EcoPeace Ranked in the Top 200 NGOs in the World

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

 

EcoPeace Wins Energy Globe Award for Palestine

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

 

Basin Leaders Come Together at Cross-Border Branding Meetings

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

 

Youth Water Trustees Explore Neighbors’ Paths

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Rabbi Forman Memorial Day Activity at the Jordan River

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

 

Jordan River Peace Park Development Advances

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

 

 

New Cabins Added at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark

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

 

Virgin Helping Promote the Dead Sea Swim Challenge

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

 

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

 


 

EcoPeace Sparks Interest at Annual Conference of Ecology and Environmental Sciences

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

 

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 9, 2016

Water Has No Borders

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

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

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

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

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


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

Jordan River Faith-Based Regional Tour Guides Training
EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation team led a 3-day “Regional Jordan River Tour Guide Mira guiding3 at Tour Guides TrainingTraining” for 20 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian tour guides this past month.  This is the 2nd such training held by EcoPeace; the 1st one was in February on the East side of the River (Jordan); this one was on the Western side (Israel / Palestine).
We had a full 3-day schedule, visiting religious, historical and cultural sites along the river to understand the shared value of this iconic river for the three Abrahamic traditions and learn JR tour guide taining groupabout the sacred religious sites associated with it. EcoPeace staff also explained the impacts that human actions have had on the shared water resources of the region, and how people – even visitors and tourists – can participate in the efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River.  Click here for a set of photos from the training.

New Publication “Come Together at the River”
“Come Together at the River” was distributed at the training mentioned above, and Come_Together_at_the_River_JR_Tour_Guides_Guideprovides tour guides with take-home useful information so that they can educate tourists in the region to better understand and appreciate the majesty of the River and its surrounding areas… but also the challenges faced. It specifically covers sites of religious interest – Christian, Muslim and Jewish – in an effort to teach about the importance of the river to all the faiths that care deeply about the river.  It also explains the impacts that human actions have had on the shared water resources of the region, and how, in sharing the stories of the Jordan River Valley, ancient and modern, tour guides are able to inspire others to care for its protection.

EcoPeace’s agenda getting popular with Tour Agencies

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This month, EcoPeace was asked to give several talks / tours to visiting groups in the region, ranging from University students from the U.S. who are here on leadership programs and to learn about the geopolitical challenges in the region; to a German academic delegation; to visiting faith leaders, and more.
Mira guiding group at Dead SeaThis type of outreach is important not only for raising awareness as to the complexities of the region’s water situation – but also to highlight the interdependencies that can be capitalized upon in order to reach sustainable solutions and foster regional stability.

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


Cross Border Youth Activities

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On May 30th, Israeli and Palestinian youth who live around the Alexander / Zomer watershed participated in an afternoon outdoors to experience their local and diverse array of flora, fauna, and marine life as well as learn about the environmental threats to the basin and discuss the shared responsibility to protect common resources. Students toureGWN youth2d Israel Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center where they learned about the turtle’s habitat, they then took their own chemical tests for water quality, and discussed how their communities impact one another. At the end of the day, the students made posters showing their joint support for a cleaner watershed which will be presented to the Head of the Regional Council in June.

Additionally, the two municipalities of Baka Al Gharbia and Baka Al Sharkia had two busy Baka Bakadays on May 30th and 31st. Youth from Baka Al Sharkia attended a cross border event in Baka Al Gharbia and took part in clean-up activities, planting vegetation and learning more about local environmental issues. On the 31st, our local Community Coordinator organized an environmental conference for the local area with mayors, school principals and teachers in attendance.

New Cultural Landscape Forum holds Cross Border Meeting in Battir
The cultural landscape of the Jerusalem-Bethlehem Region, portrayed by dozens of mountain sprSorek forum picings and kilometers of dry stone terraces, has been a prominent part of EcoPeace’s activities in recent years. A cross-border meeting in Battir was the highlight for Israeli activists and decision makers as they met Palestinian counterparts to discuss their shared landscape. The Sorek basin participants represented a recently established group which follows the model of the Springs Forum of Mate Yehuda and is jointly administered by EcoPeace, the Bioregional Forum and SPNI, as a “Forum for the Cultural Landscape.” The framework aims to:  empower cooperation between local initiatives and activists; facilitate professional support; create consistent strategies and categorization; initiate landscape surveys and mapping; ensure teamwork among stakeholders, and work towards crossborder collaboration and sustainability.

Watershed Identity Branding Forums
EcoPeace has been working hard on continuing to develop the different watershed branding campaigns. This past month representatives from 2 watersheds, Sorek Dead Sea branding/ Sarar and Dead Sea / Al-Karak, met to discuss their ‘branding & identity’ ideas for each of their respective watersheds. Many came from the tourism field as well as local municipalities. These forums aim to develop a vision and brand for what a shared watershed will look like and are early stages in a series of meetings, with the goal of presenting the plans at a regional conference in November.

