Israeli MFA Goes Green

MFA to host international conference on Israel and the African Green Revolution

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 May 2008

Experts from Israel and abroad will gather in Israel to discuss ways to reduce global poverty and to improve health, education, community development and the status of women in underdeveloped rural areas.

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, will be the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Israel and the African Green Revolution, which will take place on Sunday, June 1, 2008, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. Prof. Sachs is a leading figure in the fight against poverty in underdeveloped areas of the world.

The main goal of the African Green Revolution is to help impoverished smallholder communities to make the transformation from subsistence farming to a mixed rural economy of commercial farming and small-scale industry and services. This transformation will raise incomes, reduce poverty and hunger, and unleash self-sustaining private-sector-led economic growth. It should occur as part of other broad changes in society, including a dynamic urban economy, the development of national-scale infrastructure, the scaling up of public health and education, and the increased resilience and adaptation to climate change. The conference will explore Israel’s contribution to this global challenge.

The emphasis of the conference is on Israeli and international technologies that could be used to alleviate the present crisis in Africa. Lack of water, spreading desertification, and the rising costs of fertilizers and energy are causing increased poverty, disease and refugees in many rural areas in the world. Africa today is a major target for donor states and global aid organizations. Agriculture and food supply assurance naturally receive special attention, although there are efforts to adopt a holistic approach that would include health, education, community development, and empowerment of women.

The conference is being organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV), which is celebrating its jubilee year. MASHAV’s raison d’ĂȘtre is to extend help to developing countries in the form of training courses, consultation services, mobile clinics, etc.

Ambassador Haim Divon, Deputy Director General and Head of MASHAV, will open the conference, and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni will deliver welcoming remarks. Prominent figures in the global arena will participate in the first panel: Dr. William D. Dar, Director General of ICRISAT – The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics and Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, Director Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, New York; and Ms. Federica Marzo, OECD Development Center, Paris. The second panel, “The Israeli Perspective,” will include MK Prof. Avishay Braverman, Mr. Zvi Herman, Director of CINADCO, and others.

The next day, 2 June, working groups on agriculture, water, health, community development, education and gender will meet at the MASHAV facility in Kibbutz Shfayim.

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