Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | March 24, 2015

A URI Environmental Network Workshop: A Renewed Hope for the Jordan River

11-15th March, 2015

San Francisco, CA

“We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world …. unite to heal and protect the earth … unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.“             

Quote from URI’s Preamble.

DSCN8203

055 With these wise words in the backdrop, a group of environmentalists and religious figures gathered to create a platform to connect in a workshop titled “Global Greening through the Grassroots”.  The workshop organized by United Religious Initiative “URI”; a global grassroots interfaith network with a presence in 85 countries through its ever growing Cooperation Circles, culminated in the creation of “URI Environmental Resource CC”.

The Network will provide a venue for environmentalists, religious figures, and URI Environment Workshopvarious CCs to exchange experiences, best practices, discuss challenges, and potential partnering opportunities while maintaining emphasis on spirituality, bridge building and empathy.

The five days’ workshop included various presentations, visit to the Muir woods, Coyote Point by the Pacific Ocean to learn about Bay restoration, tour of Grace Cathedral, also included commemorating UN World Water Day, and an invocation ceremony at Fairmont Hotel.

During the workshop, EcoPeace Middle East representative presented a model of close collaboration between the environment and religion that stands at stark 10622823_1587534178159220_601603898867867966_nopposition with current prevalent strict dichotomies between religion and all other fields.  The relationship is inseparable as manifested in the case of the Jordan River. The sacred River in the three Abrahamic Faiths has been severely polluted with sewage and fishpond waters.  96% of its waters have been diverted by neighboring countries for irrigation purposes reducing the once Might River to a small stream.  Nonetheless, its sacredness is a turning point in its rehabilitation.

 EcoPeace, a regional organization that works on environmental peacebuilding, took notice of its current deterioration and the need for its rehabilitation, joined hands with researchers, local and regional communities, politicians and religious leaders in a campaign titled “Save the Jordan”.  The aim of the campaign is to bring the reality of the River to the forefront of community discussions and encourage action-based community-wide responses.  It also attempts to leverage support from communities to help create political will among regional decision makers to act towards the Rivers rehabilitation.

A faithbased toolkit was also produced to support the campaign consisting of briefing documents, sourcebooks as well as postcards, presentations, films, flyers. All were designed uniquely and separately for Muslim, Christians and Jewish Communities to advance multi-faith discussions and joint actions. Most importantly is the Jordan River covenant that offers a shared vision for the Jordan valley. The organization encourages broad endorsement of the covenant as a call for decision-makers on all sides of the valley to transform a vision into a reality.

With its relentless efforts, support from local and regional communities, endorsements and support from religious figures and organizations, EcoPeace Middle East takes pride in the fact that for the first time in decades,  fresh water is running in the Jordan River.

candle candle 1

logoFor more information about the campaign or find out ways to support the Rivers Rehabilitation visit: www.savethejordan.com

Or contact Ms Anwar Abu Hamour who is leading the campaign at the Amman Office: anwar@foeme.org

For more articles about the event, visit the links

http://euphrates.org/what-is-water-to-you-celebrate-un-world-water-day-march-22nd/

http://euphrates.org/is-there-a-connection-between-religion-and-the-environment-you-bet/

For a picture album, click here 

This post was contributed by Samar M. Salma, Media Officer/ PR & Projects Coordinator at the Amman Office.

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | March 3, 2015

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

“Good Water Neighbors” project holds several cross-border youth camps

EcoPeace held two cross border youth visits at our Auja Eco Center this past month; the first one for Palestinian and Jordanian girls from the shared Wadi Qelt / Madaba watershed, and girls from the East Jerusalem community of f1Surbaher located in the Kidron watershed. Together, they toured the city of Jericho, had fun riding the cable car up to the Mount of Temptation, and later, presented the more f2serious issues they prepared regarding the water realities and environmental problems in each of their local communities. Not surprisingly, the group learned that they all have similar challenges, and realized the importance of cooperating in order to solve shared problems. Additional activities included painting the Geodesic dome in the EcoCenter, and then travelling to Battir to hike and learn about the terraced landscape area and its ecological importance.

The second youth camp – for Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli youth that live around the Wadi Abu Nar / Hadera

f3watershed, and also youth from North Shouneh and Irbid in Jordan – included fun ice f4breaking activities and warm up games on the 1st day, followed by presentations about different environmental topics such as recycling, renewable energy, and the shared water resources in the region.  Additional activities had the youth rappelling down the side of the Auja EcoCenter building (a first for many of the youth!), followed by a biking activity in the village, and ending with a visit to the city of Jericho.

A third cross border youth camp took place this month in the Jordan Valley area with Jordanian, Israeli and f5Palestinian ‘Water Trustees’. The focus of this camp was building a vision for the “Peace Island” at Naharayim / Bakoura and understanding that rehabilitation of the Jordan River needs regional cooperation. In teams, the youth explored the history of the Island – its special location as a transiting area throughout the decades – and discussed if it is possible to turn it into a meeting point again. Another team measured the rate of flow in the Yarmouk River and compared the flow in the past – and the present. A third team explored the flora of the area, and then prepared a delicious Hubieza snack for everyone!

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Good Water Neighbors” project holds 2 cross border watershed meetings for adult residents

On February 5th, EcoPeace organized a joint tour for Israeli human rights activists of Machsom Watch, together withf6 the head of the Salfit Joint Services Council and local Palestinian Village Council representatives. The aim of the visit was to detect pollution sources to the Wadi Qana / Yarkon watershed, and to discuss how best to prevent sewage from flowing in the stream.

The joint tour offered an opportunity for participants to exchange knowledge and further raise awareness about the challenges of this cross border river basin.

f7Another cross border tour was held with a group of 20 Israelis and Palestinians on February 8th, to three water springs in the Israeli Mateh Yehuda Regional Council area; springs in Ein Karem, Ein Rafa and Sataf. The group was joined by local tour guides who explained in great detail the history of each spring and about local advocacy efforts being undertaken to preserve and improve these (and other) water resources. To further support the local community, the group ate lunch at a small, local business in Ein Rafa, run out of a family’s home, and learned about Ein Rafa’s approaches to city planning.

