FoEME divided up its annual “Good Water Neighbors” regional conference this year, holding one for the Jordan River / Dead Sea communities entitled “One Basin – Conflicting Visions” in Amman Jordan, on November 2nd -3rd; and one for the Mt. and Coastal Aquifer communities, entitled “A Water Agreement Cannot Wait”, in Jerusalem, on Nov. 30th.

The conference in Amman included 150 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian mayors, municipal representatives, community residents as well as water experts from all the countries to discuss the different development plans being undertaken for the Jordan River / Dead Sea Basin. Following presentations by planners from the 3 countries, interesting discussions were held asking “What are the conflicting visions?”, “What is our interest in a shared vision? Pros? Cons?” and “How do we move forward?” Read more on our blog page…

Among the 120 guests in the conference in Jerusalem, were MK Yoel Hasson, Head of the Lobby for Water Security from the Israeli Parliament; Fouad Bateh, senior advisor to the Palestinian Minister of Water; Michael Zaideh, Strategic Planning from the Israeli Water Authority; a representative of the Quartet, Prince Firas from Jordan; water experts; international water law experts from academia; and mayors and residents of our Good Water Neighbors project. A new Model Water Agreement was presented to participants (see publication item below for more information). The cross border municipal experience of our GWN communities was highlighted in this event, with discussions and examples given of the difficulties in dealing with the present Joint Water Committee, and calling for a new structure / institution to be created.

For more information, visit the website event page that includes links to the press releases, the agenda, a summary of the conference, and the Oral Presentation given by the speakers.

On November 10th, six Friends of the Earth Middle East staff from Jordan, Palestine and Israel had the pleasure of receiving a guided tour of the Ramat Hanadiv Education Center.

The objective of the tour was for project managers of FoEME’s new Environmental Education Centers in Sharhabil Bin Hassnah, Jordan and Auja, Palestine, to learn about best practices in other similar centers and receive ideas for implementation.

The group visited the “green” classrooms, the outdoor research area, the grey water treatment site, the ecological garden run by disabled adults and the plants nursery. The group also visited the environmental center in Sachnin, agreeing that there is mutual interest on further cooperation on environmental education issues.

On November 24th, FoEME held a ceremony to officially inaugurate a “Good Water Neighbors” project eco-facility in the Beit Yerach School in the Jordan Valley Regional Council.

Similar eco-facilities have been built in all participating Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian communities in the project. This eco-facility is an open classroom and demonstrates the ability to reuse solid waste for building purposes in a creative fashion. It teaches the need to decrease the use of materials and energy, thus reducing our impact on the environment.

FoEME recently published a report entitled “Why Cooperate over Water?” summarizing the interrelated water problems faced by Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

It focuses on the shared water basins and highlights the urgency behind the need to cooperate, and the values and principles underlying the type of cooperation espoused by Friends of the Earth Middle East.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA and the Belgium Foreign Ministry’s Peace Building Desk.

FoEME launched an innovative Model Water Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, at the 2nd regional GWN conference in Jerusalem (as described above).

The model was prepared for FoEME by water experts well versed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the field of Middle East water, Dr. David Brooks and Dr. Julie Trottier.

Different than the Oslo agreement, this model is based on an intensive and truly cooperative partnership, and suggests an alternative to the “temporary” agreement in place since 1995. The model presents an institutional structure with four critical bodies to implement the principles for joint management, where two central bodies lead the process: a “Bilateral Water Commission” and a “Water Mediation Board”. Principles of joint management include: economically efficient water management; socially and politically equitable (not necessarily equal) water management; ecologically sustainable water management; management that would be implemented in practice.

On November 22nd, the ‘Lobby for Water Security in Israel’ was launched at the Knesset, attracting parliamentarians, water experts, activists and concerned residents from all over the country. The Lobby, headed by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima party), aims to raise awareness regarding the water crisis and to encourage wise investments in the development of water resources, as well as regional cooperation on shared waters.

Friends of the Earth Middle East played a central role at the event. The lobby took shape in the context of our ‘Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians’ project (TAP), which encompasses joint efforts of Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli residents to advocate at the government level on the shared water issues of their communities. The TAP project was presented at the event and Israeli activists from the project were able to highlight their concerns of their own water realities and their neighbors’ water reality, and called for more equitable and sustainable cross border cooperation on water issues. Read more on our blog page…

The “Transboundary Advocacy to Parliamentarians” project is supported by the European Union’s Partnerships for Peace program.

FoEME has recently updated all the chapters of the Hebrew version of our “Climate Change: Policy Notebook for Decision Makers” publication, with updates on general information about climate change, as well as scientific information, impacts, the UN process, other initiatives and models from around the world and actions so far taken in Israel.

Newly burned CD’s were distributed to Government and NGOs representatives participating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP16, presently being held in Cancun, Mexico.

FoEME’s Climate Change project is supported by Heinrich Böll Stiftung.