Support for the Jordan

Support for the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River from regional and international leaders

[For publications relevant to this project, click here]

Veronique De Keyser champion of the Jordan River
UNEP Jordan River champion

The June 2015 International conference ” Planning for Our Shared Future: Public Release of NGO Regional Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley” concluded with clear support from government representatives to continue this very important work presented in the Master Plan and to advance its interventions to secure sustainable development and prosperity in the Jordan Valley. Full Conference proceedings can be seen here.

Dr. Mohammed Hmaidi, CEO of the Palestinian Water Council said: “The Palestinian delegation came from five different governmental institutions and that shows, that just like Jordan and Israel, we are interested in this conference, its recommendations, and outcomes. The Master Plan is in harmony with the Palestinian policies and expectations. We do have national strategies and plans and the proposed interventions do not contradict with these plans and priorities. There are a number of initiatives that can be implemented as of tomorrow. ”

Eng. Khalil Al Absi, Director of Planning and Regional Water Unit, Jordan Valley Authority speaking for H.E. Eng. Saed Abu Hammour: “The projects articulated in the master plan are important for Jordan, in particular those that deal with wastewater and solid waste management. Among the priorities of the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation is the implementation of these projects through donor agencies and the Jordanian government. ”

Adi Ashkenazi, Director of the Economic Research Division of Israel’s Ministry of Regional Cooperation: “The most important thing that we learned from what we saw here is the great willingness and the commitment of the people that came here from all parties – the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and also ours, our people in Israel – to rehabilitate this River. I will take with me your enthusiasm about this plan, and we will examine it and hopefully implement part of it with coordination, and with cooperation with all the stakeholders in the area.”

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The 2014 International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley led to many notables declaring their support of the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. Full Conference proceedings can be seen here.

H.E. Joanna Wronecka, Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jordan described the Jordan Valley as an exceptional landscape with a history where traditions have been preserved through time by local communities. The European Parliament passed a Resolution in 2009 supporting the regional effort to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River, and emphasized the importance political will to go beyond declarations and take actions.

H.E. Helena Gröndahl Rietz, Swedish Ambassador to Jordan supports the cooperation in the Lower Jordan River via the development of the NGO Regional Master Plan, and announced Sweden’s decision to continue its support of EcoPeace’s “Good Water Neighbors Project” including community based work to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.

H.E. Eng. Saed Abu Hammour, Secretary-General of the Jordan Valley Authority, Jordan described the Jordan River as the basis for developing the valley and is the source of life. He highlighted the need to look into the Jordan River because it has become degraded ecologically and degraded for tourism.

H.E. Member of Knesset Yaacov Peri, Minister of Science and Technology, Israel emphasized the importance of the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project to work towards increased cooperation between the neighbouring countries and bringing ecological, cultural, touristic and economic benefits in order to improve the lives and welfare of all citizens in the region.

Eng. Yousef Awayes, Director General, International Cooperation & Coordination Unit, Palestinian Water Authority gave his support for any intention strengthening cooperation, based on the shared responsibility to take care, and the right of all people in the region to equally enjoy the result of any development of the region.

MK Amir Peretz, Minister of Environment, Israel referred to the river as a symbol of history and hope for the future, a river that connects people around the world as being holy. He called the regional master planning project to restore the Jordan river “a highly important project, it’s not only an environmental project, it is a project that can act as a common ground for everyone in the region who see cooperation in the region as a calling for all of us.”

Member of Knesset Omer Bar Lev emphasized the importance of both international and regional support for the Good Water Neighbors project as the flag for trans-boundary solutions, in the mutual understanding of the common interest of the multilateral utilization of water resources.

Yuval Rabin, Chairman Israel Peace Initiative reflected on the fact the Jordan River is a unique place which is visited by many from all around the world. He thought the regional cooperation approach being undertaken is very unique which has the potential to benefit everyone.

