Abeer Butmeh is a brave Palestinian woman from the city of Nablus, an environmental engineer who specialised in water and graduated from Berzeit University, an environmental activist, and current coordinator of the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, comprising 14 organisations working for the environment in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It has been a member of the international organisation Friends of the Earth since 2008 and is undertaking different political advocacy and protest campaigns with the aim of influencing environmental policies and Palestinian public opinion. Abeer Butmeh has been working in this field since 2006 and has participated in many local and international environmental surveys and projects.
Ibrahim Rifi: What are the main projects you are currently working on at the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network?
Abeer Butmeh: We’re currently working on four main campaigns: the fight against all types of pollution, advocacy of rights concerning land, water and natural resources, energy transition, and, finally, the protection of biodiversity. Taking an all-embracing approach, we document and monitor Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian environment and report these violations through different media. In contrast, the implementation of the infrastructure development projects, such as wells or agricultural projects, is based on more specific actions of the network’s partner organisations.
I.R.: What are the main environmental emergencies in Palestine?
A.B.: Palestine is very visibly suffering from climate change. In recent years, we have had major droughts due to lower precipitation. Every year it rains less and, in many cases, the rains are sudden. Within a short time, large quantities of water fall with great violence, which causes enormous floods that affect the quality of the soil, which does not properly absorb the water it needs for the nutrients or to feed the underground wells. Another very palpable reality is the mismatch in temperature between day and night, summer and winter. Summer is increasingly longer and warmer, and winter is increasingly colder and shorter. During the day, the hours of sun are very warm and, at night, the temperature drops very sharply. All this has a very negative impact on agriculture.
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