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April 2017

Dear Friends and Supporters of EcoPeace,
Please welcome Dr. Alfred Abed Rabo and Mrs. Nada Majdalani as interim acting Palestinian Co-Directors of EcoPeace Middle East.
- The EcoPeace Board of Directors

Next month we will be writing in our new newsletter format,
which will be in sync with our New Website!

Our new website is already up and runningwww.ecopeaceme.org
(Hebrew and Arabic coming soon…)

Comments? (write to mira@foeme.org)
(& please excuse possible birthing pains!)

Rotary Support for New Partnership
We are looking to partner with Rotary International groups to help support a new initiative between EcoPeace and Outward Bound.
EcoPeace and Outward Bound Peacebuilding are seeking a Global Grant from the Rotary Foundation’s World Fund. Part of that process includes securing support and endorsement from Rotarians and Rotary Clubs all over the world. If you are a member and would like to learn more, or would consider adding your name in support of our proposal, please email dalit@foeme.org to find out more.

World Water Day Activities
This March 22nd marked the United Nation’s 24th World Water Day. EcoPeace offices held numerous events and activities across the region and abroad, including (1) a visit from the U.S. Consul General Donald Blome to the World Water Day Fair at our Auja EcoCenter; (2) a presentation at the U.S. State Department‘s George C. Marshall Center in Washington DC; (3) a national teacher's training in Israel, and (4) the compilation of a short video highlighting the importance of the human right to water.

(1) Consul General Donald Blome visited our Auja EcoCenter to learn more about the work environmental organizations are doing throughout the West Bank. He was very impressed by our work with the EcoPark and was introduced to a group of students studying solar energy from the Palestine Technical University in Tulkarm. Watch Consul General Donald Blome's experience in his own words.
(2) Our Israeli Co-Director, Gidon Bromberg, gave a presentation at the George C. Marshall Center in Washington DC on Water Security and Transboundary Cooperation. He discussed priorities and challenges within the Middle East in relation to water, and focused on elevating water as an international priority.
(3) Additionally, the Community Coordinator of the Besor watershed held a national teacher’s training to mark World Water Day for 21 teachers from all over Israel. The teacher’s expressed great interest in issues of water and trans-boundary cooperation and were motivated to learn more on the importance of environmentalism coupled with peacebuilding activities.

International World Women’s Day Activities
Wednesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, the ideal day to highlight EcoPeace’s campaign for women’s empowerment in the region. Although always a priority for us, we are now focusing on this issue with renewed emphasis as we see women as a crucial sector in reaching water equality. Women and girls are often the people most affected by water shortages, yet, there are barely any women in the engineering sector or in political positions to be able to address this issue.

To bring attention to the subject and our work, we penned two blog pieces for International Women’s Day. The first; on EcoPeace staff’s participation in the “Women Wage Peace March” along with an interview by a former Youth Water Trustee with Nobel Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. The second; highlighting EcoPeace’s plans for the growth of our Women’s Empowerment Program, including holding more camps for women and girls such as the camp held in February which was written up in a third blog article published in March. This camp brought together 20 girls from around the Jordan Valley, and aided in enabling them to think about their role in preserving water and their abilities to be independent thinkers and people.

Arab Water Week in Amman, Jordan
EcoPeace's Jordanian Co-Director Munqeth Mehyar and Deputy Director, Yana Abu Taleb participated in the 4th Arab Water Week at the Kempinski Hotel-Dead Sea, Jordan from March 19th to 23rd.
Ms. Abu Taleb was a guest panellist for two significant sessions: the first was organized by the World Bank, outlining EcoPeace's concept of cooperation within the Jordan Basin and the inevitability of a regional approach as the ultimate solution to regional water scarcity. The second session, organized by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), focused on women empowerment. Ms. Abu Taleb reflected on the impact water scarcity has on women and on EcoPeace's approach to increase women's participation in the water sector.
Mr. Mehyar presented EcoPeace's Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley, and explained the importance of a holistic approach to tackle water issues as an alternative to the traditional-fragmented approach which can only produce a mitigating effect at best.

Tour of Baka Al Gharbia with Foreign Affairs Ministry 
Our Community Coordinator in Baka Gharbia, Mohammad Biadsi, and our Israeli Government Relations Officer, Uri Ginnot, were very busy this month giving a tour to the North American Division of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry which included Consul Generals from North American Consulates. The tour showcased EcoPeace’s work implementing our Good Water Neighbors program in the Baka watershed and the positive impact it has had on the local community. Local residents and the Mayor of Baka Al Gharbia were also in attendance. In addition Mr. Biadsi organized a conference in Baka Al Gharbia to discuss the environmental crisis and deteriorating health conditions in the area. He premiered the documentary about the dire environmental situation in Baka that was later featured on Israeli TV Channel 1.

Cross Border Events with our Youth Water Trustees!
March was a busy month for EcoPeace’s youth 'Water Trustees'. The month kicked off on March 11th with youth Water Trusees from the Israeli/Palestinian Yarkon/Qana watershed participating in a cross border event at the Qana Nature reserve. Through playing games, enjoying nature, and engaging in discussions, the students learned about the joint problems in the basin, the concept of a shared water resource, and the importance of cooperation. 
Then on March 17th, youth Water Trustees from Yatta, Palestine visited their cross-border peers at Kibbutz Ze'elim in Israel. After a full day was spent discussing environment and water issues, they crossed a foot suspension bridge with water as a symbol to represent their shared water resources.

