“What makes Building Together unique—and why I’m so proud to be involved—is that not only do we have Israelis and Palestinians working together, American Jews and Muslims are working together as well. To me, this is the most impressive aspect of what this organization is about,” says Clive Lipchin. By profession, he is a water management expert based in Israel. By philosophy, he is a deep believer in empowering people.
With his Palestinian counterpart, wastewater engineer Monther Hind, Dr. Lipchin is half of the Building Together consulting team in the Middle East. Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies’ Center for Transboundary Water Management, he pays special attention to the intersection of science and politics, seeking new ways to address water and environmental problems facing Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Dr. Lipchin and Mr. Hind met at a World Bank meeting in Jordan about ten years ago, and have been partnering on projects to manage water more sustainably ever since. “In our part of the world, water is a very scarce resource, and very contested, too,” Dr. Lipchin says. “A lot of the problems are not exclusively scientific or environmental. There are disagreements on how to share water resources.”
Dr. Lipchin was born in South Africa and raised inJohannesburg. He has a bachelor's degrees in applied psychology, zoology and wildlife management from South African universities, a master's in desert ecology from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and a PhD in resource ecology management from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. His doctorate focused on public perceptions and attitudes toward water scarcity in Israel.
His connections in the Middle East and sensitive understanding of the range of conditions there are valuable to BuildingTogether and its Israeli-Palestinian projects under development. He finds that the biggest challenge in establishing a joint venture “is that you assume there’s equality on both sides.”
“That doesn’t exist. The reality is that Israeli farmers and Palestinian farmers have huge gaps in abilities,” he says. “Israeli farmers are very sophisticated. They have access to technology. They are well supported by the government. They have access to international markets. The Palestinians have none of that. To build this model of equality is very challenging. It’s a process that’s going to take time and is delicate. It helps that Building Together is an organization not just driven by philanthropy, but by business, too.”
“This is the essence of our challenge—it’s also the essence of why we’re an amazing organization,” Dr. Lipchin says. “Because if we succeed, if we find a way to build these joint enterprises, then we’ll have something that nobody’s had in a very long time.”
Dr. Lipchin’s expertise and sensitivity are valued by his colleagues. “Clive Lipchin has dedicated his professional life to helping farmers and improving the environment on both sides of the border, gaining respect and appreciation from Palestinians and Israelis. We are grateful and honored to have him on the Building Together team,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of Building Together.