JERUSALEM | Forty Israeli and Palestinian Seeds participated in Water Matters, a four-day seminar in late November focusing on the geopolitical, historical, environmental, and economic dynamics at play in the management of water resources in their region. The four-day event was held in Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom, an intentional, binational village located outside Jerusalem.
“This is groundbreaking work,” said Donna Stefano, Director of Middle East Programs. “We presented the Seeds with new information which they’ve never been exposed to in their education systems.”
Seeds learned about the reality of the water situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories from environmentalists at Friends of the Earth Middle East, an organization that seeks to advance sustainable regional development as well as lasting peace in the region.
Seeds also participated in a series of interactive workshops led by Seeds of Peace counselors. A workshop on sustainability provided Seeds with practical solutions that they could put into place in their own lives and communities.
As with most Seeds of Peace activities, dialogue sessions were a core part of the program. The sessions allowed Seeds to debrief and reflect on what they learned throughout the seminar, as well as to continue learning from each other and discussing the conflict more broadly.
Many Seeds shared that the highlight of the seminar was a hike to an overlook of Wadi Fukin, a Palestinian village at the foot of Beitr Illit, one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Two local tour guides, a Palestinian and an Israeli, spoke about the numerous water and pollution issues in the area, and pointed out the environmental cooperation between the Palestinian village and the nearby Israeli town of Tsur Haddash. On the hike back, Seeds reflected on what they saw and asked each other questions about water use and availability in their own households and communities.
An idea generation session at the event encouraged Seeds to think creatively about how to put their new found knowledge to action. Seeds worked together and came up with several cross-border project ideas focused on awareness raising, small infrastructure, and reusable resources.
2013 WATER RESOURCES BINATIONAL PHOTOS