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

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Green Economy Initiatives project holds several cross border tours for Tour Guides

The “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project held a 3-day cross border tour this past month in the areas of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council in Israel, and in West Bethlehem, Palestine, for 25 Israeli, Jordanian and f8Palestinian “Adventure” Tour Operators, ‘Regular’ Tour Operators and Tour Guides. The group spent three days together visiting sites and meeting additional vendors that support local “green economy initiatives” and ecotourism development. Highlights included hiking, biking, horse-back riding, eating a delicious dinner from local and f9organic farms, walking the terraced landscapes (in both Sataf and Battir) and being the first group to ever go rappelling in the West Bank, near the Mar Saba monastery! These tours aim to create new economic opportunities based on common interests, and to promote cross-border, green, tourism initiatives.  See more photos in this Facebook album, and this video on Maan News (in Arabic) that was aired on Palestinian TV.f10
An additional GEI one-day tour this month focused on exposing our 2 EcoParks in the area; one in Auja, Palestine,
and one in Ein Gedi, Israel for another group of 25 Tour Guides from Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Also included were 2 stops for “environmental enrichment” for the Tour Guides: a visit to the Kaser el Yehud Baptism Site to view the Lower Jordan River and to learn about the environmental challenges of the River, and another at the shores of the Dead Sea near Ein Gedi, to learn about the degradation of the Sea and solutions being put forth by the countries, as well as by EcoPeace.

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

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

Jordan River Rehabilitation effortsf12

EcoPeace continues to lead tours and expose a great number of people, young and old, from diverse constituencies, to learn about the environmental challenges of Lower Jordan River.  There is no better way to involve the public in rehabilitation efforts – that will ultimately pressure local decision makers into action – than showing them the issues first-hand and on-site.

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

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Spearheading the Bakoura National Park Project in Jordan

EcoPeace, in collaboration with the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), organized a visit with Israeli experts and f13consultants from the Israeli Lower Jordan River Drainage Authority to the area of the proposed Bakoura National Park in the Jordan Valley. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the ongoing and future sustainable development projects on the Jordanian side, in addition to advancing the implementation of National and Regional rehabilitation plans in the Valley.

A Jordanian Master Plan, coordinated between EcoPeace and the JVA, was presented, listing a set of national “interventions”, including the Bakoura National Park. The interventions, once implemented, are expected to promote economic development for the Valley and its people, as well as a River with sufficient environmental flows to sustain a healthy eco-system.  Read more in this blog.

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

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Jordanian Minister of Water and US Delegates visit the SHE Ecopark

Jordan has taken many measures to alleviate its water shortages recently, especially after the recent surge of refugees from Syria that has put a huge stress on the Kingdom’s already scarce water resources. USAID has helped with the construction of a new pipeline, a new pumping station, a new waste water treatment plant, with additional funds being allocated for water conservation, infrastructure renovations and more. f14

A U.S. delegation headed by the Ambassadress to Jordan, along with the Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation, and the Secretary General of the Jordan Valley Authority, visited the Jordan Valley to learn about its water resources, to find ways to channel funding, and to develop cooperation opportunities. The visitors also toured our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark where they received extensive explanations about its facilities and its importance as an environmental education center, as well as about the general water situation in the Valley and the Regional NGO Master Plan. Read more in this blog.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

SHE Ecopark – Traithlon & Duathlon – March 28th!f15

Start exercising! Don’t miss our annual Triathlon and Duathlon, held for the 3rd year now at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, in partnership with Experience Jordan.

To appeal to both novice competitors and more experienced athletes, the event includes two distances for each race: a shorter Novice distance and a longer Sprint distance. Click here for full information about the race details, the route informationfees & registrationresults from the last 2 year’s events and photos from last year’s event.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Israel Jordan Water Agreement

EcoPeace applauds the Jordanian and Israeli governments for signing on a very important water sharing agreement f16last week.  The idea of a water exchange – construction of a Jordanian desalination plant in Aqaba that will also sell 50 mcm of water to Israel’s dry southern area, and in exchange, Israel to sell roughly the same amount from the Sea of Galilee to Jordan’s water scarce North area – makes complete economic, ecological and political sense.

However, EcoPeace has reservations about including the Dead Sea in the scenario proposed. The brine from the desalination plant in Aqaba is now proposed to be piped 200 km. north and dumped into the Dead Sea.  Although this small amount of water, according to scientific research, will not cause any damage to the Dead Sea’s chemical composition, it will also not “Save the Dead Sea”, as the politicians are claiming; it will raise the level of the Sea by only a few centimeters, and will raise the cost of the project by an additional $400M, rendering it economically not feasible.  EcoPeace would also like to see the Northern exchange of water occur by utilizing the Lower Jordan River as the carrier, and not to build another pipe to Jordan, as is being proposed.

Stay tuned for more updates.  Read more in this Jerusalem Post article, and this Circle of Blue article…

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Sustainability as a Strategic Business Enabler – June 9-12, 2015. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

This program is designed for organizations that want to seize opportunities at the frontier of sustainability. Renowned Yale faculty—experts in environmental science and its business applications—will evaluate your organization’s sustainability plan on multiple criteria (or help you create one). In one-on-one review sessions, you will learn where your gaps and opportunities lie and what to do next. Using research-validated Yale frameworks, faculty will present business practices that avoid doing the right things wrong. This is the first program of its kind to bring together science, risk management, business strategy, innovation, and influence skills to help sustainability officers succeed as strategic partners in their organization. EcoPeace Middle East is delighted to be sharing its wealth of experience in this program.

For more information, please contact Molly Nagler, molly.nagler@yale.edu

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | March 1, 2015

EcoPeace Receives the Minister of Water and US Delegates at the SHE Ecopark

043

Jordan has been repeatedly ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of water resources.  The Syrian crises resulting in a constant refugee influx over the past few years has exacerbated the problem making Jordan the second poorest country worldwide in water resources.

040With these constant challenges, the Kingdom took measures to produce solutions to alleviate its water shortage. These solutions varied from policy change, to reducing water supply network losses and much more.

Jordan was not alone in facing these challenges. The Kingdom partnered with the United States to meet its water rising demands and to mitigate the current challenges through USAID. For example, the US government has helped in the construction of Za’atri-Hofa pipeline and new pumping station, and of Mafraq waste water treatment plant. These projects are expected to significantly increase water supply and waste water treatment services in northern Jordan.

