program from planning to implementation.

The Master Plan, undertaken by a consultancy team led by Royal HaskoningDHV, was presented according to its 7 j2strategic planning objectives: Pollution Control; Sustainable Water Management & River Rehabilitation; Sustainable Agriculture; Jordan River Basin Governance; Ecological Rehabilitation; Sustainable Tourism & Cultural Heritage Development; and Urban & Infrastructure Development.

The Master Plan also identifies 127 specific regional and national projects (“interventions”) in relation to the above mentioned strategic planning objectives, with a total investment value of 4.58 billion USD until the year 2050.

Levant Consultancy, financial experts, also gave an overview of capital market funding opportunities that will serve to finance the projects together with donor states.

Click here for the Master Plan; the Master Plan Annex (Interventions); click on this Events webpage for further links to speeches, presentations, videos of support from the International community, an album of photos on our Facebook page and more; and here for media coverage from the conference.

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

EcoPeace & Indo-Pakistani Cooperation on the Indus River

j3On June 11th – 12th, an Indian and Pakistani delegation visited Jordan for a workshop to jumpstart cooperation with EcoPeace on the Indus River. Five key action points were identified as a framework for this initiative: academia, business, faith based communities, civil society, and schools.


The delegates visited the Baptism site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” to learn about the ecological degradation of the Jordan River and the organization’s efforts to rehabilitate it by pushing the issue onto the agenda of the local governments. They were introduced to the faith-based campaign launched in 2013 to gain support of religious figures from the three monolithic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism as their voices help bring attention to the river’s ecological deterioration.


Cross Border Youth Water Trustee Groups meet throughout the region

j5Three cross-border meetings of “Youth Water Trustees” from the Kishon/Mukata basin, the Hebron/Beer Sheva/Besor basin, and the Yarkon/Qana basin took place as part of EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors Project. These workshops were designed to provide the youth with an opportunity to learn about their shared environmental challenges and to discuss ways in which they can help improve the ecological situation of their region. The youth hiked along streams, rode bikes, and participated in activities to learn about each other and their commonalities, connecting to the water and nature they all share.

EcoPeace is the Big Jump Challenge “Team of the Week”

EcoPeace Youth Water Trustees alumni from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine have created a team this year for the j6International Big Jump Event. This week, EcoPeace was chosen as the “Team of the Week”, for its hard work in organizing a cross-border event by the Jordan River (featured in last month’s newsletter). The success of our team underlines the Water Trustee alumni’s solidarity and commitment to protect their shared watershed, serving as an example and inspiration to teams around the world. Read more in this blog, and to see a video of the “Youth Water Trustees” alumni’s message, click here.

EcoPeace conducts cross border site visits throughout the region

j7A group of Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders participated in a cross-border visit in the Hebron/Beer Sheva/ Besor watershed, witnessing the grievances of the historic Bedouin village of Umm Battin, where a polluted river of sewage runs through the heart of the village.  Participants also visited the Shoket Waste Water Treatment Plant, a successful operation highly reliant on joint management and monitoring of sewage from both Israelis and the Palestinians. A tour at the Beer Sheva River Park revealed that wise management coupled with a long-term vision and a strong will can create life in the midst of an arid desert. The park was once a dumping ground is now a green recreational park.  Read more in this blog.

A Jordanian delegation, comprised of the Head of the Wadi Sir Directorate, along with other Jordanian governmental j8representatives, visited their cross border watershed of “Wadi Qelt” in Palestine. They met with their Palestinian counterparts to discuss urgent challenges that both communities are facing with the shared watershed. The group discussed possible means of cooperation and improved management. The delegates visited the municipality of Jericho to learn about the environmental challenges facing the valley, stopping by the Jericho Directorate for Agriculture, a compost station, a fish-breeding farm, and the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Jericho.  Read more in this blog.

European Union Representatives visit Emek Hefer and Nablus Stream

j9EcoPeace staff took Ms. Esther Pozo Vera, Sector Coordinator for European Neighborhood Countries of the European Commission, and Alexandra Meir from the Trade and Economic Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel on a site visit to see the hard work of our Good Water Neighbors project. In Emek Hefer, they visited a reconstructed wetland, which was built by youth in the Sadot School in Bat Hefer in 2009, and which still recycles water today.  Heavily polluted water was seen crossing the barrier in the Nablus Stream despite huge investments made in the construction of the west Nablus Waste Water Treatment Plant, exemplifying the need for greater cross border coordination and the failure of unilateral actions to problem solve transboundary water issues.