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


Dead Sea Challenge
Dead Sea challengeEcoPeace Directors Gidon Bromberg and Munqeth Mehyar met with Kimberley Chambers to discuss the upcoming event; “Dead Sea Swim Challenge”.  Both Ms. Chambers and the Jordanian Director will be participating in the event this November. This international swim event will include crossing the sea by a group of Jordanian, Palestinian, Israeli and international swimmers. In order to do so, swimmers must wear a special mask protecting their faces from the unparalleled salt content of the sea. The aim of the event is to raise awareness of the Dead Sea’s demise and encourage decision makers to take corrective actions that deal with the root causes of the problem.

Director’s Present EcoPeace in California

NIF
On a trip to California at the beginning of the month, Directors Munqeth Mehyar and Gidon Bromberg were invited by the Harvey J. Fields Institute to speak at a lecture series in Los Angeles. Their lecture series titled “Water and Bay areathe Middle East: Perils, Politics and Possibilities” explored issues related to access and allocation of water resources, challenges facing the Jordan River and Dead Sea and the possibilities to move forward first on water and environmental issues in the peace process.

In the Bay Area the EcoPeace Directors spoke at several locations, including the home of Varda Rabin, the Caldera foundation and the ‘Kitchen’ synagogue. The imperative to reach a final agreement on water issues was at the center of discussions.


Read our Huffington Post Op Ed and Watch our new Video

Ahead of the June 3rd Paris meeting on Israeli Palestinian peace – EcoPeace needs your help to remind our governments and the international community that water issues are not only the most solvable but can no longer wait.

Huffpost


From Our Friends at Neve Shalom – Waha al-Salam Village
This fall, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the Jewish-Arab community of Neve Shalom-Waha al-Salam will be hosting a Master’s Program in Conflict Resolution.  The program will be taught by UMass-Boston faculty in collaboration with Israeli and Palestinian experts.  To find out more, go to this page to fill out a contact form.


DON’T FORGET!
Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

Amazon

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


Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 7, 2016

Shared Environments, Shared Concerns

In the 1800s, a man named Iskandar Abu Zabura used the river next to his watermelon patch to transfer his fruit to the sea. His namesake port would export four million melons to other Mediterranean countries each year. Though the Iskandar (Alexander) River and the port still exist today, the legacy of Abu Zabura is slowly dying.

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EcoPeace conducted a youth cross-border event for the Alexander River, which begins in Palestine, fed by Wadi Zomer and Wadi Tin. The river flows from the West Bank through Israel and into the Mediterranean. It hosts a variety of flora, fauna, and aquatic life, preserving vulnerable and endangered species such as African Softshell Turtles. Currently, it is also subject to all sorts of pollution: industrial waste, toxic chemicals, quarries, and olive production waste. Though many would like to save the region, there are complicating factors that slow progress. The ongoing conflict diverts the attention of decision makers and makes cross-border initiatives more difficult to enact. “We don’t get into politics but politics gets into our work” a Palestinian EcoPeace member explained.

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EcoPeace runs the Good Water Neighbors Project in order to raise awareness and pressure regional councils to preserve this delicate ecosystem. At the end of May, an event brought together youth from the upstream community of Tulkarem with the downstream neighbors of Emek Hefer. These high-school students spent the day learning about the region, their shared responsibility, and mutual concerns. It was an exciting event for one Palestinian who said he has seen the sea three times before and was looking forward to getting his feet wet.

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At the beginning, when I asked an Israeli and a Palestinian where the pollution in the river comes from, they were each quick to accuse the other side. One girl told me that the wadis by her home are “stinky” and that they “own the smell but not the factories”. After a session by the ocean and a briefing by the Palestinian and Israeli Wadi Zomar and Wadi Alexander Coordinators , the students began to see things differently. “The ocean gives and the ocean takes; you get what you give” the same student reflected. After meditating by the sea, students expressed feelings of peace, blessings, and freedom.

 

The event offered the youth first-hand experiences including a visit to the Israel Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The guide gave a tour of the facilities and explained about different species including various turtles, sea horses, and a variety of corals. 5EcoPeace’s hydrologist helped students run tests on the stream water using Nitrogen strips and pH paper. After a discussion of their common interests in the wadi’s environment, students were asked to make posters. One group demonstrated how water binds the communities while the other depicted Abu Zabura over time, dismayed at the current state of his river. EcoPeace will bring the student’s work to a meeting with the head of the Regional Council in an attempt to apply pressure for policy change. They hope that the youth’s message of coordinated action will inspire decision makers to pursue more environmentally sound practices. The message of the event was clear: the politicians can fight over polluted resources or cooperate to enjoy clean ones.


 

Amanda Lynk is an intern in the Tel Aviv office while she studies for her MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.

 

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | May 30, 2016

EcoPeace’s Second Regional Alumni Seminar

The second annual EcoPeace Middle East Regional Alumni Seminar took place over three days in early April, bringing together young leaders that had formerly been recruited to participate in EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project. These youths have grown into water trustees for their regions, learning to contribute essential leadership to their communities. Those with long-standing relations with the organization requested an additional seminar to hone their skills and discover new ways to remain involved. EcoPeace excitedly responded by crafting a program aligned with the Good Water Neighbors core mission of environmental peacebuilding through training youth to take an active role in leading their community and fostering a stronger connection with the region through coexistence and cooperation.

