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Israel’s Leading Role in Protecting Our Planet

This blog post was originally published on October 18, 2018. We are reposting it in advance of our upcoming event with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on February 6, 2020. We hope you will join us to meet two recent alumni, Shira Fisch of Moshav Yaad (Arava Institute ’19) and Mohammed Jarrad of Tulkarem (Arava Institute ’17) as they discuss their experiences and the impact of those experiences.

When many of us think about our future, we think about how climate change will have a significant impact on our lives. The Paris Climate Accord signed in 2015 was groundbreaking in its stipulation that every country has a collective responsibility to protect the earth and adopt measures to minimize climate change. Even so, the agreed-upon goals fail to adequately address the negative effects in the coming decades. Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report written by 90 scientists with a dire warning for the future of planet earth. They believe that goals must be adjusted to reduce warming temperatures by an extra degree of heat, otherwise there will be inevitable risks to health, food security, water supply, and human security for people around the world.

Israel has been confronting its own climate challenges for years. Temperatures in Israel have increased by half a degree per decade for the past four decades. This has led to ongoing drought, with unprecedented low levels of rainfall each year. The Sea of Galilee, once considered Israel’s primary freshwater reservoir, is at its lowest level in decades.

The Arava Institute and EcoPeace Middle East, two partner organizations of Boston Partners for Peace, are actively tackling climate challenges to ensure Israel is doing its part to protect the planet. The Arava Institute uses environmental research to promote cooperation across Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian borders. The organization brings people together to solve shared challenges and prevent resources in the region from degrading further. For example, the Transboundary Water Management research group is creating opportunities for cross-border stream restoration with the Palestinian Authority and is working to restore the depletion of the Dead Sea.

EcoPeace is also promoting cooperative efforts between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians. They use grassroots educational techniques to spread environmental awareness and create peacebuilding opportunities. The NGO pairs communities across borders to work together and preserve their shared water resources. EcoPeace also advocates for water diplomacy. Israel already supplies the Palestinians and Jordanians with its excess desalinated water, and EcoPeace believes that mutual preservation of existing shared bodies of water can create peace through resource collaboration. When Palestinians have access to more water resources, it can ensure a more stable and prosperous neighbor for Israel and improve bilateral relations.

These organizations are doing incredible work to promote environmental cooperation while creating opportunities for people in the region to interact. By channeling coexistence efforts into productive solutions to environmental challenges, EcoPeace and the Arava Institute are creating a sustainable future for Israel and the Middle East, while taking steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of our planet.

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