Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and his Austrian counterpart, Andrä Rupprechter, signed a declaration of intent for environmental cooperation on Friday in Vienna, ministry officials informed The Jerusalem Post.

During the Friday meeting, Peretz suggested that Austria become involved in regional projects among Israel and its neighbors, such as the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.

Rupprechter – who serves as the Austrian federal agriculture, forestry, environment and water management minister – stressed his desire to cooperation with Israel on coping with climate change.

The two ministers discussed partnerships on recycling and environmental technologies.

Until now, no cooperation on environmental issues existed between the Israeli and Austrian environmental ministries, the Israeli ministry said.

Rupprechter will visit Israel at the end of June, the ministry added.

Peretz briefed Rupprechter on the status of the peace process and expressed hope that it will be restarted soon, the ministry said.

Regarding the Jordan River, he spoke about the regional rehabilitation projects for the body of water, saying that these efforts combine environment and social justice, as well as peace.

Austria recycles about 70 percent of its waste, which is the highest recycling rate in Europe, the Israeli Environmental Ministry said.

The country has also embarked upon several “green growth” initiatives, and in 2010, the Austrian Environment Ministry launched a “green employment” program aimed at creating 100,000 jobs in this sector by 2020.

About 12 percent of Austria’s GDP comes from green sector origins, the ministry said.

The declaration of intent for environmental cooperation with Austria came just two days after Peretz signed a declaration with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, in the field of Mediterranean pollution prevention.

This second agreement will likely be signed in June, and will foster cooperation on Mediterranean environmental issues, the ministry said.

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