Arava Institute for Environmental Studies https://arava.org a leading environmental and academic institution in the Middle East, working to advance cross-border environmental cooperation in the face of political conflict Sun, 02 Jan 2022 09:54:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.3 https://arava.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/cropped-AravaInstituteLogo1-32x32.jpgArava Institute for Environmental Studieshttps://arava.org 32 32 Celebrating 25 yearshttps://arava.org/2022/01/celebrating-25-years-2/ Sun, 02 Jan 2022 07:29:46 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39705On December 21st, we celebrated 25 years since the founding of the Arava Institute with a public event at the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Jaffa, attended by 130 Arava Institute partners, alumni, supporters, staff and friends. After a festive reception during which guests had an opportunity to mingle and get to know […]

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wooden structure forming the number 25
photo by: Ronen Topelberg

On December 21st, we celebrated 25 years since the founding of the Arava Institute with a public event at the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Jaffa, attended by 130 Arava Institute partners, alumni, supporters, staff and friends.

After a festive reception during which guests had an opportunity to mingle and get to know the different key actors of the Arava Institute, everyone gathered for the main event hosted by actress and member of our Public Council Keren Mor. The evening included an opening address by Minister of the Environment Tamar Zandberg, a spoken word performance by comedian Yossi Zabari, and a musical performance by our friends Achinoam Nini (Noa) and Mira Awad.

Minister Tamar Zandberg speaking at Arava Institute 25 year event
photo by: Ronen Topelberg

In addition, five Arava Awards were given to outstanding individuals and organizations embodying the Arava Institute’s mission:

  • Shaanan Streett receives 2021 Arava Award
    photo by: Ronen Topelberg
    Sha’anan Streett for his many years of public activism to promote peace and dialogue in the Middle East, and for his continued support of the Arava Institute. With his skillful and courageous activities, Streett is an example and role model for all those who seek to speak out on issues of of peace, liberty and justice.
  • Damour for Community Development, represented by former Palestinian Authority Ministers Ashraf Al-Ajrami and Dr. Shaddad Attili, as our main partner in the Track II Environmental Forum. The organization focuses on strengthening Palestinian society, and developing the tools, skills, and values necessary for social and economic development, and believes that in order to increase the chances for a successful peace process communication and dialogue processes have to be developed, in order to facilitate mutual understanding and conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians, based on common interests.
  • Dr. Dov Khenin speaking at Arava Institute 25 year event
    photo by: Ronen Topelberg
    Dr. Dov Khenin in appreciation of his activities as a visionary, jurist, and activist for peace, equality and social and environmental justice. Dr. Khenin was a member of the Knesset from 2006 to 2019, passing dozens of laws on these and other issues. He is the chair of the new Israeli Climate Forum initiated by President Isaac Herzog. Khenin is also an important partner to the Arava Institute in our cross-border environmental and social activities, and works tirelessly to promote dialogue between our region’s residents, and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Dr. David Lehrer, the Arava Institute’s Executive Director for the past 20 years. Dr. Lehrer lead the Arava Institute to unprecedented achievements such as the founding of the Track II Environmental Diplomacy Forum, the establishment of academic relationships in Israel and worldwide, a significant increase in the number of students and interns, and many more. Under the leadership of Dr. Lehrer, the Arava Institute spearheaded a vision of a just and sustainable Middle East.
  • Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, Dr. David Lehrer, and Keren Mor with 2021 Arava Award
    photo by: Ronen Topelberg
    Keren Mor, the host of the evening, received a special surprise award for her ongoing support of the Arava Institute throughout the years. An active member of our Public Council since its establishment in 2013, Mor is an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of values for a just society in our region, and has hosted the last three public Arava Award ceremonies with grace and humor.

It was an honor to host such an exclusive selection of people at our celebration, and we look forward to their continuous cooperation and support.