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In a region devoid of a lasting peace, this was an incredible opportunity for youth from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan to focus on the environmental concerns that unite them. While some met in previous programs, the seminar presented the opportunity to make new friends and see other perspectives. As alumni participants, each was required to demonstrate leadership, initiative, and involvement. Directors actively sought active, effective, devoted, and self-motivated participants in hopes of educating and shaping the environmental leaders of the future. One project organizer said the acceptance and understanding of mutual interests were the most important outcomes of the camp. This was clearly accomplished; the feedback from the participants highlighted their enjoyment of other alumni. Participants from each region were testament to the effectiveness of the seminar. An Israeli reflected, “I had an amazing experience, and I enjoy being with people I met there the most.” A Jordanian concurred, “I enjoyed the interactions with others and sharing our knowledge together.” A Palestinian agreed, “It was a great meeting, I got valuable knowledge to improve my potential to be an environmental leader in my community.”

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EcoPeace used this seminar as an opportunity to pursue product branding around sustainability. Leaders sourced from their own local communities were presented with further information sessions that would lead to discussion and opportunities to produce original work. They highlighted the region’s communal challenges in order to motivate cooperation to identify collective strengths. After the program presenters gave examples of this cross-border basin such as the Medjool Dates, Hebron Grapes, as well as categories such as art, history, and nature, participants reflected on such issues and created their own content:

 

  • The first group made a film where participants acted as if there was no room at the Dead Sea hotels so they built their own using recycled and sustainable materials. They created the tagline, “Let’s make salty sweet!”
  • The second group made a music video using the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” with their own lyrics, singing “We Can Change It” in various languages. Example: Don’t give up, we will clean the environment, plant and recycle. We will, we will change it! change it!
  • The art group harnessed the local traditions to brand cosmetics such as kohl and henna by using these mediums to paint on an existing advertisement and making it reflect the region’s heritage.
  • A group wrote a mock newspaper article explaining importance of revitalizing the Jordan River in order to preserve and restore the Dead Sea.
  • Finally, using their knowledge of the Madaba map, students gave a speech about taking “A Tour to the Center of the World”, harking back to the ancient portrayal of the region’s focal point.

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The presentations resonated with the alumni, one of which said, “I now know that we somehow share the same environment and any pollution in any of the regions will affect the other regions so we have to cooperate in keeping it from pollution also we have to share our environmental resources so that each environment can benefit from it and we have to spread these facts among our communities.” An Israeli participant added, “I learned that the three cultures are very similar to each other, but yet very different. I learned that we all together can see eye to eye yet there are things that are blocking our view.”

 

Although the significance of the content created might go unnoticed in any other setting, the positive value of these products should not be overlooked considering the conflict rife region in which these seminars are conducted. Testament to this, the Israeli community coordinator at the event said that seeing Arabs and Israelis singing peace songs together reflected the atmosphere of mutual cooperation, creativity, and building trust. She reflected that it was a “very profound experience.”

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The participants ambition will undoubtedly have a lasting impact compounded by the influence of the seminar. One Israeli participant expressed her interest in creating awareness. Another wrote, “I went back home with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to continue doing good things for my environment and to keep trying to raise awareness among the all the people around me about maintaining a clean environment as much as possible and try to save water.” Another who already created a group at her school hopes to apply her new experiences there. A Jordanian participant feels a sense of responsibility, “the value to sustain our various environmental resources no matter what and how we share despite our different cultures [is] the duty of saving our shared environment.”

 

The seminar utilized young minds to brainstorm new ways of branding sustainability while simultaneously educating the youth, teaching leadership skills, and promoting co-existence. EcoPeace looks forward to working with these young leaders in their future initiatives.


Amanda Lynk is an intern at the Tel Aviv office of EcoPeace Middle East while she studies for her MA in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.

To celebrate Earth Day, Good Water Neighbor trustees and alumni from the Kishon Basin came together at the Kishon Park in Haifa on April 25th to bring awareness to the pollution of its very waters and, organized by “Green Course” and other environmental NGO’s. EcoPeace’s mission was to bring awareness to the upper part of the river, an area that ultimately goes unnoticed and unattended to.

The Kishon is known by many for its industrial pollution downstream so it is worth noting the significance of having access to a green park near both the Haifa port and Marina. The bustling stream of residents constantly funneling onto the banks for their family BBQs to celebrate the holiday off gave a more bona fide purpose and feeling to the experience of Earth Day and our mission.

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The residents of this area suffer from contaminated groundwater that is damaging the ecosystem and creating a noxious odor.  These issues are spurred by low quality treated wastewater, untreated sewage, and agricultural runoff that ultimately flow downstream invariably affecting residents of both Israeli and Palestinian communities that share water from this same basin within the mountain aquifer.

