Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer signed an agreement with Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's Minister of the Environment, under which Israel will share its vast and unique knowledge of water management in return for Australia's financial backing of future Israeli projects based on water-technology.
Representatives of each country will be meeting over the course of this week to work out the details and to finalize the agreement.
"Israel is a world leader when it comes to water management and technology related to water," said Ben-Eliezer after the agreement was signed on Monday. "We are very proud that our country has developed technology that other countries want to learn from and be a part of. By entering into this partnership with Australia, we are strengthening the ties between our countries."
Eli Ronen, chairman of the Israeli water company Mekorot, was present at the signing of the agreement and he noted that Sydney Water, the company that provides the city of Sydney with its water, has met with Mekorot in the past and the two have shared ideas and information, with their cooperation resulting in a reduction of Sydney's water consumption and waste.
Ben-Eliezer is in Australia this week as the head of an Israeli delegation comprised of businessmen, as well as leaders from Israel's water and infrastructure sectors. In addition to signing the agreement with Turnbull, Ben-Eliezer is hoping to expand trade between the countries, as well as increase the number of Israeli companies operating in Australia.
In 2006, 22 Israeli companies opened branches in Australia, bringing the total number of Israeli companies with operations there to over 1,300, while trade grew to $362m., according to Yechiel Assia, director-general of the Israel Export Institute. Trade with Australia is expected to increase six percent to $383m. this year.
Separately, WATEC Israel 2007, Israel's international convention with a focus on water technologies and environmental control, released a report on Monday highlighting Israel as one of the leaders in developing new water technologies as well as numbers that point to a future that will bring with it extreme water shortages, unless more action is taken to stem the acute amounts of water that is wasted each year.
Baruch (Booky) Oren, the chairman of WATEC Israel 2007 said two billion people around the world either lack access to sufficient quantities of water, or are supplied with water that is unfit for drinking. Oren predicts that this shortage is going to worsen in the near future due to the rise of the world's population and to the redistribution of water resources among the world's regions. "Israel is poised to play a major role in supplying the world with cutting-edge water and environmental solutions," he added.
International observance of World Water day, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, is observed each March 22.