Below is a chronological build-up of the achievements reached by the many years – and different types – of efforts by EcoPeace Middle East to reach our vision for a healthy and sustainable Lower Jordan River.
[For publications relevant to this project, click here]
GOOD NEWS FOR THE JORDAN RIVER!
It has taken a decade of hard work but concrete change is finally taking place in the River Jordan.
As of May 2013, the Israel Water Authority is allowing 9 mcm / year of fresh water to flow regularly from Lake Tiberias (Kinneret) into the Lower Jordan River in an effort to ecologically rehabilitate the river…
In addition, new Waste Water Treatment Plants have been built in Israel, Jordan and Palestine, all in proximity to the River. Sewage from the surrounding communities need no longer be discharged into the River.
Good Water Neighbors Youth Education Program
EcoPeace Middle East (EcoPeace)’s interest in developing the first ever regional grassroots and “bottom up” program for Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian cooperation on Jordan River Rehabilitation began with the establishment of the “Good Water Neighbors” (GWN) program. GWN was established by EcoPeace Middle East to raise awareness of the shared water problems of Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis, especially for communities within the Jordan River watershed. The project is carried out in 14 cross-border communities along the Jordan River including, 3 Palestinian communities, 3 Israeli communities and 8 Jordanian communities in the Jordan River Valley. Each community partners with a neighboring community on the other side of the border/political divide. The project utilizes the mutual dependence on shared water resources as a basis for developing dialogue and cooperation among local stakeholders and municipal leaders. The GWN methodology is based on identifying cross border communities within a water basin and utilizing their mutual dependence on shared water resources as a basis for cooperation on sustainable water management. GWN has created real improvement within the water sector by building trust and understanding that has led to common problem solving and peace building among communities even in the midst of conflict. Youth, from all 3 countries ranging in ages from 10-18 years old, have been engaged in several actions throughout the last 14 years of the GWN program: campaigning to clean up their rivers, collecting signatures on petitions to invest in cleaning up waterways that were then presented to respective municipal and national decision makers, learning about the need for water conservation, designing and constructing rain-water collection systems at schools, partaking in ecological workshops to learn how to build ecological gardens using recycled materials and native flora, and much more. In addition, summer camps and get-togethers with youth from all 3 countries occurred at least twice each year throughout the project, providing youth opportunities to meet each other and exchange information learned during the year about their shared water realities, breaking down pre-conceived notions and prejudices about their neighbors, their cultures, and their lives. EcoPeace has also developed a “Resource Guide for Environmental Education” with a wealth of hands-on environmental activities for youth, promoting the environmental peacebuilding perspective. Through both training teachers on implementing resource guide activities and engaging youth in hands on, experiential learning activities related to water and the environment, EcoPeace Middle East is creating a platform for future environmental leaders in the region – leaders that recognize the role of their neighbor’s in protecting our shared resources. In communities along the Jordan River, over 1,000 youth have participated in EcoPeace’s educational program.
Resource Guide for Environmental Education
Community GIS Project
Defining a Regional Vision: EcoPeace Middle East Concept Document
In EcoPeace’s effort to develop a shared vision for Jordan River Rehabilitation, the organization sought to research the underlying problems with the Jordan River and its ecosystem. This research culminated in a Concept Document, which was presented as a launch to the Jordan River Rehabilitation project on the Jordan River Peace Island (see achievement number 6). This event, held under patronage and participation of Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan in March of 2005, marked the start of a regional effort to raise awareness, educate, and influence decision makers, the media and the public at large as to the current demise of the Lower Jordan River. Over 300 participants from across the region participated in the event, along with a significant media presence. At the time, the Jordan River faced severe degradation caused by both excessive water diversion and untreated sewerage discharge into the river. The document and event proposed that the concerned governments in full cooperation with municipalities, local residents, and civil society groups adopt an Action Plan for the rehabilitation of the river valley. This Concept Document jump-started EcoPeace’s intensive advocacy and action campaign to rehabilitate the Jordan River.
