How the Innovation Nation pivots to focus on the fight against Climate Change
By Rolene Marks
Scotland is a country of exquisite beauty, fascinating history and is home to one of my favourite things, good whisky. Over the last few weeks, Scotland has played host to a slew of world leaders, climate activists, Royals, NGO’s, media and innovators as they descended on the picturesque city of Glasgow for the United Nations COP26 conference to discuss ways to tackle the threat of climate change. Israel took a 140 strong delegation with a massive press presence. Unlike some folk who flew in by private jet (sigh), an El Al commercial plane was chartered. Kosher haggis anyone?
Leading the Israeli delegation was Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett. This would not only be an opportunity for the PM to strut our green innovation credentials on the world stage; but also would provide an opportunity for us to see if he could step up to Statesmanship, a challenge issued by Her Majesty, the Queen, in her televised address to world leaders.
And Bennett did exactly that.
Rubbing shoulders with world leaders, Royalty and captains of industry, the message delivered from the Israeli leaders was that the start-up nation didn’t come to play – we came to slay!
This was also an opportunity for PM Bennett to tell the world all about the groundbreaking technology and chutzpah that has earned Israel the reputation of the start-up or innovation nation.
Marrying both his career as a politician and tech company owner, raising capital and awareness seems to be a natural fit. The Prime Minister addressed the plenary to speak about how Israel is poised to become a major player in the fights against climate change using our brain power and boundless energy:
While Israel is relatively late to the climate fight in some ways, in other ways we have been leading for decades. As countries signed the pledge to increase deforestation at COP26, it must be noted that Israel has been planting trees since the inception of the modern state, turning our deserts into flourishing forests. It is roughly estimated that 250 000 000 trees have been planted in this tiny country!
This may even result in a rare sighting of the lesser spotted HAPPY Greta Thunberg! Yes, the scowling-leader-berating teenage climate activist may even crack a smile at this news!
International treasure, Sir David Attenborough, he of the dulcet tones and astounding knowledge about the world’s fauna and flora, has called for solutions to many of the challenges facing us today. The nonagenarian has spoken about water as the most valuable resource for sustaining life on earth. It was extremely gratifying to hear Prime Minister Bennett tell the world that Israel is the leading country when it comes to waste water recycling. Living in a desert climate where water is our most valuable commodity, we have learnt to parlay our concerns – and chutzpah – into finding workable solutions.
Workable solutions is what Israel does best! During his COP26 speech, Bennett spoke about Israel’s creation of a “Green Sandbox”, a plan that will attract investment into green technology. The government has also allocated NIS15.5billion towards combatting climate change and President Herzog has set up a fund under his patronage with over 130 innovators, thinkers and NGO’s committed to this as well.
Even Bill Gates sat up and took notice! The Microsoft-founder and philanthropist, acknowledged Israel’s reputation as a leader in innovation and announced his foundation would be working with the Jewish state to find solutions to the challenges we face.
This is not just about dealing with change to the climate, but also how this impacts on our regional security. It is believed that the Middle East is one of those areas greatly impacted by the climate crisis. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about!
But it is not all doom and gloom – in fact Israel stands poised to lead in finding sustainable solutions. To date, there are 637 start-ups and growth companies developing climate technologies, and the five challenge areas are:
Climate Smart Agriculture, Clean Energy Systems, Sustainable Mobility & Transport, Eco-Efficient Water Infrastructure, and Alternative Proteins. Most of these innovative companies are young, up to seven years old, with roughly 10 employees.
More than 560 private investment entities have invested in Israeli climate companies, mostly venture capital funds, out of which two-thirds are foreign investment entities – and this number is expected to grow.
The next UN Climate Conference, COP27 will be held in Egypt in 2022. This is right on our doorstep! With ties between our two countries starting to significantly warm up, you can bet that Israel will have a significant presence there.
Israel is ready to plant her flag firmly in the fight to meet the challenges posed by climate change
Our flag is there waving in the wind-turbined air – proudly blue, white ……..and green!
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