2050: Nada Majdalani – The Peacemaker

What is your job? 

Co-director, Ecopeace Palestine since 2017. With my peers in Jordan and Israel, we work on trans-boundary and cross border energy and climate security.

How are you helping cool the planet through your work? 

Water does not recognize political borders and conflicts and different narratives. We come up with out-of-the-box ideas focused on the sustainable development of our shared Jordan River Basin, which theologically, hydrologically, environmentally, and culturally is very important to us all. We also promote the exchange of renewable energy and desalinated water from the Mediterranean in a manner that creates interdependencies between the three countries, similar to Europe’s idea of the coal and steel agreement, which brought up the region from World War II’s ashes.

We are on the receiving end of climate change impacts, not a contributor. So, we are both advocating for offsets and ensuring that we do not become contributors to climate change through our desalination plants and new energy sources. We try to mingle small scale interventions with larger global advocacy ideas. So, we push for desalination and wastewater treatment facilities powered by solar energy and encourage the development of large-scale solar fields and replacement of gas power plants. Among smaller scale interventions, we provide some schools with solar energy and wastewater treatment plants and rainwater harvesting systems.

What most surprised you about your job? 

How easy change sounds and how complex it actually is. Everything is doable and possible. But it’s always challenging. In my previous work, I wasn’t much involved with civil society and NGOs. I worked on infrastructure projects, where one plus one equals two. I was surrounded by engineers who made things happen and I would see the results after writing a report or making a design. But the NGO world is so much more complicated. It requires patience, stamina, and courage because we are working against the norm. But despite the difficulties and social stigma (we are sometimes called traitors), many people are fully supportive of our work. This surprises me every time: people who would like to give us the push against all odds.

What can we do to get more young people into public service?

Here, a government role pays lower and has a lot of centralized decision making, [so going into government] is not an easy decision. Governments need to provide a nourishing and learning environment in which younger generations can grow. Government work should not be seen as routine but as dynamic, where people can learn, improve, and grow. We need to reconsider government’s centralized decision-making system and one-man shows to give space for young people to be expressive and to bring in new ideas. In some ministries, new posts are coming — in education, diplomacy, and foreign service. In those areas, young people are very much needed. Change comes from within. We need the voices, knowledge, and skills of young people to bring in new ideas and values, and to pave the way for change.


20 People Helping Cool the Planet by 2050

Carolyn Whelan

Carolyn is a writer, editor and analyst who covers the nexus between business and social justice issues. She broke into journalism at the Rio Earth Summit where she interviewed Al Gore and environmental pioneer David Brower. Topics covered since then range from climate change and higher education costs to drugs pricing, geopolitical strife, business ethics, artificial intelligence, gene editing, alternative energy and the search for good jobs -- and innovation in all these areas. Her pieces, reported from Europe, the US and South America have appeared in Fortune, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and SciAm.com. Previously she worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barrons.com, Columbia Business School, WWF, the UN and PwC. Carolyn is fluent in French and Spanish and resides in Brooklyn.

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