Raising Regional and International Public Awareness through Events and Media Campaigns
With the launch of the Jordan River Rehabilitation program, EcoPeace led an intensive advocacy program, an effort which has resulted in major awareness campaigns and media presence. With this ongoing effort, the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project and EcoPeace’s larger environmental peacebuilding approach has influenced important figures, such as NY Times Journalist Thomas Friedman, to look at water issues in the region; EcoPeace’s efforts have been recognized through the Aristotle Onassis Prize and Skoll Award and highlighted in National Geographic, Time Magazine, The Guardian, the United States National Public Radio (NPR), CNN, BBC, and many more. In both 2007 and 2010, EcoPeace led a regional awareness event, the “Big Jump” in which mayors, municipal representatives and youth – from Israel, Palestine and Jordan – gathered on the bank of the Jordan River to build rafts together and “Jump” into the Lower Jordan River, sending a clear message that there is a region-wide call aimed for our governments to step up efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.
Jordan River Press Page
Skoll Award and EcoPeace
Aristotle Onassis Prize Media Release
October 25, 2014, New York Times The Last Train
October 9, 2013, New York Times In a Polluted Stream, a Pathway to Peace
April 21, 2013, BBC Radio Interview with Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith and Imam Shahab Hussein about the Lower Jordan River
March 15, 2013, Huffington Post – OpEd President Obama, When in the Middle East, Walk on Water
January 19, 2013, National Geographic News Watch Ecological Healing in the ‘Holyland’
April 1, 2011, NPR radio Jordan River water project hopes to re-energize the Middle East peace process
May 5, 2010 – Huffington Post Saving the Jordan Valley Eco System
May 4, 2010 – The Guardian Environmentalists warn Jordan River drying up
April 2010, National Geographic, Parting the Waters
February, 2010 USAID Frontlines Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians Work Together to Save the Jordan River
September 25, 2008, TIME magazine Heroes of the Environment 2008
July 15, 2007, NPR Radio Mayors Jump into Jordan River Cleaning Campaign
In an effort to raise awareness of shared water issues in the region, particularly of the Lower Jordan River, EcoPeace developed a series of “Neighbors Paths,” designed to show the natural and cultural heritage of each one of our “Good Water Neighbor” communities, particularly along the Jordan River, and to learn about their water resources both in the past and in the present. Many trails highlight the rich history found in the region but also reveal degradation and pollution, often “not seen” by local residents themselves and certainly not usually shown to tourists. 450 Neighbors Path tours have been held in the Jordan River Valley to a targeted group of 11,500 stakeholders, including donors, youth, decision makers, academia, tourists, as well as local residents, teaching about the interrelated nature of water issues in the region, and hence, the necessity to find joint solutions and problem solve together.
Neighbors Path 1, Muaz bin Jabal, Jordan
Neighbors Path 2, Tabket Fahel, Jordan
Neighbors Path 3, Jordan Valley, Israel
Neighbors Path 4, Beit Shean, Israel
Neighbors Path 5, Jericho, Palestine
Neighbors Path 6, Auja, Palestine
EcoParks and Conservation Efforts
EcoPeace has been involved in community development projects in the Jordan Valley since the early 2000s through the establishment of EcoParks in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. The Ecological Park Concept has been developed on the basis of successful plans developed for previous projects; whether to preserve biodiversity, or as a powerful tool for environmental education, they are important community based projects in the Jordan Valley. The Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan was founded in 2004 as a pilot project to end the pollution and neglect of the Ziglab Dam Lake and surrounding land in the Jordan River Valley. Exploitation, overgrazing, and erosion had hurt the natural resources tremendously. EcoPeace was given 11 hectares (110 dunums) of land by the Jordan Valley Authority; the EcoPark has since grown to cover 2,700 dunams of land. Since the establishment of the Eco Park, we have watched the ecosystem flourish, biodiversity and native species bloom, and the land slowly restore itself from centuries of overgrazing and use. The EcoPark provides visitors and residents of the Jordan Valley close access to the unique species of the region, while simultaneously addressing the environmental implications of development. The EcoPark’s construction technique replaces traditional construction materials with eco-bricks, using recycled bottles as a key structural