This year Start-Up Nation Central presented its vision at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm e-Sheikh, Egypt on Wednesday.
The non-governmental, non-profit and non-revenue Israeli organization works to join together large scale companies and tech-startups.
Just days into the international conference, Start-Up Nation Central says it it has already started a regional initiative that it believes will bring countries in the ‘neighborhood’ to work together in a unified fight against climate change.
It calls it the Middle East and North Africa Alliance for Climate Innovation (MENA Alliance for Climate Innovation) and expects to have a number of countries sign onto it by the end of the week.
SNC was able to present the idea to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN organization that runs COP and is responsible for leading the UN effort to address corporate challenges when it comes to climate change.
Yariv Becher, the VP of innovation and diplomacy at SNC, said that the team was very excited about the idea of the MENA Alliance and even want to support the effort and become founding partners.
“I think that’s the best signal that we could get. It shows we are onto something, that is important and needed and that we can deliver on it,” Becher said. “There are a lot of alliances and forums. But we identified a gap where no one is focusing on innovation and are creating a platform for businesses to connect and work together.”
“There are a lot of alliances and forums. But we identified a gap where no one is focusing on innovation and are creating a platform for businesses to connect and work together,”Yariv Becher, VP of innovation and diplomacy at SNC
Some of the tentative countries that might be interested in joining in the regional alliance include Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
At COP27, there were endless examples of how normalization is being actualized from the bottom up as private companies set up meetings and executed plans to work with one another.
“I think that when you’re talking about climate, politics moves aside. You can see that here. You can see the conversations that we have with countries that we don’t have relations with. This is innovation diplomacy exactly,” Becher said.
Esti Rosen, Head of Global Communication for SNC also talked about the importance of in-person meetings to push innovation diplomacy forward.
“What we learned with the Abraham Accords is that this is a process… and you have to bring the parties to a point where they can meet because they have different approaches and business culture. And cultures in general. All of these actions and processes we’ve done and will do are part of the end game,” Rosen said.
Becher and Rosen spent days of the conference bouncing between the first-ever Israeli pavilion, the innovation zone and the “blue zone” taking on panel discussions about regional cooperation, sharing the stage with the Israeli Export Institute where they highlighted Israeli start-ups with a panel and also held round-table discussions with topics like food security, agrotech, water and sustainable cities.
Bringing companies and countries together
SNC identified more than 700 companies active in the wide definition of climate, just in Israel. They plan to continue their efforts to bring companies and countries to work together by reviewing trends and talking with large organizations to discover the challenges and needs they are dealing with.
They found the climate crisis to be one of the major issues that everyone is dealing with and they are working to create regional collaboration and partnerships which can solve problems for big companies and get small companies funding and market access.
When the needs cross, they said, it's a win-win situation. This accounts not only for Israel, but the entire start-up ecosystem.
“A strong Israel is a strong economy. Innovation is the driver for a strong economy and our goal, our organization was created to promote the innovation ecosystem as the foundation of a strong economy and strong Israel,” Becher said.
The SNC delegation say the goal is to show up at next year’s conference and be able to publicly share a number of projects that are already running through the MENA alliance that began during the COP27 meetings. Next year’s event, COP28 will take place in the UAE, so the ball can keep on rolling when it comes to Middle East cooperation.