Kate Rothschild, International Advisory Committee Member, gives insight into recent visit
Kate Rothschild, a member of EcoPeace’s International Advisory Committee, had an Op-ed published in the Huffington Post after her recent tour of the Hebron Stream with EcoPeace. Kate followed the flow of the polluted stream from Hebron, through the Negev desert and into Gaza. Her experience left her with heavy feelings but also “one small, unfurling seed of optimism; knowing that if water could be disentangled from the war, it presents a genuine opportunity for co-operation and relationship building between neighbours“. The visit to Gaza was timely, as EcoPeace continues to promote the need to solve the urgent water and energy crises facing Gaza’s 1. 8 million Palestinian residents. A newly released UN report concludes that Gaza will no longer be a livable place, in just five years, if urgent actions are not taken. The writing is very much on the wall, for not only Gaza, but for the rest of the region, if Gaza’s life blood, clean water, is allowed to totally collapse.

Good Water Neighbors – Cross Border Meetings throughout the Region
On August 12th an ecologist from the Israeli Yarkon River Authority guided Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders of the Qana-Yarkon watershed. The visit included learning about the environmental challenges of this shared watershed, progress and opportunities of stream rehabilitation and ideas for future projects. The stakeholders discussed efforts of stream rehabilitation and hiked to a lookout that included both the Israeli and Palestinian side of Wadi Qana, a tributary of the Yarkon. The visit also included a nearby waste water treatment plant, a waste management site, and constructed wetlands designed to improve the quality of treated water before returning to the Yarkon stream. After visiting numerous activities along the stream, the group ended their tour at the port of Tel Aviv where the Yarkon flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Participants left with many ideas for future cooperative projects.

On August 23rd EcoPeace held a cross border forum visit to the Zomer Valley for Palestinians and Israelis of the Zomer — Alexander watershed. The group learned about the problems created by olive mill waste, techniques used by olive mills and possible solutions to dispose of the waste in a proper way. The issue of olive mill waste is not limited to just his watershed, but is a regional problem found in most places where olive mills are located and can pollute ground water. For the short term the stakeholders think the best technique is using controlled amounts of olive waste as fertilizer and will hold additional follow up meetings and exchange of regional knowledge to achieve a long term solution.

On August 30th and 31st, EcoPeace held a cross border forum visit to Madaba, Jordan for Palestinian and Jordanian stakeholders representing the Wadi Al Naar – Zara Maain watershed. EcoPeace began the visit at the Greater Madaba Municipality and Madaba Water Directorate followed by a tour of the wadi, the pumping stations of Wala & Lib, and the Madaba wastewater treatment plant. Participants discussed common problems they faced, solutions for water and environmental challenges, and continuing cooperation to improve the watersheds sustainability.

Palestinian and Israeli Youth head to Japan
Eight Israeli and Palestinian youth (female) “Water Trustees” from EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project had a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to travel to Kosuge Village, Hokuto, and Tokyo, Japan. The girls were part of the Kizuna Project initiative, an environmental-coexistence summer camp supported by Peace Field Japan (PFJ) and offered to Palestinian, Israeli and Japanese youth to experience “SATOYAMA”, the Japanese concept of harmony between man and nature. During the visit the participants learned about the cultural landscape, traditional farming, protection of forests, responsibility for taking care of waste and natural cycles of the environment. A bond was also created between the youth as they learned about each other by- dancing, learning, and hiking together. “Arigato Gozay Masta!” (“Thank You!”) to PFJ and the local villagers who hosted us and took us into their homes and hearts. More photos can be viewed here .

Educating for Regional Environmental Leadership
Educating for Regional Environmental Leadership was the theme for EcoPeace’s annual Regional Teachers’ Seminar held in Amman from August 3-4, 2015. The seminar included Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian participants who were introduced to EcoPeace’s educational curriculum which focuses on creating a sense of environmental belonging among students through activities designed to increase connection with nature. Other workshops included “Diving into the Water” which explained the Good Water Neighbors methodology for environmental conflict resolution. Participants chose one of five cross border water basins. Through role play they learned about the state of the water and environment in each basin.

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

GWN Exchange with Bosnia
Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg , and Executive Assistant, Michal Milner, were in Bosnia the third week of August to see the results of Good Water Neighbors (GWN) being implemented by the Center for Ecology and Energy. This was GWN’s first year in the conflict ridden area of the Balkans and includes four communities along the Spreca River – two comunities in the north and two in the south, with each pair including Muslims and Orthodox Christians. The communities in Bosnia face similar problems to the EcoPeace communities as the river represents the ethnic border as well as the dumping ground of waste and sewage. Read more about GWN going global by clicking here.

The Good Water Neighbors project in Bosnia is funded with support of Robert Bosch Stiftung

Further Development of our Jordan River Rehabilitation Project
A work in progress; EcoPeace has commissioned the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to prepare a report presenting options available for the development of a regional governance structure for the Lower Jordan River. SIWI presented an Inception Report at our recent conference in June in conjunction with the release of the Jordan River Master Plan and a first draft was submitted recently. The report will be used as a policy tool and is envisioned as a consulting mechanism to facilitate discussion among stakeholders as to what type of governance option would be mutually beneficial to the Jordan River and its riparians. Stay tuned for the final report to be submitted in early 2016.

EcoPeace’s Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) project is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.
EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Osprey Foundation.