Israel and Jordan today signed a declaration of intent to join together in conserving and protecting the River Jordan, as their shared waterway continues to steadily run dry.
The agreement was signed at the United Nations’ climate conference COP27 in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, representing the conference and its attendees’ intended results to tackle the apparent effects of climate change throughout the world.
Although the exact details of the declaration were not revealed and it was not specified how Amman and Tel Aviv would save the historic river, a statement from the Israeli government said that the agreement promises to try to reduce river pollution by building up wastewater treatment facilities and upgrading sewer systems to prevent riverside cities from dumping raw sewage into the waters.
It also added that it aims to promote sustainable agriculture, primarily by controlling runoff from farm fields and reducing the use of pesticides. According to Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, “Cleaning up the pollutants and hazards, restoring water flow and strengthening the natural ecosystems will help us prepare and adapt to the climate crisis.”
The declaration came as Jordan reported that the river’s flow has dropped to a mere seven per cent of what it once was, causing the Dead Sea to disappear as the river’s waters feed into the saltwater lake.
According to the state-run Jordan News Agency (Petra), the plan is intended to increase water supplies and create job opportunities “for those living on both sides of the Jordan River, including Palestinians”.
The agreement was hailed by EcoPeace Middle East – a cross-border environmental group that promotes Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian cooperation on water issues – as “a critical climate adaptation measure that can help bring back 50 per cent of the biodiversity lost because of decades of pollution and freshwater diversion.”
The development is the latest manifestation of cooperation regarding water between Tel Aviv and Amman, coming just over a week after they also renewed their ‘energy for water’ agreement at COP27, in which Jordan will provide solar energy to Israel, in return for Israel channelling desalinated water into the Hashemite Kingdom.