Green Economy – Regional Consultants Meeting & Tours for Tour Guides
A second regional meeting of the “Green Economy Initiatives” (GEI) project was held with the 3 hired business consultants – Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian – in late August. Consultants reviewed the list of the local “green economy” businesses that each one identified in their respective country, from the targeted areas of the Jordan Valley / Dead Sea, and Bethlehem / Mateh Yehuda Regional Council in Israel, and brainstormed how to best match the businesses from each country while also proposing itineraries that would make a strong business case for cross border cooperation.

Three regional tours were also held during September for Tour Operators and Tour Guides from Israel, Jordan and Palestine. The tours exposed tour guides to local green alternative sites including organic-farmland, restaurants, women entrepreneurs and adventure tourism, which aim to develop partnerships and assist in the promotion of cross-border business opportunities. Click here for more photos from the 1st tour held in Jordan

The “Green Economy Initiatives” project is supported by USAID’s Conflict Management & Mitigation Program.

Water and Energy Nexus
This month FoEME representatives presented our proposal for Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian integrated planning to support water and energy needs for the future of the region at the Stockholm International Water Institute’s 2014 World Water Week.

FoEME’s presentation highlighted the ideas in our recently released paper “A Water and Energy Nexus as a Catalyst for Middle East Peace”. This paper explores the rationale for the creation of a proposed water-renewable energy community based on interdependence among Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, where much needed water is produced through desalination on the Israeli and Palestinian Mediterranean coasts, and the additional electricity needs are met by extensive investment in solar renewable energy in Jordan’s eastern deserts.

For those of you who did not attend the Haaretz Peace Conference, we would like to share with you a video clip that was just released,interviewing Israeli Director Gidon Bromberg, on FoEME’s position on water and the peace process.

FoEME’s Water Cannot Wait Campaign is supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Jordan River Rehabilitation – Faith Based seminars
FoEME is giving a series of seminars as part of its faith-based campaign calling for the revival of the Jordan River. The seminars bring together guest speakers who share their expertise, experiences and insights with the audience to motivate and engage them to interact with the campaign. The seminars are followed by field visits and tours to the Jordan River, to raise awareness regarding the current degradation of the Jordan River.

A seminar recently given in Jordan to leaders of the Muslim faith presented the sacredness of the Jordan River in Islam. FoEME staff distributed toolkits to help Islamic communities – in Jordan and around the world – to learn about the contemporary reality of the Holy Jordan River and to join in efforts to rehabilitate the once mighty Jordan. Click here for more photos of this seminar.

Another seminar was given at the Community Ecumenical in Jordan, about the River and its value toChristianity with toolkits to help Christian communities learn about the reality of the River and join in efforts for its rehabilitation. Click here for more photos of this seminar.

And on the Western Bank, at the Kaser el Yehud Baptism Site, a tour of the Jordan River was held on September 18th, accompanied by Archbishop Soareos Malki Murad, Bishop of the Middle East, together with the Women’s Union of Bethlehem that included all Christian denominations. Click here for more photos of this tour. website launch
On September 1st, the Save the Jordan website was launched – in three languages – to further advance the faith-based campaign. The ‘Save the Jordan’ campaign aims at garnering the support of religious figures in the three Abrahamic religions to advocate for the river in their congregations, through endorsements of the covenant and providing donations. To support FoEME in its efforts to rehabilitate the River, join our campaign.

FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.

Swedish Consulate Visit to the Jordan River and Battir
On September 22nd, EcoPeace/FoEME Directors hosted a Swedish diplomatic delegation, consisting of the Swedish Ambassador to Jordan, the Swedish Consul General to Palestine, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as senior staff from the three offices and SIDA senior representatives.

The day opened with a presentation of EcoPeace/FoEME’s “Good Water Neighbors” project’s recent achievements. The group then embarked on a tour to the Lower Jordan Valley, including stops at the Baptism Site, EcoPeace/FoEME’s Environmental Education Center in Auja, the Kidron Stream, and the Village of Battir. See more photos of the tour on this Facebook album.

Good Water Neighbor’s “Water Trustees” Alumni
The Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project recently trained 60 former “Water Trustees”, 20 from each country, Israel, Jordan & Palestine, for the project’s new Alumni program. At the invitation of a leading Israeli newspaper, Maariv, who asked to learn about the GWN program, three Palestinian and two Israeli Alumni were interviewed about their positive experience as “Water Trustees”, how it influenced them, and how it inspired their dreams and aspirations. Click here for the article that followed the interview, entitled “Jumping in the Water” (in Hebrew) (page 1 / page 2).

Good Water Neighbors gets an A+!
FoEME hired an external company, the Butterfly Effect, to evaluate the last 2 years of the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project. We are extremely pleased with the results. The last paragraph is perhaps the most encouraging:

“The GWN’s strategy of long-term deep work in the communities, sustaining a cross-border communication network, and insisting on addressing practical tangible results and interests, rather than just peace or cooperation in general, bears fruits. It changes the discourse of those involved with the project and many have adopted the narrative of environmental peacebuilding/ cross-border cooperation that the GWN project advances into their professional and personal lives.” Click here for the full report

The “Good Water Neighbors” project is presently funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Mate Yehuda Master Plan receives wide exposure
The Master Plan & Survey of the springs in Mate Yehuda was presented in the Israeli Society of Ecology and Environmental Science (ISEES) annual conference, held last month. FoEME staff led several full sessions during the conference, many of them devoted to demonstrating the unique ecological value as well as the cultural heritage of the springs of the Judean Hills. The conference was an excellent opportunity to present the different surveys and Master Plan’s key recommendations, for preservation or rehabilitation of these springs, to the attending scholars and professionals.

The Spring Master plan is one of the outputs of the “Protecting Ground Water” project, funded by the European Union’s ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Program.

A FoEME Amman representative attended a workshop entitled “Donor Coordination Meeting: Evolving Roles, Responsibilities and Needs in the Jordan Valley” conducted by USAID Jordan’s Institutional Support and Strengthening Program (ISSP).

The purpose of the workshop was to present the new strategic priorities of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) to the donors, to ensure that current and planned donor programs in the valley are consistent and supportive of the JVA’s strategic objectives. FoEME is working closely with the JVA on a host of water and sanitation issues in the Valley, as well as the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. Read more in this blog.

Inauguration of Madaba’s Eco-Village
In collaboration with the Municipality of Madaba and the Jordan Society for Sustainable Development (JSSD), a sister company of Friends of the Earth Middle East, the 27th September 2014 marked the inauguration of Madaba’s Eco-Village. The event included multiple activities such as planting trees in the Cooperation Forest, walking through the Eco-Camp, and a mini football game.

The project aims at enhancing social and economic development in the local Mediterranean basin through cross-border cooperation between the regional networks of local authorities and civil society organizations. It supports, in particular, the regional development processes through the implementation of integrated local projects in local and regional territories in addition to encouraging eco-tourism. Click here for more photos of the event. Read more in our blog (in Arabic).

UN Convention on International Watercourses – recently entered into force
FoEME would like to inform our readers that the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses recently entered into force, after many years of work. This is the only treaty governing shared freshwater resources that is of universal applicability. It provides a framework of principles and rules that may be applied and adjusted to suit the characteristics of particular international watercourses. It represents an important contribution to the strengthening of the rule of law in this increasingly critical field of international relations and to the protection and preservation of international watercourses. In an era of increasing water scarcity, it is to be hoped that the Convention’s influence will continue to grow.