 

Alona Rosenfeld, community coordinator of the Kishon Basin, stood as our chief advocate that day to engage with the community. As a fairly new intern to Ecopeace, I wanted to take advantage of being able to speak to someone who actually serves as boots on the ground in these communities. After a day of real conversation with the residents of a community whose health and environmental safety is at the whim of industry actions, she offered me an insightful reflection about both the work being done to raise awareness for the rehabilitation of the upper part of the river and her experience with the youth of our communities.

 

What is the importance of the geographical focus on the upstream part of the Kishon? How underexposed do you think the issues surrounding this part are?

 

The common people don’t know where the Kishon starts; they just know where it ends. They are not aware that it starts in Jenin and think it’s [origin is] in Israel. They think that the border between Israel and the West Bank, which is near Ram-On – a small village in Gilboa Regional Council – is very remote and far away but in actuality it’s really very close. The people who live there know it starts there, but the people in Haifa aren’t aware. We have to raise the awareness of where the river’s origins lie, emphasizing the closeness of its communities in Israel to the communities at its origins in the Palestinian Authority.

 

What are the most significant threats to the future vitality of the Upper Kishon River?

 

Sewage. This morning I got news of approval to build a power station that will supply electricity to operate the Jenin wastewater treatment plant. This would help to mitigate a huge amount of the problems of pollution because sewage currently spills from Jenin into the Kishon and we are left in communities downstream to treat the contaminated water. There is an additional wastewater treatment plant in Ram-On, which is new but non-operable. When that comes online as well then there exists quite a solution to the problem of dumped wastewater into the Kishon [with its consequential] hazards. Although because dumping is on the decline, the sanitation of the Kishon water is being hugely improved. It has been more than a year since the Kishon drainage authority [began] cleaning the downstream section and it should be another six to eight months before they finish.”

 

 

What do you hope to get across to the public by participating in these community events that engage with the community and their youth?

 

First, when we deal with youth we want to communicate to them how close we are to our neighbors and how dependent each side is on the other. Currently, Palestinians are dependent on the electricity that we sell them [for their waste water treatment plant] and we, in turn, are dependent on the water [treated from their plant that flows downstream]. Each side has a mutual interest. What I hope people come to understand is that we can negotiate around this and that we have not only a self-interest but a mutual one to preserve the water resources that we have; it is not solely ours nor is it solely theirs. It is a mutual resource that everyone from every side has an interest in.

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Second, youth tend to think about the other side as their enemies. And I always tell them that they are actually very similar to the youth from the other side with many of the same interests. I want them to see the other side as real people rather than as enemies. When they meet one another they witness it with their own eyes and see that these youth are not very much different from them. They start talking to one another and start working with one another. And for me, it is always very exhilarating to see how good of an impact it makes to meet people and to have eye contact and to get something that neither the politicians nor the pictures in the media can give them. I want them to really understand that it’s good for everyone to live in peace and to not see each other as the media tries to portray each of them to one another. Once they meet and come into contact they can learn things that they wouldn’t have known without meeting face to face. And the environment gives that opportunity to do just that.

 

How do you feel about having alumni of your Good Water Neighbors program come to these community events to now talk to the public themselves as ambassadors?

 

It’s wonderful. It’s a great opportunity to get them to talk to the community. When you hear the youth speak you tend to believe them. They speak from their hearts and experience. And it’s very vivid. If they had a good experience then they’ll be enthusiastic and appreciative about it. So I prefer that they speak. Today they did great. They weren’t shy. They were very friendly to the public, to both the adults and children. They had no inhibitions. Some of them are very self-confident and can really do a great job being Ecopeace ambassadors. I think they can express themselves very well.

However, usually the youth who join with the activity are the best youth; the elite of the youth. But I want to reach not only them (the cream of the crop). I personally would like to get to the youth who don’t have the opportunities because of education and socioeconomic status who usually come from homes who – as a major generalization – tend towards the right win and wouldn’t want to live near them [Arabs]. This is a great challenge. Not to come to people who are already peace oriented. But to come to people who believe less in [working or coexistence with] Arabs and Palestinians and in their ability to talk to them, not to mention peace with them. I’d like to have them meet Palestinians and Jordanian youth.

 

The type of energy that Alona exudes in her work with the community is the type that is going to push along the frequently daunting but integral process of grassroots advocacy of environmental awareness. The implications of pollution are immediate and mounting. However, the acknowledgment of mutual interest in prevention of such pollution of our shared water resource and removal of threats to public health can and has served as an opportunity for cross border pollution control and grounds for further cooperation.

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Brooke Penney is an intern at EcoPeace Tel Aviv office and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation at Tel Aviv University.

Successful Youth Camps Held in the Jordan Valley and at the Dead Sea

April heralded the completion of not one but two successful Good Water Neighbor’s (GWN) regional youth camps in the Jordan Valley Basin.

