Today, the world celebrates Earth Day. Established in 1970, this day is meant to make us think about the planet that we call home. At the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), we try to take this into consideration every day through the programs that we implement within Palestine. Strengthening relationships between the people of Palestine with their governments and local institutions, we are reinforcing the ever present connection between Palestinian people and their lands. Our mission is to promote the sustainable development of the country, and the self-reliance of the people through greater control over their natural resources. The institute uses and produces local scientific and technical knowledge regarding efficient resource use through appropriate technological use and good agricultural practices, to promote conservation of the natural surroundings.
These days, and especially this day, it’s important to think about the effects that our actions have on the earth. Our hydroponic and aquaponic projects, and our projects installing solar panels in different communities, have helped raise awareness of energy and food production issues, while making a sustainable way of life more accessible for the Palestinian people.
The global climate is changing, and ARIJ is ensuring that the Palestinian population is ready to adapt to these changes. Working with various farmers, we have already implemented projects including: installing more efficient irrigation systems, introducing drought resistance crops and rehabilitating overgrazed pasturelands. These projects help to increase the resilience of farming populations, which are the backbone to any self-sufficiency we can hope to achieve as a country.
Our other fields of intervention, through which we are constantly working towards a more sustainable Palestine, include doing research in the fields of the natural environment (land, water, biodiversity) and the socio-economic situation of the Palestinian people. Looking at both of these broad topics allows us to focus on their interacting natures. Through the village profile project, we gather and disseminate knowledge about Palestinian communities, and show the current situation of these communities. Highlighting the specific problems faced by each community allows us to then create appropriate projects and tailored sustainable solutions. Although no two projects are the same, they all focus on empowering community members, creating a more a just society and reconnecting the people with the surrounding lands.
Overgrazing of a hilltop (2014) The same hilltop, after a rehabilitation project (2015)
The state of the world is everyone's responsibility, and ARIJ is working to our full capacity in preserving the important relationship between Palestinians and their land. Many social and political problems exist within our country, which is still unrecognized by many around the world. Unfortunately, sustainably managing the natural resources within our borders is not just a matter of proper policy implementation, but an active political struggle. Keeping the physical environment healthy, and instilling these values in future generations, will continue to create the foundations on which life in Palestine, and everywhere, can flourish.
Happy Earth Day to everyone around the world!