By Simon Awad, Director of The Environmental Education Center
His Grace Bishop Azar launched the Fourteenth National Bird Week with a speech beautifully articulating how important the EEC’s work is, in addition to calling upon everyone to engage in care for creation. The EEC-ELCJHL was honored to be in the Bishop of the ELCJHL’s company for the fourteenth National Bird Week. Members of all ages were delighted to learn more about Palestine’s bird populations and engage in part of the bird ringing process.
The EEC-ELCJHL launched the fourteenth National Bird Week in partnership with the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority this Monday, 7 October. The EEC holds the study and celebration of birds in Palestine as a top priority. The Talitha Kumi Ringing and Monitoring Station which is utilized by researchers at the EEC, sits at a prime location for bird ringing – right in the center of the Eurasian-African flyway. Those at the EEC use this important research location not only to further their own understanding of birds, but also to spread this knowledge and enthusiasm to members of the community. Throughout this week, many school groups as well as any interested community members can come to the EEC and see the Talitha Kumi Ringing and Monitoring Station, speak with some of the bird researchers at the center, and learn more about the importance of bird biodiversity and migration to Palestine.
JERICHO – The Environmental Education Center (EEC) set up a bird ringing (or bird banding) station in Jericho during the spring migration. Bird ringing is practiced around the world as a way to learn more about bird populations and migration and to help in conservation. This year, the EEC recorded two new bird species – the Rock Sparrow and the Desert Finch. Look through the photos to below to see two days worth of birds captured and released in the Jericho area.
RAMALLAH – On February 24th, 2015, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the adoption of a new national day on March 5th to commemorate and remember the importance of environment and to raise awareness about the Palestinian environmental situation.
Palestinian Environment Day began as an initiative launched by His Grace Bishop Munib Younan and created in collaboration between the Environmental Education Center and the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority. This day comes out of the longing of the people of Palestinian for freedom, the restoration of their land, and sharing of natural resources. Activities will be held yearly at the Environmental Education Center in collaboration with other environmentally active organization to celebrate the day.
As well as dedicating March 5th as Palestinian Environment Day, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah named the Palestine Sunbird as the national bird, a move applauded by as well as initiated by Bishop Munib Younan and the Environmental Education Center.
Bishop Munib Younan stated that, “we hope that the 5th can be remembered in churches around the world, that this country may remain a green and beautiful place despite all the political conflicts in this land.”
To follow the Environmental Education Center’s upcoming events regarding Palestinian Environment Day, you can visit their Facebook page and website.
BETHLEHEM – Amid participation from official institutions and community members, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) / Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy land (ELCJHL) held its fifth annual Palestinian Environmental Awareness and Education Conference, “Eco-Justice between Violations by the Occupation and Infringements by the Community.” The conference took place in Bethlehem on the 9th and 10th of December 2014, under the patronage of The Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy land, President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and Chairman of the EEC Board.
The opening ceremony was attended by several persons, including: Representatives of the Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah; Engineer A’dala Al-Ateera, Head of the Environmental Quality Authority; His Excellency Major General Majid Fityani, the Governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley; Her Excellency Anne Sophie Nelson, Consul General of Sweden; Mr. Mohamed Taha, representative of His Excellency the Governor of Bethlehem; Dr. Qasim Abdo, representative of the Minister of Agriculture, and Assistant Undersecretary for Natural Resources; Mr. Nafiz Rifai, representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Charlie Haddad, the ELCJHL Director of Education; Fayez al-Saqa and Mohammad al-Lahham, members of the PLC; Directors of the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Health, and Local Government; Mr. Simon Awad, the Executive Director of the EEC.
The conference was also attended by official delegations of the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Health, and Local Government, active environmental organizations in Palestine, the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, Friends of the Earth (Palestine), the international diplomatic corps, representatives of civil society organizations, centers, and youth institutions, directors and professors of universities and school principals in various governorates of the West Bank, representatives of environmental and health organizations, and many environmental activists.