element. The Ein Gedi EcoCenter in Israel, developed with support from the GWN youth program, aims to educate students from the Middle East region, and other visitors as well, on ways to rehabilitate the Jordan River, reduce our impact on the environment, promote green solutions for our daily needs. Today, Ein Gedi Eco Park has several mud structures, a wetland that recycles grey water from a nearby kindergarten building, various solar cookers, composters, and two dry compost toilets. EcoPeace’s Water Trustees and students from the nearby high school have all been involved in the development of the Eco Park as it continues to educate students from the Middle East region, and other visitors as well, on ways to reduce our impact on the environment and promote green solutions for our daily needs. In Auja, Palestine, EcoPeace established a Jordan Rift Valley Center for Environmental Education and Eco-Tourism Development on land donated by the municipality. Auja’s Environmental Education Center is already a focal point for environmental awareness on the importance of the Jordan Valley, teaching visitors and students about the geology, fauna, flora, water resources and cultural heritage of the Auja Spring and the Jordan Valley as a whole. Serving as an education facilitiy, the EcoCenter includes a conference room, workshop rooms, exhibit area, cafeteria, guesthouse and rooftop bird watching area. The building is also fitted with compost toilets, a rainwater catchment system, and constructed wetlands to demonstrate wise water practices to students and visitors.
Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark (SHE), Jordan
Auja EcoPark, Palestine
Ein Gedi EcoPark, Israel
SHE Wildlife Guidebook sample
Jordan River Peace Park
In addition to the Good Water Neighbor’s youth program outlined in achievement number 1, the GWN project began working with the adult residents and local leadership in each community to advance Jordan River Rehabilitation efforts (explained further in achievement number 10). One of the most significant achievements of this new initiative was the development of the Jordan River Peace Park, where mayors of the Jordan Valley Regional Council (Israel), Beit Shean Valley Regional Council (Israel) and Muaz Bin Jabal Municipality (Jordan) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a Peace Park that would restore pride of place to the Jordan River Valley and create new opportunities for the local populations. ‘The Jordan River Peace Park’ is proposed to combine two adjacent areas; Al Bakoora in Jordan Naharayim in Israel, where a small island was created at the junction of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, and the Jeser Al Majama in Jordan Gesher sites in Israel, known as the historical crossing point of the Jordan River Valley. Plans for the Peace Park include the re-flooding of the present day dry lake bed and creating a bird sanctuary. The lake will serve to attract the more than 500 million migratory birds that cross the Jordan River Valley twice annually. In 2008 EcoPeace released a Pre-Feasibility Study which proposed a two phased development of the Peace Park and conducted a regional design workshop to propose the area’s initial master plan. As we are currently In Phase I, the project is launching on the Jordanian and Israeli sides separately, but in parallel. The various sites will be connected in Phase II where the whole area will be integrated into a single cross-border park.
Pre Feasibility Study
Peace Park Map
Peace Park Flyer
Photo Exhibit Book
2008 Regional Design Workshop
2014 Old Gesher Design Workshop
Environmental Flow Report
Following the successful awareness raising efforts that EcoPeace undertook in the 2000s, 2010 marked the beginning of an intensive period of research in which EcoPeace sought to address two of the most important questions related to Jordan River Rehabilitation: 1) How much water is needed to rehabilitate the river, and 2) where will this water come from? EcoPeace Middle East published “Towards a Living Jordan River: An Environmental Flows Report on the Rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River” to strengthen the knowledge base and enable political decision makers in Israel, Jordan and Palestine to act to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River (LJR). The report addressed the following question: how much and what quality of water is required to rehabilitate the LJR? This study represents the first ever regional environmental flows study of the LJR prepared by experts from Palestine, Israel and Jordan and overseen by a Regional Advisory Committee involving key governmental representatives from each of the riparian countries. This report concludes that the LJR requires 400 million cubic meters (mcm) annually, to be expanded to 600 mcm over time for the river to function as a healthy ecosystem.
