On November 24th-25th, I attended the 4th Israeli Climate Conference held at the Tel Aviv Museum. Since the first gathering four years ago of about 100 environmentalists, this conference has become a major event of the environmental movement in Israel, attracting 1500 participants, including local and international politicians, journalists and scientists. As in 2016, the Arava Institute was a sponsor of the event. The jump in participation in four years is a clear indication that Israel has reached a tipping point in terms of climate change and environmental awareness. Environmental interest and concern is no longer limited to the NGO world. While I saw many familiar faces, including many of our alumni, there were many more people who were new to me, and in my impression new to the environmental struggle.
I represented the Track II Environmental Forum on a panel about the impact of climate change on the region, along with colleagues from EcoPeace and the Cyprus Institute. The conference also presented various networking opportunities.
The final session of the conference was an award ceremony for sustainability in memory of Nehama Rivlin, President Reuven Rivlin’s recently departed wife. President Rivlin attended the ceremony and as usual spoke beautifully and inclusively. To our great surprise and pride, Shir Shafran, a graduate of the Arava Institute, was one of the 4 award winners. Shir received the award for an initiative engaging rabbis in Israel to encourage the reduced use of disposable plastic during holiday celebrations, especially among religious families.