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February 2015

Lower Jordan River Rehabilitation Efforts
This month EcoPeace Middle East joined European government officials and transboundary water experts at the United Nations 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. Read more in their press release.

EcoPeace'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 and 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" 
EcoPeace Middle East's “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project held another set of cross-border tours in January; 3 days 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!

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 planters. 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.

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 filed by the Palestinian village of Battir, neighboring 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 the building of 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 Palestinian, 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.

Participants 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 innovative partnerships and platforms of cooperative work on water issues in the region. The conference provided 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.


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