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Extension: open call for environmental consultationhttps://arava.org/2021/12/extension-open-call-for-environmental-consultation/ Thu, 30 Dec 2021 13:09:09 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39698EU funded project to bring eco-innovative solutions in energy and water management to the Israeli hotel industry The hotel industry in the Mediterranean at large, and Israel specifically, is one of the most important worldwide and continues to register significant growth. After a challenging year during the COVID-19 crisis, the Israeli tourism industry is now […]

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EU funded project to bring eco-innovative solutions in energy and water management to the Israeli hotel industry

illustration: light bulb with waterThe hotel industry in the Mediterranean at large, and Israel specifically, is one of the most important worldwide and continues to register significant growth. After a challenging year during the COVID-19 crisis, the Israeli tourism industry is now looking forward to renew its domestic and international success in the coming months and years.

The growing demands of the tourism industry come with several environmental drawbacks such as the substantial consumption of water and energy. With the aim of helping hotels to stay competitive and improve at the same time their capacity of eco-innovation, GREENinMED proposes an integrated approach for the development of new products and services addressed to the efficient use of water and energy, and reduction in consumption by 10% within the hotel industry. To reach this goal, selected tourism businesses will be paired with expert consultants in the environmental field, focusing on the adaptation of eco-innovative products and services to individual needs.

After a first campaign during the summer of 2021, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Kinneret Academic College have launched a second call to select an additional five small and medium-sized hotels to be granted an Eco-Innovation Voucher consultation within the framework of the GREENinMED project, and a call for environmental experts to compete for the opportunity to provide their services as consultants. The value of the consultation provided is set at 2,000 Euro.

Schedule:
Opening of calls: 14/10/2021
Deadline for submission of candidacy for hotels: 31/12/2021

Deadline for submissions of candidacy for consultants: 10/01/2022

Both calls and application forms (in Hebrew) are available here.

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Director’s blog: Celebrating 25 yearshttps://arava.org/2021/12/celebrating-25-years/ Mon, 20 Dec 2021 08:08:04 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39549The last month has been full of motion for me. After my trip to the COP26 together with Deputy Director Eliza Mayo in early November, I traveled to the United States to introduce myself to our supporters, and spread my vision for the future of the Arava Institute. From Boston, through Denver, Palo Alto, and […]

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The last month has been full of motion for me. After my trip to the COP26 together with Deputy Director Eliza Mayo in early November, I traveled to the United States to introduce myself to our supporters, and spread my vision for the future of the Arava Institute. From Boston, through Denver, Palo Alto, and Berkeley, to New York I met with great enthusiasm for our mission, and was able to successfully raise funds and further support for our work.

One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. We discussed the potential for the Arava Institute’s involvement in UN activities on climate change and environment, leading to the decision that the Institute would apply to be an official UN observer organization.

Upon my return I jumped straight into ongoing preparations for our public 25th anniversary event on December 21st, in Jaffa. During the event, hosted by actress Keren Mor, we will celebrate the work and achievements of the Arava Institute with performances and blessings, and will present Dr. David Lehrer, Executive Director of the Institute for the past twenty years, with an award of appreciation for his work. Other appearances include Achinoam Nini, Mira Awad, Yossi Tzabari, and Minister Tamar Zandberg. Additional Arava Awards will be presented for their contributions to environmental and social justice to singer-activist Shaanan Street, politician-activist Dov Khenin, and the Palestinian organization Damour for Community Development, represented by Shaddad Atili and Ashraf al-Ajrami. I would be honored to welcome you at our celebration – tickets can be purchased here.

This event marks a high point that will allow us to look back on 25 years of transboundary environmental research and cooperation. It is now time to leverage our successes thus far, to widen the impact of our efforts in the region, with a focus on climate change and shared society, and to expand our academic program. As part of this strategy we have begun the process of establishing a new, larger campus, which will be built according to the latest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, and serve as a living lab for our students and interns. Our new campus will generate its own energy, desalinate its water, treat its wastewater, and include hydroponic and aquaponic gardens, giving its residents the opportunity to study and experience these sustainable technologies first-hand, and later implement them in their home communities.

This is just one example of implementation of our strategic vision to advance cross-border climate justice and resilience in conflict zones, regionally and globally, which of course reaches further into all of the Institute’s departments and activities, be it research, our long- and short-term academic programs, our alumni community, or the Track II Forum and its Center for Applied Environmental Diplomacy. I am excited to be leading the Institute into a new phase of cross-border environmental activity, and look forward to its development in the next 25 years.

Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed
Executive Director

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An Intern’s Impact Weekend Reflectionshttps://arava.org/2021/12/impact-weekend-reflections/ Mon, 06 Dec 2021 12:58:07 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39437Last weekend the students and interns of the Arava Institute participated in a jam-packed weekend of discussions, activities, and lectures. It was a thoughtfully crafted, collaborative effort between our Campus Life (CL), Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS), and Environmental Leadership (EL) teams. We discussed topics including climate change, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and activism. As expected, the […]

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Last weekend the students and interns of the Arava Institute participated in a jam-packed weekend of discussions, activities, and lectures. It was a thoughtfully crafted, collaborative effort between our Campus Life (CL), Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS), and Environmental Leadership (EL) teams. We discussed topics including climate change, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and activism. As expected, the weekend precipitated thought-provoking discussion, debate, and narratives, and reminded me how powerful collaboration and discussion can be as an agent for change. Usually weekends on campus are a time where people go home, or find solitude to rest and reset before another week of hard work, but this weekend campus was buzzing with energy and human connection. Inside and outside of the planned activities I was reminded of the uniquely inspiring and truly special community we have cultivated over the past few months. I genuinely believe in the power of the people around me here to create change in the world.

The weekend kicked off with members of our CL team talking about leadership at the community level, and scaled up to leadership within the public sector. We heard from the founders of אקלים אחד مناخ واحد One Climate which is a movement that seeks to explore the intersectionality between this region’s ecology and climate problems with the current military occupation. One of the founders, Muna Shaheen, humbly shared her inspiring story and left a profound impact on me by exemplifying strong female leadership.

The second day we reflected on the power of imagery, discussed the power of social media, and learned about online safety from two of our PLS facilitators, Sarah Benazera and Baraa Aslih. They compiled photos shared on Instagram over the last year or so that carried heavy stories with them, and had us individually identify those that were most impactful to us. We then broke out into small groups and discussed the photos and tried to write a series of captions aimed at Israeli, Palestinian, and international audiences. This demonstrated how one event can be viewed differently based on the words used in the media. As a photographer, I was especially inspired by this session because it reminded me how impactful a single moment can be in creating change if captured artfully. We also had a session with Dr. Michael Alexander, PLS Coordinator, during which we discussed impacts of climate change in our home communities across the US, Canada, the UK, and in Israel-Palestine. We also told stories of climate injustice, which exposed the unfortunate global trend of the most marginalized communities being unproportionately affected by climate change and environmental problems. The weekend concluded with an activity led by EL Facilitator and Arava Institute alumna Lindsey Zemler (EL) that highlighted the beautiful connections and strengths within our community at the Institute. I walk away from the Impact Weekend feeling grateful for my community and experience here at the Institute, and feeling inspired and equipped to make change after I leave..

Submitted by Samantha Stovall

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Infrastructure and Social Development course for professionals from Gazahttps://arava.org/2021/11/course-for-gaza-professionals/ Thu, 18 Nov 2021 12:04:03 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39377In late October, the Track II Environmental Forum held a 5-day workshop on Infrastructure and Social Development for Gazan professionals, funded by the European Union. The workshop focused on delivering a comprehensive understanding and approach for regional sustainable development, which included a look at multiple sustainable green technologies; how to understand and approach the development […]

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In late October, the Track II Environmental Forum held a 5-day workshop on Infrastructure and Social Development for Gazan professionals, funded by the European Union. The workshop focused on delivering a comprehensive understanding and approach for regional sustainable development, which included a look at multiple sustainable green technologies; how to understand and approach the development needs of one’s own community from a grassroots local perspective; and how to integrate municipal stakeholders and influencers as the main promoters of scalable policies and practical projects; as well as exposing participants to different models of scientific research, and how they can be applied both in the framework of pilot projects, and within local and regional governance schemes.

During the workshop held in Palestine and Israel, participants met with various Track II partners and other stakeholders and professionals to learn about different technologies and strategies for energy and water management, and their implementation in communities. They also had an opportunity to visit relevant sites in the West Bank in the Arava, and speak with local officials and residents.

In addition to the professional aspects of the training, the human experience of cooperation, partnership, and the power of a shared vision was very meaningful for both participants and organizers. Over the five days, the feeling of trust and being at ease visibly increased, as the group understood that they were sincerely welcomed by the whole team and other individuals they met, regardless of political conflict in the region.