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After the success of last year’s “Streaming to the Jordan”, a community-wide environmental event held on the banks of the Jordan River, it was decided to couple this year’s event with a regional youth camp. This match was notable on two levels. First, that both Israeli and Jordanian Youth Water Trustees were exposed to the colorful spectrum of their cross border community, in an environment prime with awareness, education and fun. And secondly, it was an opportunity for residents of the Jordan Valley to see and talk with their neighbors; a too-rare occasion. For the youth camp, this was not only the main event: the days prior to the event were also filled with action, with the opening of a new walking path in Naharayim, and a memorable trip to Haifa. A sense of empowerment and cooperation filled the days with enjoyment.

 

Dead Sea campAdditionally, the Dead Sea youth camp was exciting and inspiring, when Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian Youth Water Trustees met each other and learned of the many things they have in common. Together they hiked to a well and spring and felt the importance of water in the desert. In the evening, the discussion around the bonfire was emotional with everyone speaking of the importance for saving the Dead Sea, learning about each other’s communities and how the demise of the sea influences many of their lives. At the end of the camp, participants expressed themselves through a magnificent drawing of a man with the Dead Sea representing his heart. The collaborative drawing done by the youth emphasized the need for joint cooperation in order to save the sea and reflects the dedication and hope towards finding an environmental solution.

 

Battir National Teachers’ SeminarTeachers seminar Battir

On Saturday, April 23, 40 teachers from the Ministry of Education offices in Salfit and Tulkarem met for a national teachers’ seminar to introduce the group to the Good Water Neighbors Resource Guide. The event was held in Battir for environmental educators and included a tour to the Battir Landscape Eco-Museum as a part of introducing the teachers to the cultural and environmental heritage of the area.

 

JV Branding forumWatershed Identity Branding Forums

This past month, representatives from communities in the Dead Sea, Yarkon and Jordan Valley watersheds met to discuss ‘branding & identity’ campaigns for each of their watersheds. Many came from the tourism field as well as local municipalities. These forums aim to develop a vision and brand for what a shared watershed will look like. These are early stages in a series of meetings, with the goal of presenting the plans at a regional conference in November.

Additionally on April 8-9, Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian youth alumni met at the Dead Sea Branding forumSharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark. Their meeting also focused on branding and identity, following the above-described GWN forums. The five creative groups brainstormed and came up with a variety of contributions and ideas on identity and branding. Community coordinators will now be inviting the alumni to participate in upcoming national forum meetings and encourage them to take an active role in their communities.

Model FarmBreaking Ground on the Model Farm Irrigation Pool

Work continues at the Model Farm in South Ghor, Jordan. A joint team of Israelis and Jordanians completed the construction of an irrigation pool that can be monitored remotely by computer. Next steps include preparing the land for the upcoming crop season. Once fully operational, the Model Farm will hold cross-border agriculture training programs and conduct research on relevant agriculture techniques such as crop selection, irrigation, fertilization and plant protection.

 

 

EcoPeace Middle East Celebrates Earth Day!!!

 

Luncheon Briefing on New Models of Cooperation:  Promoting Sustainability and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East RegionYana

Yana Abu Taleb, Assistant Director of the EcoPeace Middle East Amman office, participated in an event on April 19th in honor of Earth Day which discussed peace parks as a vehicle to promoting conflict resolution between neighboring countries. Yana discussed the development of the Jordan River Peace Park which combines two adjacent areas in Jordan and Israel; Al Bakoora / Naharayim and the Jeser Al Majama / Gesher site. The event was hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland.

 

Auja_kids_planting_2Auja EcoCenter Holds a Variety of Activities in Honor of Earth Day

This year the Auja EcoCenter led a number of activities related to Earth Day including local Youth Water Trustees helping to plant trees in Ka’abneh Village in the Jordan Valley. Additionally, 30 young seedlings from the Seed of Hope Kindergarten visited Auja EcoCenter to learn about the importance of the environment, water and recycling; and students from Al-Quds University also received a presentation for Earth Day and took part in a tour of the Auja Village.

 

Earth Day in Haifa

Youth Water Trustees and Alumni participated in an Earth Day event in Haifa on April 25th Haifa Earth Dayto raise awareness about pollution to the upper Kishon River Basin. The event included activities that demonstrated to local residents the importance of the water cycle and joint efforts needed to keep it clean. Participants of the event also created water cycle bracelets outs of beads as daily reminders of water’s importance. Each color represented integral steps in the process: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, ground water and run off as well as human use, pollution and recycling to introduce the human effect on the water cycle.

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

 


 

JR faith tour Jordan River faith-based Tour

This month, at the request of the Pastor of the Augusta Victoria Church in Jerusalem, EcoPeace staff led a site tour to the Jordan River to show church staff and volunteers the challenges facing the River.  In the context of our faith based program, the importance of discussing the demise of the River and bringing the reality of the Jordan River to the forefront of community discussion cannot be overstated.  Participants signed our Jordan River Covenant to express their support for rehabilitation efforts.

