Insights from the Annual Conference of Science and the Environment 2019
The Conference ended yesterday following an intensive agenda packed with lectures and research presentations. Today we can summarize - what have we learned during this fascinating week
Following an intensive, engaging program, the conference concluded with a great sense of optimism and with new knowledge and insights on a wide variety of topics. The lecture sessions demonstrated the remarkable richness of research of the environment and related fields in the academic community in Israel. Many studies were presented on diverse topics such as transportation, education, biodiversity, air pollution and others.
Christiana Figueras, a veteran diplomat and a seasoned fighter against climate change, fascinated the large audience in her discussion of the climate agreement signing process in Paris and the processes and trends that followed the agreement. She immersed the auditorium with a sense of determined, consistent and confident optimism that the climate agreement can achieve its goals and that both political and market forces will bring about a change in global perception that will continue to lead a transit from a polluting industrial era into a sustainable economy era.
Christiana discussed how China and India are doing beyond what they have committed and how they promote innovative environmental development simply because they understand that it is very worthwhile for them to lead a global environmental revolution. The US economy is also moving ahead to reduce carbon emissions, even if the administration is still trying to protect the old chemical and fuel industries. The American automotive industry also understands that it has to move forward and adopt an environmental approach because it is economically worthwhile and it is working vigorously to meet the demands of US states such as California and countries in Europe and Asia.
Christiana Figueras served as Chairperson of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) between the years 2016-2010 and played a crucial role in the formulation of the Paris Agreement in 2015. In 2019 she won the prestigious Dan David Prize for her work and contribution to the efforts to resolve the climate crisis.
Prof. Colin Price and Christiana Figueras on the opening night of the annual conference on science and the environment. Photo: Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Christiana Figueras illustrates scenarios using Ilana Yahav's sand art table
Dan Arieli's lecture, as well as studies presented in the fields of environmental education and transportation, emphasized the importance of an optimistic, positive approach, and the importance of hope. The current initiatives of countries, on the global level, of organizations and industrial enterprises, on the business level, of cities around the world, in the urban level, and of people and communities on the local level, attest to unremitting activity and evolving environmental understanding. Here too, in Israel, studies of diverse engagements such as kindergarten teachers learning a method called "forest Kindergarten " or elderly people participating in a biomimicry course at the Ramat Gan Safari Center are finding the emergence of understanding, awareness and hope. Together, it will be possible to "bend" the warming graph, as Christiana Figueras showed on the sand art table of the amazing artist Ilana Yahav, offering a higher quality of life for us and for our children.
The conference, organized by the Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, is the largest forum in Israel for a meeting between the scientific community, the public, civil and business sectors. The conference is held every year at a different academic institution and brings together scientists and researchers from Israel and around the world, faculty and students, decision-makers in the public sector, the industry , environmental organizations and activists. The conference was held this year at the Porter Building, of the Department of Environmental Studies at the School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Tel Aviv University. Professor Colin Price, head of the department, was chairman of the conference this year.
During the conference there were many lectures by researchers and faculty members of the Department of Environmental Studies. Prof. Avital Gazith, Head of the Master's Studies programs, led a session on "Sustainability: Soil, Vegetation, Agriculture and Food" and lectured on the topic of the winter waterhols Revolution in Israel. Dr. Alex Golberg lectured on the bio-engineering of biofuel production based on seaweed, Meron Zolmann has expanded on the subject of growing algae for innovative aquaculture in the eastern Mediterranean basin. Dr. Orly Ronen, Head of the Laboratory for Innovation and Urban Sustainability, facilitated a session on " Tel Aviv-Jaffa - The Effects of Climate Change on the City". Dr. Ines Zucker spoke of nanotechnology as a means for addresing water challenges.
So, stubborn optimism and insights full with hope. These are our main take-aways from the conference.
Dame Shirley Porter at the opening night of the conference. Photo: Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
The Porter building atrium during the conference. Photo: Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Good music and ale on the Porter building terrace at the end of the conference. In the photo: Prof. Colin Price, Head of the Department of Environmental Studies
Prof. Colin Price and Prof. Yoav Yair, Dean of the School of Sustainability at IDC Herzliya at the end of the conference
Thinking about all the details. The Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences shows meticulous attention to avoid disposable utensils and cutlery. Photo: Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Sciences