“Our primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage. In so doing, we seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in our region.”
Sub-Issues: Peace; Water Management The Middle East is among the world’s most water-stressed regions. Climate change will contribute to even greater water stress and, therefore, to greater regional insecurity.
The Skoll Awardees: Gidon Bromberg and Munqeth Mehyar founded Friends of the Earth Middle East, which became EcoPeace, to create a regional vision and response to water crises and the demise of natural ecosystems, during the time when the Oslo peace accords were being framed, and showed the potential to include unsustainable regional development plans. They recognized that the environment knows no political boundaries and that solutions had to be developed collaboratively. They brought together Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to create the organization and recruited Nader al Khateeb as Palestinian director in 2001, a critical time for its tripartite nature. This structure allows the shared vision to be articulated and advocated in ways appropriate to different constituents. Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli experts analyze issues and make recommendations; staff members who grew up in and still live in the communities where they work communicate EcoPeace’s messages and contribute to its credibility and results. At the time of the Award, EcoPeace was working on a comprehensive water plan for the Dead Sea Basin and had published a document identifying areas to be preserved. It was leading a transboundary effort to create a Jordan River Peace Park on an island straddling the national boundary, and leading an awareness campaign to rehabilitate the river. Its Good Water Neighbors project was raising awareness of the shared water concerns of Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians in 17 communities.
Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:
- Expansion of the Good Water neighbors project to 11 additional communities for a total of 28, representing all of the region’s shared water sources, and sparking eight cross-border collaborative projects.
- The West Bank village of Battir was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in part due to EcoPeace’s efforts.
- Replenishment of the Dead Sea by water from the Red Sea remains a possibility, with EcoPeace as a key voice advocating for the plan.
- Contributions, including published science, to the first master plan for the lower Jordan Valley and promotion of a joint basin commission to manage the Jordan for everyone’s benefit.
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