Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) hosted a workshop at the Marriott Dead Sea Resort and Spa for journalists and media experts from Jordan and Palestine from the 26th to the 28th of March. As the final event in FoEME’s Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians (TAP) project, the workshop was designed to inform journalists about environmental issues in the region and brainstorm ways to further involve the Jordanian and Palestinian media on water and environmental issues.
In addition, Jordanian parliamentarians and key NGO leaders from Palestine who had previously been involved in TAP activities were also present.
FoEME staff led sessions introducing participants to the history of the Jordan River, and presented solutions that could rehabilitate the Jordan River. Raed Uthman the director of Maan News Agency, facilitated a session on how to use the media strategically to reach decision makers. The group then toured Ghour Safi and Ghour Fifa to see examples of current agricultural practices, sewage and domestic water supply issues, sink holes and the impact of Dead Sea mineral extraction. They also watched a documentary on water issues in Palestine and a presentation of FoEME’s strategy of promoting tourism in the Jordan Valley. Participants contributed enthusiastically to the discussion.
Interactions between journalists and decision makers exemplified the success of the two-year TAP project. There were some criticisms from the participants regarding the regional nature of FoEME’S work, however, members of the Jordanian parliament immediately responded to the criticisms of journalists by expressing their support for FoEME. In one case, a member of parliament actually left his seat in the auditorium and took the podium to defend the work of FoEME and the need for trans-boundary cooperation on water issues in the region. The fact that parliamentarians spoke articulately and accurately on environmental concerns indicates positive political will in support of issues such as the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River has been earned, in large part due to the continuous advocacy efforts of FoEME.