1st Triathlon Event at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark, Jordan

Always looking for creative ways to further environmental awareness in our region, FoEME held a Triathlon & Duathlon event in our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark in Jordan on March 30th, in partnership with Wild and Free Adventures.

The Triathlon combined open-water swimming, on and off-road cycling and cross-country running, while the Duathlon consisted of a cross-country run, a cycle leg and a second cross-country run (click here to see the route maps). The weather was good, the water a bit chilly, but the 45 people who participated in the events, received a literal “hands-on” experience of the countryside – some of them beautiful, some of them degraded – precisely meeting our aims to show the progress being made in environmental protection, but also the need to continue. Beside good sporting and healthy physical exertion, this event was important because it showed how successful ecological tourism can be, and that it is possible to host a sporting event in harmony with nature. Participants also learned about other environmental educational activities offered at the EcoPark, promising to return again even before next year’s 2nd Triathlon event!

In the context of our “Good Water Neighbors” project, FoEME held many activities to celebrate World Water Day, taking advantage of this day to continue to educate and raise awareness about the importance of protecting and conserving our local and regional water resources.

Sixty youth “Water Trustees” from the GWN project’s eight Jordanian communities gathered at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark for a full day of water games and environmental educational activities, including an introduction to the water cycle in nature where they used art to create a model that explains the water cycle process. Children felt proud to take part in such an important event knowing that it is being celebrated all over the world as well.

In Palestine, in coordination with the Ministry of Education office in Bethlehem, FoEME invited 22 schools from the Bethlehem governorate and educational administrators from all Palestinian governorates for an educational tour to the Auja Spring, the Dead Sea and the Lower Jordan River. The tour showed the environmental degradation of the River, explaining its complex challenges, but also of progress being made towards its rehabilitation, resulting in all educational administrators expressing their support for incorporating environmental issues such as what they learned from that day into their messages to their students. In addition, a contest held for Palestinian youth to write a poem and a short story about the water and environmental challenges facing the village of Battir, culminated in the winners (all participants!) receiving trophies at the end of this water & environment education day in a ceremony held at the Auja Environmental Education Center.

Bazaar at Auja’s Environmental Education EcoCenter
Following the successful Bazaar held in our EcoPark in Jordan last month, this month the Auja Environmental Education Center held its own Bazaar on March 1st and 2nd, entitled “Innovations and Opportunities”, and aimed to showcase and support 28 Palestinian women’s centers and their local handicrafts, as well as the Center’s environmental education programs. Under the patronage of the Governor of Jericho who opened the event, the Bazaar included a tour of the EcoCenter, examples of the educational activities offered at the site, Debka dance performances and other entertainment, and “Neighbors Path” tours to the nearby water springs to learn about the local and regional water issues. Over the 2 days, 2,000 people attended this exciting event.

Want to visit Auja?! Come Explore the Jordan Valley with us…

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

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is funded by USAID’s Conflict Management and Mitigation program, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the European Union’s Partnership for Peace program and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Mateh Yehuda Springs conference
The Mate Yehuda Regional Council in Israel contains more than 100 natural springs, emphasizing the critical importance of ground water in this region. The springs present natural, agricultural, cultural, and historical heritage, and also provide tourist attraction points. Nowadays, regulation and care for these springs are divided between different authorities, without any leading organization taking full responsibility.

A variety of professionals from the most relevant Authorities and organizations took part in a conference organized by FoEME on March 21st, bringing up many dilemmas regarding proper management of the springs. We hope that this conference will fuel the start of a fruitful process, leading to a balanced solution for the regulation of these natural beauties.

The “Protecting Ground Water” project is supported by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme

FoEME in The Hague’s ‘Wings for Water’ Conference
FoEME’s Israeli Director was invited to participate in the High-Level Meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, in The Hague, Netherlands. The meeting consisted of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, also called “Wings for Water,” which took place on 21 March, and the celebration of International World Water Day on the theme of water cooperation, which took place on 22 March. It brought together representatives of governments, international organizations, civil society, religious bodies, the private sector and youth.

On page 9 of the conference bulletin, on the theme “water cooperation builds peace,” Lena Salame of UNESCO, reported that the group chose the symbolic action of rehabilitating the Ganges and Jordan Rivers, as they are holy to half of humanity. See our own short press release on this choice made.

Water Market Report
Water markets are among the tools implemented to help sustain environmental flows in basins facing water scarcity issues worldwide. Amélie Joseph, intern at the Tel Aviv FoEME office from July 2012 to January 2013, explored the possibility of such a market for the Jordan River Basin.

The mechanism, inspired by Australian experiences, could contribute to the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, by recovering water for the River from the agricultural sector, based on farmers’ voluntary participation. Read more in the report.

SAVE THE DATE! APRIL 23rd- The 2nd Ashdod Sustainability Conference
This year, Friends of the Earth Middle East’s Tel Aviv office is helping to coordinate the 2nd Annual Ashdod Sustainability conference in Israel, initiated by the Municipality of Ashdod and Ha’aretz.

The conference will bring together elected officials and senior staff, academics, opinion leaders, journalists, environmental activists and professionals from various fields, to promote a public discourse on sustainability and to place the issue of promoting sustainability in Israel on the public agenda.

The conference is free, but requires prior registration. Space is limited. For more information and registration click here: http://knasim.haaretz.co.il/kenes.asp?rId=136

Click here for a video showing FoEME’s contribution to last year’s conference, where we brought together Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Mr. Gilad Erdan, and Palestinian Minister of Water Dr. Shaddad Attili, for a public debate on the water challenges facing the two peoples; a write-up in the Jerusalem Post; and an item on the Ministers’ debate in the Israeli Ministry of Environment’s website.