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April 2016

Cross-border Youth Camp in Jordan
Jordanian and Israeli Students met at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan from March 17-19 for a cross-border youth camp. The camp highlighted better management of domestic solid waste issues. The students also learned about their shared water resources and challenges. Alumni participated by presenting solid waste issues in their communities. All the participants went on a hike through the EcoPark to take in the breathtaking springtime views and learn more about the three R’s; Recycling, Reuse, and Reduce.

Good Water Neighbors (GWN) - Clean Water Awareness Activities in Emek Hefer and Baka Al Gharbia
15 Good Water Neighbor water trustees and alumni from Baka Al Gharbia participated in a local cleanup day on March 2nd to help promotemore awareness of the need to keep streams clean for the benefit of all. Participants spent a long day picking up trash so that local visitors could continue to enjoy outdoor activities.

Additionally, six youth water trustee’s represented EcoPeace on March 11th in the Emek Hefer Regional Council’s Annual March. The event included a winding hike through citrus groves with different “stations” along the way. Our Water Trustee’s station taught numerous school children and residents about their local cross border stream and the joint efforts needed to keep it pollution free and clean. 

Girls from East and West Jerusalem Explore the Jerusalem Hills
On March 20th, 10 Israeli and 10 Palestinian teenage girls met as part of the Good Water Neighbors project to explore the blossoming Jerusalem Hills. The group spent the day outside exploring their common cultural landscape, where nature and culture are intertwined in the mountain springs, which were the only constant source of water for the region until the early 20th century. The girls spent the day hiking among the Sataf pools, water canals and cultivated terraces while trying to imagine what it was like to live there in the past.

During a picnic lunch, one of the girls told stories of her past EcoPeace related trip to Japan. At the end of the day, everyone attended a soap-making workshop at Es-Sense; a local educational-productive enterprise where students from the regional high schools create products working alongside special needs' youth from all over Jerusalem.

National Teacher Seminars
EcoPeace has held numerous teacher seminars over the past three months in Shefar'am, Taibeh and Beer Sheva to introduce teachers to the GWN Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. They learned about the geography of cross-border water basins as well as creative projects they could use to connect their own students to regional water issues.

Several of the seminars even included a tour to a basin, which highlighted environmental issues affecting local water resources and showed the educators the importance of cross-border cooperation in solving environmental problems. 

Mountain Springs in Culture and Planning Event
On March 9th, EcoPeace Coordinator, Gilat Bartana was invited to speak on a panel about mountain springs and their place in culture and planning.  

The evening was held at the ZEZE Architecture Gallery in Tel Aviv and also featured two landscape architects. For more information visit the gallery's Facebook page (in Hebrew).

 

GWN Begins Branding Strategizing
Last week, a team of stakeholders including members from the tourism industry, heads of local museums and tourist sites, hydrologists and representatives from relevant municipalities, met in Old Gesher in the first of a series of meetings to discuss a joint branding campaign for the Jordan Valley.

The group is aiming to develop a vision and a brand for what a shared Jordanian-Israeli watershed could look like. The branding campaign will be extended to all our cross-border watersheds over the coming months and will culminate in a regional showcase conference this November.

Model Farm Project Signs Memorandum of Understanding
On March 8th, the newly elected Mayor of South Ghor, Jordan and his delegation, which included agriculture sector representatives, visited the Tamar Regional Council and Arava R&D Center in Israel. The visit involved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for EcoPeace’s Model Farm project and included the Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, of whose Ministry is helping fund the project. Read more in the Jerusalem Post article and in this NRG article (in Hebrew).

The group also participated in a conference panel related to Regional Councils and had a tour at the location for a potential new border crossing between Israel and Jordan. The overall goal of the Model Farm project is to exchange knowledge and technology related to agriculture and water conservation, thus enabling Jordanians and Israelis to cope with shared cross border environmental challenges. 

UN World Water Day
In working to promote the UN's World Water Day, EcoPeace’s Israel Director wrote an Op-ed for the Times of Israel which discusses Israel being able to take a regional lead in the water sector due to its surplus - but only once the water issues with the Palestinians are settled.

Busy Month at the Auja EcoCenter
March was a busy month for the Auja EcoCenter. On March 15th, the EcoCenter hosted a large group for a riverbed clean up.
For World Water Day, the EcoCenter hosted an event on the 24th to celebrate, titled "Water and Jobs" in conjunction with the Palestinian Water Authority.

Sustainable Soil Erosion Prevention Project Begins
On March 26th, the Auja EcoCenter began planting approximately 100 trees in Al Auja Valley. This is the first action within a small-scale pilot project to sustainably prevent soil erosion along the Al Auja Conveyance Canal.

“We seek to establish rain water retaining structures in a strip of fragile land around a canal, supplemented by planting locally adapted trees”, the application says. Professional planning is perceived as the basis to create a blueprint for long-term soil erosion prevention in Area C.

 

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Jordan River Tour
EcoPeace's Jordan River Faith Based project - that aims to create a wider circle of stakeholders to support the rehabilitation of the River Jordan - continues to reach out to faith groups from all over the world.

This month, a group from a U.S synagogue visiting the region learned about 'what went wrong' with the River, 'why it's important' to rehabilitate it, and were asked to sign onto EcoPeace's "Jordan River Covenant", a visionary document which both highlights the degradation of the valley, and expresses our vision of a healthy, living River.

Jordan River Photo Exhibit in Auja 
Following the 9 European cities that have showcased our Jordan River Photography Exhibition, the photos have now returned 'home' and will be exhibited in several locations in the region. The first is in our own Auja EcoCenter, with an opening ceremony held on March 8th that attracted more than 150 people, including the Governor of Jericho, representatives from the Palestinian President's Office, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, the Negotiations Committee, and more. The 'fuss' generated several interviews on Palestinian radio and TV – precisely the exposure we are seeking with this exhibit!

Jordan River Workshop in EU Parliament
EcoPeace was pleased to be invited by the S&D Group of the European Parliament to speak at a public seminar entitled "Water, Environment Protection and Trust Building in the Middle East", where we gave an overview of the work we have been doing for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River. Read here the very encouraging words by Vice President for Foreign Affairs Victor Boştinaru, and S&D MEP Julie Ward following the seminar.

 

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

 Check out our Colleague at ALLMEP
Joel Braunold, Executive Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), recently gave a Ted Talk about people to people relations and the need to increase the capacity of those organizations promoting this type of work.

ALLMEP is a network of organizations that conduct civil society work in conflict transformation, development, coexistence and cooperative activities. EcoPeace is a proud member of this valuable network.

To Our Friends in the London Area:

EcoPeace is Hiring!
We are excited to announce we are hiring for a North American Development and Policy Officer to be based in the Northeast U.S. The applications deadline has been extended to April 10th. Please visit our job vacancy page for additional openings as well.

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