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The 2013 Jordan River Conference on Rehabilitation and making a commitment of faith led religious leaders from each of the three Abrahamic faiths to lend their support of the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. More information on the event can be found here.

Rabbi David Rosen, Honorary Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel: “If we claim to love the land then surely we shouldn’t treat it in a manner that leads to its devastation. We have an obligation to work together for the cause of rehabilitating the River Jordan.”

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp: President and Founder of the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values, The Hague, Netherlands: “A quiet revolution is taking place. This is the first time in history that we are speaking in one voice towards the River Jordan. Humanity, like the river, is one body – when one part of the body is hurt; all humanity suffers, as the River Jordan suffers.”

Attallah Hanna, Archbishop of Roman Orthodox: “We all believe in one God and it is our duty as believers to maintain the environment. God has blessed us in our region because it is a river who gives sanctity and beauty. Hence our duty to defend the river and maintain the river… For a successful religious pilgrimage we have to provide the necessary facilities. This cannot happen without the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.”

Dr. Sabri, Mofti of Al Quds and the Holy Land: “As written in the Holy Koran, water is the source of all creation. It is taught in Islam that water is the right of everyone. Islam teaches us to respect water, not to waste it and not to pollute it.”

Marse Malki Murad, Deputy of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch: “the Jordan River is important due to its Holiness and environmental significance. Due to the spiritual significance we, Christians, Muslims and Jews, must cooperate together. We call on the regional authorities from Jordan, Israel and Palestine to work together.”

Dr. Ikrima Saeed Abdullah Sabri, Mofti Al Quds and the Holy Land: “nobody can live without water. When we talk about water in Islam, make no mistake, but water is the right of everybody… this water has to be shared and divided justly among the people. The Islamic faith urges us to respect water and not to waste and pollute it. This is the duty of individuals and countries.”

Yasser Ayyash, Archbishop of Roman Catholic Melkites in Jordan: “The Jordan River and its lands bring us the message of love and peace.

Dr. Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain at Georgetown University: “We cannot act as humans are better than the earth or that the earth is better than the humans. We can never be true to god, as in Judaism, Christianity or Islam, unless we protect the earth. Protection of the earth has to be about keeping the balance, what the Quran has said… The rehabilitation must not be a political strategy; it must not be a religious requirement only. It must not be a human need only. It must not be a divine mission only. It is rather an existential issue. It is all of this.”

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EU passes historic resolution on the Jordan River

Initiated by leaders of the Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) with strong support from all major parties in the EU Parliament, this resolution, of September 9th, 2010, marks the first time that the EU Parliament has directly called upon leaders in the region to address the state of the Jordan River and calling on the European Commission to consider allocation of financial resources to help rehabilitate the river.

Read more in EcoPeace’s September 9th press release on the issue.

Click here for the historic resolution.

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Important U.S. Congressional support for the Jordan River:

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.”

For more information, read their Press Release

Click here for the Resolution

Sixteen United States Congressmen signed and submitted a letter to the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian governments expressing their concern for the state of the Jordan River.

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency launched a new toolkit to support best practices in integrating public participation into environmental projects, highlighting our Jordan River Rehabilitation Project as a model for this toolkit.

The US EPA cited that our public participation process greatly improves relationships, trust, and credibility among the regional stakeholders, and that the Regional Advisory Committee that was formed as part of the project is unique in that it is the only regional forum actively working to find solutions for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.

To read the Jordan River case study, click here

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Israeli Knesset Committee calls for the Jordan River’s Rehabilitation to be a project of national priority

On December 15, 2010, for the first time ever, the Israeli Parliament, through the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held a session on the issue of the poor state of the Lower Jordan River.