We would like to thank the Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Foundation, the Rick and Nancy Moskovitz Foundation, and Ethan Grossman and Family for their generous contributions to the construction and installation of five Watergen atmospheric water generators in Gaza in the fall of 2021.

Funded by the European Union

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Deputy Director’s blog: COP26 conclusionshttps://arava.org/2021/11/cop26-conclusions/ Thu, 11 Nov 2021 07:51:43 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39364Since my return from the COP26 conference in Glasgow I’ve been asked repeatedly how it was. This is a very complicated question to answer. It was all at once – exhilarating and overwhelming, fascinating and frustrating, extremely depressing leading to deep pessimism and extremely inspiring and motivating leading to solid optimism. There are many ‘conferences’ […]

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Since my return from the COP26 conference in Glasgow I’ve been asked repeatedly how it was. This is a very complicated question to answer. It was all at once – exhilarating and overwhelming, fascinating and frustrating, extremely depressing leading to deep pessimism and extremely inspiring and motivating leading to solid optimism.

There are many ‘conferences’ and realities happening at the same time at COP26. There are the politicians and their negotiation parties working on agreements regarding climate change. The agreements reached in 2015 in Paris were the first universal global agreement about climate change. The UN set 4 goals for this year’s Conference of Parties. These include securing global net zero emissions by mid-century to keep the limitation of a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase within reach; adapting to protect communities and nature; mobilizing financing from developed countries for the first two goals; and, working together to finalize rules to operationalize the Paris Agreement and accelerate countries’ actions.

As of now, some agreements have been reached regarding coal, deforestation, methane, and emissions. Not all include all the most important parties worldwide for each topic, nor are they all binding. Pledges made by individual countries have been encouraging but insufficient. Israel’s Prime Minister Bennett pledged to reach net zero by 2050. This is the first such pledge from an Israeli head of State and, as such, very welcome. It is, however, mere words, as yet not codified by a national climate law.

At another level, the conference is an opportunity for tens of thousands of activists, academics, students, researchers to convene together to network and learn from each other. We came together to raise our voices in protest as well, to move the dial, and push the world’s governments to do better. While the vast array of issues and problems around the world is demoralizing, the rich mosaic of human resourcefulness, caring, and action was truly inspiring.

My main take-away was that it all matters. We must, as individuals take moral responsibility in all the ways we can by lowering our carbon footprint, for example. More importantly, we must, as citizens, be relentless in pushing our governments to do better. Our collective voices must be loud, clear, and persistent in this. Climate issues in the world are not only about nature preservation, as important as that is, but also are issues of justice as well. Israel, as a wealthy nation, must step up and take responsibility for our part in the global efforts. Furthermore, as Israelis, I feel we cannot ignore issues of justice and human rights that we are responsible for here and now vis-à-vis Palestine. Issues of regional social justice accumulate with issues of climate justice, affecting most those with the least rights. This is true worldwide, and is true in Israel-Palestine. These struggles cannot be separated from each other. And so, lastly, as the Arava Institute, we are doing our part advancing knowledge, research, diplomacy, and hands-on projects in the field, all to advance climate justice through work on mitigation and adaptation.

In Hebrew, we quote Hillel who said: “If I am only for myself, who am I? If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If not now, when?” This was echoed for me on the wall of the action zone of the conference center in the slogan “We can do this, if we act NOW.”

Coming home exhausted and exhilarated from my time in Glasgow, and despite the evident half-accomplishments and disappointments on the governmental level, I feel committed more than ever to act now with the staff, students, faculty, partners, and supporters of the Institute in our corner of the world. You are welcome to join us in this work, here and wherever you are.

