The geography of Israel, and the limitless innovation of its people, have made us leaders in developing technology to address environmental challenges, including climate change.
United Nations High Level Event on Climate Change
Thematic Plenary III – Technology
Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni
New York, 24 September 2007
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
We frequently say that globalization has shrunk space. But I think it is also true to say that it has shrunk time. Today, as never before, our decisions will have a fateful impact on the world of our children and our grandchildren.
We have never been so close to the "succeeding generations" for whom the United Nations was founded. There is no global issue for which this is more true or more urgent than the issue of climate change. It is time we all decided that tomorrow must not be the trash can of today.
In this spirit, I would like to congratulate the Secretary General for convening this High Level Event. I sincerely hope that this meeting will serve as a catalyst for decisive multilateral action on an issue that concerns us all.
My country is usually in the news on issues of peace and war. But the geography of the Holy Land, and the limitless innovation of its people, have made us leaders in developing technology to address environmental challenges, including climate change. You may not always see it on television, but the same people who made the desert bloom, are now devoting their energies and inventiveness to new environmental technologies – and we are eager to share our success, as well as the lessons learnt from our failures.
For Israel, necessity has long been the mother of invention. We are not blessed with oil or gas reserves or abundant natural resources. And water, for us – as for our neighbors – is a precious commodity. But these limitations have been turned into opportunities.
Israeli farmers can use saline water to grow sweet cherry tomatoes. Israeli technicians are building one of the largest solar power plants on the planet. Seventy five percent of Israeli homes have solar water heating. And Israel’s Standards Institute, together with the Ministry for Environmental Protection, has issued a standard for green building which is now being adopted by private and public developers.
These and many, many more innovations have made Israel a true laboratory for cutting edge environmental technology.
We have much, much more to do but we also have a great deal to offer, especially to developing countries in a variety of crucial fields, such as:
- providing healthy food for an increasing population without depleting or destroying our natural resources.
- creating ground-breaking methods for water conservation, including the re-use of treated effluents in agriculture.
- developing alternative sources of energy, particularly in solar and geothermal technologies.
- and, more recently, widening our activities in ‘clean-tech’, and expanding our role in renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation.
Many of these developments will be on display at an international exhibition Israel is holding on water and environmental technologies at the end of October this year (WATEC) – and we hope that many of you will join us there.
In this spirit too, Israel, together with partner countries, is introducing a new resolution at this year’s General Assembly entitled "Agricultural Technology for Development". The resolution focuses on the need for partnership with the developing world to promote agricultural technologies that will fight hunger and poverty in environmentally sustainable ways. We invite all states to join us in this important initiative.
As the Secretary General has said, no country can overcome the challenge of climate change alone. Progress in one state can easily be undone by lack of progress in another. Never before has the need for global partnership been so pressing. Never before has the need to share knowledge and technology been more important.
Developing the technology is, of course, only part of the challenge. We must find ways to share it and apply it safely, effectively and efficiently across the globe. Global warming transcends borders and none of us will be spared its effects if we do not act. And so, our cooperation in overcoming this challenge must transcend borders and conflicts as well.
Later today, I am going to attend an event celebrating a water desalination research facility that has been operating in Oman since 1996. This facility brings together scientists from Israel, Oman, Morocco, Algeria and across the Arab world to solve problems that are common to us all. It is a symbol of what is needed to overcome the challenges of climate change – cooperation across borders and across cultures to make a safer and better future.
With this kind of vision and determination we can turn the climate change issue from a problem into an unprecedented chance to improve our world. We can – if we have the will – transform a threat to our planet into an opportunity for our divided world to unite and create for our children a sustainable and brighter tomorrow.