EcoPeace, KAS and INSS – Water Conference
In cooperation with the German foundation ‘Konrad Adenauer Stiftung – Israel’ (KAS), and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), EcoPeace Tel Aviv held a roundtable event entitled “Can Water Bring the Political Process to A Safe Shore? Water Issues; from Source of Conflict to Vehicle for Regional Cooperation and Stability” at the INSS, in Tel Aviv.

The event brought together Israeli water experts and international stakeholders to discuss the benefits of moving forward on water, and included panel discussions together with the keynote speech by Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, Ayoub Kara. One of the conference’s highlights was a statement made by Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the EU Delegation to Israel: “We’ve spent too much time promoting an Israeli-Palestinian solution that is all or nothing, (…) We have got to revise our approach to the peace process, which would allow us to address the issue of water and a number of other issues also (…) What we need to do is build up basic confidence on the ground through an approach of small steps.” This change of approach has the potential to bring about new and more effective policies to advance the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian water issues.
Click on these hyperlinks for a video of the speech made by EU Ambassador Faaborg-Anderson, and for a Jerusalem Post article about the event.

We thank our long-standing partners KAS and INSS for assisting us in creating the occasion for such a needed discussion.

Jordan River Regional Tour Guides Training in Jordan
EcoPeace’s Jordan River project held its 3rd “Come Together at the River” training in early December. These regional trainings aim to bring together pilgrimage and religious tour guides from Israel, Jordan and Palestine to acquire a greater understanding about the regional context of the area’s rich sites, highlighting the case of the Jordan River and sacred religious sites associated with it.

Alongside visits to several sites along the eastern bank of the Lower Jordan River, participants were introduced to the Jordan River’s rich cultural and natural heritage. EcoPeace staff also explained the impacts that human actions have had on the shared water resources of the region, and how people – even visitors and tourists – can participate in efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River. Participants were encouraged to discuss the role of tourism and how sharing the stories of the Jordan River Valley, ancient and modern, can inspire others to care for its protection. Click here for a Facebook photo album of this training.

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

Cross Border Regional Youth camp
A regional youth camp took place at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan as part of the MEDFORVAL Project Program. Participants from Jordan, Israel and Palestine had the opportunity to gain and share knowledge about Forests Protection and Biodiversity. On the first day, after engaging in social activities, participants learned about the unique bio-geography of the region. On the second day they went on a lengthy tour of the EcoPark and learned how to undertake an ecological survey witnessing first-hand the EcoPark area’s habitats and biodiversity. On the last day the group was taught how to differentiate between exotic and endemic species.

Women’s Empowerment at Kaser el Yehud
A group of Israeli female ‘Water Trustees’ came to meet Palestinian female ‘Water Trustees’ at the Kaser el Yehud baptism site on the Lower Jordan River. The girls were divided into 3 groups, and each was assigned to study a different time period of the River: past, present and future. The ‘historians’ learned that the water in the River Jordan was once so abundant that boats were lost in its strong flow! The group researching the present saw pilgrims at the site being baptized in polluted water and were shocked that this is permitted, and the ‘fortune tellers’ drew a picture of the river slowly coming back to life.

The girls presented their short research to a group of tourists who were visiting the site, ending with the song written a few months earlier “We Will Change It”. Holding hands in a circle before their farewell, each participant choose a word that she will take with her from the day: hope, love, trust, cooperation, friends, future. What a nice way to say goodbye!
Read more in our blog “Girl Power at the Jordan River”.

Cross Border Youth Visit between Hebron and Bsor communities
In yet another cross border activity this month, this time focusing on the Hebron / Be’er Sheva watershed, youth from the Negev area in Israel braved the rainy weather forecast and greeted their Palestinian counterparts from the upstream village of Yatta. Luckily, the skies cleared up, and the group was able to visit the wastewater catchment facility located near the Green Line, between their communities.
The second part of the day took place near the Beer Sheva Stream, at the Freedom Bell Park, where participants heard the bell ringing and reflected that it sounded like a call for “every one of us to take part in the rehabilitation of the River”.

EcoPeace’s GWN staff –”Top 50 Social Activists” by Israeli Daily Newspaper
We are delighted that our Good Water Neighbors Community Coordinator from Baka el Gharbia, Mohammed Biadsi, was named 1 of the “Top 50 Social Activists” by the leading Israeli Daily Newspaper, Yediot Aharonot. Indeed, EcoPeace can confirm that Mohammed has been working tirelessly on environmental education in his community for as long as he can remember! Congratulations to Mohammed on the recognition!

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and USAID West Bank/Gaza.

EcoPeace participates in an IUCN / PANORAMA Webinar; “Transboundary Protected Area Solutions”
IUCN and GIZ invited EcoPeace to present our “Good Water Neighbours” (GWN) program as a transboundary solution on their series of webinars on Protected Areas. EcoPeace’s Marina Djernaes presented our efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River through transboundary cooperation in the GWN program.

The presentation identified how areas outside of the region could use the program to raise awareness of their communities’ shared water reality based on EcoPeace’s methodology of utilizing local interdependencies to develop dialogue and cooperation for sustainable water management, and ultimately to advance peacebuilding. The webinar had more than 140 people signed on with the audience positing questions & comments following the presentation. Click here for the video recording of the webinar, and here for all the presentations made during the seminar.

• These projects and others have been made possible thanks to the generous support of our friends and donors.
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