The US government has also allocated funds for water conservation and infrastructure renovations, including small loans 047and grants for water catchment and storage and support to local water companies for infrastructure repair and maintenance as stated on USAID’s webpage.

To further support the Kingdom in meeting its rising challenges, a US delegation headed by her Excellency Ms. Alice Wells; US ambassadress to Jordan along with his Excellency Mr. Hazem Alnasser, Minister of Water and Irrigation and Secretary General of the Jordan Valley Authority his Excellency Mr. Saed Abu Hamour visited the Jordan Valley to get acquainted with its Water Resources, to find ways to funnel funding, and to develop cooperation opportunities.

The visit that took place on the 28th of February included multiple stops in the valley such as the Unity Dam, Aladassiya Weir, the Bakoura Area, and the Dead Sea. The visitors toured the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark managed by EcoPeace Middle East where they received extensive explanation about its facilities and its importance as an environmental 050educational center. They also received explanations about the Water situation in the Valley, the Regional Masterplan developed by EcoPeace to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River and the interventions set.

For more information about the Masterplan, click here.

This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, EcoPeace Middle East Media Officer at the Amman office.

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | March 1, 2015

From Vision to Reality; EcoPeace Spearheading the Bakoura National Park Project

084

EcoPeace Middle East has successfully led a second tour in the Jordan valley on the 25th of February, 2015. The visit coordinated in collaboration with the Jordan Valley Authority included his Excellency Mr. Saed Abu Hamour Head of the JVA along with Israeli experts and consultants from the Israeli Lower Jordan River Drainage Authority.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss the ongoing and future sustainable development projects on the Jordanian side, in addition to advancing the implementation of National and Regional rehabilitation plans in the Valley.

043To this end, a Jordanian Master Plan coordinated between EcoPeace and the JVA was presented listing a set of national interventions for the Jordan Valley and the River in specific. The interventions once implemented are expected to develop a healthy economic path for the valley and its people on the one hand, and a Jordan River with sufficient environmental flow to sustain a healthy eco-system on the other hand as stated in the Master Plan. It is also worth stressing that the Masterplan presents a long term vision of cooperation between all concerned parties.

The Bakoura National Park, an EcoPeace spearheaded project, is one example of the interventions proposed to develop the Valley. Jointly with the JVA, the organization signed an MoU last year to develop the location into a National Park. The project will be of great value for the rehabilitation of the river, for tourism, and for peace commented Mr Abdul Rahman Sultan; Assistant Director.

During the tour, the visitors were introduced to the organization’s vision and future plans to best utilize the location and its 042features to attract tourism. The quality of freshwater allocated for the Jordan River as agreed upon by the Jordanian/ Israeli treaty to rehabilitate the River was tackled. The visitors also agreed on the construction of a joint monitoring station along the Jordan River from the Yarmuk to Bezeq.

The tour concluded at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark whereby its value as an educational center for environmental awareness and sustainability was presented.

093

For more information about the Bakoura park, click here

This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, EcoPeace’s Media Officer at the Amman Office.

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | February 25, 2015

EcoPeace Maintains Pressure for Accountability over Eilat’s Oil Spill

EcoPeace Middle East has met with members of the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection with regards to the disastrous 4th December oil spill. As was reported by international press agencies at the time, the spill was caused when a pipeline that runs from Ashkelon near the Mediterranean sea, to Eliat near the Gulf of Aqaba burst, allowing 5000m3 of crude oil to spill, contaminating small reservoirs and ponds in the hyperarid Evrona nature reserve near Eilat.

The Eliat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company pipeline burst, releasing enough crude oil to fill 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools

The Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company pipeline burst, releasing enough crude oil to fill 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools

In a meeting with the deputy minister of environmental protection, Ofir Akunis, EcoPeace was able to raise the issue of trans-border impacts from the spill on the Jordanian people through pollution of their land, water, and soils. The oil flow was stopped only a few hundred meters from the border to Jordan in the Arava Valley. Officers of the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that they were in direct communication with the Jordanian authorities, keeping them informed of the accident and its impacts.

In a site visit by a member of EcoPeace staff with an expert team from the Ministry of Environmental protection and the nature Park Authorities, further information was gathered. The Evrona area is a topographically closed basin, so there is almost no risk of drainage of the oil in to the Aqaba gulf. In the case of an extreme flash-flood event, an earth dam was constructed to prevent oil from moving South, ensuring the safety of the delicate coral reefs there. 3,000 m3 of oil was able to be recovered into oil tanks from the pools in the local wadi’s alluvial fan, and the 14 hectares of still contaminated soils are being treated. Around 25 thousand tonnes of the more heavily polluted soils have been transported to a special treatment site in Nemara disposal site, with other soils being treated in site, though as these treatments are still in the pilot stage, we wait to hear if this will be successful.

The oil spill mostly penetrated only few centimetres but affected depths of between 20 and 30cm in some areas.

The oil spill mostly penetrated only few centimeters but affected depths of between 20 and 30cm of soil in some areas.

Levels of air pollution decreased rapidly as the gas in the crude oil was evaporated in the first few days. Although the smell was strong enough to reach both the populated areas of Eilat and Aqaba, it did not reach a level as to be dangerous to health, and today air in the reserve, a few meters from the oil spills, is good.

EcoPeace have demanded deep and extensive investigation regarding the causes of the accident and that the results of the investigation will be open to the public.  The Ministry of Environmental Protection has opposed renewal of the pipeline until the company responsible, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company, have satisfied their safety measure demands.  EcoPeace has also raised their objection to any oil drilling and transport near environmentally sensitive areas, or close to major freshwater sources. Ecologists are still unsure at this stage if the fragile ecosystem will survive.

It is still unclear how fully this delicate ecosystem will be able to recover.

It is still unclear how fully this delicate ecosystem will be able to recover.

This post is contributed by Dr Youval Arbel, Water Officer at EcoPeace Middle East in Tel Aviv.

