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November 2014

RETURNING TO OUR ORIGINAL NAME:  ECOPEACE MIDDLE EAST
We are taking this opportunity to announce to all our readers that we are returning to our official and original name "EcoPeace Middle East". Following many years of disappointment with the actions and positions of the Friends of the Earth International network, we decided that returning to our original name will strengthen our mission to deliver the environmental stewardship needed to secure regional prosperity, a sustainable future, and a just peace.

Over the coming months, we will cease the use of the trade name ‘Friends of the Earth Middle East’ in our title and "re-brand" the organization back to EcoPeace Middle East.

20th Anniversary Gala Dinner with Thomas Friedman 
Last month in Washington DC, EcoPeace Middle East celebrated its 20th anniversary since its founding with a Gala dinner, featuring New York Times Journalist, Thomas Friedman. The event was attended by over 80 supporters of EcoPeace, including Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas, Ali Nouri representing the office of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, three mayors from the region, Ali El-Delki, Mayor Mu’az bin Jabal Municipality, Jordan, Hasan Jirmi, Head Zubeidat Village Council, Palestine and Yossi Vardi, Head Jordan Valley Regional Council, Israel and former member of the Israeli Knesset, Mr. Efi Oshaya. Click here for an album of photos.

At the Gala dinner, Mr. Friedman praised the organization for its environmental and peacebuilding efforts. Writing in the following Sunday New York Times, he refers to the work of EcoPeace Middle East by stating that peace “can only come from Israelis and Palestinians acting on their own, directly with one another, with real imagination, to convert what is now an “unhealthy interdependency” into a “healthy interdependency”. Actually, that model already exists among Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmentalists — and the example they set is the best hope for the future”.

The evening concluded with the three directors, Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Director, Nader Al-Khateeb, Palestinian Director, and Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director presenting EcoPeace Middle East’s achievements over the past twenty years.
 

EcoPeace and Sister Cities International sign Memorandum of Understanding
At the panel "Building Peace Over Water in the Lower Jordan Valley: a Sister Cities Coalition" held on October 17, 2014, at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, EcoPeace Middle East teamed up with Sister Cities International (SCI), Citizen Diplomacy Initiatives (CDI), and Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian mayors to discuss environmental peace-building, the mutual benefits of cross-border cooperation in the midst of conflict, and the role of American citizen diplomats in Middle East grassroots peace-making. Click here for a set of photos from the event.

During the event, EcoPeace Middle East, SCI and CDI, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to connect Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian communities with U.S. cities to create multilateral sister city relationships. Sister city programs allow individuals on a local level to participate in improving relations through non-political cultural, educational, and other people-to-people exchanges. By creating permanent relationships, sister city programs offer the best opportunity for citizens to participate in creating a climate for the peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The initiative will aim to bring together youth, adults, and municipal representatives from all four communities to cooperate on water resources management and sustainable development. It will build on the success of EcoPeace Middle East's Good Water Neighbors project that builds dialogue and partnership between cross-border communities sharing a common water source, promoting environmental awareness and peace building in the region. Read more in our media release or in the Sister Cities press release.

Good Water Neighbors – Teacher's Seminars 
This month, the Good Water Neighbors staff delivered several teachers' trainings on our recently published Environmental Education Resource Guide. The Israeli Ministry of Education led a series of seminars for environmental science teachers, in Nazareth, Netanya and Be’er Sheva, and invited EcoPeace to present our Resource Guide and the messages it delivers to youth. The presentation in Nazareth included an introduction to hazard mappings; in Netanya, a review of the challenges of the cross border Alexander / Zomer stream; and in Be'er Sheva, about the trans-boundary nature and problems of the Besor watershed, all with relevant activities from the Resource Guide. Also, a teacher's seminar for Palestinian teachers was given at the Sur Baher School where teachers were encouraged to partake in several of the hands-on activities.

If you are an educator and interested in having one of our staff give a presentation about our Resource Guide, you are welcome to contact us at info@foeme.org.

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).

Raising awareness on the plight of the River Jordan 
EcoPeace continues its advocacy for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River, targeting different stakeholders. On October 19th, EcoPeace Palestinian staff held a study tour of the Jordan Valley for the Water Supply and Sewage Authority of the Bethlehem District, viewing the River Jordan at the Kaser el Yehud Baptism Site. Another tour was held on October 30th on the Jordanian side of the River, this time in the context of our Faith Based Campaign, for 85 Christians who learned about the poor state of the River by visiting the 'Bethany Beyond the Jordan' Baptism Site as well as the mouth of the Jordan River to the Dead Sea.

Congregational leaders and lay educators who participate in these tours go on to spread the importance of community awareness and action to rehabilitate the Jordan in a variety of ways. This week two of our past participants in our faith based campaign activities provide great examples of what you can do to support this campaign. Dr. Debora Weissman, as part of the Noah 5775 weekly Torah portion flyer of "Oz Ve Shalom - Netivot Shalom", relates the portion about Noah and the devotion to humanitarianism and morals to saving the Earth while mentioning the lessons she learnt on the Interfaith Regional Tour she participated in last June. Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble donated the original song "Rise Sweet Waters" to EcoPeace as a tribute to these efforts, providing a contemporary addition to the Jordan's rich songbook.

