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“Since nature has no boundaries, environmental cooperation has the opportunity to go beyond political borders promoting cross-border dialogue to establish a level of trust between different communities and break down the ‘stereotype’ that often exists of the ‘other’”(Desiree Custers)

As part of Lutfia Rabbani’s informal discussion series, this year’s second dialogue session, held on April 4th 2019, focused on the challenges of environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East. The session brought together professionals from different organizations to share their thoughts on climate and security issues in the Middle East.

This session’s speaker, Desirée Custers, presented her experience while interning at EcoPeace in Amman, Jordan. Desirée had received a Travel Grant from Lutfia Rabbani in 2018 through which she did an internship with the environmental peacebuilding organization EcoPeace. She is currently a Master’s student of Arabic and Islamic studies at KU Leuven in Belgium. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights.

During her internship with EcoPeace, Desirée was introduced to the challenges when it comes to environmental peacebuilding and cooperation between various actors in the region, in this case, Palestine, Israel, and Jordan. As Desirée stressed, such challenges can be found primarily within the political conflicts that characterize the relationship between the involved actors which consequently impede with any environmental cooperation efforts.

During the discussion questions were raised considering this political issue when it comes to cooperating and finding solutions to environmental issues in the region as well as the role that organizations such as EcoPeace play in facilitating this cooperation and building a platform for dialogue between regional actors.

The Lutfia Rabbani Foundation would like to thank Desirée for presenting her reflections on EcoPeace’s work as a former intern and all attendees for participating in this fruitful discussion.

Read more about Desirée’s experience in Jordan or visit her bi-lingual blog