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | February 3, 2015

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

Lower Jordan River Rehabilitation Efforts

This month EcoPeace Middle East joined European government officials and transboundary water experts at the United jan 2015Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Expert Workshop entitled “Beyond Water: Regional economic integration and geo-political benefits of transboundary water cooperation.”  EcoPeace shared its broad expertise related to the economic and geo-political benefits of engaging in transboundary water cooperation in the Jordan Valley, contributing to the development of the UNECE’s policy guidance note on this issue.

jan 2015 2EcoPeace’s Faith Based Campaign for the Jordan River continues to attract interest and support from faith leaders around the world.  This month EcoPeace was invited to meet with a high level delegation of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders from the US organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. EcoPeace was received enthusiastically by the group led by Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church; Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America who voiced support for EcoPeace’s innovative efforts to bring faith communities together in efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River, as well as the campaigns’ Water, Ecology and the Jordan River toolkits for Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

Tours for additional stakeholders were held this month as well, bringing more than 100 people from the Al Najah University Jan 2015 3and the Carmel Sports Club down to see the Lower Jordan River first hand.  The environmental degradation of the River, the historical and religious sites in the area, and the importance of the River were all part of the day’s highlights.

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

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Green Economy Initiatives”

jan 6

EcoPeace Middle East’s “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project held another set of cross-border tours in January; 3 daysjan 2015 5 in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea areas in Israel and Palestine, and another 3 days in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea areas in Jordan. The project brought together a group of 30 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Tour Operators and Tour Guides to see sites and local community “green” initiatives.

The final day in Jordan included a seminar / workshop that asked participants to put together 9-day cross border tourism itineraries based on the places and initiatives seen on both trips and focusing on different themes; Water & Environment, Religion & Faith, Jordan River Valley, as well as a 3-day Culinary itinerary that can be inserted into any one of the programs, cooked up by the expert food-oriented tour guides and chefs that were part of the group!jan 7

These tours are aiming to create new economic opportunities based on common interests, and to promote cross-border, green, tourism initiatives. Click here for a set of photos from the Jordan tour.

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

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

Auja Environmental Center improvements

We are pleased to report that we have upgraded the Auja EcoCenter’s cafeteria area, with new windows, sun blinds and jan8planters. A new layer of wood has also been added on the roof floor, freshly painted, and strong enough to support three new ‘desert air-conditioners’ for better energy use in the Center.

jan 9

The Auja Environmental Education Center is supported by the Drosos Foundation.

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

No Separation Barrier in Battir!

On January 4th, following two years of deliberations, the Israeli High Court of Justice decided to deny the request of the Israeli military to confirm the legality of the proposed route of the Separation Barrier that was planned to cut through the unique terraced landscape of Battir.  The case is based on a set of petitions filled by the Palestinian village of Battir, jan 10neighboring Israeli residents across the ‘Green Line’ and EcoPeace Middle East.

This is an important win not only for Battir but for cross border cooperation between like-minded Palestinians and Israelis who have worked together for so many years. Trust building is a very powerful way to build peace and prevent building concrete barriers. Read more in our media release and more in this press coverage page on the issue.

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

“Good Water Neighbors” Cross Border Youth Camp

EcoPeace held a cross border youth visit at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan last month gathering together jan 11Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli youth that live along the joint watersheds of the Kishon/Mukata stream, a shared Palestinian-Israeli watershed, and the Lower Jordan River. The first day’s activities of “ice breaking” and trust building games created a web of expectations, after which they divided up into small groups, sharing and learning about each other’s communities, their local environmental problems and their water realities. Together they came to the understanding that they are all connected and dependent on one another in their shared waters.

jan 12Participants also toured around the EcoPark to see several existing examples of eco-facilities and recycling solutions as well as the Park’s beauty, and later experienced teambuilding and empowerment through Out Door Trainings (ODT) activities.  The final drama workshop had the group role-playing about solving water conflicts through dialogue and creative thinking.

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

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

EcoPeace participates in the ‘Arab Water Week’ Conference

The Third Arab Water Week, “Innovations & Sustainable Solutions for the Water Sector in the Arab Region“, was held from January 11-15, 2015, at the Dead Sea, Jordan, and aimed at tackling water management issues through establishing jan 13innovative partnerships and platforms of cooperative work on water issues in the region. The conference aims to provide a platform for greater coordination among the existing network of key partners active in the water sector in the region.

EcoPeace presented the organization’s efforts to promote regional cooperation and joint management of the limited water resources in the region, with a focus on the rehabilitation and management of the Lower Jordan River Basin.

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

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | January 21, 2015

Good Water Neighbors Alumni Water Trustee Training, Ein Gedi December 2014

2014-12-30 08 27 11

There are a few ways to end 2014. You could do your taxes, throw a big party, make a list of wishes and goals for the coming year, or take a part in the significant Alumni Water Trustees Guide Training that was held in our Ein Gedi Eco Park.  We all met in the evening of December 29th, 23 high school students and a few staff members, including myself – an intern from Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies.  Read More…

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | January 18, 2015

Success is always a good story to tell: Good Water Neighbors Project (GWN) is one

 bat1

Success is always a good story to tell

Good Water Neighbors Project (GWN) is a one

 

Mohammed T. Obidallah

Palestinian Good Water Neighbors Project (GWN) Coordinator

January 2015

In the heart of the Jordan River Valley, water is not only the lifeblood of expanding societies in an arid region – from the Jordan River to Galilee (Lake of Tabariya) and the Dead Sea; its waters are carved deep into the cultural landscape and considered holy in the world’s three major religions.

Despite widespread reverence for and dependence on these waters, they have become yet another casualty of the prolonged, deeply asymmetrical conflict– resulting in unequal access to safe water for Palestinians, pollution that impacts both sides of the border, and gridlock preventing Palestinians from improving sanitation infrastructure. Current water management becomes end-of-the-pipe environmentalism at best and a complete dearth of infrastructure for water use and waste treatment at worst. Today, over 96% of the fresh water that once flowed in the Jordan River basin is diverted, leaving what is left heavily polluted with untreated sewage. The Dead Sea, known for its medicinal minerals, loses a meter from its water level each year. Simultaneously, Palestinian communities suffer from inadequate water supply – accessing just a third of the water consumed by their Israeli counterparts – due to diversion by illegal Israeli settlements, poor infrastructure and limitations on Palestinian development caused by the Israeli occupation.

Because water does not recognize political borders, management and conservation of the water resources in the region must include a comprehensive approach that transcends unilateral actions. While the circumstances are dire, EcoPeace – Middle East (Formerly Friends of the Earth Middle East) believes that effective governance of water can be achieved at low political cost to Israel, and with huge benefits on both sides of the border – building lasting local connections based on the common management of shared resources, and preserving the environment for future generations.