Environmental Flow Report
2011 – Present
Increased awareness for Demand Management in the Jordan River
In conjunction with the production of the Environmental Flow Report, EcoPeace released in 2010 “An Economic Analysis of Policy Options for Water Conservation in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Based on the findings in this report, EcoPeace has written and disseminated policy briefs in favor of policy advancements towards the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. EcoPeace’s policy papers have played an important role in supporting our parliamentary advocacy efforts, and have been used in Parliamentary meetings and in a variety of public events. We have seen significant advancements as a result. For the first time, the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) has formed a Caucus for regional cooperation, in which environmental and water issues are described as focal issues of entry to regional cooperation issues by members of the caucus. The Caucus is focusing initially on the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. In Palestine, EcoPeace’s advocacy has raised the awareness of major news agencies, who now follow these issues closely. EcoPeace has also created “champions” for the Jordan River including Ibtisam Zeidan, Head of the Palestinian Women’s Consortium, and Alaa Ghanaiem, Director of the Palestine National Human Rights Commission in Bethlehem & Ma’an News. Linking major aspects of Israeli water management including Water for Agriculture and Desalinization to the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River has put the river’s rehabilitation on the national agenda in high level discussions, media and community led initiatives. EcoPeace’s position papers are being adopted by key Members of Parliament through the region working to champion the issues. EcoPeace undertook advanced research and created a detailed “Roadmap for the Rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River” for how exactly the Israeli Water Authority could rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River using the Water Evaluation And Planning (“WEAP”) model. The publication has become a leading source for understanding exactly how the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River can take place in Israel and a potential model for replication in Jordan and Palestine.
Economic Analysis of Policy Options for Water Conservation in Israel
Economic Analysis of Policy Options for Water Conservation in Jordan
Economic Analysis of Policy Options for Water Conservation in Palestine
Economic Benefits Study
Complementing the Environmental Flow Report and Economic Analysis of Policy Options for Water Conservation in the region, EcoPeace undertook an analysis of the economic opportunities to save or produce fresh water resources from within the water economies of Israel, Jordan and Palestine which could potentially be returned to the Lower Jordan River as part of a river rehabilitation plan. The economic study was written to complement the environmental flows study, showing decision makers that EcoPeace’s efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River are based on economic as well as scientific studies. The study identifies economic incentives for rehabilitation that previously had not been quantified. Following the release of the Economic Benefits Study and Environmental Flow Report, a draft National Decision has been formulated by the Israeli government to propose significant investment towards the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River specifically focused on the development of tourism in the Israeli Jordan Valley; tying strongly to EcoPeace’s study which identified significant benefits in the tourism sector. Additionally, this study has been served as a major information source for several important studies with strong policy implications for the region, including the Israeli government master plan for the Lower Jordan River from Nahayrim to Bezeq Stream (the Green Line).
Economic Benefits Study
Advance Priority Initiatives of “Good Water Neighbors” project through municipal and local authority commitment and action.