The committee’s decision (Hebrew) translates as follows:

“The Jordan River is of utmost national importance: religiously, politically, historically, environmentally and from a touristic potential. The Lower Jordan has turned into a sewage canal, causing great harm to tourism, the environment, the economy and to the Dead Sea. The responsibility lies with both countries, Israel and Jordan, both of which block the water resources into the Lower Jordan and both dump sewage into it. Treatment of wastewater, as is being undertaken today in the Jordan Valley Regional Council, must be done also in the jurisdiction of the Civil Administration. At the same time, this issue must be a top priority for Israeli – Jordanian relations, and the Foreign Ministry must promote discussions with the Joint Water Committee [Israeli / Jordanian]. As for water, additional water needs to be allocated to the River, as the present amount is not sufficient to sustain it, and may cause irreparable damage to the River and its surroundings. The committee turns to the Prime Minister and to his Chief of Staff to place the issue of the Lower Jordan River on its agenda, in order to develop a comprehensive governmental action plan including allocation of resources for the improvement of the water quality in the Jordan.”

EcoPeace requested an update to the above-mentioned call from the Israeli Parliament’s Internal Affairs and Environment calling for the Jordan River’s Rehabilitation to be a project of national priority. The Minister of Environment, Gilad Erdan responded with a letter that includes this first-ever commitment: “With the removal of sewage from the Lower Jordan, we will make sure that water of good quality will flow from the Sea of Galilee that will allow the return of the River’s ecological system. A combination of waters from the Sea of Galilee and saline waters, of at least 30 million cubic meters per year, with greater amounts once aquifer levels rise, will bring back life to the River and rehabilitate it for the benefit of the entire public.”

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EcoPeace Middle East has awarded “Certificates of Championship of the Lower Jordan River” to local, regional and international leaders for undertaking and supporting efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River. The following leaders have been awarded the Certificate of Championship:

Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of El Hassan Science City and President of the Royal Scientific Society. A summary of her address at EcoPeace’s May 3 Jordan River Conference can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Mr. Mousa Jamani, Secretary General of the Jordan Valley, received the award at the May 3 Jordan River Conference. In his welcoming address he called for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River noting that the Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel calls for joint monitoring of water along the Jordan River and prevention of disposal of wastewater. “The issues we are facing cannot be mitigated without the combined efforts and immediate action of all related parties.” A summary of his address can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Dr. Mohammad Al Adwan, Member of the Upper House of the Jordanian Parliament, received the award at the May 3 Jordan River Conference. In his remarks he spoke passionately about the Jordan River. “Growing up I remember the Jordan River as much wider, much cleaner, much stronger river than it is today. The same is true for the Dead Sea, and pollution was unheard of. Sadly all of this has changed. The rapid rate of urbanization, population growth, overuse of water, and agricultural uses of plastics and pesticides have all led to the decline of the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley. The problems the Jordan River is facing today are manmade; the earth is crying for help. If they are not changed, it will no longer be the Garden of Eden. We need wise policies and concerned governments to take action. Water is life for all of us.” A summary of his address can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Dr. Veronique de Kayser, Vice Chairperson of the European Parliament Working Group on the Middle East received the award at the May 3 Jordan River Conference for her leadership and that of the S&D Group in promoting the issue in the European Parliament. In her remarks she noted that “the Jordan River is a part of the common heritage of humanity that belongs to the world and if we do not take action it will be lost, not just for the people of this region but for all of humanity. No country has the right to monopolize such a resource.” Adding that “the environmental resources of this region should not be taken hostage by governments fighting for regional dominance. The cooperation happening here today is an example for the region and the whole world. I congratulate Friends of the Earth Middle East for these successful endeavors.” A summary of her address can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Melanie Hutchinson, Associate Program Officer at the United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for West Asia received the award on behalf of the United Nations Environment Program. In her remarks she indicated that “managing the resources of the Jordan River is a major challenge but a variety of organizations such as Friends of the Earth Middle East are stepping up to do just that, and at the same time serving as a model for top down and bottom up organizations around the region and globe.” A summary of her address can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Students from the Kings’ Academy in Jordan received the award for their efforts to raise awareness about the critical state of the Lower Jordan River among Jordanian youth through a film project they are currently undertaking together with Israeli and Palestinian youth facilitated by EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project.
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Professor Alan Plattus, Yale University received the award for his leadership in advancing the Jordan River Peace Park initiative. “I continue to be impressed and inspired by FoEME and their courageous collaborators,” said Professor Plattus. “The opportunity to use our design expertise to help develop not only an economically and environmentally sustainable project, but more importantly, a sustainable community, under the most difficult and urgent of circumstances, is both a privilege and an enormous responsibility.” A summary of his address can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Jordan River Valley Mayors Ali Hussein Al-Delki, Mayor of Muaz Bin Jabal Governorate in Jordan, Sol Lavi Ben-Shimol on behalf of Yoram Karin, Mayor of Emek HaMayont Regional Council in Israel and Suleiman Romanin, Mayor of Al Auja in Palestine each received awards for their local leadership in rehabilitating the Lower Jordan River, removing pollutants from the stream and advancing ecotourism initatives in their communities. A summary of their public remarks can be found in the May 2010 Jordan River conference proceedings.
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Rodi Kratsa TsagaropoulouVice President of the European Parliament received a Friends of the Earth Middle East Jordan River Championship Certificate in June 2010 for her extensive work to promote the rehabilitation of the Jordan River through the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and within the EU Parliament. Ms. Kratsa Tsagaropulou has led the charge to include the Jordan Valley in the UNESCO World Heritage List. With her leadership, the EMPA recently issued a Special Report on the Situation in the Jordan Valley. She also sent EcoPeace a letter congratulating EcoPeace on its leadership in the field of transboundary sustainable development.