In particular, the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) program, launched in 2001, is working on the ground in 28 Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian communities partnered around nine shared local springs or larger watersheds and aquifers to identify specific environmental needs and suggest cross-border solutions. So far GWN has leveraged millions of dollars in governmental, international, NGO-sponsored and private aid across its project sites. It has connected community leaders, hydrologists, and youth from both sides of the border to take ownership of their shared watersheds.

Regionally, Good Water Neighbors works to oppose further degradation of the environment and unfair division of water resources including in the West Bethlehem village of Battir.

Bat3 BAt2

BATTIR

After three years working with EcoPeace – Friends of the Earth Middle East coordinating the Good Water Neighbors Project on the Palestinian side and  two years of debate, the Israeli High Court of Justice decided  on January 4th ,2015 to deny the request of the Israeli military to confirm the legality of the proposed route of the separation barrier that was planned to cut through the unique terraced landscape of Battir which would irreversibly destroy a canal irrigation system that has been sustained since the Roman times.

The case is based on a set of petitions filled by the Palestinian village of Battir, neighboring Israeli residents across the ‘green line’ EcoPeace Middle East, protesting the proposed building of the Separation Barrier on the site of the ancient terraced landscape of Battir.

Battir, characterized by extensive hand-built terracing and ancient irrigation systems, in World Heritage terms is considered an organically evolved landscape. Within the area are kilometers of dry-stone walls Terraces, necessary to hold the shallow soils on steep, stony slopes. This visually spectacular landscape also contains many other elements: a prehistoric hilltop, fortifications, roman graves, villages of ancient origin, fields of many different type and date, irrigation system and the features that made the landscape work for people struggling to gain a livelihood from it. Old tracks, contemporary with the fields, wind between them; among the fields and terraces are stone-houses, watchtowers, and steps and ramps between the terraces. Overall, these things form a cultural landscape of considerable scientific interest and beauty. Especially is this so in a Palestinian context where extents of such quality landscape have become quite rare under the pressures of modern development.

On June 20, 2014, EcoPeace Friends of earth Middle East celebrated successful efforts to promote Battir’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and maintains an ongoing campaign including a formal appeal to the Israeli High Court to prevent planned construction of the Israeli Separation Barrier through the heart of Battir’s terraced landscapes, which would irreversibly destroy a canal irrigation system that has been sustained since the Roman times.

In 2013, EcoPeace Friends of earth Middle East filled a request and the Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir have been enlisted in the 2014 World Monument Watch, because of the threats that menace the site. In 2011, Battir has been awarded the first prize ex-aequo of the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes. EcoPeace-  EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East also arranged different activities defending ancient terraced landscape of Battir and the Roman water System against any separation barrier  in the area including:

  1. Experts meeting
  2. Site Visits
  3. Diplomats visits
  4. Local, regional and international media

BACKGROUND

  1. The Cultural Landscape of Battir – Draft Opinion of Conservation Expert Dr. Mike Turner
  2.  Translations of the important sections of FoEME’s Petition to the Israeli High Court
  3. Video version of this event Celebrating the Terraced Landscape in Battir

EcoPeace Press Releases

  1. January 4,2015   ISRAELI HIGH COURT DENIES REQUEST OF ISRAELI MILITARY TO APPROVE SEPARATION BARRIER IN BATTIR   
  1. September 21, 2014 The Israeli Government Decided Not to Decide: Netanyahu postponed the Cabinet’s vote whether to build the Security Barrier in Battir, a World Heritage site
  1. October 20, 2013 – Battir’s Ancient Irrigated Landscape Declared an Endangered Cultural Site on the World Monument Fund’s 2014 ‘Watch List’
  1. May 2, 2013 – Israeli High Court of Justice Orders Israeli Military to Halt Building of Separation Wall in Battir
  1. December 13, 2012 – High Court Accepts the Petition of FoEME Against the Separation Barrier in Battir
  1. December 11, 2012 – Israel Nature & Parks Authority in Response to FoEME Petition Against the Separation Barrier in Battir
  1. December 6, 2012 – Route of Separation Barrier Threatens to Destroy Shared Palestinian / Israeli Cultural Landscape Site

Other Major Achievements: Hebron – Baqa – Tulkarem and Gaza

EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East has made major advancements despite entrenched geo-political conflict. Take Hebron, one of the most politically charged and environmentally damaged cases in Palestine. The importing of sulfuric acid, which can be used to treat waste produced by tanneries, was banned in Palestinian territories by the Israeli government until recently due to its dual use potential. In April, through the work of EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East partnership with prominent journalist Thomas Friedman and USAID, the Israel Defense Forces agreed to discuss this ban.

Despite advancements on permission for the use of sulfuric acid, large challenges loom in Hebron and across Palestine, as EcoPeace Friends of earth Middle East remains dedicated to prolonged engagement. In Hebron’s industrial zone untreated waste from tanneries, and from the ceramic and stone-cutting industries are released into the Hebron Stream that flows through Be’erSheva, Israel, and runs through Gaza before polluting the Mediterranean Sea. While the municipality of Hebron is responsible for establishing environmental regulations, the industrial area is designated H2, giving the Israeli Civil Administration sole enforcement power. Effectively, this leaves mass pollution unregulated. Israel has built and expanded the Shoket Waste Water Treatment Plant using taxes from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the Green Line in attempts to treat this pollution through “end-of-the-pipe” solutions. However, this facility constantly breaks down and cannot handle the industrial quantities of sewage. Recently, $45 million was pledged by the World Bank, European Union and French Development Agency for a new facility in the West Bank. The project remains incomplete as Palestinians effectively pay twice for adequate waste treatment.  Water resources like the Hebron Stream are the lifeblood of local communities on both sides of the border, and can be shared peacefully, but often fall victim to national political barriers – though water knows no borders.