As mentioned in the success of the Good Water Neighbor’s youth education program fostered the next phase of the initiative, in which cross border cooperation on river rehabilitation involved a new group of stakeholders: municipal leaders and local community members. In this segment of the project, local stakeholders in cross border watersheds identify specific “Priority Initiatives”; environmental challenges impacting cross border communities needing joint urgent attention. The cross-border criteria of each initiative serves to further raise understanding of the interdependency of our water resources amongst the residents and local leadership, and the need to work together to solve shared challenges. Numerous cross border meetings have been held with mayors & municipal representatives to continue momentum & plan next steps for furthering each joint project. In addition, two Regional Mayors Conferences were held; one in November 2012, in Jericho, Palestine, gathering together 280 mayors, municipal representatives and community residents from all the GWN communities together with other international and donor organizations, that provided a crucial platform for presenting EcoPeace’s “Priority Projects”. It also gave participants the opportunity to learn about other infrastructure development projects being implemented, or planned, in the region, and to identify possible synergies and avenues of cooperation. The second was held in Herzliya, Israel on the occasion of the ‘UN International Year of Water Cooperation’, bringing together 270 Israeli, Palestinian & Jordanian political officials, municipal representatives, water experts, local residents and civil society representatives. Against the background of the renewed Israeli / Palestinian peace talks, the conference was designed to highlight the urgency and opportunities for all sides, of addressing the unresolved cross-border water and sanitation issues. EcoPeace staff also gave updates on advances made on last year’s selection of ‘Priority Projects’ and released the new publication that detailed the new set of priority projects. EcoPeace staff initiated and attended hundreds of meetings and other opportunities to present and promote interest and continued support for the GWN project, and for related water and sanitation solutions, leveraging $136 Million USD to advance the Priority Project initiatives identified in the GWN communities. An external evaluation of EcoPeace activities conducted in 2014 concluded that 92% of participants interviewed “gained or demonstrated an acquired knowledge of shared water and environmental issues and their interdependent nature due to their participation in, or connection with, the project”. EcoPeace consultation sessions with community residents were integral to gaining the buy-in to the projects, without which EcoPeace could not have presented the initiatives to the donor community.
Priority Projects 2012
Priority Projects 2013
Blog report on Regional mayor’s conferences: Jericho and Herziliya
Advance International Political Will
EcoPeace’s ongoing advocacy efforts internationally have results in significant appeals in both the United States and the European Union to advance Jordan River Rehabilitation efforts. On November 20, 2007, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved Resolution 387 concerned with the Jordan River and Dead Sea which urges “Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to continue to work in a spirit of cooperation as it addresses the degradation of the Jordan River and Dead Sea” while calling attention to the crucial state of these two important cultural and natural resources. The resolution also supports tri-lateral efforts “to assess the environmental, social, health and economic impacts, costs and feasibility of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Concept in comparison to alternative proposals, such as those that focus on the restoration of the Jordan River.” The European Union similar passed a historic resolution in support of regional rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan in September 2009. The EU Parliament directly called upon leaders in the region to address the state of the Jordan River. The resolution highlights that the Jordan River is a cultural landscape of universal significance in the Middle East and beyond which is today severely threatened by the diversion of 96% of its fresh water resources and a lack of regional management. Most recently, in the United States’ led peace process in 2013-2014, EcoPeace advocated for the inclusion of water within the talks. As a result of this effort, US Secretary of State John Kerry included a paragraph about water in the Israeli Palestinian framework agreement.
US Senate Press Release
Advance National Political Will in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan
EcoPeace Middle East’s local and international advocacy efforts spur national political will through enabling diverse constituencies to push national decision makers towards advancing solutions to the region’s water crisis.
The Jordanian Government created a “Jordan River Committee”, and invited EcoPeace Amman to be official members in the Committee. The Government of Jordan has been actively involved and supportive of the Jordanian master planning interventions developed through EcoPeace’s regional master planning programme as a Government of Jordan strategy.
Dr. Shadad Attili, former Palestinian Minister of Water and Head of the Palestinian Water Authority issued a letter of support to EcoPeace welcoming EcoPeace’s efforts to advance water and environmental solutions in the Lower Jordan River. The letter further supports EcoPeace’s effort to advance a regional master plan for the entire Lower Jordan River basin.
Israeli Parliament’s Environment and Internal Affairs Committee hosted a special hearing on the issue of the Jordan River and Stream Rehabilitation, inviting EcoPeace to be the main presenters; the Israeli Parliament created a Caucus on Regional Cooperation, prioritizing the rehabilitation of the Jordan River as its first agenda item. Israeli Parliament Committee for Interior and Environmental Protection called for the Jordan River’s Rehabilitation to be a project of national priority. Additionally, following extensive advocacy efforts and political pressure, Israel initiated the development of a Masterplan for the entire Israeli section of the Lower Jordan River in March of 2013. The Israeli Lower Jordan River Drainage Authority is currently finalizing the master plan of a stretch of the Lower Jordan River from Naharyim to Bezeq Stream which is aligned with a separate Israeli Master Plan already completed from Degania Dam (where the Lower Jordan exits the Sea of Galilee) to Naharyim.
