Although their own water problems are far from over, Israel has mastered techniques that are crucial to desert survival. In addition to developing among the most advanced irrigation procedures, leading to improved water conservation, they have restored much of the country’s deforested regions in order to prevent the further spread of drylands. Leading experts are now preparing to share their expertise with the rest of the world at an upcoming conference in Israel.
Organized by the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the conference highlights Israel’s role as a leader in this critical field. The event will be held in the presence of Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
A dent in the drylands
“Israel is one of the only countries in the world which has successfully restored marginal lands and has is recognized worldwide as a leader in protecting its drylands from further deterioration,” explains conference organizer Prof. Alon Tal. “The unique local experience and the extensive associated research contribute to making this the premiere international conference about combating desertification that attracts significant participation from around the world.”
To ensure that the conference is accessible to all, simultaneous translation will be provided into four languages – French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian – for all plenary sessions. Significant delegations are expected from Italy, Australia and China and five MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development) groups, coordinated through the Israeli Foreign Ministry will also be attending. A number of Palestinian and Jordanian delegates are also expected to participate. The conference has been made possible with the support of Dan and Moses Feldman, USA.
A number of unique workshops will be offered as part of the conference, including and emphasis on sustainable building in desert environments, remote sensing, grazing and the Bedouin community, restoration of the Dead Sea, environmental education and dryland agriculture. The 2nd Jeffrey Cook Workshop on Desert Architecture and Urban Planning will also be held, and will include the presentation of the Cook Award for Desert Architecture. For the first time ever, the public health aspects of desertification will be addressed with panels that explore the interface between ecological and health sciences.
A number of round-table discussions will take place, with topics that focus on regional cooperation to Italian-Israeli scientific cooperation. The penultimate discussion will focus on the feasibility and synergisms associated with the three so-called Rio Conventions, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to protect Biodiversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
Tal explains: “We believe that by bringing a diverse group of academics, professionals and policy makers together to confront the myriad critical issues of desertification, the conference can serve as a meaningful catalyst for cooperative and collaborative projects in the future at the global level.”
For more information, visit the conference website at http://www.entersymposium.com/ddd.site/ or Ms. Dorit Korine, Conference Coordinator, Drylands, Deserts & Desertification Conference, +972 (8) 659 6781, [email protected]
Transportation to Sede Boqer will be available on the opening day of the conference.