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EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacebuilding Goes Global

Sharing EcoPeace Middle East environmental peacebuilding methodology with other conflict regions around the world

Photo of Dalit Wolf Golan

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

To share EcoPeace’s experience & proven methodology in environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East with civil society organizations coping with conflict issues over shared water resources worldwide

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

EcoPeace Middle East is a Palestinian/Jordanian/Israeli environmental peacebuilding organization

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

The project idea of sharing our methodology with other conflict areas around the world is quite new. We have had some experience with Indian, Pakistani, Balkan and Sri Lankan organizations, and a successful pilot project in Bosnia Herzegovina.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

Our idea addressed a worldwide, urgent need for cross-border cooperation to protect and manage freshwater ecosystems that millions depend on. Complimenting government-to-government water diplomacy efforts, it will help to reduce climate induced water stress and advance regional peace and security.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

1-Identify regions with cross-border conflict and shared water resources 2-Outreach to local civil society organizations and potential donors 3-Launch and implementation of pilot projects in 3 countries & follow-up project in Bosnia 4-Evaluation and expansion

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

The idea will be implemented by EcoPeace's Program on Water Security in Washington DC, with relevant staff members of EcoPeace's three Middle East offices and the staff members of local partner organizations involved in all stages of project design and implementation.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Other: Please Say in Final Question of this Submission Form

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Collaborate with others in the sector

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

Evaluation will assess the extent to which the overall objectives if the project and the specific objectives of the pilot projects have been met, looking both at quantitative indicators and whether those involved have adopted the narrative of environmental peacebuilding and cross border cooperation that the project advances.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

We have added a follow-up project in Bosnia to the "pilot projects in three countries" phase. Building on a successful earlier pilot project, the follow-up project will significantly increase the number of participating schools and include many new "Good Water Neighbors" components such as "Neighbor Paths", eco-camps and work with community leaders.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Update: As of June 2017, 113 hot-spots of potential relevance to the "Good Water Neighbors" model have been identified worldwide, initial contact has been established with civil society organizations in target areas in Guyana, Cameroon, Albania and Montenegro, and the Indus and Kabul River, and projects have been designed (and potential donors approached) for cooperation with organizations in Peru and Bosnia.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

EcoPeace: Bringing People Together to Protect Our Shared Environment 

Climate change and its disruptive impact on water resources are increasingly recognized as a cause for conflict in areas around the world. Conflicts over water prevail between India and Pakistan over the Indus River waters, between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo in the Sava River Basin, in former Soviet Central Asian Republics, the Nile Basin and in many other regions worldwide. These conflicts, coupled with the failure of governments to confront climate induced water stress and resulting poverty have contributed to suffering at an unprecedented scale. Climate induced water stress - from increased scarcity, to drought, flooding and water pollution – was recently identified by the World Economic Forum as the biggest threat facing the planet over the next decade.

Working in one of the most water-scarce and conflict-prone regions of the world, EcoPeace Middle East is an environmental peacebuilding organization that advances cross-border solutions to regional water-related issues. With offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel Aviv, EcoPeace brings together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists to cooperate on protecting a shared environment. In so doing, it seeks to advance sustainable regional development and create the necessary conditions for lasting peace.

EcoPeace recognizes that shared natural resources are an important opportunity to broaden and deepen areas of cooperation and trust even in the midst of conflict. Solutions to environmental problems are rarely zero-sum; by collaborating on water security problems, an understanding between conflicting parties and a willingness to establish interdependence is forged. These set the foundations for the development of mutual prosperity and trust, and ultimately for peace.

Ecopeace has a unique approach that maximizes impact by combining top-down policy change with bottom-up community based constituency building. EcoPeace’s top-down programs are based on research, on the publication of policy briefs, and on the holding of events that highlight the national self-interest of each side in advancing our policy recommendations. The bottom-up approach is about educating local constituencies to call for and lead necessary cross-border solutions to regional water issues. EcoPeace's flagship "Good Water Neighbors" project engages dozens of cross-border communities, utilizing their mutual dependence on shared water resources to develop cooperation on practical win-win solutions that speak directly to the local interests of all parties. (See this external evaluation of the GWN project by the Butterfly Effect).

Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian Youth "Water Trustees" and Alumni from EcoPeace's "Good Water Neighbors" project campaigning on both banks of the Jordan River, calling for its rehabilitation.

EcoPeace has often taken on what was seen as impossible. We were told that fresh water would never flow in the Lower Jordan River, yet in 2013, following a decade of EcoPeace advocacy, fresh water was allowed to flow again from the Sea of Galilee to the Jordan River. EcoPeace is the only organization whose activities stopped the construction of the separation barrier between Israel and Palestine as we stood up to protect the World Heritage landscape in Battir. EcoPeace has helped leverage more than $500 million of investments in water and sanitation development projects, including the construction of wastewater treatment plants and new water supply networks, and doubled the amount of water supplied by Israel to Gaza.

EcoPeace Middle East has received international recognition as a trailblazer in the field of environmental peacebuilding and water security, receiving international awards such as the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, the Aristotle Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment and TIME Magazine’s Environmental Heroes Award (see list of awards). EcoPeace’s work has been covered by the Economist, the Guardian, NPR, CNN, BBC, National Geographic and others. New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman described EcoPeace as “the best hope for the future” and a model for peacebuilding in the region, noting that relationships of trust between neighbors such as those built through EcoPeace’s efforts "are the hardest things to build, but also the hardest things to break once in place" (read article).

A "Big Jump" event into the Jordan River with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian mayors in a joint call to rehabilitate the river

The EcoPeace Program on Water Security in Washington DC

Over the years, EcoPeace received many requests by civil society groups and donors to support the implementation of EcoPeace methodology in different regions throughout the world. In response, EcoPeace has offered workshops to Indian, Pakistani, Balkan and Sri Lankan organizations and partnered with the Center for Ecology and Energy (CEE) in Tuzla, Bosnia to implement a successful one year pilot project in the Spreca River Basin in 2014 (see more details).

In 2016, EcoPeace received seed funding to launch the EcoPeace Program on Water Security in Washington DC, to serve as an international platform from which to share and disseminate Ecopeace's experience and methodology on a global scale. 

The objective is to scale up a successful peacebuilding model of cross-border cooperation to a worldwide setting by connecting EcoPeace’s experience and proven methodology in the Middle East to the capacity building needs of civil society organizations coping with climate induced water stress and conflict over shared water resources in other parts of the world.

Starting operations in January 2017, the Program is currently identifying and approaching civil society organizations working in conflict regions with shared watersheds that can potentially benefit from EcoPeace's know-how and experience, in order to develop a pilot project with organizations in three different countries over the next three years.

Once fully operational, the Program will offer its services to civil society organizations located in shared water basins across the globe, and advise on how best to adapt bottom up and top down programming and strategies to the specific circumstances in the given locations. This may include capacity building, technical assistance, strategic planning and training on organizing ground grassroots activities and political advocacy, as well as site visits both at the target basin and in the Middle East for key stakeholders and local leadership.  

In addition to local capacity building, the Program will advance environmental peacebuilding initiatives by developing strategic partnerships with international stakeholders (UN, World Bank, donor agencies, peace and development organizations), research institutions, think-tanks and academia. In parallel, the Program will engage in speaking engagements and produce materials to broadly disseminate EcoPeace know-how and experience.

Explain your idea

Our idea is to share EcoPeace’s experience and proven methodology in environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East with civil society organizations coping with conflict issues over shared water resources worldwide. Through the EcoPeace Program on Water Security, we will help civil society organizations located in shared water basins across the globe develop effective bottom up and top down programming and strategies that are adapted to their own specific circumstances. Specifically, the EcoPeace Program on Water Security will: 1. Identify regions with water based conflict or increased likelihood for such conflict in the near future due to climate change. Research civil society organizations operating on-site and current and potential involvement of donor community in national level water diplomacy and civil society development in the region. 2. Approach civil society groups and donors active in the identified regions and seek to interest them in cooperating with EcoPeace to help resolve water related conflicts. 3. Work with civil society organizations interested in cooperation to adapt EcoPeace methodology to specific local environmental, socio-economic and geo-political contexts. Share best practices for organizing grassroots activities with research and advocacy to advance sustainable management of resources and cooperative efforts among stakeholders. Services offered will include capacity building, technical assistance, facilitation, strategic planning and training to advance environmental peacemaking. In addition, site visits will be organized for key stakeholders to learn more about EcoPeace’s methods and strategy. 4. Enable broad dissemination of EcoPeace know-how and experience by engaging in speaking engagements and meetings with international stakeholders (UN, donor agencies and development organizations), educational institutions and think-thanks, and by developing curricula, brochures and other materials for distribution. In many regions around the world the need for cross-border cooperation is urgent, both for protecting and managing freshwater ecosystems that millions depend on, and for promoting regional peace and security. Our idea will apply a successful peacebuilding model of cross-border cooperation based on shared environmental resources to a worldwide setting. Complimenting government-to-government water diplomacy efforts, it will help establish much-needed relationships of cooperation and trust at the community, regional and national levels on issues pertaining to water and the environment, thereby increasing resilience to climate induced water stress and reducing the threat of conflict over shared water resources.

