The November 10-12, 2014 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.
This regional conference was convened in the weeks surrounding the 20th anniversary of the Israeli-Jordan Peace Treaty, as events in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Palestine and Jordan caused major political and social rifts between the countries which led to the cancelation of all official events marking 20 years of peace. That EcoPeace and SIWI were able to convene a major regional event including officials from the three parties demonstrates a marked success in itself and wide commitment to the regional effort to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.
H.E. Saed Abu Hammour, Secretary-General of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) initiated a well-received political breakthrough during the conference when, on behalf of Jordan, he invited the Israeli and Palestinian governments to convene a meeting in Jordan to discuss the NGO regional master plan.
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 MK 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.
The NGO regional master planning draft materials presented an advanced planning vision for the Lower Jordan River. This vision is rooted in the use of the Lower Jordan River as a multi-functional water conveyor. This requires a major shift from conventional thinking, aiming to utilize and reuse waters multiple times at various stages of its flow. Moreover, the vision is based on shared benefits, sustainable development, and equal rights and access to the shared waters of the transboundary Lower Jordan River.
Following the conference EcoPeace, SIWI, Global Nature Fund and RHDHV will continue to work to develop the NGO regional master plan while advancing political support through the trilateral regional meeting initiated by H.E. Saed Abu Hammour, Secretary-General of the JVA as well as aligning donor support with this vision through a series of financing funding meetings. The partners will convene another regional conference in Jordan in May 2015.
Click on the link for more information about the conference and the full text of the speeches:
Click on the link for more information about the Masterplan:
This post is contributed by Elizabeth Koch-Ya’ari Jordan River Projects Coordinator at the Tel Aviv Office.