Twenty-two research papers and visions of specialists, academics, experts, and officials were presented in the conference, in the presence of more than 500 local and international participants. At the closing of the conference, a sub-committee, including representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Local Government, Education and Higher Education, the Environmental Quality Authority, universities, the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, and the EEC, in addition to representatives from the Ministries of Health and Transportation, was formed to follow up on the decisions that emanated from deliberations.
The decisions made in the conference constitute the nucleus of a joint action plan that will be executed by the EEC over the next five years (2016-2021) in partnership with government institutions and civil society organizations. In addition, the plan’s final form and its explanatory memoranda will be ratified and published following the committee’s first meeting, which will be held before the end of this year at the EEC headquarters in Bethlehem.
The most prominent decisions include:
Setting a five-year inclusive plan (2016-2021), congruent with a sectoral environmental strategy, that urges society to advocate for environmental issues, taking into account the challenges, while refraining from damaging practices that harm the environment.
Calling on the Council of Ministers to dedicate the years 2016-2017 for “A Clean Palestine”, which is implemented through a committee that includes members from the Environmental Quality Authority, EEC, the ministries of Local Government, Education, Higher Education, Agriculture, Health, and Transportation, as well as universities and the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network. An explanatory memorandum will be attached to the plan later.
The launch of Rt. Rev. Bishop Dr. Munib Younan’s award for the best environmental practices in Palestine. Its procedures and standards will be published at a later date, and the award will be announced on the Palestinian Environment Day, the 5th of March, each year.
Encouraging academic studies on environmental legislation, particularly with regard to promoting the concept of civic responsibility, in order to contribute to the establishment of the Environment Fund, environmental insurance, and to document the safety of environmental facilities.
Developing the notion of “Environmental Accountability” in order to be able to claim compensation for any damage inflicted on the environment by the occupation or the community.
Highlighting the significance of scientific research in addressing the environmental issues.
Designating the Palestine sunbird and the Anemone flower as Palestine’s national bird and Palestine’s national flower respectively, due to their environmental significance. This will be followed up with the Council of Ministers via the Environmental Quality Authority.
Focusing on the initiative launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in terms of the documents collected on the occupation’s violations against the Palestinian environment, to 93 diplomatic missions around the world, including the United Nations, the Arab League, and other regional and international organizations, as a basis for taking legal action against the occupation. This should be carried out in complete coordination with the Environmental Quality Authority.
Highlighting the role of NGOs in the litigation of Israeli companies in countries all over the world in coordination and cooperation with the competent authorities, based on the experience of environmental NGOs. The efforts of 17 specialized civil institutions culminated in the termination of Mekorot’s work contracts in Brazil. Similarly, efforts are being made to end the company’s activities in Greece, due to the plundering of Palestinian water resources in favor of settlers.
Encouraging non-governmental, national, official, and academic bodies to coordinate their efforts to develop fact-finding missions, in order to disclose the occupation’s environmental violations. Inspired by the experience of Al-Haq Organization, they should take legal action against the occupation for their environmental crimes, utilizing international advocacy and environmental experts in order to deliver a message to the world regarding the environmental situation in Palestine, and to mobilize public opinion in favor of protecting the environment in Palestine.
Conducting legal studies to explore the possibility of utilizing international justice bodies and institutions, and to join international environmental agreements while exploring the consequential risks and benefits.
Dealing with the environment as a human rights issue, to represent the essence of Palestinian national rights and present this issue in international, public, and official forums.
Preparing a legal study to demonstrate the advantages of seeking out international justice organizations and joining international environmental agreements, including the risks and benefits.
Drafting a societal, national, and moral charter on environment preservation, to be signed by institutions of civil society and the private sector, under the patronage of official authorities.
Focusing on the roles assigned to institutions consistent with the overall environmental strategies.
Promoting organic farming and raising awareness of the dangers of chemical pesticides.
Enhancing trends toward renewable energy.
Launching awareness campaigns on the risks of random waste landfills, demanding local authorities to use sanitary landfills, and supporting recycling industries and compost (i.e. organic fertilizers) production.
