Charles Solomon, Deputy Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Transportation, was chosen as the permanent chair of the UNECE Team of Specialists for PPPs

Communicated by MFA Spokesperson

In June 2007, Israel hosted a conference of specialists on the subject of public-private partnerships (PPPs). Under the leadership of the Foreign Ministry’s Division for the United Nations and International Organizations, together with attorney Yehuda Revah, the establishment of an international Team of Specialists in the field of PPPs, under the auspices of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Integration of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), was proposed. Israel was recognized at the June conference as a world leader on the subject of PPPs.

At the launching of the new initiative in Geneva on 28-29 February 2008, Charles Solomon, Deputy Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Transportation, was chosen as the permanent chair of the Team of Specialists. Deputy chairs were also appointed: Art Smith, Chair of the American Council for PPPs; Dmitry Amunts, Deputy Minister of Culture and Mass Communication of the Russian Federation; James Stewart, Director General of Partnership UK; and Boriana Pencheva, Director of Management of EU Funds Directorate at the Ministry of Finance in Bulgaria.

Charles Solomon heads the Israeli delegation to the Team of Specialists, which also includes Simona Halperin of the Human Rights and International Organizations Department at the Foreign Ministry; Gabriel David of the Finance Ministry; Uzi Levine, a senior advisor to the Director General of the Ministry of National Infrastructures; attorney Yehuda Revah, who has been a member of the Team of Specialists from its inception; and attorney Ron Vered, who works in Revah’s office and is an expert on the subject of PPPs.

The conference, in which more than 140 delegates from the public and private sectors represented more than 30 European and American states, produced positive echoes throughout Europe. Promoting joint projects in the public and private sectors is a complex task that demands a high level of cooperation. The new initiative provides a platform for exchanging information and for professional discussions relating to project methodology, legal and financial issues. The scope and the impressive line-up of states and world-renowned experts who participated in the conference reflects the thirst for knowledge and the great interest in taking part in projects in this field.

Israel’s impressive experience in the field of PPP projects led to the choice of an Israeli to chair this permanent UN professional team, which is a political milestone for Israel. It illustrates the high regard for the unique models developed in Israel in the field of PPPs and the effective presentation of Israel’s abilities in the international arena, particularly in the UN arena.

Politically, this is a major achievement that demonstrates Israel’s ability to lead in an innovative and complex field and to hold dialogue and cooperation with the UN and with Europe. In addition, it boosts Israel’s membership in the Western group of states: Europe (East and West), Canada, and the United States.

The new initiative also presents Israel with a professional opportunity, as one of the world’s leading states in the field of project promotion (especially relating to infrastructures) involving public and private partnerships, a hot topic in the international – and particularly the UN – arena. PPPs are a major component of development and investment in developed and emerging nations alike.

Israel’s chairing of the Team of Specialists enables governmental bodies to continue developing expertise that will facilitate the development of new projects in Israel, as well as providing Israeli businesses access to European projects and laying the foundation for Israel’s participation in international and multinational projects.

At the recent meeting, Yehuda Revah spoke about Israel’s achievements and innovations in the field of PPP projects and noted that Israel is the only country in the world that won the prestigious Project Finance magazine’s Project of the Year award three times in a row – for the Trans-Israel highway, Highway 431, and segment no. 18 of the Trans-Israel Highway, the prize for which will be given next week in London.

Mr. David and Mr. Levine noted that Israel continues to promote innovative, complex PPP projects, including tenders for a solar power plant in the Negev using thermo-solar and photovoltaic technology, at a cost of $700 million; an LNG facility to provide the Israeli market with natural gas at a cost of tens of billions of dollars; a training center for the Israel Police costing hundreds of millions of shekels; and tenders for highway maintenance costing a billion shekels.

At the meeting in Geneva, a work plan was formulated for the coming year that includes meetings and professional projects such as policy recommendations, a comparison of legislature dealing with PPPs, and establishment of an interactive website inside the larger UNECE website. The Team of Specialists will also provide consultation services and prepare a training program to advise member states how to promote PPP projects.

Charles Solomon, the appointed Chair, noted that PPP is crucial for economic and global growth, enabling states and local and national authorities to build a wealth of public infrastructures without burdening limited resources. "As the Chair of the UNECE Team of Specialists, I intend to establish Israel as a leader in the field of PPPs,"  he said.