A delegation of UN ambassadors concluded a five-day visit to Israel last week during which it reviewed Israeli technology focusing on climate and sustainability solutions. The delegation was hosted by the unilateral face of the Israeli innovation industry, non-profit Start-Up Nation Central.
Sustainable Development Goals and Israel
The delegation’s aim was to review the technology being developed here and to learn about the strengths of the Israeli innovation ecosystem and how it is addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations – a group of 17 immensely optimistic goals to achieve by 2030, including the eradication of world hunger, poverty and gender inequality.
Also included in the SDGs are environmental goals, which were the focus of the Israeli startups that presented demos of their technologies to the ambassadors, emphasizing water and climate solutions – though Start-Up Nation Central’s CEO, Avi Hasson, emphasized that the country has even more to offer.
“In Israel today, there are over 1,100 companies that offer diverse technological solutions to support global sustainable development in both societal and environmental arenas,” he said.
“While Israeli entrepreneurs continue to build on their achievements in water management, AgriFood-tech, and solar energy to tackle global climate challenges, the world is working to achieve the UN’s SDGs and decision-makers from around the world are increasingly looking at Israel’s innovation ecosystem for solutions to address global challenges and to meet these ambitious targets, including affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities, and climate action.”
ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)
The ecosystem he mentioned is one that is fine-tuning itself to fall in line with progressive business goals: In recent years since the onset of the pandemic, record numbers of Israeli companies have taken the step to commit to giving back to society, by adopted so-called “ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) standards.”
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week, the CEO of the corporate social responsibility membership organization Maala, Momo Mahadav, explained that the pandemic had the adverse effect that one might anticipate regarding companies’ willingness to chase more ideologically-founded goals.
“It seems that this COVID has boosted ESG efforts. If you look at our immediate community, as of the fourth quarter of 2020 through 2021, about 30 new companies have joined Maala. That's a record number. Usually, about 10 or 12 companies join per year.”Maala CEO Momo Mahadav
“It seems that this COVID has boosted ESG efforts. If you look at our immediate community, as of the fourth quarter of 2020 through 2021, about 30 new companies have joined Maala. That’s a record number. Usually, about 10 or 12 companies join per year,” he said.
“In previous economic crises, like in 2008 or 2011, many Israeli companies pulled back [from ESG commitments],” continued Mahadav. “The message was ‘we’re in survival mode, we can’t afford to go beyond.’ With COVID, the opposite happened. Something about the way that people feel humbled in front of a thing that we can’t control – a force of nature – really emphasized the importance of social cohesion, the importance of the environment and things like that.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, stressed the importance of exposing the UN delegation to Israel’s solutions to the globe’s increasingly-pressing issues.
“One of my main goals at the United Nations has been to illustrate how Israeli innovation is helping people all over the world. After spending a week in Israel, the ambassadors were able to see the innovative spirit that is infused throughout the people,” he said. “I am confident that they will be strong advocates of partnering with Israeli companies in the future, both at the UN and in their home countries.”