BAt6 Bat5

While watershed breakthroughs have been possible through the work of EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East and other organizations in the region, the case in Baka al-Sharqiya and Baka al-Gharbiya is not an exception. Many fully planned and funded projects sit idle due to gridlock as sewage continues to flow. For example, the Hebron and Bethlehem Governates are home to over 800,000 Palestinians, who produce about 500 tons of waste daily. Currently, this waste is disposed of in 18 unregulated and unsanitary dumpsites, seeping into groundwater and causing health hazards for local residents. This problem persists despite a secured investment totalling over $27.5 million from groups like the World Bank, European Union and USAID designated to build a secure, sanitary landfill, transfer stations, and access roads at al-Minya. In fact, in October 2013, construction of the site was completed, is and now in operation. Located in Area C, under Israeli jurisdiction, the Israeli Civil Administration has made licensing and operation of the site contingent on an agreement to accept the waste from surrounding Israeli settlements, a condition that the Palestinian Authority, along with both the Joint Services Council and the World Bank refuse to condone.

Likewise, Israel’s military occupation of Palestine has allowed institutions to sidestep national and international regulations to pollute precious resources. Situated on the western edge of Tulkarem, Palestine, along the Green Line, there was once a strip of green space. In the 1980’s Israeli pesticide factory Gishuri relocated to this space, without a permit, to avoid Israeli’s more stringent environmental regulations. Instead of closing the polluting plant, in 1994 the Israeli Civil Administration began considering plans to turn the area into a formal industrial zone, as six more Israeli factories began producing in the region. Despite complaints from both Israeli and Palestinian residents in nearby areas, these factories continue to pollute the air and water with burning plastic and untreated industrial sewage without any approved statutory plan. Recently, EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East has begun to bring media and government attention to these cases, involving neighboring Israeli mayors to advance these complaints within their government.

Untitled

Beyond the military occupation of the West Bank, much has been written about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But residents are reaching a perilous scarcity of a most basic resource: water. The coastal aquifer, currently the only water supply for Gaza’s 1.5 million people is near collapse. Groundwater is extracted at near triple the recharge rates. The remaining water is polluted by nitrates from untreated sewage and fertilizers from agricultural land, while water from the Mediterranean Sea infiltrates the aquifer raising its salinity to unsafe levels. Now, over 90% is unsafe for drinking without treatment. As early as the Oslo II Accords in 1995 Israel agreed to sell 5 MCM annually to the Gaza Strip and constructed a pipeline to Gaza for this purpose, but disagreements between Israeli authorities and the Palestinian authorities have prevented even a drop of water from flowing let alone even a proposal for a Palestinian water carrier that could connect and supply both the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, a fully completed Waste Water Treatment Plant that would serve over 400,000 residents in Northern Gaza was funded by the World Bank and has been fully completed since November 2013. However, it has sat idle since upgrades for additional supply were not completed and disagreements have prevented the necessary 3 MW of electricity from reaching the plant, as inches away, pollution runs untreated into the coastal aquifer and Mediterranean coast. EcoPeace Friends of Earth Middle East continues to monitor and seek solutions to this humanitarian and water crisis.

Through continued local stream rehabilitation projects and the successful creation of eco-centers in Auja and along the banks of the Jordan River, implementation of waste water sanitation solutions in communities like Fasayel and the villages of West Bethlehem, and fostering cooperation across borders like the Jordanian-Israeli model farm, the Good Water Neighbors program continues to protect water that knows no boundaries and good neighbors that are willing to build relationships across them.

bat1

One of our Israeli Alumni Water Trustees wrote about her experience as an active youth in the GWN Water Trustees program. She has participated in a few cross border youth events and in an alumni Guides training. She was selected to participate as an assistant in one of our upcoming cross border youth events.

20140913_090148

*נכתב על ידי עדי פלדמן, מקיבוץ עין יזרעאל, בוגרת תכנית הכשרת נאמני המים של פרויקט מים ושכנות טובה, לפיתוח מנהיגות סביבתית חוצה גבולות.

בתחילת כיתה ט’ הגיעה לבית הספר שלי רכזת מטעם ארגון אקופיס המזרח התיכון והציגה לנו  את פרויקט המים ושכנות טובה. היא סיפרה על בעיות המים המשותפות  לנועדי פלדמן ולמדינות השכנות בעלות גבול משותף אתנו.  היא המשיכה את דבריה  וסיפרה  לנו שבמהלך שנת הפעילות נעסוק  בנושאים כגון חשיבה יצירתית לפתרונות חיסכון במים ושימוש חוזר. לדוגמה: אם אני שוטפת ידיים המים הולכים ישר לביוב אך אני יכולה לעשות בהם שימוש חוזר ושהם יזרמו לניאגרה,  כך שבעצם כשאני מורידה את המים בשירותים אני משתמשת במים ששטפתי איתם את הידיים. כיוון שבעיית המים היא חוצה גבולות, הרכזת סיפרה לנו על מפגשים  חוצי גבולות  שנקיים עם בני נוער ערביים מחוץ לגבולות ישראל וגם בני נוער ערביי- ישראל. זאת במטרה להכיר ללמוד את מציאות המים המשותפת לנו ולהם ולקדם פתרונות יחד.

מאוד התרשמתי מהנושאים שהפרויקט עוסק בהם ובמיוחד עניין וסיקרן אותי לפגוש ילדים ערבים. אני מאוד פתוחה ואוהבת להכיר תרבויות אחרות וחשבתי שזו תהיה הזדמנות טובה , מכאן החלטתי לנסות ואינני מתאכזבת מהחלטה זו.

במשך שנת הלימודים נפגשנו לפעילויות פעם בשבוע. בהן למדנו על בעיות המים האזוריות ותכננו פרויקט לבנות ולהציג בבית הספר. יצאנו לסיורים לראות  מפגעי טבע ובין היתר ביקרנו בבריכות מי הגבינה של תנובה ובסיום הסיור בעזרת תוכנת ג’י-איי-אס מיפינו  את מפגעי הטבע על מנת שעוד אנשים  ידעו שיש  מפגעים. בנוסף, התכוננו למפגש חוצה גבולות עם ירדנים ופלסטינים, ודיברנו על הסטיגמות ועל הפחדים שיכולים להיות לנו בגלל מה ששומעים מהעולם. במסגרת הפעילות של הארגון יצאתי למספר מפגשי נוער חוצי גבולות.

