The role of Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information(IPCRI)

IPCRI has been working to promote cooperation and understanding in a variety of fields since 1989. Its environment and water program has been in existence for over fifteen years. During that time IPCRI has sought through joint research projects involving scientists and professionals from all three countries, through conferences and seminars, and through publications, to bring those concerned with the environment together in a creative context.

This work, and comparable efforts by NGOs such as Friends of the Earth and the Arava Institute, has had an impact but it has become clear that since 2000 when the Second Intifada broke out cooperation at all levels has much diminished. This is true both at governmental level and with regard to contacts between civil society organizations in the three countries.

Through its active involvement with environmental organizations, academia, and government, IPCRI has become aware that the need to promote more joint activity is generally recognized. IPCRI wishes to take the lead in stimulating a more positive effort to promote greater and more effective cooperation.
 


What are the aims of the Conference?

The Conference will have four main aims:

a.To give participants the opportunity to look at past cooperative ventures and learn from their successes and failures

b.To hear from government representatives what is the extent of current cooperation at an official level and how best universities, research institutes, NGOs and business interests can combine to augment these government to government contacts.

c.To allow participants to consider what are the most significant areas of concern where cooperation at all levels is most needed.

d.To create a community of those active in the field and develop new joint projects.
 


Who will be invited to the Conference?

The Conference will be addressed by speakers from Government in the three countries and by representatives of major donors. These invited speakers will give an account of what cooperation is currently going forward and what they think could be the contribution of the non-governmental sector.

The remaining participants in the Conference will be of two kinds – those invited to take part because of their previous involvement in cooperation and those who respond to a call for papers which is linked to the Conference.

The ultimate aim of the conference organizers is to bring together about 150 individuals representing all the major stakeholders involved in fashioning the environmental future of the region for detailed discussion of what action is needed if the long term sustainability of the region is to be secured.
 


How will the Conference be organized?

The first morning of the Conference will be devoted to contributions by official representatives of Government and major donors who will review the present state of cooperation and indicate what they think might be the contribution of non-governmental organizations and interests.

The afternoon of the first day will be devoted to papers on the extent to which past cooperation can be said to have succeeded and where results were less than satisfactory.
IPCRI will contribute to this session based on a survey made earlier of cooperative projects in the water sector. There will an opportunity for detailed discussion in small groups of the factors which lead to success or to failure of joint projects.

In the second day the participants will divide into groups in order to consider where the need for cooperation is most evident and what can be done to stimulate it. Among the topics will be:

Water supply, distribution and quality
Solid waste management (in particular the problem posed by the disposal of hazardous waste)
Private sector’s role in preserving a sustainable environment
Energy issues
Air pollution
Developments in recycling
Preservation of open space
Long term future of biodiversity
Confronting desertification
The future of the Dead Sea and the proposed Red Sea/Dead Sea Conduit
Coastal management
Promoting public awareness

Papers on the value of cooperation in these specific areas and the form it could take will be requested in the call for papers for the conference

The final morning of the Conference will be devoted to considering what mechanisms can be developed to see that cooperation is effective, what resources are available to promote it and what the potential effect of cooperative action can be on the long term future of the region.


The Location of the Conference

The Conference will be held at Aqaba, Jordan. Aqaba provides an excellent location and easy access for participants from Israel, Jordan, Palestine and elsewhere who wish to meet in a supportive environment.

The Length and Date of the Conference

The conference will last two and a half days.


What are the anticipated results of the Conference?

It is expected that as a result of the presentations made at the Conference and discussions among those present, a new impetus will be given to cooperative efforts. All proposals put forward at the Conference, whether for joint research or participatory action, will be careful recorded. IPCRI will not, of course, be solely responsible for follow up. A conference committee will be created for which IPCRI will provide a secretariat in an effort to see that good ideas and proposals for projects are not lost sight of, following up them up. It is intended that the Conference will have a variety of practical results while at the same time promoting closer professional and personal ties between the participants. The principal presentations made at the conference and a summary of the discussions will be published and widely distributed by IPCRI.
 


Finance and logistics

It is anticipated that subsidies will be available for participants whose abstracts are accepted and who are not sponsored by a specific governmental or non-governmental source.

In addition to seeking support from the international community, the sponsors will look for commercial sponsorships from companies engaged in environmental technology. Commercial sponsors will have their logos on conference materials displayed and will be invited to provide materials about their products to conference participants.


Budget


It anticipated that the budget for a meeting of this kind, given that there will 30 invited speakers all of whose costs will be carried by IPCRI and that all the costs of Palestinian participants and half the costs of Israeli and Jordanian participants wil also be paid, is approximately $120,000


Note – the proposal for a conference of this kind has been discussed with the following organizations all of which have indicated that they support its aims:


Al Quds University, Jerusalem
Among Palestinian institutions of higher education Al Quds has been foremost in promoting the necessity for regional cooperation over environmental issues and undertaking joint research projects with universities from Israel and Jordan.

The Arava Institute, Ketura
The Arava Institute offers diploma and degree level courses in the environment to citizens from Israel, Palestine, Jordan and elsewhere. Over 500 Arava graduates are now working on environmental concerns in the region.

ACCF, Tel Aviv
ACCF is an active NGO which seeks to encourage industry to give full recognition to environmental concerns and devote resources to guarding against pollution and other hazards.

ANERA(American Near East Refugee Aid), Jerusalem
ANERA is a non-profit organizing which has for decades been working to help meet the development needs of the Palestinian people and promote peace in the region.

Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Ben Gurion University has been active, particularly at its Sde Boker campus, in promoting joint research between scientists from Israel, Palestine, Jordan on issues of regional concern.

ECOTEC, Amman

ECOTEC is a leading environmental consultancy based in Amman and specializing in environmental impact assessement, strategic planning for the environment and environmental management.

Friends of the Earth Middle East, Israel, Palestine and Jordan
Friends of the Earth (which has offices in all three countries) has for over a decade played a prominent role in promoting regional environmental cooperation. It has been especially active in seeking to save the Dead Sea and in promoting cooperation among communities in the region with regard to water management.

The Water and Development Organisation(WEDO) Bethlehem
WEDO was founded in 1996 and has worked consistently to promote joint research and environmental awareness in Israel and Palestine. It has obtained support from a variety of international agencies.

The House for Water and Environment, Ramallah
The House for Water and Environment is a partner in several major projects funded by the international community in the water sector and is actively promoting environmental awareness in the region