Invited by the Swedish International Water Institute (SIWI), the MedWet Senior Advisor Nejib Benessaiah attended from 10 to 12 November the International Conference on the Sustainable Development of the Jordan Valley. This event was organized in the Dead Sea, Jordan, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Water Integrated Management (SWIM) Program.
EcoPeace Middle-East in partnership with SIWI and the Global Nature Fund have assigned the independent consultant firms Royal Haskoning DHV (Netherlands) and Massar (Jordan) to develop a transboundary NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River Basin. The major challenge is to rehabilitate the lower Jordan River in terms of water flow and quality and ecological values, and to develop a sustainable water management framework for economic development. The aim of this draft proposal is to identify feasible interventions in order to restore the basin environmental and ecological values within a realistic financial and economic framework.
The conference was attended by a large number of participants from the three riparian countries, including the two Israeli Ministers of Environment and Science & Technology, the Jordanian Secretary General of Environment, the Palestinian Director General of International Cooperation, and the Ambassadors of the EU and Sweden in Jordan, together with high officials from EcoPeace and SIWI.
In the opening speeches, the symbolic character of the Jordan Valley for the Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities was underlined, as well as the catalytic importance of this initiative for peace in the region.
During the second day, six thematic groups have been constituted and facilitated by independent experts of the region to analyze and discuss the feasibility of the proposed interventions in the Master Plan.
MedWet participated in the group on Ecological Rehabilitation and the Senior Advisor strongly supported the third intervention proposed in the Master Plan related to the international designations of the Jordan Valley as UNESCO World Heritage, Ramsar Site and Protected Area in line with IUCN categories. He also recommended that ecological rehabilitation will be more acceptable if it is closely linked with the cultural heritage and spiritual values associated with the Jordan River since ancient times.