Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) 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. FoEME has offices in Amman, Bethlehem, and Tel-Aviv. FoEME is a member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world.
Originally founded as "EcoPeace" on December 7, 1994 at an historic meeting held in Taba, Egypt, FoEME came about as environmental non-governmental organizations from the Middle East met with the common goal of furthering sustainable development and peace in their region. For the first time ever, Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists agreed to join forces in an effort to promote the integration of environmental considerations into the regional development agenda.
The people and wildlife of our region are dependent on many of the same natural resources. Shared surface and sub-surface freshwater basins, shared seas, common flora and fauna species and a shared air-shed are some of the characteristics that necessitate regional cooperation.
The Jordan River Basin, a major source of freshwater in a water scarce region, the Gulf of Aqaba, a highly sensitive eco-system giving life to arguably the world's most beautiful coral reef, and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth and the world's saltiest non-shallow body of water, are all examples of unique shared eco-systems in the region which necessitate regional cooperation if they are to be preserved.
FoEME 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.
We approach cross border environment and peacebuilding issues by first developing a regional strategy. We hire local researchers - Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli - to gain a regional understanding as to the root cause of the problem and then develop a common vision as to how we might be able to influence decision makers, the media and the general public. A key to our success has been that once the common vision has been developed, our staff from our respective offices take the same vision and present it to their respective audiences; Palestinian to Palestinian, Jordanian to Jordanian and Israeli to Israeli.
Our projects can be categorized according to the following themes:
* Geographical context - the Dead Sea Rift Valley runs from the Gulf of Aqaba / Eilat, in the south, along the Arava Valley, through the Dead Sea, up the Jordan River into the Sea of Galilee and beyond, connecting the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of our projects are located along this shared, complex ecosystem.
* Socio-Economic based projects focus on issues such as sustainable water use, water privatization, trade, sustainable development, water as a human security issue, developing renewable energy and healthy food practices.
* Climate change stands on its own, as being one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the planet today, especially to our scarce water resources.
FoEME employs 45 paid staff and involves hundreds of volunteers through its “Good Water Neighbors” community program. Projects are carried out by staff in our three regional offices, led by a Director in each office, Munqeth Mehyar (Amman), Nader el Khateeb (Bethlehem), Gidon Bromberg (Tel Aviv), office staff and over two dozen field staff.
Through our projects we cooperate and coordinate with a wide range of official and civil society groups (some are listed on our links pages) whose work has an impact on environmental protection and peacebuilding.
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- December 2009