Defining air pollution control standards and laws, as well as specifications on the components of air pollution, particularly in the industry and transportation sectors in Palestine.
Developing executive and applied environmental protection legislations, especially with regard to the Penal Code and dealing with various kinds of waste. This also includes measures to prevent urban sprawl. Further environmental legislation, such as a specialized public prosecution and judiciary system, should be created to deal with scrap waste and air pollution.
Setting up a specialized technical committee to review the scientific papers for the sixth Palestinian Environmental Education and Awareness Conference.
BEIT JALA – The Environmental Education Center (EEC), in collaboration with the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority and the Faculties of Agricultural Engineering and Veterinary Medicine at Al-Najah University, organized the fourth week for bird ringing and monitoring in Palestine that took place from the 27th to the 31st of October 2014. The week included a number of events at the EEC’s Talitha Kumi ringing station in Beit Jala, as well as a temporary bird ringing and monitoring station established in Tulkarem. A number of international and local groups visited the center to learn about the birds of Palestine and the EEC’s methods of ringing and studying birds.
The official opening of the week occurred on the morning of Tuesday the 28th with a visit by the Head of the Environmental Quality Authority, Ms. Adalah Al-Atteereh, as well as other government groups and NGOs. Dr. Charlie Haddad, Director of Education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, welcomed the visitors to the center. Visitors toured the EEC’s campus and watched demonstrations of bird ringing. The event culminated with the release of a Long-Legged Buzzard that had suffered a broken wing during the summer and had been rehabilitated by the EEC staff over the last two months.
Another event took place on Wednesday the 29th in Tulkarem at Al-Najah University with Ms. Adalah Al-Atteereh, Dr. Suliman Khalil, dean at the university, and Mr. Simon Awad, the executive director of the EEC. The EEC has established a seasonal bird ringing station in Tulkarem. A number of students, teachers, government officials, and NGOs participated in launching the week in the northern part of the West Bank. The professional staff of the EEC led participants in bird watching and a tour of the site. A workshop was held by the Faculties of Agricultural Engineering and Veterinary Medicine, which was attended by hundreds of students. The workshop included lectures by Mr. Mohammed Mohasnah from the Environmental Quality Authority and Dr. Ilham Khalil from the university, as well as Mr. Simon Awad and Mr. Mahd Khair from the EEC. The lectures covered the importance of biodiversity in Palestine and the importance of caring for creation as witnesses.
The week continued with visits by school groups to learn about migratory birds and how the EEC monitors and studies the birds. The final day of the week included a hiking and bird watching trip in the Al Makhrour area. EEC researchers documented more than 40 species of birds over the course of the week in Tulkarem, demonstrating the high level of biodiversity in Palestine. The EEC works to educate students and other visitors about the biodiversity of Palestine and ways to protect it.
The Environmental Education Center (EEC), in collaboration with the Palestinian Quality Authority, announced on Thursday, March 13th, 2014, that the 5th of March will be dedicated as Palestinian Environment Day, an initiative launched by His Grace Bishop Munib A. Younan.
Palestinian Environment Day will be celebrated annually with a focus on raising awareness about the Palestinian environmental situation. This day aims to fight for environmental rights, for sustainability of the environment, and to show both locals and visitors the Palestinian landscape.
This day comes out of the longing of the people of Palestinian for freedom, the restoration of their land, and control over natural resources. Activities will be held in collaboration with other environmentally active organization to celebrate the day. Every year will have a specific slogan, starting with “The Occupation Crimes: An Enemy to All Forms of Life” to reaffirm the role of the occupation’s contribution to the state of our environment. Between the 15th of March and the 15th of April, 2014, the first annual event will be held with the announcement of a National Bird Watching and Ringing Week and the implementation of many green activities throughout the country.
Check back to learn about upcoming activities with the EEC!
BEIT JALA/JERICHO – The Environmental Education Center (EEC), along with the Environmental Quality Authority of Palestine, co-hosted the 2nd National Bird Ringing Week in Palestine. Groups from around the world, including from the United States, Germany, and Austria, visited the EEC’s ringing station in Beit Jala to watch a demonstration of the technique and to hear more about the birds that travel through Palestine. Schools from Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Bethlehem also participated in the visits and museum tours to teach children about the importance of Palestine’s natural resources.