EcoPeace has produced materials to help faith based communities advance understanding, awareness and action surrounding the Lower Jordan River’s rehabilitation. These 'toolkits' bring together a rich collection of scripture, sermons, essays, poems, songs and other tools to help leaders engage their communities on the need to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Click here to view these toolkits.

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

EcoPeace participates in "Rehabilitation & Development of the Lower Jordan River" Conference 
Representatives from EcoPeace together with a delegation from the Jordanian Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) were invited to participate in the conference “International Conference on the Rehabilitation and Development of the Lower Jordan River” that took place in Israel on October 21-22. The conference included various sessions and presentations concerning the Israeli Master Plan for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, dilemmas of regional planning, maintaining and nurturing nature, and more.

Mr. Abu Hamour, Secretary General of the JVA spoke of the need to attract investment and tourism to the Valley, stating that it is only through cooperation that this can be achieved. He shared the specifics of the Jordanian Master Plan as introduced to the government by EcoPeace. Additionally, EcoPeace staff gave a presentation highlighting the Regional Master Plan of the Lower Jordan River that we are developing.

Over 500 participants attended the conference - from academia, municipal bodies, industry, and other representatives from civil society from the fields of river restoration and water management - as well as Israeli Ministers, including Mr. Amir Peretz, Minister of Environmental Protection, who said that "environmental issues can serve as the foundation for regional cooperation and reducing disparities", echoing EcoPeace's beliefs. Read more in our blog.

EcoPeace at Conference on "Social Water Studies in the MENA Region" 
HRH Prince Hassan inaugurated the conference "Social Water Studies in the MENA Region" State of the Art and Perspectives on the 28th and 29th of September. The event took place at the German Jordanian University aimed at initiating a stock-taking of social science research on water issues in the MENA region and to illustrate how a social science perspective could be further developed. Read Prince Hassan's speech here.

The conference was divided into various panel sessions that included, but not only, education about water, water management and transitions, the behavioral dimensions of urban water use, and more. A representative from EcoPeace presented a paper about "Challenges and Opportunities Associated with the Sustainable Development of the Lower Jordan River Valley".   Read more in our blog and view photos here.

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

EcoPeace at UfM Conference “Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector” 
EcoPeace attended the 1st Regional Conference of the Union for the Mediterranean-led project called “Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector”, held in Athens from Oct 28-30, in cooperation with the EU-funded SWIM-SM project. The conference aimed to build on the regional dialogue, initiated at the project's launch last May, and provide an opportunity to share national experiences on sustainable water governance and financing. It brought together some 100 Mediterranean water specialists and stakeholders from within and outside the water sector, including public authorities, civil society and the private sector.

EcoPeace presented about cross cutting themes and stakeholder engagement, reflecting on the work we have been doing, as relevant, on gender, equity, poverty, rights and the environment, and also on the importance of ensuring stakeholder engagement - and civil society in particular - in policy processes. EcoPeace also introduced our EU SWIM project, the Regional NGO Master Plan for the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River that incorporates national master plans into a single cohesive trans-boundary master plan that could be advanced in full, or in part, by decision makers both unilaterally at the national level, and at the regional level. Read more in our blog.

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

EcoPeace at Conference "Sustainability in the Palestinian Authority" 
On October 21st, EcoPeace took an active part in the conference "A window to sustainability in the Palestinian Authority" organized by the Orchard of Abraham’s Children in Beit Hagefen, an Arab-Jewish cultural center in Haifa. The conference objective was to create consciousness transformation as well as Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the field of sustainability.

EcoPeace gave several presentations, including our Protecting Ground Water project that emphasizes the importance of working with municipalities' staff. Project outputs have proved the ability of activists to make a change in authorities' actions to mitigate pollution to water sources if they come with concrete evidence and well prepared reports and presentations.

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

EcoCenter news (1): Kings Academy Students, and Seeds of Peace at the SHE EcoPark in Jordan 
Students from the Kings Academy in Madaba, Jordan, came to the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan for a week's long "Round Square 2014 Pre-conference Service Project". The visit included building a Turtle pond, a trip to Ajloun and the Soap House, a nature hike on the Oyoun Trail and a visit to the Ajloun City. Click here for photos.

In a separate visit, EcoPark staff gave a presentation about the water challenges in the region to a group of youth from Seeds of Peace. We look forward to return visits by both groups.

EcoCenter news (2): Come play basketball at the Auja EcoCenter! 
In continued efforts to attract youth to the Auja Environmental Education Center, we recently built a state-of-the-art combined basketball / volleyball court so that youth can enjoy a wide range of activities, spend longer hours at the Center, and expose them to the other environmental activities offered at the Center.

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


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

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