KKL-JNF International Cooperation: Global warming and repairing the world

'We can talk about [Israel] from an aspect other than security - to show what has already been achieved and to arouse warm emotions.'

panel (photo credit:)
(photo credit: )
Michael Naftali, former President of KKL-JNF Australia, introduced the session at the fifth WLC with a reference to the vision of KKL-JNF that began over a hundred years ago and referred to KKL-JNF as "the oldest ecological organization in the world." Naftali emphasized KKL-JNF's concern with ecology and its activities for the benefit of the environment. "In addition to the importance of international cooperation there will be great universal environmental benefit. Here we can talk about the country from an aspect other than security - to show what has already been achieved and to arouse warm emotions." Naftali introduced Dr. Omri Boneh, Director of KKL-JNF northern region who opened his lecture with a question: "Why does an organization such as KKL-JNF need to develop an international program? Apparently there are numerous answers to this. For example, the organization can obtain professional knowledge from parallel bodies that deal with forestry in different countries - a particularly important aspect owing to the lack of academic departments in Israel specializing in forestry. "On the other hand," said Boneh, "we are able to support the ecology of developing countries and to help them fight off the desert and manage land - owing not only to our experience, but also, as a non-government organization, to our flexibility, even in countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. We have developed an extensive relationship with the American Forestry Service that can be defined as cooperation; a connection has become central in our international program. Twelve KKL-JNF workers have studied forestry, water preservation, and soil preservation in the United States and we have brought American experts to Israel to conduct courses for personnel of KKL-JNF, the Nature & Parks Authority and the Ministry of Ecology. I cannot imagine how we could have improved upon our development without that connection." KKL-JNF has also become a member of international forums and organizations that deal with forestry in general and in arid land treatment in particular. Attorney Orr Karasin, former manager of "Life and Environment" - the umbrella organization of all ecological organizations in Israel, and a member of KKL-JNF directorate addressed the session. "We could ask ourselves the question: whether or not we - as Jews and Zionists - have a particular task, according to the way Man is defined in our Scriptures, as guardian of the Earth. Global warming is an existing fact, the result of our hunger for energy and we have disregarded the prohibition of "do not destroy." It could be said that Israel's part in the negative global processes is only tiny, but there is no doubt that we will suffer greatly from these changes. Within another twenty years temperatures are expected to rise at a rate of 2.5 - 3.5 degrees. Research conducted in recent years has shown that Israel is receiving less and less rainfall. These are statistics that create anxiety. If we assess what KKL-JNF has done about these challenges, we begin to understand that we do have some of the tools to deal with the problems: extensive knowledge that has been gradually but surely accumulated, small seeds and young saplings that will promote the prevention of this global warming. The United Nations has recognized that trees are the most important tool in the struggle against global warming. KKL-JNF has already planted 230 million trees and KKL-JNF World Chairman, Stenzler, has committed the organization to plant seven million more trees in the next decade. "This is a huge achievement but it is still insufficient: we must make a global impact. The participation of KKL-JNF representatives in the Convention in Bali highlighted that we can become leading actors in the global arena by offering our information, planning and management services for forestation projects. The time has come for us to support initiatives for new technologies, and in my opinion all this is, in essence, part of a Tikun Olam or Repairing the World. "If we wish it, it is not dream." Reality is a dream that is becoming true." Gershon Gan is representative of the Foreign Ministry's Office for International Cooperation. Gan, originally from South Africa, has been sent to many countries in Africa and has served as Israeli ambassador in Namibia. He told participants about the Office for International Cooperation that was established during the 1950's by Golda Meir in order to help Third World nations - despite the fact that Israel itself was then a developing nation. "The Office for International Cooperation has no cadre of professionals who work with us each day" he said. "We cooperate with research institutions, medical organizations, universities - and KKL-JNF. I particularly admire the organization's contribution to date, and indeed we are hoping to be sending an expert from KKL-JNF to the Gobi desert to advise the Chinese about how to overcome desert phenomena. "One of the most significant ongoing projects of International Cooperation has been the State of Israel's involvement in preventing blindness throughout the world. Our best experts travel abroad and have already restored vision to thousands of people in developing countries. However, our activities are not based solely on principles of humanitarian aid, but also promote agriculture, medicine, and ecological development. For example, recently thousands of Egyptian farmers participated in an International Cooperation training program - despite difficulties on diplomatic levels. KKL-JNF has played an extremely important role in all this. Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world have learned to connect Israel with breakthroughs in development and problem-solving." For more information, please visit our website at www.kkl.org.il/eng or e-mail ahuvab@kkl.org.il Sponsored content