בחופשת הקיץ השתתפתי במפגש נוער חוצה גבולות שהתקיים בבי”ס שדה אלון תבור למשך שלושה ימים. ולמדנו יחד איך אפשר להעביר מסר הנוגע למים ולהעלותו למודעות הציבור בדרכים יצירתיות. המפגש תוכנן להביא יחד בני נוער פלסטינים, ירדנים וישראלים, אולם לצערנו הירדנים לא הגיעו בגלל שביתה במשרד החוץ שמנעה מהם לקבל ויזות בזמן. זה היה מאוד  מאכזב. במהלך המפגש יכולנו לבחור בין מספר סדנאות המיועדות ללמידה ותרגול העברת מסר , ובסיום כל קבוצה הציגה את המסר שלה מול קהל. היו סדנת תקשורת (במחשב), דרמה, יצירה ובנייה אקולוגית. אני השתתפתי בסדנת בנייה אקולוגית שבה בנינו  מתקנים לחיסכון במים, טיהור וניקוי  מים, ושימוש חוזר בעזרת חומרים ממוחזרים.  אחד הדברים שבניתי היה מתקן קטן לטיהור מים בעזרת בקבוקים, אבנים, חצץ ופחם. במסגרת תוכלו לראות הסבר למתקן הטיהור. ובסיום הצגנו מול הקהל אודות השפעת האדם על הטבע ועל הצורך לשתף פעולה ולנקות יחד כדי לנקות את המים.

 20140912_181510

———

מסגרת: בניית מתקן לטיהור מים: לקחנו בקבוקי פלסטיק גדולים, חתכנו להם את התחתית  וחרצנו  חור בפקק, לאחר מכן חיברנו  את הבקבוקים לעמדו כאשר הפקק המחורץ מונח עם המתח למטה  ובבקבוק הראשון (העליון) שמנו אבנים וככל שירדנו, כך שמנו חומר קטן יותר בבקבוק  לסינון הסופי שמנו פחם ובסוף ראינו שהמים שמוזגים מלמעלה באמת יוצאים נקיים.

———–

במפגש נוסף שהשתתפתי בו הראינו לבני נוער מג’למה השכנה את מקורות המים שלנו, ואת נחל הקישון המשותף לנו ולהם. גם הכרנו להם את המושג קיבוץ ואף ביקרנו יחד בקיבוץ שיתופי עין חרוד. שמחתי להראות ולהסביר להם את החיים בקיבוץ, היות וגם אני מתגוררת  בקיבוץ שיתופי והמושג היה זר להם. היה לי מעניין לשמוע את בני הנוער הפלסטינים מג’למה  מדברים על החקלאות שההורים שלהם עושים, שהיא פשוטה וקטנה יותר בממדיה מהחקלאות שלנו.

ובחופש הגדול האחרון הצטרפתי למפגש נוער שהתקיים בקיבוץ מנרה למשך שלושה ימים, הפעם כצוות של בוגרי התכנית. כצוות קיבלנו אחריות ומשימות, תכננו פעילויות ערב לכולם, עזרנו למדריכים להעביר את הפעילויות וכן נתבקשנו לתת דוגמה אישית להתנהגות מכבדת בין המשתתפים.  בסדנאות השתתפתי בריקוד פלאש-מוב, שמיועד להעברת מסר. נהניתי מהאתגר לבנות ריקוד עם הבנות מהקבוצות האחרות וראיתי שהם ילדים מאוד מוכשרים, ולא פחות מבני הנוער אצלנו בישראל. תכנון הפעילויות כצוות הבוגרים היה מאתגר יותר, היות וכולם רצו לתרום והציעו רעיונות. לבסוף כפיתרון עשינו שילוב של כל הרעיונות ביחד. למרות המכשול, למדתי משאר המשתתפים. ובערב האחרון קיימנו ערב תרבות משותף, בו למדתי לרקוד דבקה והכרתי את המוזיקה של הירדנים והפלסטינים. היה משעשע ונראה שכולם נהנו.

לא מזמן השתתפתי בהכשרת הבוגרים של פרויקט מים ושכנות טובה שנערכה בסוף שבוע בצאלים ובה למדנו ורכשנו כלים להדרכה.  יחד איתי השתתפו  נציגים של קהילות הפרויקט מכל הארץ כולל בני נוער מבאקה אל גרביה. שאיתם התחברתי גם כן. במהלך המחנה  למדנו כיצד להוביל פעילויות ODT , ככלי לפיתוח עבודת צוות, גיבוש והגברת מודעות להתנהגות החברתית. בפעילויות אלה עסקנו בדברים שלא רואים במהלך היומיום שלנו. לאחר שקיבלנו הרבה כלים משמעותיים, כמובן שלא יכולנו לסיים את ההכשרה בלי להתנסות קצת בעצמנו, וכך יצאנו  לטיול באזור צאלים, ובקבוצות קטנות הובלנו  פעילות או הדרכה על הנקודות  במסלול. זאת הייתה חוויה מלמדת ומעצימה בשבילי.

בשנה הקרובה אני מתכוונת לקחת חלק בפעילות הארגון כבוגרת התכנית, להשתתף כצוות במפגשי קהילות חוצי גבולות בהובלת פעילויות, ליווי ועזרה למדריכים. אני מקווה מאוד שנצא 20140913_085805למפגש חוצה גבולות בירדן שתהיה לי ההזדמנות לבקר ולראות את הקהילות שם.

הפעילויות והמפגשים חוצי הגבולות  אשר השתתפתי בהם  עזרו לי להבין את המציאות המורכבת  שבה  אנו חיים.  דרך השתתפותי בפרויקט גיליתי שיש אנשים, אפילו שכנים שלי, שבכלל אין להם מים, ואנחנו אפילו לא יודעים איך הם מסתדרים במצב הזה. יש ימים שהם לא יוכלו להתקלח כי אין להם מים זורמים ונגמרו כל המים במיכל האגירה  המצוי על גג ביתם.  בפרויקט הזה הכרתי אנשים עם תרבויות שונות ולמדתי על אורח החיים שלהם. יותר מכל למדתי מה אני יכולה לעשות בשביל עצמי ולסביבה שלי, ושלא יהיו מים מזוהמים, וכמובן גם לכל האנשים שצריכים להשתמש באותם המים. למדתי שצריך לשתף פעולה עם השכנים החולקים איתנו את המשאבים כדי לפתור את הבעיות הסביבתיות המשותפות. ושצריך לקחת אחריות על הסביבה שלך. אני חושבת שכולם צריכים לזכור שלא משנה מה אתה עושה בטבע זה גם יחזור ויפגע בך וגם יפגע באנשים שבחיים לא פגשת ואלי לא תפגוש מתישהו.