Eliza Mayo
Deputy Director

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COP26 updates from our Deputy Directorhttps://arava.org/2021/10/cop26-updates/ Sun, 31 Oct 2021 07:14:43 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39199Students at Tel Aviv Climate March holding “Climate justice” signs in Hebrew and Arabic Arava Institute Executive Director Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, and Deputy Director Eliza Mayo are attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow as part of the official Israeli delegation. Dr. Clive Lipchin, Director of the Center for Transboundary Water […]

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students at 2021 Climate March in Tel Aviv
Students at Tel Aviv Climate March holding "Climate justice" signs in Hebrew and Arabic

Arava Institute Executive Director Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, and Deputy Director Eliza Mayo are attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow as part of the official Israeli delegation. Dr. Clive Lipchin, Director of the Center for Transboundary Water Management, is also participating in the  second week of the conference. Follow this post for regular updates and reflections from Eliza Mayo.

Wednesday, November 3rd

On Wednesday I traveled to Edinburgh for a meeting of women working in the renewable energy sector with Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Karine Elharrar. Elharrar made international news earlier during the week when the UN failed at first to accommodate her as a government minister needing to arrive in her wheel chair. Together with Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Amb. Tzipi Hotovely, Elharrar hosted an intimate meeting and networking opportunity to share ideas and thoughts about the energy sector in Israel, and discuss the COP meetings with us. I brought up issues of access to solar power in Area C of the West Bank, in Gaza, and in the Palestinian Authority.

Parallel to this meeting, Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed attended an event at the Moroccan Pavilion in the conference Blue Zone on the African Youth Climate Hub. This is a coalition of over 10,000 African youths and young adults who foster youth leadership for climate activism, and an important connection for the Institute. Later during the day he also attended a session on Education and Youth Empowerment which discussed the dearth of climate curricula in schools. In the late afternoon, he was interviewed by Jakir Manela, CEO of Hazon, and Nigel Savage, Founder and Former CEO of Hazon, for their podcast COP26: Sound the Call.

After my morning meeting, I returned to the Blue Zone for a very interesting discussion of the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education on catalyzing communities of future leaders: collaboration, research, and action. The panel began with the question: What are the most challenging barriers to student/youth optimism regarding climate change? How can we overcome these? Barriers discussed included the feeling that one person alone can’t produce change, and that it may be too late to make a change. Panelists felt that a solution-based approach could help, as well as, of course, real progress by government leaders at the COP meetings. “Getting Youth together in one place is so critical to building momentum and creating energy,” said one of the presenters at the panel. At the Arava Institute we know this to be true for our work too.

I ended my day partaking (once before leaving) in typical Scottish street food – fish and chips with pickled onions and a fizzy beverage called Irn Bru, which, as described to me by Scottish delegates to the conference, is most definitely “an acquired taste”.

Tuesday, November 2nd – People are the story

The story of being at COP26 would not be complete for me without talking about the people here. First of all, there are tens of thousands, a very odd and jarring experience after a year and a half of social distancing efforts during a pandemic. It took about an hour to enter the conference’s main area, the blue zone, on Tuesday morning. We were crowded into to a relatively small area, snaking slowly back and forth, a mosaic of people, all masked, some waiting patiently, some less, chatting in a multitude of languages into cellular devices. So chatting with random strangers while in queue for entry, for security, for lunch, is not a small part of the COP experience for me. It gives a tidbit into the life work of many different people who are with passion and concern acting for the world in a wide variety of ways, professions and approaches.

The Israeli civil society delegation met Tuesday morning with Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg. She stressed the importance on all levels of meeting in person and not virtually. While pointing out the significant government progress in setting ambitious goals for the country, she discussed with us the importance of Israel passing a Climate Law. Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed asked about cross-border cooperation in our immediate region, with the COP platform being an excellent opportunity to meet neighbors we might not meet otherwise.

After speaking with Zandberg, Dr. Abu Hamed attended a session in the EU Pavillion on the Cypriot-led initiative for climate action in the Mediterranean, while I joined part of an interesting presentation on Egypt’s transition and net zero goals in their energy sector.

In the green zone of the conference, there are the booths of all the corporate sponsors of the conference, real corporate giants like Unilever and Microsoft, as well as Scottish Power, and the like. Next to them in an odd juxtaposition are a series of smaller NGOs and initiatives full of people doing important work on the ground, such as EcoSynagogue. I spoke with women from a gender and climate change initiative, a coalition of indigenous peoples, and very passionate representatives of Save the Children.

