On the 29th April, the 8517th meeting of the UN Security Council took place. Discussing the Situation in the Middle East (the question of Palestine) EcoPeace Middle East briefed the delegates on the climate security situation in the region. The Jordanian Director of EcoPeace, Yana Abu Taleb, used ‘hope’ to describe the experience in New York –a word rarely heard in the Security Council, as a journalist pointed out.
EcoPeace Middle East is a civil society organization bringing together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists in a unique effort to promote cooperation in protecting a shared environmental heritage. With offices in Amman, Ramallah, and Tel-Aviv EcoPeace aims to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in the region. The German presidency of the UN Security Council recognized the potential of this unique approach to bring together actors that have been in disagreement or conflict for decades.
“Water and Environment knows no boundaries and no borders”
Introducing the EcoPeace perspective, Palestinian Director Nada Majdalani highlighted the correlation between conflict and environmental issues, and the unifying potential of the shared environment in the region. It is important to set aside past disagreements, to work together on this common issue. During the annual EcoPeace Conference in November 2018, titled ‘Water, Energy and Climate Change Security: Overarching Issues of Common Threats,’ representatives of Palestine, Jordan and Israel made a first step, with senior representatives agreeing that climate change is a threat multiplier in relation to the water security in the region.
Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace, added that the past century’s policy approach, based on competition is not suitable for the current situation as collaboration is necessary for all sides to improve especially the water situation. An example is the transfer of manufactured water from Israel and Palestine to Jordan, in exchange for solar power. While Jordan has the means to provide power, Israel can provide the technology to desalinate and clean water and profits directly from clean water in Palestine. As Nada Majdalani pointed out, a reliable power source is crucial to the wastewater recycling plants to stop sewage water from entering the natural streams in the region.
“Good water and not necessarily good fences make good neighbours”
The representative of the United States agreed with EcoPeace, that “the road to stability in the Middle East will be paved by regional cooperation on many levels and water and energy security” are central to this effort. He highlighted the positive symbol of Israelis and Palestinians working together daily on a local level. With France, another permanent member of the Security Council stepped behind the work of EcoPeace, praising the valuable perspective of an insufficiently addressed dimension of conflict.