עדי פלדמןimage

 

 

Posted by: friendsoftheearthmiddleeast | January 6, 2015

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

d1EcoPeace Middle East would like to wish our supporters a happy and healthy New Year 2015. While this past year saw continued tragedy in the region, EcoPeace marked 2014, our 20th anniversary year, as a year of success. On the critical issues of concern to the organization, water justice, water for nature and environmental peace building, real progress was made. From a conference in January, entitled “Cross Border Environmental Issues and Water Resources in the Context of the Peace Process“, featuring Ms. Tzipi Livni and renowned NY Times journalist Thomas Friedman (who later published this OpEd), UNESCO’s declaration of Battir as a World Heritage Site in June, and our efforts in establishing a regional master plan for Rehabilitating the Jordan River at our “International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley” in November. Thomas Friedman helped close the year for us by describing EcoPeace as the model for peacebuilding in our region.

 

We are hoping for 2015 to be a game changer for the Arab-Israeli Conflict. In fact, the year has already opened with an Israeli High Court decision in our favor to freeze the building of the separation barrier at Battir, rewarding many years of hard work for our cross-border efforts. See articles in Haaretz, AFP and more…  In 2015 we remain determined to double our efforts once again to advance our vision of sustainable peace. We remain grateful for your support that enabled and empowered us to achieve the success gained.

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

“Green Economy Initiatives”d2

EcoPeace’s “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project held 2 cross border tours last month, bringing together a group of 30 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian ‘Adventure’ Tour Operators and Guides. The group spent 3 days in Israel and Palestine, and another 3 days in Jordan, visiting ‘adventure’ tourist sites and meeting additional supporting vendors in this sector of tourism. Click here for a set of photos from the 2 tours.

Such tours aim at promoting cross-border, green, tourism initiatives, and creating new economic opportunities based on common interests. The tours, in addition, aim at raising awareness about shared environmental resources in the region. Already, new cross border tourism itineraries – bicycling, hiking, rappelling, horseback riding, to name a few – are being developed! Stay tuned!

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

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

“Good Water Neighbors” Youth campd3

A cross border youth activity was held last month with youth from the Dead Sea watershed: youth “Water Trustees” from the Jordanian villages of Shouth Ghor, Ghor Mazraa and Fifa visited Israeli youth from Ein Gedi. They learned about the local environment, visited an Agricultural Research & Development Center, learned about the Model Farm project and participated in workshops in the Ein Gedi EcoPark. They were very inspired, especially by the agricultural center and the Model Farm Project, asking for ways to be involved, and taking home many memorable experiences.

 

Israeli Environmental Science Teachers enjoyed a sunny winter’s day tour of the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea & the EcoPark in Ein Gedi. d4

The first stop on this day was a visit to the Palestinian Baptism site at Kaser-el -Yahud, where many teachers learned for the first time about the sorry state of the Lower Jordan River. They continued to the shores of the Dead Sea, to see sink holes and to hear about EcoPeace’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the Sea’s rapid shrinking. The teachers then visited the EcoPark in Ein Gedi and learned about solar cooking, wise water irrigation systems, dry toilets, and even experienced some mud building. Relevant activities from the Good Water Neighbor’s Resource Guide were presented throughout the tour, giving teachers methodological tools to take cross border issues back into their classrooms.

Alumni training in Ein Gedid6

EcoPeace held a national alumni training in Ein Gedi EcoPark in the end of December.  The training aimed to provide our alumni with technical, social and guiding skills so that they can lead cross border activities and eco-facility workshops. They practiced leading social activities, how to plan a lesson and a guiding session, how to give and receive feedback as a tool for personal development and improvement, and also went on the local Neighbors Path tour to learn about the challenges facing the Dead Sea. They also participated in workshops such as how to build a solar cooker, a geodesic dome, and more. The final session had each group presenting what they learned from each of their workshops, including the rationale for eco facilities, their benefits, and instructions on how to Do It Yourself!

Battir named IIPT / Skal ‘Village of Peace’

d7

EcoPeace is proud to report that the Village of Battir, recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, will be declared an IIPT/ Skål Village of Peace.

IIPT (the International Institute of Peace through Tourism) is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, poverty reduction, and the resolution of conflict – and through these initiatives, help bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world.  IIPT is dedicated to mobilizing travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, as the world’s first “Global Peace Industry,” an industry that promotes and supports the belief that “Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.” Read more in this article.

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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

Jordan River Toursd8

EcoPeace was pleased to offer a full day study tour for professors and researchers attending the d13Ben-Gurion University conference “Borders at the Interface: Bordering Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”  The participants visited numerous sites along the Lower Jordan River getting an in-depth look inside issues of transboundary conflict, hydro-politics and EcoPeace’s approach to fostering interdependence and regional management as a conflict resolution strategy in bordering communities in Palestine, Jordan and Israel.
Additional tours this past month were offered to a group of educators from Jericho, as well as a group from the Faculty of the American University in Jenin.

d10EcoPeace continues its strong partnership with The Telos Group, an organization aiming to strengthen in-depth understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among American evangelical communities.  EcoPeace regularly leads Jordan River study tours for the visiting delegations of Christian leadership to the region drawing from EcoPeace’s Water, Ecology and the Jordan River toolkit series. This toolkit series provides a comprehensive set of resources in English, Arabic and Hebrew for Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to design services and educational programs on the Jordan River as well as suggestions for how faith community can support regional efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River.  For more information and to get your faith based community involved in this effort visit

www.savethejordan.com.

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

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

“Protecting Ground Water” project – Final Publicationd12

We are delighted to present the Final Publication of EcoPeace’s “Protecting Ground Water” Project; a project aimed to promote sustainable
management of water resources and alleviate pollution of groundwater in the Mediterranean Basin. It concentrated on four geographic regions: Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Malaga, Spain. A total of 30 municipalities from these four regions were selected to participate and while each of the four regions has its own specific environmental challenges related to groundwater pollution and sustainable management, there were also a number of shared challenges as well.  This publication summarizes the methodologies used, and recounts the activities, both national and regional, undertaken during the project.

The “Protecting Ground Water” project is supported by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Program.

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

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,495 other followers