Water in War and Peace: Mayors from Middle East, Great Lakes to Join Forces at Historic "Water After Borders" Summit
At April 23-24 Chicago Gathering, First of Its Kind, Mayors Unite To Tackle Issues of Water Sharing, Sustainability
Mayors Confirmed to Attend Water After Borders:
Palestinian Mayor Hassan Jirmi
Jordanian Mayor Khalifah Suliman Mohammad Aldayyat
Israeli representative Ran Molcho
Mayor John Dickert of Racine, Wisconsin
Mayor Mitch Twolan of Huron-Kinloss, Ontario, Canada
Mayor Denis Lapointe of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada
Chicago - March 30, 2015 (Investorideas.com Water Stocks Newswire) The Great Lakes are a site of abundance spanning peaceful borders between the U.S. and Canada; the Jordan River marks a demilitarized border between Israel and Jordan, and a border contested by Palestine and Israel.
Now, mayors from both regions will join forces for the first time to strategize on water issues, widely considered one of the most critical challenges facing urban – and human – survival in the new century at the historic Water After Borders conference in Chicago April 23-24.
"Despite their differences, residents and community leaders in both regions have much to learn from one another," said Rachel Havrelock, associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an organizer of the conference.
"Residents of the Jordan Valley can learn from the long-standing treaties and binational cooperation of the US and Canada. The example of cross-border water planning in the Middle East can inspire the Great Lakes region to connect cultural communities and empower diverse groups to manage shared waters," said Havrelock, who is also a founder of Freshwater Lab, a new thinktank on water issues based at UIC-Chicago.
The mayors’ partnership will be facilitated by EcoPeace Middle East – an Israeli/Jordanian/Palestinian trilateral organization dedicated to environmental peacebuilding – and the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative - a coalition aimed at protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
The two organizations have partnered to develop cooperative relations between American, Canadian, Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian mayors over issues around trans-boundary water sources. The EcoPeace/GLSLCities partnership is supported by Sister Cities International and Citizen Diplomacy Initiatives. Mayors from both regions will hold a joint panel on the second day of the summit, April 24th.
The Jordan, famous for associations with heaven, today flows mostly as a toxic trickle. Communities from both the Jordan Valley and the Great Lakes face questions about use, management and conservation during these times of changing water realities.
Mayors from the Lower Jordan Valley attending the conference represent partnering communities in EcoPeace Middle East’s “Good Water Neighbors” Program - a unique project launched 14 years ago to develop cross-border cooperation over shared water issues and peaceful relations between neighboring communities in the conflict-ridden Levant.
Within the Lower Jordan River basin, the program is focused on creating communal and political will for the rehabilitation of the heavily diverted and polluted Jordan River, through the facilitation of cross- borer mayoral and municipal cooperation, education, community leadership, and youth activism, combined with classic top-down advocacy efforts vís-a-vís the Palestinian/Israeli/Jordanian governments.
American and Canadian mayors attending the conference represent Great Lakes/ St. Lawrence cities that are part of the GLSL Cities Initiative. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of U.S. and Canadian mayors and other local officials working to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
By integrating their environmental, economic and social agendas, local governments are helping to sustain a resource that represents approximately 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater supply, provides drinking water for 40 million people, and is the foundation upon which a strong regional economy is based. Members of the Cities Initiative are committed to working together and with other orders of government and stakeholders to improve infrastructure, programs and services and increase investments that protect and restore this globally significant freshwater resource.
Through their partnership, EcoPeace and GLSL Cities are hoping to foster knowledge exchanges over technical, economic, educational, capacity-building and communal aspects of water management and protection, and advance peaceful relations and stability between communities which share water resources.
About Water After Borders
Organized by Professor Rachel Havrelock, founder of University of Illinois at Chicago’s Freshwater Lab thinktank, the Water After Borders conference will address transborder legal and political frameworks to manage and protect our most vital water systems, as well as the ways in which class, culture, and gender influence environmental health and access. Topics include water sharing, toxins, privatization, energy systems, and regionalist approaches.
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