11/18/2022, 13.29
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Cop27: Israelis and Jordanians agree to save the Jordan River

At the UN climate conference, the two countries signed a 'declaration of intent' on the historic river. The aim is to reduce pollution through treatment plants and improving sewage systems. The promotion of sustainable agriculture and reducing the use of pesticides. 



Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israel and Jordan have reached an agreement on environmental issues, aimed at the preservation and recovery of the Jordan River, the historic waterway shared by the two countries, the place where Jesus' baptism took place, which is steadily running dry.

The signing of the 'declaration of intent' took place yesterday between the two delegations attending Cop27, the UN international climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

At the moment, the details are not yet known and it is not even clear how the two governments intend to work together to save the river. However, the first information leaked by Israel reveals a common intention to 'try to reduce' the pollution of the watercourse by building sewage treatment plants and improving sewage systems. The aim is to prevent towns along the river from discharging raw sewage into its waters.

The mission statement also wants to promote sustainable agriculture by controlling runoff from agricultural fields and reducing the use of pesticides. According to the Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, 'cleaning up pollutants and danger elements, restoring water flow and strengthening natural ecosystems will help us prepare and adapt to the climate crisis'.

The plan, however, is in danger of running out of time, because according to Amman's latest estimates, the flow of the Jordan River has been reduced to a paltry 7 per cent compared to past volumes.

Petra (Jordan News Agency) reports that the project also aims to increase water supplies and create job opportunities 'for those living on both sides of the Jordan River, including Palestinians'. The agreement was welcomed by EcoPeace Middle East, a cross-border environmental group that promotes Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian cooperation on water issues. In a note they explain that it represents 'a critical climate adaptation measure that can help recover 50 per cent of the biodiversity lost due to decades of pollution and freshwater diversion'.

In recent days, also at Cop27, the two countries renewed the 'energy for water' agreement, thanks to which Jordan provides solar energy to Israel in exchange for drinking water to the Hashemite kingdom.

For years, the issue of protecting the Jordan River has been the subject of international debate and a wake-up call for experts and environmentalists. An emergency exacerbated by the increasingly hot climate that has accelerated the process of evaporation, eventually affecting even the Dead Sea, with the river's waters no longer sufficient to keep the sea level stable and constant.

The Jordan had been reduced to little more than a torrent following a degradation process that began in the 1960s. Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert the course of the river, using about 95 per cent of the flow to collect drinking water and support water needs in the agricultural and industrial sectors. The Jewish State alone has long drawn about 60% of the water, with dramatic results for the Dead Sea and the entire region. 

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