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EcoPeace Middle East has recently opened an office in the U.S. to work on advancing our methodology in other conflict regions in the world

Environmental peacebuilding in the Jordan River

EcoPeace Middle East recently established the global EcoPeace Center for Water Security (ECWS) with headquarters in Washington DC. The ECWS will engage in conflict resolution, sharing EcoPeace’s 23 years of experience and proven methodology in environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East by training, educating, and consulting leading international and grassroots organizations in different regions globally.

The objective is to address existing conflict issues over shared water resources and threats to local health, peace, and stability. The Center will offer its services to facilitate effective program development to existing target organizations located in shared water basins across the globe, and will disseminate best practices developed in the Middle East by advising on how best to adapt ‘bottom up and top down’ programming and strategies to the specific circumstances in the given locations. Training will include site visits by members of the target organizations to the Middle East in order to gain on-the-ground familiarity with EcoPeace’s work, and by EcoPeace staff to the target regions to provide hands-on training and support. In working together, target organization members and EcoPeace staff will develop solutions that adapt the EcoPeace approach to the local water basin and to its unique water-related issues.

EcoPeace Middle East – 23 Years of Environmental Peacebuilding

Established in 1994, EcoPeace has 23 years of experience in fostering people-to-people information exchange, dialogue, and concrete cooperation on the protection, equitable and sustainable use of water and environment resources in Jordan, Palestine and Israel. It has proven success in changing both the reality on the ground and the mindsets of decision makers. Achievements have been the result of activities with all sectors of society, where the education of communities on the pressing environmental issues that threaten common livelihoods are promoted and people are provided with the appropriate tools to tackle environmental and social challenges. EcoPeace’s approach develops the political will to move forward on cross border water and sanitation issues and requires an understanding from both the grassroots and leadership level that all people in the region rely on a shared environment in an interdependent fashion.

Internationally, EcoPeace is a recognized trailblazer in the field of practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding. Awards received include the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Aristotle Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment. TIME Magazine, and the Economist have both acknowledged the importance of our work. New York Times Journalist and Middle East Commentator Thomas Friedman described the unique work of EcoPeace as “the best hope for the future” and a model for peacebuilding in the region, noting that relationships of trust between neighbors such as those built through EcoPeace’s efforts “are the hardest things to build, but also the hardest things to break once in place.

 

The Center for Water Security – EcoPeace ‘Going Global’

The ECWS offers a model for regional peacebuilding that builds the capacity of actors to help establish much-needed relationships of cooperation and trust at the community level on issues pertaining to water and the environment. These ultimately increase community level resilience to climate induced water stress and empower grassroots local activist groups. Increased capacities through training for environmental peacebuilding contribute to global sustainability by reducing the threat of conflict over shared water resources. With such a model, parties across conflict zones can focus on concrete environmental solutions and develop win-win scenarios that speak directly to the self-interest and benefit of each side.

By bringing together local partners, policy-makers, representatives from civil society and NGOs to exchange their views and experiences in fostering cross-border relationships and regional cooperation, the ECWS’s goal is to build regional capacity to tackle shared environmental problems. As local, civil society organizations engaged in water management apply and adopt EcoPeace’s proven methodologies, changes on the ground will include rallied local communities working towards saving their shared landscape, advancement of regional agreements and long-term strategic planning, cross border collaborative ventures such as eco-tourism, an empowered local economy, and more. Beyond local conflicts, the benefits of environmental peacebuilding in general, as propagated by the ECWS, will be recognized as essential in peacebuilding and in conflict resolution efforts across the globe. The ECWS will therefore strive to:

  • Present EcoPeace’s environmental peacebuilding methodology for potential replication.
  • Strengthen the capacity of local organizations to confront obstacles and challenges of working in conflict and post-conflict contexts.
  • Build strategies for engaging local stakeholders in peacebuilding activities.
  • Identify a staged approach for environmental peacebuilding activities, where each side would move in parallel while the region is still in midst of conflict.

 

Role and Services of the Center for Water Security

The ECWS will facilitate effective program development to stakeholders located in water basins across the globe. This includes disseminating best practices for organizing on the ground grassroots activities with research and political advocacy to secure sustainable management of resources and advance cooperative efforts among stakeholders. Joining local partners, the ECWS ‘s work will adapt EcoPeace’s unique methodology to the environmental, ecological, socio-economic and geo-political contexts in which it will operate. It will provide technical assistance and training to advance environmental peacebuilding and will offer frameworks for strategic planning, including the preparation of required documentation and coaching/facilitation for community based organizing. In addition, site visits both at the target basin and in the Middle East will be organized for key stakeholders and local leadership. The ECWS will also advance environmental peacebuilding initiatives through targeted speaking engagements and meetings with stakeholders (UN, donor agencies, peace and development organizations), through cooperation with educational institutions and think-thanks, and by developing curricula, brochures and other materials based on the organization’s practical and technical know-how and experience.

 

This project was made possible through funding from Robert Bosch Stiftung