Outside the main official blue zone area gather a variety of humans whose mode of trying to change society is to stand in creative protest with signs and costumes. Some messages are global while others focus on local action. At any given moment one could find a silent vigil for the Earth, a protest for Palestinian national justice, a protest against the Bolivian government’s exploitation of indigenous people and contamination of the Amazon rivers, a protest against China’s coal extraction, Extinction Rebellion climate actions, and much more.

Sir David Attenborough addressed the world leaders late yesterday as a “people’s advocate” to the conference. His speech was broadcast on screens throughout the conference in both zone venue sites. He spoke beautifully about what governments need to do now to commit to change the course of the planet and humanity in a just way, stressing that cooperation is necessary to achieve this. “If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilize our planet, surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it.”

Monday, November 1st

Having been on three flights in the last day to get from the Arava to Tel Aviv to London to Glasgow, I can’t help but wonder this morning, even with carbon offsetting, about the connection between personal and global responsibilities.

Judaism teaches that when you save a life, it as if you have saved the world. COP26 represents the hope that we will save the world in order to save lives and the planet.  It’s a cliché but true.

The Arava Institute’s work centers on individuals and communities, locally and on a cross-border regional level. We maintain partnerships and connections in our immediate region of Israel –Palestine-Jordan, and with partners in the wider Middle East, the Mediterranean, and worldwide.

Partnership, connection, and cooperation are at the core of our work. So it felt appropriate to begin my COP26 experience at a brunch for Jewish delegates sponsored by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Eco Synagogue, Commonwealth Jewish Council, and Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, at the Scottish Jewish Heritage Center at the beautiful historic Garnetthill Synagogue.

The Institute’s day-to-day work does not focus on the global macro-level. For me, that level gets confusing and feels remote. However, it is clear that we must maintain a view of and commitment to all the levels of action. Countries of the world must commit to “net zero” emissions to limit global warming to a 1.5 °C temperature rise by 2050; in doing so we must keep in our sight the individual humans, animals and plants that are at the highest risk. Our work in climate change adaptation and resilience in local off-grid communities matters as well. My personal moral commitment to these issues influences my approach to the topic on the micro-level within my life. In today’s complex interconnected world, we must hold and act on all of these in our lives and work.

Sunday, October 31st

Eliza Mayo and students at 2021 Tel Aviv Climate MarchLast Friday I participated in the Tel Aviv Climate March with some of the Institute’s current students and alumni. I was inspired by their commitment and hope for change, for a healthier, better, and more just life for all, which led me to think about what can be learned from the approaches to climate change at different levels in order to build resilience. Our students chose to march in yellow and decorated with sunflowers as the international symbol for climate justice. Like the sunflower is resilient to climate change, we are aspiring to create resilience for nature and the most vulnerable parts of society and humanity who will be heavily affected by climate change.

As we are leaving today to Glasgow, we are hoping to expose the Arava Institute’s important transboundary environmental work, learn more in-depth about other approaches, and initiate new international partnerships in our mission to face the climate crisis.

COP26

In 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed upon as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change and mitigating its impacts. The treaty has since been updated repeatedly, and the signed countries have met 25 times at the Conference of Parties (COP). From Oct. 31st to Nov. 12th, 2021, 196 countries and the European Union will be meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, after the conference was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest UN Climate Change report from August 2021 determined that human activities have unequivocally warmed the planet, and that climate change is now widespread, rapid and intensifying. There does however remain a chance to continue battling climate change if global emissions can be cut to “net zero” by 2050. The 2021 meeting of the world’s leaders is therefore a central opportunity to discuss crucial steps to achieve this goal.

Click here for live broadcast of COP26 proceedings.

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Director’s blog: The importance of regional environmental cooperationhttps://arava.org/2021/10/regional-environmental-cooperation/ Mon, 25 Oct 2021 13:59:30 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39109The last month has been encouraging for the future of environmental cooperation in the Middle East, both within the Institute, and on a wider political level. Recently, President Mahmoud Abbas and several Palestinian ministers met Israeli ministers Benny Gantz, Esawi Freige, and Tamar Zandberg, to discuss shared environmental issues. This meeting was an important milestone […]

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The last month has been encouraging for the future of environmental cooperation in the Middle East, both within the Institute, and on a wider political level. Recently, President Mahmoud Abbas and several Palestinian ministers met Israeli ministers Benny Gantz, Esawi Freige, and Tamar Zandberg, to discuss shared environmental issues. This meeting was an important milestone in emphasizing that cross-border environmental challenges are a priority for both sides, and I am sure that the presence of Esawi Freige as a Palestinian-Israeli helped in facilitating a successful exchange.

