KKL-JNF Hosts a Lunch on UN World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification

KKL-JNF Hosts a Lunch on UN World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification

The United Nations World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification (UNCCD) takes place annually on June 17. This year, KKL-JNF hosted a lunch for foreign dignitaries and international experts in this field at Expo 2015 in Milan.

 
On the World Day to Combat Desertification, a seminar was held by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at EXPO 2015 in Milan. Among the participants of the special seminar, which took place on June 17, were decision makers, senior scientists and experts in this field from all over the world, including senior representatives from Turkey, South Korea, Armenia, Mongolia, Namibia and Burkina Faso. The dignitaries participating at the seminar were invited to a reception and luncheon hosted by KKL-JNF at the Eataly restaurant in the context of a series of professional meetings organized by the KKL-JNF Conferences and International Relations Department at Expo 2015. The guests were also invited to take part in a professional seminar on the topic of soil conservation hosted by KKL-JNF in the Israel pavilion the following day.

The reception was an excellent opportunity for top people in the field from all over the world to meet one another and share their knowledge, and it provided an informal venue for establishing contacts that could lead to future collaborations. Among those who attended the event were Dr. David Brand, KKL-JNF Chief Forester and Head of the Forestry Division, and Itzhak Moshe, KKL-JNF Deputy Director of the Southern Region, both considered international experts in this field.

Cooperation between UNCCD and KKL-JNF began about a year ago, when Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, was in Israel for a visit and toured related KKL-JNF projects. Since then, there has been active and productive collaboration between the organizations.

At the joint event for the World Day to Combat Desertification, KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler presented the work being done by KKL-JNF to combat desertification. He said that in the beginning of its work in Israel, KKL-JNF found land that had been neglected for hundreds of years and had become arid wasteland. “We had no choice but to become experts in the field of combating desertification,” said Stenzler, who went on to describe the considerable progress made by Israel, led by KKL-JNF, in the fields of afforestation and combating desertification.


 

 

“We have planted millions of trees in the last decade. We have also constructed reservoirs, developed agricultural technologies for making the desert bloom, along with irrigation methods, including lessons learned from the achievements of the Nabatean desert dwellers, and various creative methods for wastewater treatment.”

Stenzler also noted KKL-JNF’s contribution to different projects in several developing countries including some with whom Israel does not have official relations. Perhaps, as a result of the success of these projects, the official relations issues will be resolved, as has happened in similar situations in the past.

Stenzler said that KKL-JNF is the largest green organization in Israel today and expanded on the matter of the fallow year (shmita in Hebrew) in Jewish tradition, which relates to the relationship between man and soil, the incessant exploitation of natural resources and the importance of the sabbatical year for the soil, trees and crops in Israel to get some rest. “Together we can work for a better future,” he concluded.

In a discussion with Chief Forester Dr. David Brand, he stated that “there is great importance in events of this kind, which enable encounters between decision makers on the highest levels, researchers, scientists and professionals, who deal with the issues and challenges in this field on a daily basis. All parties act with genuine intentions to prevent the degradation of ecosystems, agriculture and soil, but there is a gap in the language and understanding of the subject. The scientists often speak in terms that are not understood by the decision makers and do not understand their constraints, while policy makers often want to be told what needs to be done in simple terms."

“No less important,” continued Brand, “is KKL-JNF's participation in an event such as this and its involvement co-producing it. KKL-JNF has extensive and advanced expertise, and many years of experience in Israel and other countries, in everything related to ecosystems degradation, in combating the phenomenon of desertification, and in sensible sustainability management. KKL-JNF is an organization that not only conducts research studies and long term monitoring but also employs fieldworkers who know how to apply the findings of the studies and monitoring. KKL-JNF’s participation in this event allows it to expose its diverse activities to visitors from all over the world, to establish new contacts and to strengthen its significant role in this field.”

Dr. Brand also said that many joint meetings were being held with representatives and forestry directors from different countries including Turkey, South Korea, Armenia, Namibia and the EU, and that “Monique Barbut cordially suggested that we attend the conference in Ankara on combating desertification and present some of our innovative ideas there.”