This is the fourth time that a KKL JNF delegation has attended the annual UN Climate Change Conference. During the course of the conference, the members of the delegation held a side event and have been manning a KKL-JNF booth. The head of the KKL JNF delegation, Dr. Orr Karassin, and KKL JNF Director of International Relations, Karine Bolton, noted that the booth has provided opportunities for unforgettable personal encounters with representatives of NGOs and various countries, many of which have no diplomatic relations with Israel.
So far, there have been visitors at the booth from twenty different countries. They were highly impressed with the work of KKL JNF, and expressed great interest in future contact and cooperation. They included representatives from Swaziland, Cambodia, Namibia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia, Peru, Togo, Mauritania, Iraq, Malawi, Tunisia and Indonesia. The representative from Indonesia proved to be extremely familiar with the carbon sequestration research being done by the Weizmann Institute in Yatir Forest, and he expressed interest in future collaboration related to Yatir Forest research.
There were several unprecedented visits to the booth. Muhammad Bahir, a senior official at the Transportation Ministry of Iraq, discussed Israeli policy regarding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the KKL JNF representatives, and he was very interested in publications of the Government of Israel on the subject. On a separate occasion, Ms. Suzanne Sami Jamil el Banna, head of the Iraqi delegation to the Climate Change Conference, came by with the Director of the Air Quality and Noise Prevention Department at the Iraq Environment Ministry. Ms. el Banna expressed interest in consulting with KKL-JNF on combating desertification and inquired about pursuing further dialogue with people at KKL JNF. A senior representative from the Afghani delegation also visited the booth and spoke about his experience as the spokesperson and chief of staff at the Environment Ministry of Afghanistan. He told members of the KKL JNF delegation that this was the first time he had ever spoken to Israelis, and he was glad to have had the opportunity.
Other visitors included a princess from Nigeria, who heads a women’s movement for peace and development in Nigeria; Mr. John Moffat Fugui, Minister for the Environment and Disaster Management in the Solomon Islands; Mr. Jeffrey Lilonga from the Malawi Disaster Management Ministry; and Mr. Nabil Hamadi, a senior officer in the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, who is involved in rural development and water resource management. He inquired about maintaining contact with KKL JNF experts in desertification prevention and community forestry.
The Brazilian Secretary of the Environment, Mr. Grayton Toledo, visited the KKL JNF booth and spoke about his country’s formidable struggles for forest preservation and deforestation prevention. He said that even in Brazil, a country known for its tropical weather and abundant precipitation, there is desertification, erosion and soil depletion in certain areas. He expressed interest in KKL JNF’s work on land conservation and was surprised to hear that there is no deforestation problem in Israel and that, in fact, the forested areas in Israel have steadily increased since the
establishment of the State, from 300,000 dunams of forest to 900,000 dunams.
Dr. Jack Kaye, Associate Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the USA, also came to the KKL JNF booth for a visit. Dr. Kaye is involved in advancing satellite use for discovering and tracking changes in aquifers. He suggested assisting Israel and KKL ¬JNF in learning about technologies for environmental uses that are currently in the research and development stage at NASA.
Among their many activities at the conference, the KKL JNF delegation met with MP Gareth Morgan, a young and dynamic member of the South African parliament who represents the KwaZulu Natal region on behalf of the opposition Democratic Alliance. He shared his knowledge and experience with KKL-JNF representatives regarding shale oil production. Thanks to his efforts, the South African government declared a temporary moratorium on production licensing pending the establishment of a suitable regulatory infrastructure for managing this resource. He also inquired about coming to Israel to learn about environmental challenges and solutions.
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