I recently participated in a meeting at the office of the Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, about environmental cooperation between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. During the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Knesset, the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, and various civil society actors, we were reassured of the importance of transboundary environmental cooperation to the current Israeli government, who understands that our challenges cannot be faced by one side alone.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the Arava Institute to join the table with our 25 years of experience in cross-boundary cooperation and trust-building in the environmental field. We have learned that the most important thing in working together is not the type or scope of projects, but how these joint efforts are conducted. The Palestinian stakeholders need to be approached and recruited as equal partners, who ultimately will own their side of the solution to environmental issues such as wastewater treatment or safe waste disposal. Some very urgent projects are a priority for both sides of the conflict, but have been left “on the shelf” for many years because of the lack of dialogue between the necessary partners.

Platforms like our Track II Environmental Forum are an important tool in the process of bringing people together, working with Palestinian partners taking the lead on cooperative projects, and advocating for their benefit to Israel. Water, energy, waste disposal solutions – all of these will have an impact on national security in all countries of the region, once sustainable solutions are implemented. The Track II Forum has just established the Center for Applied Environmental Diplomacy as an international institution combining regional environmental diplomatic activity, academic research, and the initiation and execution of projects throughout the Middle East. The goal is to provide Palestinians and Israelis with an address for consultation and management of regional environmental solutions. The Center will have the know-how and tools to implement sustainable projects on the ground.

The pressing environmental challenges faced by the Middle East are inherently transboundary, therefore cooperation in solving these challenges and adapting to climate change is essential. The Arava Institute will be part of the Israeli delegation to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. The international frameworks and negotiations for climate change mitigation and adaptation are at a crucial moment for the world, and for our region especially as a climate change spot. I am honored to have been chosen as part of the country’s representation, and look forward to convey the importance of environmental cooperation and civil environmental diplomacy at this world arena.

Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed
Executive Director

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GREENinMED: Second open call for hotels to receive free sustainability consultationhttps://arava.org/2021/10/2nd-open-call-for-hotels/ Thu, 14 Oct 2021 07:58:11 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=39022EU funded project to bring eco-innovative solutions in energy and water management to the Israeli hotel industry The hotel industry in the Mediterranean at large, and Israel specifically, is one of the most important worldwide and continues to register significant growth. After a challenging year during the COVID-19 crisis, the Israeli tourism industry is now […]

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EU funded project to bring eco-innovative solutions in energy and water management to the Israeli hotel industry

illustration: light bulb with waterThe hotel industry in the Mediterranean at large, and Israel specifically, is one of the most important worldwide and continues to register significant growth. After a challenging year during the COVID-19 crisis, the Israeli tourism industry is now looking forward to renew its domestic and international success in the coming months and years.

The growing demands of the tourism industry come with several environmental drawbacks such as the substantial consumption of water and energy. With the aim of helping hotels to stay competitive and improve at the same time their capacity of eco-innovation, GREENinMED proposes an integrated approach for the development of new products and services addressed to the efficient use of water and energy, and reduction in consumption by 10% within the hotel industry. To reach this goal, selected tourism businesses will be paired with expert consultants in the environmental field, focusing on the adaptation of eco-innovative products and services to individual needs.

After a first campaign during the summer of 2021, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Kinneret Academic College have launched a second call to select an additional five small and medium-sized hotels to be granted an Eco-Innovation Voucher consultation within the framework of the GREENinMED project, and a call for environmental experts to compete for the opportunity to provide their services as consultants. The value of the consultation provided is set at 2,000 Euro.

Schedule:
Opening of calls: 14/10/2021
Deadline for submission of candidacy for hotels and consultants: 31/12/2021

Both calls and application forms (in Hebrew) are available here.