Trips were arranged for those interested in the EEC’s temporary ringing station in Jericho. The ringing station in Jericho has been ongoing since mid-September in the hopes of documenting bird parasites in the area and how it effects the numerous species that migrate through and live in the Jordan Valley.
The week ended with a discussion on the Palestinian Sunbird, the birds of Palestine, their importance, and the threats to their existence. The EEC encourages children and adults to learn about the biodiversity of their homeland and how they can protect it.
“Eco-Justice of Palestine”
17-19 December 2012
Jacir Palace Inter – Continental Hotel
Bethlehem – Palestine
The Environmental Education Center is an educational ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), embodying the ELCJHL’s commitment to promoting holistic awareness of our environment and responsible stewardship of the magnificent creation which surrounds us. We aim to empower individuals and communities to take action for sustainable change; Support the Palestinian community in developing a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment; Promote local and global awareness of the economic, scientific and cultural values of specific natural resources, ecosystems, and habitats; And provide a dynamic meeting place for students, teachers and the public.
JERUSALEM/BETHLEHEM, November 11, 2011 – On October 29th, Palestinians from Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, along with international visitors, gathered in Manger Square in front of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to celebrate the 11th Annual Olive Harvest Festival.
The tradition of the Olive Harvest Festival began as an initiative of the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in 2001 as a way to encourage personal and societal care for the land and olive trees, and to highlight the work of local Fair Trade and Cooperative Organizations working in the Olive industry. Ten years later, it has grown to showcase not only the Olive industry, but also various agricultural cooperatives and traditional Palestinian arts including embroidery, wool products, glasswork, painting, music, and dance.
The Festival draws both local and international visitors each year, and has grown to be well known in the community. Local organizations are offered space to showcase their products and teach visitors about themselves. All profits from sales go directly to the organizations and cooperatives involved. Local choirs and dance troupes are highlighted in performances throughout the day.
Dr. Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA) was on-hand to officially open the festivities with Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) at his side.
Fayyad brought greetings from PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as he encouraged all Palestinians to continue to remain steadfast to their land, despite the barriers present in the ongoing situation that can make accessing land and caring for trees very difficult.
Younan also spoke at the opening, calling to mind both the national and religious meanings of the olive tree to the Palestinian people. Younan spoke of the olive tree as a tree of blessing, a tree of peace, and a tree that, in its persistent green leaves reminds us all that the promise of peace is always alive and present.
Younan also spoke to the ongoing dedication of the ELCJHL to educational and ecological awareness in Palestine that has spanned more than 25 years. Younan highlighted the work of the EEC throughout the West Bank in the Environmental Clubs that it supports in more than 30 schools, as well as its work in curriculum development. Younan also spoke of the shared responsibility for the land for all Palestinians—in farming, as well as in supporting the farmers in their work and in their harvest.
Also present at the festivities were Dr. Kholoud D’aibes, PA Minister of Tourism; Abdel Fatah Hamayel, Governor of the Bethlehem Area; Victor Batarseh, Mayor of Bethlehem; Ziad el-Bandak, Christian Adviser to the PA President; Sulaiman Qandil, Leader of the Bethlehem District; and Father Attalah Hanna.
Click here or on the photos above to view more photos from the event.
BETHLEHEM, December 28, 2010 – Upon an invitation by the Environmental Educational Center (ECC) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, a workshop on the climate change was held on December 13, 2010 in Bethlehem in order to discuss the “Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto” and the role of the religious, political, scientific and media institutions in raising the awareness of the Palestinian society regarding this phenomenon and ways to offset and face it.
This was the first of a series of workshops to be held in Bethlehem in the coming weeks and months. The second workshop will be hosted today at 4pm in Bethlehem.
It is noteworthy to mention that the Uppsala Manifesto that was issued in 2008 came as a result of an initiative of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden Anders Wejryd.