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May 2015

Celebrating Earth Day 2015 on the Lower Jordan River
EcoPeace Middle East celebrated Earth Day this year with events along both sides of the Jordan River.

In Israel, U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, U.S. government representatives, local mayors and government authorities, and a whole lot of kids participated in the event along the Lower Jordan River! Ambassador Shapiro joined students from the local elementary school in a clean-up activity; he paddled a canoe down a short stretch of the still-clean section of the River with us, and was then guided by the local authorities to see present, and future, rehabilitation projects.  Click here for more photos in this Facebook album, and here for media coverage from the event.

Across the river in Jordan, Good Water Neighbors alumni reunited at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark. The alumni youth organized and led discussions on topics such as their role as environmental ambassadors, held a clean-up activity throughout the EcoPark, and shared their future vision of the Jordan River and their roles leaders in this effort with EcoPeace and fellow alumni participants.

For more information on the Earth Day events in Israel and Jordan, please read our blog and click here for more photos in Jordan!   A meaningful and productive Earth Day celebration all around!

Good Water Neighbors Youth Representatives visit South Korea! 
This month, EcoPeace Middle East sent three youth representatives -one from Jordan, one from Palestine, and one from Israel—to South Korea for the World Water Forum and for two adjoining youth summits. The youth summits – the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW) and the Asia-Pacific Youth Parliament for Water (APYPW) – bring together youth leaders and future water professionals (ages 17-30) from around the world to set a vision for the future of water and to plan concrete actions to achieve those goals. Mahmoud Dreaat, EcoPeace’s Palestinian representative, was elected Vice President of APYPW and received an award for Exemplary Participation at the APYPW conference. Look out for a blog post soon!

Cross Border "Watershed Forums" site tours and meetings
Back at home, our team hosted a series of tours and site visits as part of our regional efforts to create cross border watershed forums within our Good Water Neighbors cross-border communities.

This month we held a tour for olive mill owners to visit olive mills in the Galilee of Israel to learn how to manage the pollutant olive mill waste, whose substances can damage Waste Water Treatment Facilities. Eight Palestinian olive mill owners mainly from the Tulkarm area and eight local environmental activists from Emek Hefer participated in a tour guided by experts from the Israeli Ministry of Environment and the head of Israel Olive Farmers Association. Participants came to learn and share knowledge of the current best practices to dispose of this waste. After a full day, all participants expressed their will to continue in cooperation and find both short term and long term solutions to the shared problem.

Earlier this month, a delegation from Salt and Balqa governorates in Jordan were hosted by our local watershed forum in Auja, Palestine. Governor of Jericho, Mr. Majed Al Fitiani, welcomed the delegation before they continued on their site visit to the Auja EcoCenter, Auja spring and its dam, the Qasr el Yehud baptism site, a local Palestinian farm, and the Arab Al Ka’abneh School in order to better understand the water reality on the Palestinian side of the Jordan River.

At the end of April, the Jordanian forum members hosted a reciprocal visit for the Palestinian delegation for a tour of their community. After a warm welcome from the Mayor of Salt, participants visited the Bakoura and Hazeer Springs, pumping stations in the Shaib Valley, and Waste Water Treatment Plants in Salt and Azraq to learn about the water realities in the cities. These two visits served as the first step in cross border cooperation efforts, as delegations discussed shared water problems in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea in particular.

EcoPeace hosted a cross border site visit to Battir in Palestine, with local stakeholders and members of the Springs Rehabilitation Forum in Mate Yehuda. They toured along the ancient terraces of Battir, met with local activists of the Battir 2020 forum, and together discussed the challenges of preserving the unique landscape.

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

Tour Guides from Israel, Jordan and Palestine visiting "Green Economy Initiatives" in Jordan
A group of 15 tour guides and managers of ecotourism sites from Israel, Palestine and Jordan spent 3 days together visiting 'green initiatives' in Jordan last month. The visit opened with a comprehensive tour of EcoPeace's Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, learning about its ecofacilities and sustainability vision.

Also included were visits to ecotourism projects in the northern area of Jordan, in Ajloun, such as the beautiful hiking trails in the region and local initiatives for women empowerment (the Calligraphy House and the Soap House), ending with a visit to Pella's archeological site. It was exciting to see how some participants already began exploring cross border exchanges - ones that will benefit the local community and bring business to their own enterprises as well. Click here for our Facebook album of photos of the tour.

The "Green Economy Initiatives" project is supported by USAID's Conflict Management & Mitigation Program.

Draft NGO Palestinian Masterplan presented
Under the patronage of the Palestinian Water Authority and the Governors of Jericho and Tubas, EcoPeace held a national workshop to present the Draft-NGO Palestinian Masterplan to rehabilitate the Jordan River. With over 100 participants from various Palestinian authorities, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Authority, municipalities and local councils, and other important stakeholders, our Palestinian team presented the national masterplan and collected feedback from a series of discussions with participants. With great enthusiasm, the participants showed admiration of the work and are hoping to see the masterplan implemented in the near future.

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

EcoPeace Directors develop international partnerships to advance on regional priorities
EcoPeace’s three co-directors were invited to attend the 2015 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, United Kingdom this month. Gidon Bromberg, our Israeli director gave a speech on the state of the Jordan River and discussed how interreligious cooperation can contribute to the efforts to restore what Jews, Muslims, and Christians regard as the holiest river on earth. For further information, please see this blog post by Gidon Bromberg or watch his speech at the 2015 Skoll World Forum here.

EcoPeace directors and local mayors from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a “Sister Waters” partnership between Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and EcoPeace Middle East at a summit held in Chicago on April 23rd -24th called “Water After Borders.” The goal of this partnership is to foster exchanges through sister city and sister water relationships. Among the activities envisioned are joint workshops and visits by youth delegations and water experts. This effort would not have been possible without the dedication and support of the conference organizer, Rachel Havrelock. To read an article about the summit in the Jerusalem Post, please click here. EcoPeace’s directors and mayors were also interviewed on “Go Green Radio” during their visit to Chicago.

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.  Our Water Cannot Wait Campaign is supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.


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