Kate Rothschild Meeting Trusteesj10

This month, Kate Rothschild, one of EcoPeace‘s International Advisory Board Members, visited the region to learn more about our work. Kate went on an educational tour of the Hebron/Be’er Sheva/Besor stream and met with some of our Palestinian and Israeli Youth Water Trustee groups, who made sure she left knowing how important it is for our region’s youth to be leaders in the environment.


EcoPeace wins the National ENERGY GLOBE Award 2015 on UN’s World Environment Day

j11This month, EcoPeace was awarded the National Energy Globe Award for the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project and was subsequently nominated for the International Energy Globe Award. The jury chose EcoPeace because of its innovative regional approach to rehabilitate the Jordan River, Bottom Up through the GWN project and Top Down, through widespread advocacy efforts, bringing fresh water to the river and removing pollution through sanitation solutions. With more than 170 participating countries and over 1500 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is one of today’s most prestigious environmental prizes worldwide. Our project was presented on June 5th, 2015 at the UN’s World Environment Day, under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP.

EcoPeace Presents at the World Heritage Watch conference in Bonn, Germany

j12At theUNESCO World Heritage and The Role of Civil Society” conference of World Heritage Watch, Mohammed Obidallah from the EcoPeace Bethlehem office presented “The Struggle of Civil Society to Save the Roman Irrigation System and the Terraced Cultural Landscape of Battir,” demonstrating how EcoPeace’s strategy of combining a “top-down” (advocacy) approach with a “bottom-up” (grass roots / community) strategy has proven to be a very effective work model to preserve Battir’s Terraced Landscape and the Roman Irrigation System. He explained that as a result of continuous work for three years in the GWN project, on June 20th, 2014, UNESCO registered Battir as a World Heritage site, and on January 4th, 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice decided to deny the request of the Israeli military to build the separation barrier through the unique terraced landscape of Battir.

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

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 23, 2015

The Palestinian Economy: Save the Jordan “River”


A European Union Plan to Rehabilitate the Jordan River is expected to help agriculture and tourism flourish in the region

Two weeks ago, EcoPeace, “formerly known as” Friends of the Earth with branches in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority held in the East of the Dead Sea a conference to present a masterplan for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. The River has suffered for a longtime from neglect resulting in its dryness.

The Masterplan, funded by the European Union, was prepared by a Dutch engineering company DHV, one of its kind in the world and will have important implications for the kingdom of Jordan, for Israel and for the Palestinian Authority.

When bitterness [and pollution] is finished, sweetness begins” A Chinese proverb

Approximately 600 thousand inhabitants reside in the Jordan Valley nowadays. The majority, 500 thousand, lives in the Eastern part of the valley in Jordan and the minority, approximately, 50 thousand Israeli and 56 thousand Palestinian live in the Western side in Israel and the West Bank.

In the past, about a billion and 300mcm used to flow in the river from the Kinneret and the valleys tributaries but in the recent years, the river turned into a canal of sewage that stench.

This fact presented an occasion to develop the environment and economy that was neglected in the past years.  According to what appears from the conference, it represents an invitation and a possibility of political cooperation between the authorities in the region.

Rehabilitation of the River requires allowing water to flow from the Kinneret.  After 50 years break, Israel allowed water to reflow in the River and since then approximately 9 mcm flowed into the River. Allowing water to flow in the river became possible because the authority in Israel reduced to considerable scale water pumping from the kinneret to the National Carrier. Nonetheless, this amount is relatively small compared to the days whereby approximately 650 mcm flowed from the Kinneret in addition to water from the tributaries spilling in the Jordan.

Allowing water to reflow needs also solutions to the severe contamination that worsen southward downstream the River.

According to the plan, there is a need to coordinate the treatment of the pollution sources, management of the water, development enterprises, and infrastructure building along the valley.

Everybody Wins

In the short term of 5 years, the Masterplan requires an investment of 495 million dollars funded by international bodies like the International Monetary Fund.  330 million dollars are allocated for Jordanian and Palestinian economic projects and inclusive of agricultural development, construction of greenhouses, irrigation system, and expanding the marketing of agricultural produce bought in Jordan and the West, in Israel and in the Gulf States.

Additional potential arises from tourist sites in ancient Jericho, the Baptism site of the land of the monasteries north of the Dead Sea, and east of Jordan.

The plan allocates 165 million dollars for Israel’s touristic projects and sports in the Jordan Valley and includes renovating the Ottoman buildings in the old city of Beit She’an.

Translated from “Calcalist” by Samar M. Salma Media & PR Officer

הכלכלה הפלסטינית: להציל את הירדן,7340,L-3663719,00.html

Media Department/ Amman

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