 

 

Sign Erected for the Future Jordan River Peace ParkJR Peace Park sign

The northern entrance to the future Jordan River Peace Park is now graced by a sign, in three languages, explaining the significance of the site. This cross-border environmental initiative represents a symbol for peace in the region, as it highlights the economic potential of the river’s rehabilitation. The park will support projects on ecotourism and cultural heritage, along with programs on environmental education and environmental management.

 

dead sea bookDead Sea and the Jordan River

A new and updated edition of the book “The Dead Sea and the Jordan River” was recently released by the well-known author and long-time friend of EcoPeace, Barbara Kreiger.

Gidon Bromberg, on the jacket cover of the book writes “The Jordan River and its terminal lake, the Dead Sea, have been on center stage of Middle East mythology, history and politics for millennia. Barbara Kreiger’s story of the modern day demise of these waters and the urgent need for their rehabilitation is a must-read for anyone that wants to understand the relevance of water issues to the continuing turmoil in the region.”

[Don’t forget to use Amazon Smile when purchase the book!]

 

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

 


 

London Salon Discussion and DinnerLondon dinner

On April 14, at the invitation of Kate Rothschild, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, and Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar, led a salon discussion on water and Middle East peace with special attention to the Gaza water crises, over dinner prepared by Ottolenghi at the home of Jemima Khan.  The 30 guests were composed of UK leaders in the world of environment, Middle East politics, government, academia and more.

 

 

Event at Wembley Central Mosque

Wembley MosqueEcoPeace Jordan Director, Munqeth Mehyar, spoke at the Wembley Central Mosque near London on April 17th following his attendance at the Skoll World Forum & Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, and a week of meetings with government officials and colleagues.  Mr. Mehyar spoke about cooperative environmental activities and the role water issues can play to advance peace in the Middle East. The event was co-sponsored by the Wembley Central Mosque, EcoPeace and the Mosaic Jewish Community.

 


 

 

From Our Friends at Neve Shalom – Waha al-Salam Village

This fall, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the Jewish-Arab community of Neve Shalom-Waha al-Salam will be hosting a Master’s Program in Conflict Resolution.  The program will be taught by UMass-Boston faculty in collaboration with Israeli and Palestinian experts.  To find out more, go to this page to fill out a contact form.

 


 

 

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Cross-border Youth Camp in Jordan

Jordanian and Israeli Students met at the Sharhabil bin HassnehSHE Youth Camp EcoPark in Jordan from March 17-19 for a cross-border youth camp. The camp highlighted better management of domestic solid waste issues.  The students also learned about their shared water resources and challenges. Alumni participated by presenting solid waste issues in their communities. All the participants went on a hike through the EcoPark to take in the breathtaking springtime views and learn more about the three R’s; Recycling, Reuse, and Reduce.

 

 

Good Water Neighbors – Clean Water Awareness Activities in Emek Hefer and Baka Al Gharbia

15 Good Water Neighbor water trustee’s and alumni from Baka Al Gharbia participated in a Baka Clean Up Daylocal cleanup day on March 2nd to help promote more awareness of the need to keep streams clean for the benefit of all. Participants spent a long daEmek Hefer Marchy picking up trash so that local visitors could continue to enjoy outdoor activities.

 

Additionally, six youth water trustee’s represented EcoPeace on March 11th in the Emek Hefer Regional Council’s Annual March. The event included a winding hike through citrus groves with different “stations” along the way. Our Water Trustee’s station taught numerous school children and residents about their local cross border stream and the joint efforts needed to keep it pollution free and clean.

 

 

Girls from East and West Jerusalem Explore the Jerusalem Hills

On March 20th, 10 Israeli and 10 Palestinian teenage girls met as part of the Good Water Neighbors project to explore the blossoming Jerusalem Hills. The group spent the day outside expEast & West Jer. Girlsloring their common cultural landscape, where nature and culture are intertwined in the mountain springs, which were the only constant source of water for the region until the early 20th century. The girls spent the day hiking among the Sataf pools, water canals and cultivated terraces while trying to imagine what it was like to live there in the past.

 

During a picnic lunch, one of the girls told stories of her past EcoPeace related trip to Japan. At the end of the day, everyone attended a soap-making workshop at Es-Sense; a local educational-productive enterprise where students from the regional high schools create products working alongside special needs’ youth from all over Jerusalem.

 

 

 

National Teacher Seminars

EcoPeace has held numerous teacher seminars over tTeacher Seminarhe past three months in Shefar’am, Taibeh and Beer Sheva to introduce teachers to the GWN Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. They learned about the geography of cross-border water basins as well as creative projects they could use to connect their own students to regional water issues.

Some of the seminars even included a tour to a basin, which highlighted environmental issues affecting local water resources and showed the educators the importance of cross-border cooperation in solving environmental problems.

 

 

Mountain Springs in Culture and Planning Event

Zeze GalleryOn March 9th, EcoPeace Coordinator, Gilat Bartana was invited to speak on a panel about mountain springs and their place in culture and planning.