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Director’s blog: My first two monthshttps://arava.org/2021/10/my-first-two-months/ Sun, 03 Oct 2021 06:40:56 +0000 https://arava.org/?p=38924After almost two months as Executive Director, I am pleased to share some updates about my work since August. I took this position thinking that I was very familiar with all activities at the Arava Institute, and I quickly realized that I still have much to learn more in-depth. Goals and strategic planning One of […]

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After almost two months as Executive Director, I am pleased to share some updates about my work since August. I took this position thinking that I was very familiar with all activities at the Arava Institute, and I quickly realized that I still have much to learn more in-depth.

Goals and strategic planning

One of my priorities as Executive Director is to focus the Institute’s activities more around the issues of climate change, and to concentrate all the research conducted by our staff under that umbrella. I also aim to put an emphasis on excellence in academics and research by recruiting passionate and skilled faculty, and encouraging all researchers to continue to publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

In addition, I plan to venture further into our goals of shared society, utilize the Institute’s 25 years of experience in transboundary environmental cooperation to promote a just and equal society in Israel/Palestine, and to establish more collaboration with Israeli-Arab research academic institutions.

For the past few months the Institute has been in the process of finalizing a new strategic plan for the coming five years. We have set eight strategic goals, and determined the metrics for each goal. The different departments at the Institute will now review the work plan and adapt it to their individual work plans in order to meet these strategic goals.

Joyful events

In mid-August I had the opportunity to meet with the Israeli Public Council for the first time as Executive Director. We hosted MK Esawi Frej, the new Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, who discussed his vision for the future of regional cooperation as making connections “above the table” rather than under the table, as has happened in the Middle East for many years. This event also marked the passing of the torch by Amb. Daniel Shek, who stepped down as Chair of the Public Council after 8 years, to Eti Livni, former member of Knesset, who has also been a supporter of the Institute for many years. I would like to thank Amb. Shek for his loyalty and hard work throughout the years, and look forward to continuing working with him as part of our environmental diplomacy efforts.

A few days later we harvested the second bunch of dates from Hannah, one of our Ancient Judean Date trees, which was pollinated by our oldest tree Methuselah and two other ancient date palms named Adam and Jonah. This year’s harvest produced around 700 dates (after 111 during last year’s harvest).

Beginning of the new academic year and research updates

As I transitioned into my new role at the Institute, Dr. Jessica Schäckermann took over as Academic Director. Dr. Schäckermann took on the position after several years as a researcher at the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, and as ecology guest lecturer at the Arava Institute. She immediately got to work preparing the Fall 2021 semester, which started in early September with 30 students and 12 interns from Israel, Palestine, the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.

My other previous position at the Institute as Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation currently remains unfilled during some restructuring of the department. In the interim Dr. Tali Zohar of the Dead Sea and Arava Science has joined us as a consultant, focusing mainly on the water-energy-food nexus, and agrophotovoltaic research.

Environmental diplomacy

Several research and environmental diplomacy projects are currently being implemented and completed. A very exciting example of this is our work on the establishment of a route to bring water from the Al Bireh wastewater treatment plant to the village of Al Auja in the West Bank to support local farmers. Through our diplomatic work, this route has recently been approved by the Palestinian Water Authority and the Israeli Civil Administration to begin its first planning stages. We are also proud of the implementation of a wastewater treatment plant and two WaterGen atmospheric drinking water generators in the Gaza strip. We are also working on converting all of these facilities into off-grid systems by adding solar energy components which will improve their efficiency, and reduce their vulnerability to the very frequent power outages in Gaza.
Evie Leviten-Lawton has recently joined our Track II Environmental Forum team as coordinator. We are excited to have her on board in order to support and grow our work in environmental diplomacy.

News from the Board of Directors

I am also excited to share that we have recruited five new members to our Board of Directors in Israel, increasing the number of seats to 16: Assaf Admon, Laithi Gnaim, Manar Sarie-Weiss, Prof. Muhammad Bashouti , Tali Adini – have all joined. Laithi Gnaim and Manar Sarie-Weiss are both alumni of the Arava Institute who have continued their studies in the environmental field, and are now returning to support us as members of the Board.

As we return to our routines after the holidays, I wish everyone a happy Jewish new year, and hope this year is filled with health, peace, and happiness for people and the planet.

Tareq Abu Hamed
Executive Director

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