Finally, with spring in full bloom in the Jordan Valley, EcoPeace held a large cross border event from March 23rd to 25th that included three of our watersheds. As the weather was beautiful, the youth spent all their time outdoors, starting with icebreaking games for the students to get to know each of their shared watersheds. They spent the second day in the Amoud Valley learning about the environment and geology of that area through water footprint activities and recognizing the diverse flora and fauna. On Saturday, the youth participated in the third annual "Streaming to the Jordan" event of which EcoPeace was one of the event organizers. The event consisted of a communal walk along the banks of the rehabilitated Lower Jordan River, followed by a festive gathering of the local community with music, food, and activities for the whole family, part of which was run by our students.

National Teacher Training
On March 15th, EcoPeace held a national teacher's training in Israel to help familiarize geography teachers with our Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. The teachers and members of EcoPeace’s staff visited the Meitarim border crossing and Beer Sheva stream to better understand the complexity of shared water management, the area's water heritage, relations between the city and stream, and the importance of teachers as environmental leaders. They also discussed ways to incorporate relevant questions from EcoPeace's work to students' final exams in High School.

Tour of the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Netanya
On March 29th, Palestinian farmers from four watersheds visited the Netanya Waste Water Treatment Plant to better understand the benefits of water reuse as part of our Good Water Neighbors Project. The day began with a tour of the Plant where the farmers learned about the process of water purification for irrigation re-use. They later heard a lecture by representatives of ‘Netafim’ - the global leader in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions - about treated water in agriculture and cutting-edge technology developed by Netafim. The farmers also had the opportunity to see greenhouses in action using Netafim's technology.

Global Outreach
EcoPeace’s Program Manager in Amman, Abed Sultan, was busy this month conducting global outreach at home and abroad. In mid-March he gave a lecture to a group of university students from the U.S. focusing on the water reality in the Middle East, including common threats and challenges. Later in the month, Mr. Sultan represented EcoPeace at the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week Conference in Aquadir, Morocco presenting the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark as part of our long term initiative to save and rehabilitate the Jordan River. Participants of the conference pushed for more integrated efforts against desertification and the creation of conventions to combat climate change and improve biological diversity in the MENA region.

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

Tour Guides learn the bigger picture about the Lower Jordan River
EcoPeace Jordan River staff concluded the last in a series of 4 trainings for tour guides about the Jordan River, this one on the western side of the River. 25 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian tour guides spent three days visiting religious and historical sites - as well as environmental hot spots - on the Jordan River. Our aim is to expand the circle of supporters for the rehabilitation of the River Jordan through tour guides & their tourists.

Jordan River faith based tour
EcoPeace will not rest until we see more advances being made towards the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. EcoPeace staff took yet another group to the River, this time volunteers and staff from the Augusta Victoria church in Jerusalem, to learn about what has happened to this once 'mighty' - and still 'holy' - river.... 

Jordan River presented in RiverGathering Conference, Tbilisi Georgia
EcoPeace was invited to present our work on the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River in the "RiverGathering conference" in Tbilisi, Georgia this month. This was a gathering of more than 80 organizations and activists from around the world, all coming together to share their knowledge of the effects of unsustainable River management. EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Coordinator, Mira Edelstein, actively participated at the conference speaking at the opening plenary, leading one of the sessions on Campaign Techniques, as well as presenting our Jordan River Rehabilitation project in yet another session on Sustainable Development. We are pleased to say that the Jordan River is now one notch higher on the world agenda!

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

Center for Water Security Activities
Al Gore’s Climate Reality project invited people representing more than 30 countries to a conference in Colorado to advance projects addressing climate change. Marina Djernaes, the Director for EcoPeace’s new Center for Water Security represented EcoPeace and our 23 years of best practice experience in practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding. The new Center engages conflict zones across the globe that share transboundary water resources and develops the capacity of these communities to establish relationships of cooperation and develop trust. Read more in this blog.

Israeli Co-Director Touring the U.S.
EcoPeace’s Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg was busy touring the U.S. during the latter half of March, participating in discussions and conferences from New York to Washington DC. Mr. Bromberg and the Director for EcoPeace’s new Center for Water Security, Marina Djernaes, represented EcoPeace on March 20th at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Their topic of discussion was titled “From Scarcity to Security: Water as a Resource for Middle East Peacebuilding”.

Additionally, Mr. Bromberg presented a briefing at the U.S. Congress on water security issues in the Middle East. He presented the concept that water diplomacy can play a significant role to improve the livelihoods and enhance stability within the region. He spoke of the recent agreement to renew the joint Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, the water and sanitation crisis in Gaza, and opportunities for moving forward on water issues.

This project was made possible through funding from Robert Bosch Stiftung

Seminar on the Sea of Galilee
In early March, Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli farmers and stakeholders met at the Sea of Galilee to discuss and better understand Israeli technology in the agriculture sector. The seminar was part of a joint research project funded by the British council and led by Oxford University in partnership with EcoPeace and the West-Asia North-Africa (WANA) institute in Jordan.
The participants learned about potential agricultural water saving methods, toured the Zemach research station, and visited a multi crop farm. It was a very successful meeting; helping to plant seeds for continued teamwork between farmers in the Jordan basin.

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

Our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark is now online for bookings!!

Go to:
Booking.com
Airbnb
TripAdvisor

Stay in this incredible part of the world and support EcoPeace's vital preservation work
in the Jordan River

Lastly, we would like to wish our Jewish readers a Happy Passover
and our Christian readers a Happy Easter!


This new website was made possible by a grant generously
donated to FoEME from the Apte Family Fund.

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