Who Benefits?

Climate-induced water stress, resulting in increased scarcity due to drought and pollution, is the biggest threat facing the planet over the next decade. Yet despite this urgent need, civil society organizations dealing with environmental management often work in isolation and lack the means to tackle the negative impact of water conflicts and cross-boundary environmental problems. Our idea will benefit such organizations and the local communities in which they work, as it will build local capacity and foster cross-border relationships and regional cooperation between representatives from civil society and NGO‘s, stakeholders and policy-makers. This can reduce water conflicts and lead to increased water supply and sanitation solutions, and other benefits such as local communities working towards saving a shared landscape, advancement of regional agreements and long-term strategic planning, cross border collaborative ventures such as eco-tourism, an empowered local economy, and more.

How is your idea unique?

Among the organizations dealing with trans-boundary water issues and environmental peacemaking, some develop cooperative approaches to shared waters and capacity building programs, but they are generally limited to government-to-government water diplomacy. In our experience, water diplomacy left to governments is insufficient to resolve water related conflicts. National government-led policies often cause or contribute to cross-border tensions while independent civil society organizations can build constituencies in support of policies that better respond to water-related conflicts. EcoPeace's unique methodology, which connects bottom-up with top-down activities, complements government-to-government water diplomacy efforts, and has demonstrated it can change the reality on the ground and the mindsets of decision makers, even in one of the most troubled and water-scarce areas in the Middle East.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.
  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

EcoPeace is a unique, regional, environmental peacebuilding NGO that brings together Jordanians, Israelis and Palestinians to undertake and resolve cross border water security challenges and their related health, economic, and security implications. Established in 1994, EcoPeace has 23 years of experience fostering people-to-people information exchange, dialogue, and concrete cooperation on the protection, equitable and sustainable use of water and environment resources in Jordan, West Bank and Gaza and Israel. With over 60 employees divided among our offices in Amman, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv, we operate in close coordination to implement civil society and cross-border collaborative actions. Employees are all experts in their fields, coming from diverse backgrounds including environment studies, management and finance, education, strategic planning, community work, and more, and have deep ties in the communities in which they work. EcoPeace’s recently established Program on Water Security in Washington DC is headed by Marina Djernaes. Ms. Djernaes served previously as the Executive Operating Officer of EcoPeace Middle East with responsibility for operational capacity development and strategic planning. She has over twenty years of experience in sustainable international development and strategic management in the Middle East, USA, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe. An inherent part of the work of the Program on Water Security is to build partnerships and exchange knowledge with civil society organizations working on water-related issues worldwide, as well with donor agencies and organizations engaged in research, development work, water diplomacy and environmental peacebuilding. The Program is based in Washington DC, in proximity to many international organizations and public and private funding bodies, such as the World Bank and USAID, as well as key partners such as the Environmental Law Institute, which will complement EcoPeace's bottom up constituency building and top-down advocacy activities with research into the legal structures that could hinder or create opportunities for improvement in the shared management of water resources.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eloisa Apit

This is a great post to solve the global problem of water contamination. They have the intention to unite nations by cooperating in the protection and management of freshwater ecosystems. This is a great effort on their part to promote diplomacy among nations in the middle east regarding freshwater ecosystems. I love this campaign and will fully support it for regional peace and security in the middle east.

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