The evening was held at the ZEZE Architecture Gallery in Tel Aviv and also featured two landscape architects. For more information visit the gallery’s Facebook page (in Hebrew).

 

 

 

GWN Begins Brand Strategizing

Last week, a team of stakeholders including members from the tourism industry, heads of local museums and tourist sites, hydrologists and representatives from relevant GWN Brandingmunicipalities, met in Old Gesher in the first of a series of meetings to discuss a joint branding campaign for the Jordan Valley.

The group is aiming to develop a vision and a brand for what a shared Jordanian-Israeli watershed could look like. The branding campaign will be extended to all our cross-border watersheds over the coming months and will culminate in a regional showcase conference this November.

 

Model Farm Project Signs Memorandum of Understanding

On March 8th, the newly elected Mayor of South Ghor, Jordan and his delegation, which included agriculture sector representatives, visited the Tamar Regional Council and Arava R&D Center in Israel. The visit involved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for EcoPeace’s Model FaModel Farmrm project and included the Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, of whose Ministry is helping fund the project.  Read more in the Jerusalem Post article and in this NRG article (in Hebrew).

The group also participated in a conference panel related to Regional Councils and had a tour at the location for a potential new border crossing between Israel and Jordan. The overall goal of the Model Farm project is to exchange knowledge and technology related to agriculture and water conservation, thus enabling Jordanians and Israelis to cope with shared cross border environmental challenges.

 

UN World Water Day

WWD PhotoIn working to promote the UN’s World Water Day, EcoPeace’s Israel Director wrote an Op-ed for the Times of Israel which discusses Israel being able to take a regional lead in the water sector due to its surplus – but only once water issues with the Palestinians are settled.

 

 

Busy Month at the Auja EcoPark Auja clean up day

March was a busy month for the Auja EcoPark. On March

Auja water jobs seminar

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15th, the EcoPark hosted a large group for a riverbed clean up.

For World Water Day, the EcoPark hosted an event on the 24th to celebrate, titled “Water and Jobs” in conjunction with the Palestinian Water Authority.

 

Sustainable Soil Erosion Prevention Project Begins

On March 26th, the Auja Eco-Center began planting approximately 100 trees in Al Auja Valley. This is the first action within JV Soil Erosion Projecta small-scale pilot project to sustainably prevent soil erosion along the Al Auja Conveyance Canal.

 

“We seek to establish rain water retaining structures in a strip of fragile land around a canal, supplemented by planting locally adapted trees”, the application says. Professional planning is perceived as the basis to create a blueprint for long-term soil erosion prevention in Area C.

 

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

 


 

Jordan River Tour

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Faith Based project – that aims to create a wider circle of JR Faith Based Tourstakeholders to support the rehabilitation of the River Jordan – continues to reach out to faith groups from all over the world.  This month, a group from a U.S synagogue visiting the region learned about ‘what went wrong’ with the River, ‘why it’s important’ to rehabilitate it, and were asked to sign onto EcoPeace’s “Jordan River Covenant“, a visionary document  which both highlights the degradation of the valley, and expresses our vision of a healthy, living River.

 

Jordan River Photo Exhibit in Auja

Following the 9 European cities that have showcased our JJR Photo Exhibitordan River Photography Exhibition, the photos have now returned ‘home’ and will be exhibited in several locations in the region.  The first is in our own Auja EcoCenter, with an opening ceremony held on March 8th that attracted more than 150 people, including the Governor of Jericho, representatives from the Palestinian President’s Office, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, the Negotiations Committee, and more. The ‘fuss’ generated several interviews on Palestinian radio and TV – precisely the exposure we are seeking with this exhibit!

 

Jordan River Workshop in EU Parliament

EcoPeace was pleased to be invited by the S&D Group of the European Parliament to speak  Directors in Brusselsat a public seminar entitled “Water, Environment Protection and Trust Building in the Middle East“, where we gave an overview of the work we have been doing for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.  Read here the very encouraging words by Vice President for Foreign Affairs Victor Boştinaru, and S&D MEP Julie Ward following the seminar.

 

 

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

 

 


Check out our Colleague at ALLMEP

 ALLMEP logo

Joel Braunold, Executive Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), recently gave a Ted Talk about people to people relations and the need to increase the capacity of those organizations promoting this type of work.

 

ALLMEP is a network of organizations that conduct civil society work in conflict transformation, development, coexistence and cooperative activities.  EcoPeace is a proud member of this valuable network.

 

 


 


 

To Our Friends in the London Area:

 

 

 London

 

 


 

EcoPeace is Hiring!

We are excited to announce we are hiring for a North American Development and Policy Officer to be based in the Northeast U.S. The applications deadline has been extended to April 10th. Please visit our job vacancy page for additional openings as well.


 

 

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

 

Regional Youth Camp in Jordan

On February 5th and 6th, the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project organized a regional youth campYouth Camp at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan. The participants consisted of alumni and youth from the Jordan Valley, Irbid, Kishon and Muqata watersheds. They learned about the importance of cross-border cooperation and environmental peacebuilding while hiking and enjoying the beauty of the area at this time of year. As one camper put it “The camp gave an added value to studying in class because it connected us to water and ecology, finding out about ourselves and others that broke stereotypes and prejudice, because it is the first time we are with different people from us.”