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Israeli President Shimon Peres calls for the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River in his COP 15 Speech December 17, 2009
At minute 1:26 of the video, President Peres says:
“I call upon our neighbours, even those with whom we have not yet reached diplomatic relations, to join hands in an effort to save our region. Political disagreements should not hinder environmental co-operation. Carbon molecules carry no passport. Rivers require no visa. Pollution travels with them. All of us – Jews, Muslims and Christians – pray that the Jordan River will flow, fresh and holy. My call is the call of the Bible upon Adam,to cultivate and preserve the Garden of Eden”.
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Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation, Silvan Shalom, and Israeli Minister for Environmental Protection, Gilad Erdan, publicly declare their support and commitment to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River. Read the November 26th full Ynet article or its English translation. Relevant quotes extracted below:

Minister of Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom: “this is an important subject that hasn’t been resolved over the years and today we’re looking to advance a solution. The rehabilitation of the Jordan River is an environmental-occupational revolution in the southern area that will lead to the development of the local and regional economy. Cooperation to rehabilitate the river is necessary because of it’s economic, historical and social significance”.

Minister of Environmental Protection, Gilad Erdan: “we have to urgently achieve the rehabilitation of the Jordan River to enable the wide public to return and to benefit from this unique natural and historical resource. Over the years sewage has flowed in the Jordan River causing an ecological destruction and a severe environmental hazard. I’m leading my office to adopt all means in order to cease the pollution of the river and to enable its rehabilitation. My intention is to invest also many budgets together with the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, in order to upgrade the river and to return it to its splendor”.

Minister Shalom has also placed on his private website, his clear intentions to work towards the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, and to promote the Jordan River Peace Park initiative.
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Former French President Jacques Chirac’s speech at the “International Encounters / Water for Peace – Peace for Water” in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters, gives unprecedented support for the Rehabilitation of the Jordan River.
(page 6 – highlighted in yellow)
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Israeli Minister of Environment’s Statement from the October 2006 issue of Israel’s Environment Bulletin:
The statement by Israeli’s former Minister of Environment, Mr. Gideon Ezra, on the issue of Israel’s water sources lends hope for the Jordan River: “we will do our utmost to allow water to flow once again in the Jordan River….”
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letter (in Hebrew) from students from the Jordan Valley Regional Council, to the mayor, urging him to take steps to end the dumping of sewage into the Lower Jordan River at the Alumot Dam site.