Skoll World Forum
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EcoPeace Middle East (formerly Friends of the Earth Middle East) is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Their primary objective is to promote cooperative efforts to protect the shared environmental heritage of the region. In so doing, they seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in the region.
EcoPeace has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel-Aviv. The organization is a member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world.
EcoPeace approaches cross-border environment and peacebuilding issues by first developing a regional strategy. They hire local researchers – Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli – to gain a regional understanding of the root causes of problems, and then they develop a common vision of how to influence decision makers, the media, and the general public.
A key to EcoPeace’s success is that once the common vision has been developed, staff from each office take the same vision and present it to their respective national audiences: Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli.
Climate change will contribute to even greater water stress and regional insecurity in the Middle East.
EcoPeace engages environmentalists and community leaders in essential dialogue about managing shared water resources.
EcoPeace builds support for collaborative water management and an international Jordan River Peace Park. Results include a master plan for the Jordan Valley, and a Good Water Neighbors program engaging 28 Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian communities.
Shared understanding of the need to protect local environmental resources advances regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace.
Projects and Policy Advocacy
EcoPeace defines its goals in terms of success of each project, rather than an encompassing strategy.
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.