 

Cross Border Meeting of Gilboa Council and Jalameh

As part of our GWN Priority Initiative Project, representatives from the Gilboa Regional Council (Israel) met with the Mayor of Jalameh WWTP tour Kishon(Palestine) on February 3rd to discuss and promote cooperation on water and sewage capabilities. The participants visited the new wastewater treatment facility treating effluents from around the Gilboa region in Israel. This marks another step in finding solutions to sewage issues and rehabilitation efforts of the Kishon River.

 

Springs Preservation Course

On February 12th, EcoPeace and the Mate Yehuda Regional Council took part in a course on sprinSpringsg’s preservation in the hills outside of Jerusalem. 25 participants toured 3 springs in the area; they heard explanations about the life and ecology of the springs; saw how water monitoring is carried out; learned about the canals and pools system surrounding the springs, and more. The intensive work preserving the springs is inspiring, and shows how communities can come together to preserve their natural heritage.

 

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

 

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European Parliament Members Get a Glimpse of the Jordan River

Members of a European Parliament Delegation for Relations with PalesEU Delegation-1tine took part in a Jordan River tour that included the Qasr El Yehud Baptism Site and our Auja EcoCenter in Auja, Palestine on February 11th. The tour was led by our Palestinian and Israeli Directors and included information about specific projects that can be advanced from our Regional NGO Master Plan.

 

 

Auja Stream Tour

A group of EuroAuja Stream Tourpeans and North Americans gathered for an alternative tourist experience close to our Auja EcoCenter on February 14th. They spent time learning about, and better understanding, the challenges of cross-border streams. The group hiked through the Jordan Valley along the Auja stream, had a tasty picnic lunch prepared by our EcoCenter staff, discussed the water challenges in the area and EcoPeace’s efforts to improve the situation.

 

 

Continuing our “Going Global” Efforts Greece Map

EcoPeace was invited to share our environmental peacemaking experiences in yet another area of the world, the Vardar/Axios River Basin that flows between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The conference discussed sustainable water and river basin resource management in Thessaloniki, Greece on February 16th and 17th. For more information on the River Basin, you can visit this website.

 

EcoPeace’s 1st Regional Tour Guide Training on the Jordan River

Another angle to further disseminate the story and the need to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River: EcoTour Guide TrainingPeace organized a 3-day study tour in Jordan for Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian Tour Guides (who focus on religious tourism), visiting sacred sites that exemplify the importance of the River for Christians, Jews and Muslims, so that they can include it in their tour narratives. The training also included feedback on a soon-to-be-released publication, “Come Together at the River – A Tour Guide’s Guide to the Sacred Sites of the Jordan River“. Stay tuned!

 

 

Touring the North

Earlier this month, Mira Edelstein, EcoPeace’s Jordan River Project Coordinator iEvangelical Tourn Tel Aviv, spoke to a group of Evangelical leaders from the U.S.A. at the Yardenit Baptism site on the Jordan River. The discussion centered on the responsibility we all have – Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians – Jews, Christians, Muslims – to work together towards the rehabilitation of the Jordan River, for the benefit of us all.

 

 

Are you in Brussels on March 3rd? Come join us!

EcoPeace is pleased to be invited by the S&D group in the European Parliament to speak at Brussels Eventa Seminar entitled “Water, Environment Protection and Trust Building in the Middle East”, where we will give an overview of the work we have been doing for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

 

 

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

 

 

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Dead Sea SwimDead Sea Swim

EcoPeace’s Jordanian Director dived into the salty water of the Dead Sea at the beginning of the month to practice for his swim across the Dead Sea this November. The only way to participate in such a feat requires him to wear a special mask protecting his face from the salt content of the water. This picture shows the Director in the water heading towards the main group to continue swimming as one united cross border team. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the Spring and Summer as the event nears!

 

Presentation at the American International School

The Israeli Director presented EcoPeace’s cross border philosophy to a group of young Int. American School Presentationleaders participating in the Model United Nations conference at the American International School in Israel. The Committee Chair thought the presentation was “thought-provoking and impressive…and added that extra dimension of real world expertise to their experience of the issues conserving the environment.”

 

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Jordan River Peace Park goes 3-D:

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

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

Women of Faith visit the Lower Jordan River

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

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

Kinneret Conference

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

World Bank Visits Jordan Valley

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

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

 

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EcoPark Updates

SHE EcoPark wetland full of water

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

SHE Wetland

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

Womens cooking workshop in Auja EcoCenter

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

 

Mud Workshop in our Ein Gedi EcoCenter!

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

 

EcoPeace Contribution to UNECE PublicationUNECE

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

“Good Water Neighbors(GWN) Cross Border Youth Camp

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Help Support EcoPeace through Amazon Smile

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