EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) was founded in 1994 to foster regional peace through transboundary environmental projects. As one of only a few transboundary organizations working on environmental peacemaking today, its approach and experience in water resource management in conflict and post-conflict situations can serve as a model for both top-down and bottom-up efforts.
Environmental Peacemaking, Jordan River Rehabilitation
EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) was founded in 1994 to foster regional peace through transboundary environmental projects. As one of only a few transboundary organizations working on environmental peacemaking today, its approach and experience in water resource management in conflict and post-conflict situations can serve as a model for both top-down and bottom-up efforts. One of FoEME’s central areas of activity, the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, illustrates key strategies by which water projects can facilitate transboundary cooperation.
This solution is being advanced in the Lower Jordan River Basin involving stakeholders from Jordan, Israel and Palestine at the local, national and regional levels.
FoEME works to advance both bottom-up and top-down support for our regional solutions. At the grassroots level, FoEME coordinators run grassroots environmental education and public awareness activities in 28 communities. Thousands of Jordan Valley residents have participated in “neighbor’s path tours” that educate them on the state of the river and its tributaries. Media participation helps tell the story of the Lower Jordan River to the broader public. Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian mayors were involved from the outset. The project identified mayors both as the most receptive to community resident’s needs and perspectives and as key stakeholders with much to gain from the economic opportunities a rehabilitated river would create. FoEME has created a Regional Advisory Committee involving key government representatives and other stakeholders from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and the international community.
Friends of the Earth Middle East specifically aims to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River to a reasonable level taking into consideration the region’s scarce water resources. To this aim we conducted a tri-lateral Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli study which identified a regional rehabilitation goal. This goal sets water quality and quantity standards for each of the riparians to work towards.
Significant achievements towards advancing this goal have already been met although much work needs to continue.
To date FoEME has determined a regional rehabilitation level as well as a complementary study to identify how the regional riparians can save/ produce water to contribute to the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River. This economic cost benefit study of policy opportunities to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River identified over a billion cubic meters of fresh water, 90% of which is less expensive than the marginal cost of water.
FoEME has made significant strives in advancing political support for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River. The cumulative results of these bottom-up and top-down strategies are starting to yield concrete results. All Jordan Valley mayors have signed memorandums of understanding with their neighbors, committing their communities to rehabilitate the river and identifying concrete actions that they can take.
FoEME is monitoring the success of this project in respect to continued political advancement at multiple levels and on the ground changes in the Jordan River Basin.
Joint management practices and institutions have been critical for development of successful management and cooperation between and within countries. FoEME’s environmental peacemaking approach has been showcased in a variety of international forums including invitations to support replication efforts in India/Pakistan and the Balkans.
FoEME’s model approach to environmental peacemaking as demonstrated in the Jordan River Basin is a process that requires considerable investment towards long term change. Our approach is human resource intensive with Project Directors in each country, Project Coordinators in each country and Field Staff in each of the nearly 30 communities we work in. It is essential to maintain equal teams in each of the countries to advance this type of environmental peacemaking approach. Our staff from our respective offices take the same vision and present it to their respective audiences; Palestinian to Palestinian, Jordanian to Jordanian and Israeli to Israeli. The teams advance regional scientific studies which identify regional shared goals.
At their invitation FoEME has presented our approach in India/Pakistan and the Balkans. In our region FoEME’s model has been adopted by a number of Israeli-Palestinian NGOs, academic institutions and municipalities all aiming to advance transboundary partnerships on environmental issues.
Elizabeth Ya’ari, Jordan River Rehabilitation Project Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jordan River Project: http://foeme.org/www/?module=projects&project_id=23
• FoEME’s Environmental Flow Study: http://foeme.org/uploads/publications_publ117_1.pdf
• FoEME’s Economic Study of Policy Opportunities: http://foeme.org/uploads/12863581851~%5E$%5E~JR_Economic_Analysis_of_Policy_Options_for_Water_Conservation_in_Israel_ENGLISH_August_2010.pdf
• Presentation “Environmental Peacemaking and Transboundary water resource management”
• Jordan River Exhibition Catalogue
• FoEME Publication Why Cooperate Over Water?: http://foeme.org/uploads/12893974031~%5E$%5E~Why_Cooperate_Over_Water.pdf