HELPING KENYA

Earth Day 2021: A rare opportunity to restore our planet

World still headed toward a temperature rise of over three degrees this century, well above the 1.5 degrees set out in the Paris Agreement

In Summary

• Pandemic has presented us with a unique opportunity to pursue economic recovery programmes afterwar that incorporate strong sustainability and low-carbon measures

• Israel' arid and water scarce conditions, combined with its entrepreneurial and problem-solving spirit, have made Israel a leader in the field of environmental innovation

Image: THE STAR

The coronavirus pandemic has presented us with one of the most acute challenges of our generation. It has also, however, presented us with a unique opportunity to pursue economic recovery programmes following the pandemic that incorporate strong sustainability and low-carbon measures.

The world could effectively use the exit from Covid-19 to accelerate a green transition, and the commemoration of this year's Earth Day on (22/4) has thus taken on an even deeper meaning.

For over a decade, the UN Environment Programme has produced an 'Emissions Gap Report' that analyses the disparity between where greenhouse gas emissions should be by 2030, and where they are actually predicted to be.

The 2020 report found that, despite a "brief dip" in greenhouse gas emissions caused by the pandemic's broad economic slowdown, the world is still headed towards a temperature rise of over three degrees this century, well above the goal of 1.5 degrees set out in the Paris Agreement.

In fact, there is a direct link between environmental crises, climate change, and the novel coronavirus. Experts have found that global warming has led to the emergence of new infectious zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19. This means our current global pandemic is most probably tied to the grim environmental situation of our planet. This fact should serve as a strong and urgent call to action for all of us.

When it comes to climate innovation and sustainability, Israel can serve both as an example and as a provider of solutions to global problems. The country's arid and water scarce conditions, combined with its entrepreneurial and problem-solving spirit, have made Israel a leader in the field of environmental innovation.

Drip irrigation and the development of resistant, fortified crops are world-renowned and highly sought after technologies that were actually originally developed in Israel.

The country is also at the forefront of one of the world's latest trends in sustainability: animal protein replacements. Innovative Israeli companies have successfully produced lab-grown protein that is almost indistinguishable from high-quality meat, and have even grown real meat from animal cells in a lab.

Israeli embassies across the globe commemorate Earth Day on an annual basis. This year, and in a continuing partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Kenya Forest Service, the Embassy planted thousands of trees at the Israel Forest, adapted by the State of Israel in 2017. This is part of the Embassy’s efforts in contributing towards Kenya’s resolve of attaining 10 per cent forest cover by 2030.

Israel is a world leader for water reuse, recycling almost 90 per cent of its wastewater for use in agriculture. It also has one of the most unique national water systems in the world, with some 80 per cent of its drinking water being desalinated saltwater.

Over a century of experience in reforestation of semi-arid areas, expertise that will only grow in value as large-scale tree planting and other nature-based solutions become ever more prevalent as methods of mitigating against the effects of climate change.

Israeli embassies across the globe commemorate Earth Day on an annual basis. This year, and in a continuing partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Kenya Forest Service, the Embassy planted thousands of trees at the Israel Forest, adapted by the State of Israel in 2017. This is part of the Embassy’s efforts in contributing towards Kenya’s resolve of attaining 10 per cent forest cover by 2030.

The Embassy also joined education managers from the Kenya Education Management Institute, who are MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) alumni in the Education for Sustainable Development sector. It trains teachers and children on using Israeli technology for environmental conservation and utilising  environment waste to useful resources.

Israel is well-placed to make a unique contribution worldwide when it comes to pursuing green recovery programmes from Covid-19. Its technologies and decades of practical experience were all borne of the demanding environmental challenges that the country faced from the very outset of its statehood. The solutions it developed to meet those challenges could now serve the world well.

With all of the hardships that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted upon us, it has also provided us with a unique opportunity to change our ways moving forward. Israel is willing to share its experience and know-how with every country in the world, and especially with Kenya and our friends here in Eastern Africa. We only have one planet, and we must all work together to protect it.

Israeli Ambassador

(Edited by V. Graham)