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January 2015

EcoPeace Middle East would like to wish our supporters a happy and healthy New Year 2015. While this past year saw continued tragedy in the region, EcoPeace marked 2014, our 20th anniversary year, as a year of success. On the critical issues of concern to the organization, water justice, water for nature and environmental peace building, real progress was made. From a conference in January, entitled "Cross Border Environmental Issues and Water Resources in the Context of the Peace Process", featuring Ms. Tzipi Livni and renowned NY Times journalist Thomas Friedman (who later published this OpEd), UNESCO's declaration of Battir as a World Heritage Site in June, and our efforts in establishing a regional master plan for Rehabilitating the Jordan River at our "International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley" in November. Thomas Friedman helped close the year for us by describing EcoPeace as the model for peacebuilding in our region.

We are hoping for 2015 to be a game changer for the Arab-Israeli Conflict. In fact, the year has already opened with an Israeli High Court decision in our favor to freeze the building of the Separation Barrier at Battir, rewarding many years of hard work for our cross-border efforts. See articles in Haaretz, AFP and more… In 2015 we remain determined to double our efforts once again to advance our vision of sustainable peace. We remain grateful for your support that enabled and empowered us to achieve the success gained.

"Green Economy Initiatives" 
EcoPeace's “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project held 2 cross border tours last month, bringing together a group of 30 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian 'Adventure' Tour Operators and Guides. The group spent 3 days in Israel and Palestine, and another 3 days in Jordan, visiting 'adventure' tourist sites and meeting additional supporting vendors in this sector of tourism. Click here for a set of photos from the 2 tours.

Such tours aim at promoting cross-border, green, tourism initiatives, and creating new economic opportunities based on common interests. The tours, in addition, aim at raising awareness about shared environmental resources in the region. Already, new cross border tourism itineraries - bicycling, hiking, rappelling, horseback riding, to name a few - are being developed! Stay tuned!

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

"Good Water Neighbors" Youth camp 
A cross border youth activity was held last month with youth from the Dead Sea watershed: youth "Water Trustees" from the Jordanian villages of Shouth Ghor, Ghor Mazraa and Fifa visited Israeli youth from Ein Gedi. They learned about the local environment, visited an Agricultural Research & Development Center, learned about the Model Farm project and participated in workshops in the Ein Gedi EcoPark. They were very inspired, especially by the agricultural center and the Model Farm Project, asking for ways to be involved, and taking home many memorable experiences.

 

Israeli Environmental Science Teachers enjoyed a sunny winter's day tour of the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea & the EcoPark in Ein Gedi.
The first stop on this day was a visit to the Palestinian Baptism site at Kaser-el -Yahud, where many teachers learned for the first time about the sorry state of the Lower Jordan River. They continued to the shores of the Dead Sea, to see sink holes and to hear about EcoPeace's ongoing efforts to mitigate the Sea's rapid shrinking. The teachers then visited the EcoPark in Ein Gedi and learned about solar cooking, wise water irrigation systems, dry toilets, and even experienced some mud building. Relevant activities from the Good Water Neighbor's Resource Guide were presented throughout the tour, giving teachers methodological tools to take cross border issues back into their classrooms.

Alumni training in Ein Gedi
EcoPeace held a national alumni training in Ein Gedi EcoPark in the end of December. The training aimed to provide our alumni withtechnical, social and guiding skills so that they can lead cross border activities and eco-facility workshops. They practiced leading social activities, how to plan a lesson and a guiding session, how to give and receive feedback as a tool for personal development and improvement, and also went on the local Neighbors Path tour to learn about the challenges facing the Dead Sea. They also participated in workshops such as how to build a solar cooker, a geodesic dome, and more. The final session had each group presenting what they learned from each of their workshops, including the rationale for eco facilities, their benefits, and instructions on how to Do It Yourself!

Battir named IIPT / Skal 'Village of Peace'
EcoPeace is proud to report that the Village of Battir, recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, will be declared an IIPT/ Skål Village of Peace.  IIPT (the International Institute of Peace through Tourism) is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, poverty reduction, and the resolution of conflict - and through these initiatives, help bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world. IIPT is dedicated to mobilizing travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, as the world’s first “Global Peace Industry,” an industry that promotes and supports the belief that “Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.” Read more in this article.

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).

Jordan River Tours 
EcoPeace was pleased to offer a full day study tour for professors and researchers attending the Ben-Gurion University conference “Borders at the Interface: Bordering Europe, Africa and the Middle East.” The participants visited numerous sites along the Lower Jordan River getting an in-depth look inside issues of transboundary conflict, hydro-politics and EcoPeace’s approach to fostering interdependence and regional management as a conflict resolution strategy in bordering communities in Palestine, Jordan and Israel. Additional tours this past month were offered to a group of educators from Jericho, as well as a group from the Faculty of the American University in Jenin.

EcoPeace continues its strong partnership with The Telos Group, an organization aiming to strengthen in-depth understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among American evangelical communities. EcoPeace regularly leads Jordan River study tours for the visiting delegations of Christian leadership to the region drawing from EcoPeace’s Water, Ecology and the Jordan River toolkit series. This toolkit series provides a comprehensive set of resources in English, Arabic and Hebrew for Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to design services and educational programs on the Jordan River as well as suggestions for how faith community can support regional efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River. For more information and to get your faith based community involved in this effort visit www.savethejordan.com.

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

"Protecting Ground Water" project – Final Publication
We are delighted to present the Final Publication of EcoPeace's "Protecting Ground Water" Project; a project aimed to promote sustainable management of water resources and alleviate pollution of groundwater in the Mediterranean Basin. It concentrated on four geographic regions: Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Malaga, Spain. A total of 30 municipalities from these four regions were selected to participate and while each of the four regions has its own specific environmental challenges related to groundwater pollution and sustainable management, there were also a number of shared challenges as well. This publication summarizes the methodologies used, and recounts the activities, both national and regional, undertaken during the project.

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


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