Gilad Erdan (left) and UN's Jans Kubis 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Strategists from around the world agreed that “Israel is a laboratory” for
eco-innovation and can serve as a platform for larger countries looking to
harness sustainable technology during a special conference held by the United
Nations Economics Commission in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
The meeting, called
“Promoting Eco-Innovation: Policies and Opportunities, United Nations Economic
Commission for Europe,” included members of the commission, Israeli contributors
and other experts from across the globe, who strategized about how to generate
policies and achieve cooperation to further the spread and efficiency of green
“Israel is a laboratory of innovative policies and
practices in many areas, including technologies, financing and project
management,” said Jan Kubis, UN under-secretary general and executive secretary
of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.
“Perhaps such a laboratory
could serve as a training center that could share its experiences gained here
and help other countries.”
Eugene Kandel, head of the Israel Economic
Council and chief economic adviser to the prime minister, agreed with Kubis,
adding, “We see Israel as a global lab.”
“We’re pretty good at inventing
innovative solutions that are applicable and can be put together pretty
quickly,” Kandel said.
As a culture of immigrants who have historically
tackled difficult issues, said Kandel, Israel is particularly suited to battle
global sustainability challenges, such as food, water and energy.
characterizes [immigrants] is that they can’t do things the way their ancestors
did,” he said, noting that even when he came to Israel in 1977, it was an
entirely different country.
But by the 1980s, solar water heaters were a
regular on Israeli residences, and today the country has become a major exporter
of eco-technologies, he added.
“We are able to not only feed the
population but export,” Kandel said. “We are leaders in the world of reusage of
water and are probably the leaders in desalination as well. Within three years,
Israel won’t be dependent on nature for its water needs.”
In addition to
water desalination tools, Kandel mentioned agricultural technology, irrigation
and livestock farming as some of Israel’s exportable strengths.
looking to develop these ideas in Israel, try them out here and then globally
expand them,” Kandel said.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
said that the challenge after inventing such solutions, however, is the
responsibility “to translate the success in areas such as information
technology, agricultural production and medical breakthroughs into workable
ecological and environmental innovations.”
Such solutions are crucial
across the globe, Erdan said, stressing that economist Thomas Malthus’s
prediction that a population explosion would wipe out the food supply was
“He could not foresee the technological development of the 20th
century,” Erdan said. “Technological development of the 20th century will need
to be superseded by eco-innovation of the 21st century, all of this to prevent
and minimize environmental contamination and halt natural resource
In order to really push forward eco-innovation, citizens
everywhere must aim to “reduce environmental impact of any activity,” agreed
Salvatore Zecchini, vicechair of UN Economic Commission for Europe Committee on
Economic Cooperation and Integration and chair of OECD Working Party on Small to
Medium Enterprises and Entrepreneurship. According to Zecchini, environmental
advances can rarely occur successfully without the cooperation of neighboring
“Eco-innovation is doing more with less,” Kandel
“The only reason that Malthus is being proven wrong again and
again [is] because people are learning to do much more with much less. And I
think Israel is a great example of this.”