Israel Master Plan Presentation
Advance Regional Political Will
EcoPeace’s efforts to advance community based, national and international political will for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River has been successful in fostering regional cooperation and advancing regional political will for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. By advancing knowledge and support of concrete, scientifically sound policies regional leaders have come to recognize and support the shared economic and geo-political benefits of regional cooperation for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. Notable, in the most recent round of peace talks between Israel and Palestine, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Tzippi Livni and Saeb Erekat, chief negotiators for Israel and Palestine, agreed to include the issue of water within the peace process; marking a significant achievement in EcoPeace’s efforts for national decision makers to recognize the role of water within the conflict.
EcoPeace has held a total of 13 National Jordan River Forum Meetings (6 in Palestine, 5 in Jordan and 2 in Israel) and 2 Regional Jordan River Forums to move forward on rehabilitation efforts. Additionally, a series of meetings and conferences on rehabilitating the Jordan River have occurred as part of the drafting process of a regional NGO masterplan (see acheivement number 16). In response to EcoPeace’s Regional Conference in November 2014 to rehabilitate the Jordan River, Israel and Jordan created a Joint Committee as a sub-committee to the Joint Water Committee of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty, focused solely on the rehabilitation of the River.
Additionally, national decision makers from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan convened at this meeting in support of regional action to rehabilitate the Jordan: H.E. Saed Abu Hammour, Secretary-General of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), initiated a well-received call for action during the conference when, on behalf of Jordan, he invited the Israeli and Palestinian governments to convene a meeting in Jordan to discuss the river’s rehabilitation efforts. From Palestine, the Secretary General of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) specifically declared PWA support for the master planning effort and accepted the invitation of Jordan to attend such a trilateral meeting. From Israel, Ya’acov Peri, Minister of Science and Technology, and Amir Peretz, Minister of Environmental Protection, participated alongside two other Members of Parliament. The Israeli officials utilized the platform to call for calming of regional tensions and expressed their support for this effort to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River, explicit in their opinion that it must involve also Palestine.
Support for the Jordan
Conference Proceedings – Nov 2014
World Bank Study of Alternatives to Revitalize the Dead Sea
EcoPeace takes an ecosystem approach to rehabilitation efforts. With a rising concern of the status of the Dead Sea, an integral part of the Jordan River System, and emerging dialogues as to the appropriate methods to protect this terminal lake of the Jordan River, EcoPeace was active in assuring that the Jordan River plays an active role in the discussion of solutions to the Dead Sea crisis. In 2003, the World Bank released a Terms of Reference for a Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Assessment of the propped Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance Project. Since the onset of this study, EcoPeace has responded and commented on the approach in which the World Bank sought to take in rehabilitating the Dead Sea. EcoPeace took an affirmative stance against this invasive and environmental dangerous project, and rather, advocated for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River as a preferred alternative to the Red-Dead Canal. In 2013, EcoPeace conducted an independent socio-economic and environmental assessment of the proposed Red Sea – Dead Sea water conveyance (“the RDC project”), funded by USAID’s Middle East Regional Cooperation program. The World Bank soon after released a Study of Alternatives, stating for the first time what EcoPeace had been advocating for over a decade; that the Lower Jordan River can be rehabilitated, the Dead Sea stabilized; and sufficient water made available to our respective publics without the risk of undertaking an experiment that poses serious environmental risks. The Israeli Ministry of the Environment later rejected the World Bank Feasibility Study Recommendation to construct the Red-Dead canal.
