Rivers, deserts, and species don’t stop at borders or fences. They are not participating in the conflict in the Middle East, but they are affected by it.
The next part of our tour provided an excellent example of the challenges people working toward environmental peace-building in Israel, Jordan and Palestine face: a site that we were unable to visit.
The Dead Sea could soon enough become a dead “pool” of sea. But perhaps there’s another alternative.
It is not the concept of a borderless nature that should serve as a model to facilitate cross-border dialogue and cooperation. Rather, it is that nature’s systems are interconnected and their borders are open to exchange.
The Middle East is the only place on earth where the neighbors are so close and so far at the same time.
The Dead Sea has been receding at an average rate of 1 meter per year. How can this important historic, cultural and environmental landmark be rehabilitated in one of the world’s driest regions while improving water access for Israel, Palestine and Jordan?
Students from Columbia University and Tel Aviv University are traveling through Jordan and Israel to learn about environmental challenges facing the two countries. They’ll be posting here about their experiences. You can also follow them on social media at #CUJordanIsrael2016.
“I was on the ground collecting data in Jordan, and worked with data collection teams in Syria and Palestine. Within Jordan this involved traveling across the country to speak with Syrian youth refugees, as well as Jordanian and Palestinian youth. I was deeply struck by how candid the respondents were.”
Understanding the Middle East conflict is not an easy task, and adding an environmental component to the puzzle doesn’t make it any easier. Students in the Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East program, having gone through 16 days of an 18-day trip to the region, now see clearly how complex the issues actually are. Having visited Jordan, Israel and parts of the West Bank, and met with local people who deal with environmental issues and the conflict on a daily basis, students have come to realize that sometimes the more you know and experience, the less things makes sense.
After a late arrival in Amman, Jordan on Sunday night, students in the Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East program hit the ground running on Monday morning. An orientation at the Columbia University Middle East Center was followed by presentations at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature office.