EcoPeace Middle East is a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. 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. EcoPeace has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel-Aviv. EcoPeace is a project oriented NGO, using both a “top-down” (advocacy) approach coupled with a “bottom-up” (grass roots / community) strategy that has proven to be a very effective work model.
Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan
EcoPeace Middle East recently launched the "Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley", from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Akin to a Marshal Plan, this plan aims to convert a polluted river and highly depressed economic area to a model for river rehabilitation, economic growth, and regional stability.
127 specific regional and national projects ("interventions") have been identified in the framework of the Master Plan, with a total investment value of 4.58 billion USD until the year 2050. The interventions are grouped around 7 strategic planning objectives: Pollution Control, Sustainable Water Management and River Rehabilitation, Sustainable Agriculture, Jordan River Basin Governance, Ecological Rehabilitation, Sustainable Tourism and Cultural Heritage Development, and Urban and Infrastructure Development.
Strategic Planning Objectives
The key development challenge facing the NGO Master Plan is to strike the right developmental balance between a healthy economic developmental path for the valley and its people on the one hand, and a Jordan River with sufficient environmental flows to sustain a healthy ecosystem on the other hand. To meet this objective there is a need to ensure that the river serves as a natural water conveyor and source for water supply for residents in and outside the valley. Creative solutions are therefore needed to provide sufficient water to supply the projected water requirements of both people and nature. A prerequisite for peace and prosperity is the equitable sharing of water resources and public access to lands and the riverbanks for all riparian nationalities within an appropriate security framework.
The key strategic planning objectives that would promote sustainable development for the trans-boundary NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley have been identified as
- Pollution Control and Sanitation
- Sustainable Water Management and River Rehabilitation
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Jordan Valley Governance
- Ecological Rehabilitation
- Sustainable Tourism and Cultural Heritage Development
- Sustainable Urban, Energy and Infrastructure Development
Pollution Control and Sanitation
The objective in terms of pollution control and sanitation is to eliminate all sources of environmental pollution in the Jordan Valley by 2025. This requires full and adequate treatment and reuse of all wastewater flows in the valley and to embark on fully integrated solid waste management, including:
- (separate) waste collection,
- reuse and recycling of solid waste streams;
- selection, planning, design and construction of a sanitary landfill;
- closing of existing non-sanitary dump sites;
- development of composting facilities;
- Based on the polluter – pays – principle and progressive taxation for heavy consumers.
The situation today in terms of sanitation and wastewater treatment in Jordan and Palestine is poor. This impacts the public health, as well as the possibilities to use the water resources for economic development. The challenge is to reach a situation where generated wastewater is collected, treated and reused for agricultural purposes, or to introduce better functioning sanitation systems using substantially smaller amounts of water, such as vacuum removal of toilet effluents, or electric incinerating toilets. In any case, localized solutions are preferred, avoiding the use of extensive sewer systems throughout the Jordan Valley.
In terms of environmental management, the challenge will be to implement integrated environmental management systems throughout the valley, including monitoring, enforcement and public awareness on wastewater and solid waste management, also focused on non-pollution sources; groundwater protection; water quality management; soil quality and air quality. Land preservation, groundwater protection zoning and problems related to overgrazing are to be addressed adequately.
Sustainable environmental management also requires adequate tools, such as dedicated impact assessment tools and Strategic Environmental Assessments to test new policies and strategies related to the Jordan Valley. In addition, environmental management in the valley requires enhancing water and environmental awareness of all communities, schools and municipalities in the valley, and implementing environmental standards instance according to the ISO norms 14000 and 14001. In terms of agricultural environmental management the challenge is to assist farmers in applying sustainable agronomic practices, including regulation of the use of pesticides and fertilizers and promotion of environmentally sustainable substances. This will support farmers in reaching international agricultural export and import standards.
Note: This is the first article in our special series on 'Regional Integrated NGO Master Plan for the Jordan Valley'