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July 2015

EcoPeace Releases NGO Masterplan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley
EcoPeace Middle East / WEDO and its consortium partners at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and Global Nature Fund (GNF) presented the Integrated Regional NGO Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley at a regional conference held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dead Sea, in Jordan from June 9-10, 2015, under the patronage of the Jordanian Minister of Water, Dr. Hazim al Nasser.

The conference marked the conclusion of a 3-year European Union 'SWIM' funded program and brought together an impressive number of high-level government officials from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, international diplomatic representatives, international development agency representatives, and basin experts to discuss the advancement of the program from planning to implementation.

The Master Plan, undertaken by a consultancy team led by Royal HaskoningDHV, was presented according to its 7 strategic planning objectives: Pollution Control; Sustainable Water Management & River Rehabilitation; Sustainable Agriculture; Jordan River Basin Governance; Ecological Rehabilitation; Sustainable Tourism & Cultural Heritage Development; and Urban & Infrastructure Development.

The Master Plan also identifies 127 specific regional and national projects ("interventions") in relation to the above mentioned strategic planning objectives, with a total investment value of 4.58 billion USD until the year 2050.

Levant Consultancy, financial experts, also gave an overview of capital market funding opportunities that will serve to finance the projects together with donor states.

Click here for the Master Plan; the Master Plan Annex (Interventions); click on this Events webpage for further links to speeches, presentations, videos of support from the International community, an album of photos on our Facebook page and more; and here for media coverage from the conference.

EcoPeace's Regional NGO Master Plan (SWIM-JR) Project is supported by the European Union’s Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Programme.

EcoPeace & Indo-Pakistani Cooperation on the Indus River
On June 11th - 12th, an Indian and Pakistani delegation visited Jordan for a workshop to jumpstart cooperation with EcoPeace on the Indus River. Five key action points were identified as a framework for this initiative: academia, business, faith based communities, civil society, and schools.

The delegates visited the Baptism site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” to learn about the ecological degradation of the Jordan River and the organization’s efforts to rehabilitate it by pushing the issue onto the agenda of the local governments. They were introduced to the faith-based campaign launched in 2013 to gain support of religious figures from the three monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism as their voices help bring attention to the river’s ecological deterioration.  See more photos in this Facebook album.

Cross Border Youth Water Trustee Groups meet throughout the region
Three cross-border meetings of “Youth Water Trustees” from the Kishon/Mukata basin, the Hebron/Beer Sheva/Besor basin, and the Yarkon/Qana basin took place as part of EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors Project. These workshops were designed to provide the youth with an opportunity to learn about their shared environmental challenges and to discuss ways in which they can help improve the ecological situation of their region. The youth hiked along streams, rode bikes, and participated in activities to learn about each other and their commonalities, connecting to the water and nature they all share.

EcoPeace is the Big Jump Challenge “Team of the Week”
EcoPeace Youth Water Trustees alumni from Israel, Jordan, and Palestine have created a team this year for the International Big Jump Event. This week, EcoPeace was chosen as the “Team of the Week”, for its hard work in organizing a cross-border event by the Jordan River (featured in last month’s newsletter). The success of our team underlines the Water Trustee alumni’s solidarity and commitment to protect their shared watershed, serving as an example and inspiration to teams around the world. Read more in this blog, click here for an album of photos, and to see a video of the “Youth Water Trustees” alumni’s message, click here.

EcoPeace conducts cross border site visits throughout the region
A group of Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders participated in a cross-border visit in the Hebron/Beer Sheva/ Besor watershed, witnessing the grievances of the historic Bedouin village of Umm Battin, where a polluted river of sewage runs through the heart of the village. Participants also visited the Shoket Waste Water Treatment Plant, a successful operation highly reliant on joint management and monitoring of sewage from both Israelis and the Palestinians. A tour at the Beer Sheva River Park revealed that wise management coupled with a long-term vision and a strong will can create life in the midst of an arid desert. The park that was once a dumping ground, is now a green recreational park. Read more in this blog, and click here for an album of photos.

A Jordanian delegation, comprised of the Head of the Wadi Sir Directorate, along with other Jordanian governmental representatives, visited their cross border watershed of "Wadi Qelt" in Palestine. They met with their Palestinian counterparts to discuss urgent challenges that both communities are facing with the shared watershed. The group discussed possible means of cooperation and improved management. The delegates visited the municipality of Jericho to learn about the environmental challenges facing the valley, stopping by the Jericho Directorate for Agriculture, a compost station, a fish-breeding farm, and the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Jericho. Read more in this blog and click here for an album of photos.

European Union Representatives visit Emek Hefer and Nablus Stream
EcoPeace staff took Ms. Esther Pozo Vera, Sector Coordinator for European Neighborhood Countries of the European Commission, and Alexandra Meir from the Trade and Economic Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel on a site visit to see the hard work of our Good Water Neighbors project. In Emek Hefer, they visited a reconstructed wetland, which was built by youth in the Sadot School in Bat Hefer in 2009, and still recycles water today. Heavily polluted water was seen crossing the barrier in the Nablus Stream despite huge investments made in the construction of the West Nablus Waste Water Treatment Plant, exemplifying the need for greater cross border coordination and the failure of unilateral actions to problem solve transboundary water issues.

Kate Rothschild Meeting Trustees
This month, Kate Rothschild, one of EcoPeace's International Advisory Board Members, visited the region to learn more about our work. Kate went on an educational tour of the Hebron/Be'er Sheva/Besor stream and met with some of our Palestinian and Israeli Youth Water Trustee groups, who made sure she left knowing how important it is for our region's youth to be leaders in the environment.

EcoPeace wins the National ENERGY GLOBE Award 2015 on UN’s World Environment Day
This month, EcoPeace was awarded the National Energy Globe Award for the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project and was subsequently nominated for the International Energy Globe Award. The jury chose EcoPeace because of its innovative regional approach to rehabilitate the Jordan River, Bottom Up through the GWN project and Top Down, through widespread advocacy efforts, bringing fresh water to the river and removing pollution through sanitation solutions. With more than 170 participating countries and over 1500 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is one of today's most prestigious environmental prizes worldwide. Our project was presented on June 5th, 2015 at the UN's World Environment Day, under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP.

EcoPeace Presents at the World Heritage Watch conference in Bonn, Germany
At the “UNESCO World Heritage and The Role of Civil Society” conference of World Heritage Watch, Mohammed Obidallah from the EcoPeace Bethlehem office presented “The Struggle of Civil Society to Save the Roman Irrigation System and the Terraced Cultural Landscape of Battir,” demonstrating how EcoPeace’s strategy of combining a “top-down” (advocacy) approach with a “bottom-up” (grass roots / community) strategy has proven to be a very effective work model to preserve Battir’s Terraced Landscape and the Roman Irrigation System. He explained that as a result of continuous work for three years in the GWN project, on June 20th, 2014, UNESCO registered Battir as a World Heritage site, and on January 4th, 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice decided to deny the request of the Israeli military to build the separation barrier through the unique terraced landscape of Battir.

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


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