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KKL-JNF Sharing Knowledge about Adaptation to Global Warming

By Dr. Orr Karassin

COPENHAGEN (Dec. 16, 2009) — The globe is warming and KKL-JNF has taken upon itself to share the knowledge and experience accumulated over the past century in Israel's arid and semi-arid areas in the fields of afforestation, water and land reclamation, and agriculture. Adaptation to climate change is the major issue at the COP 15 conference and will become an ever-growing issue as the world climate continues to change. It is now anticipated that the shared vision of the COP 15 will commit the world to limiting warming to 1.5º to 2º Celsius. Under such conditions it is expected that various parts of the world will experience reduced precipitation and recurring drought.


Tree planting, with its cooling effects and positive impacts on avoiding soil erosion, is one of the major strategies worldwide to increase resilience to climate change, especially in developing counties. I'm heading KKL-JNF's delegation of five representatives to the conference. The four others are Avi Dickstein, Yitzhak Moshe, Judith Strasser and David Brand.


To promote international cooperation and technology sharing, KKL-JNF set up a booth at the main exhibition hall that created overwhelming interest from representatives of many counties that were impressed by KKL-JNF accomplishments in creating partnerships. Africans, Indians and Bangladeshi facing similar climate challenges expressed an interest in implementing Israeli know-how in adapting to their changing semi-arid environments. ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability requested to explore future cooperation possibilities with KKL-JNF in their African projects. A Gambian TV crew, amazed by KKL-JNF's achievements, interviewed Moshe, deputy director of KKL-JNF Southern Region, and Brand, KKL-JNF director of forestry and research. They explained dry-land afforestation techniques and the many trials and errors that Israeli afforestation management underwent before achieving its current success.


Michael Lavendire, forestry officer for FAO Eastern Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, requested to visit Israel to study particularly dry land afforestation as Ethiopia seeks to adapt KKL-JNF technologies in Ethiopia. This interest in adaptation is fueled by both the growing need and also by promises of commitment by world leaders to fund adaptation in developing counties. George Soros, a world economic leader, has called for an adaptation fund of $10 billion and it seems that his challenge will be accepted by developed counties who already have committed billions toward adaptation.


Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, raised serious concerns about funding carbon-reducing projects in developing countries. He called for swift action to finance adaptation. KKL-JNF identifies with this message because providing livelihoods in arid conditions through agriculture has been at the core of its work.


During the formal event organized by the State of Israel, Moshe emphasized that KKL-JNF is offering techniques in afforestation and water-harvesting that can be implemented easily all over the world, even in the least-developed countries.


"Our goal is to leverage climate-change risks and turn them into opportunities, creating advantages for developing counties through adaptation and development," Moshe said. "When rain falls in short showers or bursts, the information on harvesting run-off water can make all the difference between a starving and a healthy community."


Such information will become increasingly important as extreme weather conditions are expected to increase and it becomes "more difficult to predict future meteorological conditions as the past is no longer a good indicator for future patterns," said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization. This means that adaptation must depend on the resilience of communities to climate change, or the reduction of existing vulnerability. KKL-JNF hopes to take an increasing role in this global effort.




Dr. Orr Karassin is a former Green Zionist Alliance representative to the board of directors of Jewish National Fund in Israel and an advisory-board member of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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