EcoPeace Media Release
Publications/Comments related to Red-Dead
Water Cannot Wait
Political boundaries divide the river between Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians. Instead of seeing the river as a single transboundary watershed, these nations have raced to capture the greatest possible share of the Jordan’s water. EcoPeace estimates that Israel diverts about half of the river’s average annual flow, while Syria and Jordan take about a quarter each. In 2012, EcoPeace launched a Water Cannot Wait campaign, to raise awareness over Palestinian water rights, advocating for equal access to the Jordan River and other shared water sources in the region. Through this campaign, EcoPeace is exposing environmental issues that are being held hostage to the conflict, specifically through the ‘Joint Water Council’ (JWC) created in the Oslo talks starting in 1993. EcoPeace advocates that given the dire Palestinian need for more water availability, Israel’s new water supply due to large scale desalination, and a shared need to deal with untreated sewage, a new water agreement makes economic, ecological, and most importantly, political sense. An agreement on water would greatly improve the current living conditions of all peoples. For Palestinians, it would increase fresh water availability in every home; for Israelis, it would remove pollutants from rivers and streams that flow through its main cities, most notably the Jordan River. Fact Sheets that were developed to highlight environmental issues “held hostage” to the conflict were disseminated widely in EcoPeace’s January 2014 conference entitled “Cross Border Environmental Issues and Water Resources in the Context of the Peace Process”, that featured Israeli Justice Minister & Chief Israeli negotiator Ms. Tzipi Livni, renowned NY Times journalist Thomas Friedman and a panel of water experts, and attended by over 250 people. In addition, large newspaper advertisements carrying the “Water Cannot Wait” message were published in January 2014 and again in March, with ongoing press coverage reaching an even wider public.
Pollution knows no border, Jordan River
Near Collapse: Dead Sea
Cross Border Environmental Issues and Water Resources in the Context of the Peace Process
Model Water Accord
2012 – Present
NGO Regional MasterPlan
One of the most substantial and influential activities of EcoPeace Middle East is the development of the Regional NGO Master Plan, a document that served as the culmination of years of research, advanced political will, and increased awareness throughout the region. EcoPeace, together with consortium partners, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and Global Nature Fund (GNF) came together in 2012 to produce the first ever trans-boundary integrated NGO master plan for the Jordan River Valley. The NGO master planning documents aim to transfer lessons learned and best practices from other transboundary basins, including the Murray-Darling Basin, to the Lower Jordan River Valley, deriving priorities from the EU Water Framework Derivative and Millennium Development Goals. An Inception Report was published in January 2013, issued by Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) in partnership with CORE Associates (Palestine), MASAR (Jordan) and DHVMED (Israel) on behalf of EcoPeace and its partners. The Report provides a detailed overview of the project to develop the Regional NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River Valley. The report includes detailed descriptions on the project’s objectives and outputs, expert team, scope of work, background work to date, data collection, workplan, public consultation process and more. A Baseline Report published in February 2014 provides the baseline data for the master plan. It describes the Lower Jordan River Basin as a whole, in terms of its geography, land use and infrastructure, its water resources and supply, its environment and ecology, its cultural heritage, and the climate change related impacts on the basin. The report describes the people living in the basin in terms of its population, their socio-economic circumstances, their agriculture, tourism and industries and their water requirements. It also provides an overview of the major stakeholders and their organizations in the basin. Finally it describes how the basin is governed, including the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian governance systems, the geo-political context and the international legal and co-operation agreements that have been signed. This baseline report concludes with the major challenges that the people in the basin and their governments are facing, both nationally as well as jointly. The baseline document itself represents a major advancement for integrated water management in the Jordan Valley, setting an important precedent in the region where water data was previously considered national security information.
National and Regional NGO master plans were presented to national and regional decision makers throughout the process including at a major regional conference in November 2014. The “International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley” brought together over one hundred and fifty government officials from Jordan, Palestine and Israel, international diplomatic representatives, international development agency representatives, and basin experts to reviewed and commented on the NGO master plans, which EcoPeace and its team is incorporating into the final documents. The final national and regional NGO master plans will be released at a regional conference in June 2015.
