Op-Ed: Israel’s dual approach to climate action — assistance and innovation

Op-Ed: Israel’s dual approach to climate action — assistance and innovation

By Nadav D Goren, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Israel in Mexico accredited to The Bahamas and Belize

On this year’s World Humanitarian Day, the UN decided to focus on the immediate humanitarian crises unfolding around the world from the climate emergency. Even those of us not particularly cognizant of the climate crisis can’t help but be alarmed by what has been unfolding around us.

While massive floods claim lives in Western Europe, widespread fires have plagued Greece, the US and Israel, and hurricanes in Latin America have spiraled into devastating humanitarian crises. On a whole, global warming is projected to displace as many as 150 million people by 2050. Against this concerning backdrop, Israel is committed to pursuing a two-pronged approach — providing immediate humanitarian assistance to those affected from climate-related disasters, while harnessing innovation to address the root causes of climate change.

Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of Israel Nadav D Goren provides emergency humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

In recent years, Mexico has been hit by multiple natural disasters, affecting some of its most vulnerable populations. As a response, the Embassy of Israel in Mexico, in cooperation with the Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), has delivered targeted humanitarian assistance, including non-perishable food items for communities living in flood zones, as well as agricultural start-up kits for the economic reactivation of agrarian communities hit by Hurricanes Iota and Eta. Cumulatively, the embassy’s humanitarian aid programs in the past two years have reached more than 100,000 Mexicans in need.

Also in the region, the embassy, together with experts from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), deployed a rapid response team to Honduras to assist in its recovery from the damage caused by the November 2020 hurricanes. The team was able to develop an immediate response plan, based upon its evaluation of the damage to transportation infrastructure, housing and water distribution network in the most affected rural areas.

I witnessed firsthand the consequences of climate disasters while traveling to The Bahamas in 2019 in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, as part of a humanitarian mission of the Embassy of Israel in Mexico accredited to The Bahamas and Belize, and the Israeli NGO IsraAID. We jointly intervened to provide an emergency solution for the lack of potable drinking water caused by the hurricane on the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. We thereafter worked together with local authorities to advance a long-term, sustainable water management plan to avoid similar lapses in the future.

Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of Israel Nadav D Goren in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

But humanitarian assistance can’t be provided in a vacuum; a proactive approach to mitigating climate change is essential. Over decades, Israel has learned to establish agriculture in the desert and arid areas, to recycle 90 percent of its wastewater and to desalinate drinking water. It has developed solutions for energy storage, energy efficiency and renewable energy; has cultivated a groundbreaking industry of animal protein substitutes; and knows how to preserve forests in conditions of drought and aridity. Israel has been a laboratory for the development of a practical response to the climate crisis and is continuing to pursue concrete solutions to these global challenges.

While the climate emergency continues to wreak havoc across the globe, it is clear that no single country, strong and developed as it may be, can cope with the climate crisis on its own. As we mark World Humanitarian Day this year, we must jointly take action to concurrently assist climate-affected populations while harnessing innovation to forge a sustainable future. The only way to achieve this goal is by cooperating as a global community, sharing experiences and know-how to better plan ahead. Israel remains a committed partner, ready to tackle the climate challenge head on.

The Embassy of Israel in Mexico is concurrent for Belize and The Bahamas.