November 2014 Regional Conference Documents
International Conference on Sustainable Development of the Jordan Valley
May 2013- September 2014
Operational Wastewater Treatment along the Jordan River
After years of local, national and regional advocacy efforts and ongoing engagement of decision makers led by EcoPeace in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, waste water treatment plants were built and our now operational at several key locations along the Lower Jordan River Valley. These include in Israel’s Jordan Valley Regional Council ($60M), in the Northern Jordanian side of the Jordan Valley ($16M) and in Jericho, Palestine ($32M). Together these three treatment centers will remove most major domestic pollutants from the River. This opening of these plans marks a major step forward in working towards a healthy and clean Jordan River. Advocacy activities in support of these sanitation solutions are part of the Good Water Neighbors and Jordan River Rehabilitation Project. Additional sanitation solutions to further improve the water quality in the Jordan River Valley are an integral part of the national and regional NGO master planning documents described in section 16.
Jordan Valley, Israel WWTP and Advancing Auja WWTP in Newsletter
North Shouneh, Jordan, Treatment Plant in Newsletter
Release of Flow to the Jordan River
In recent decades EcoPeace has documented the widespread diversion of the natural flow of the Jordan River. The 2010 EcoPeace Environmental Flow Study described the diversion of an estimated 96% of the river’s natural flow by Israel, Syria and Jordan. Decades of allowing domestic, agricultural and industrial pollutions to reach the river without sanitation solutions in place together with the diversion of the Israeli Saline Water Canal into the Jordan River has been disastrous for the quality of the river’s waters and the flora and fauna communities that the river sustains. EcoPeace’s Environmental Flow study documents a loss of 50% of the river’s natural biodiversity due to the diversion and pollution of the river’s waters. After years of targeted advocacy and research to fill the gap in knowledge, the Israeli Government released the first allocation of fresh water to the Lower Jordan River in the past 49 years, committing to increase this allocation from 9 mcm to 30 mcm by the end of 2015. While the 9 mcm is far from the 400 mcm identified in EcoPeace’s regional study of the river’s environmental flow needs it marks a significant shift in attitude and advanced momentum for regional rehabilitation efforts.
EcoPeace Media Release
2012 – Present
Faith Based Community Campaign to Rehabilitate the Jordan River
In efforts to expand EcoPeace’s presence and rehabilitation efforts in the diverse communities and constituencies of this region, EcoPeace developed a Faith Based Community Campaign to Rehabilitate the Jordan River, creating new partnerships and involving faith based communities in EcoPeace’s work. In November 2013, EcoPeace gathered together senior clerics and representatives from the 3 monotheistic religions to learn about the current state of the Lower Jordan River – a river holy to half of humanity – and to endorse the “Covenant for the Jordan River”, calling on regional governments to work together towards its rehabilitation. Since then, numerous requests have been received from congregations to host tours, give lectures as part of their visits to the region, and to send them faith based materials to help communities join in the efforts to rehabilitate the River. The successful engagement with faith based communities, both here in the region and throughout the international community, has a tremendous potential to impact the reality of the Jordan River. To support this campaign EcoPeace has developed and distributed the “Water, Ecology, and the Jordan Faith Based Toolkits” for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith communities to build awareness and target action of faith based communities in support of the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.
Judaism Source Book
Islam Source Book
Christianity Source Book
Jordan River Covenant
Faith Leader Conference
Model Basin Commission
Building on the efforts to release an NGO Masterplan to Rehabilitate the Jordan River, EcoPeace Middle East, with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency, developed the first ever Model Basin Commission for the Jordan River. This effort proposes a governance structure for the Lower Jordan River based on best practices and lessons learned from existing transboundary basin commissions. The Model Basin Commission upholds principles of international water law, cooperative sustainable water management and the advancement of mutual benefits through the approval and implementation of a regional master plan. The Model Basin Commission proposes a legal framework and provides a detailed description of the governance bodies, political, financial, scientific, monitoring and data collection and exchange, technical and operational and financing. The Model Basin Commission also includes dispute resolution mechanisms.
Model Basin Publication