Ambassador Amos Radian
Allow me to congratulate you for conducting these proceedings in the most able and efficient manner.
Agriculture development and food security remain central to the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. Climate change, drought, desertification and many other challenges have further underscored the need to replace the traditional non-conservation methods with responsible and sustainable agricultural systems.
Israel is a small country located in an arid zone. We lack favorable natural resources for agricultural production. Furthermore, we lack the physical manpower to overcome our shortages - agricultural jobs account for only 2.5% of the Israeli workforce.
The only way to rise above these challenges has been through sustainable technological innovations. Domestically, Israel has developed sustainable agricultural methods in order to conserve and maintain our resources for the existing population and for generations to come. Globally, Israel is extremely active in the promotion of sustainable development, serving on the UN Commission for Sustainable Development since 2006.
Israel has turned its competitive disadvantage into a strength. In just over 60 years, Israel has become a world leader in agricultural innovation and technology. Based on a foundation of academic excellence, and drawing on its hi-tech experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Israel continues to develop cutting-edge technologies in both the water and renewable energy sectors. We have developed sophisticated systems for drip irrigation, seawater desalination and water reclamation. Furthermore, our geographical realities and our deep understanding of the importance of energy independence have resulted in remarkable success in solar photovoltaic technology and geothermal energy.
We are proud to share these solutions and many others at the upcoming WATEC conference- the sixth international exhibition and the third international conference on water technologies, renewable energy and environmental control- which will take place in Tel Aviv from November 15th to 17th of this year.
Israel has gone from a small agricultural society to a member of the OECD in just over six decades. As a country that has undergone rapid and successful agricultural development, Israel is eager to play a prominent role in international efforts to achieve our common goals of eradicating poverty and reducing morbidity and mortality rates around the world.
Promoting food security is central to Israel’s development activities. Currently, urban dwellers comprise half of the world population and depend mostly on the rural population for sustenance and food security.
It is for this reason that Israel’s agricultural programming abroad is designed to increase the sustainability and quality of agricultural production, particularly in rural areas of the developing world.
For example, Israel is partnering with Ghana and Germany to improve the efficiency of smallholder Ghanaian citrus farmers. This project combines agricultural assistance, capacity building, and elements of microfinance and microcredit.
Another highly successful Israeli agricultural project is known as TIPA: Techno-agricultural Innovation for Poverty Alleviation. It has been implemented in a number of African countries, including as part of a triangular partnership with Italy in Senegal. TIPA relies on relatively simple and low-cost drip irrigation techniques that allow farmers to produce crops year-round and improve the quality of their fruits and vegetables.
Projects like TIPA highlight the importance of sharing agricultural technology to promote sustainable development. To bring focus to this effort, Israel will be submitting its biannual “Agricultural Technology for Development” Resolution to the Second Committee this year.
This resolution contains a number of concrete measures which will advance the goals embodied in the 2008 Comprehensive Framework for Action. Specifically, it focuses on tailoring crop varieties to local conditions and needs; increasing investment in agricultural research; and transferring appropriate agricultural technologies to developing countries. These measures all hold the promise of bringing agricultural development and food security goals closer within reach.
There is no other way to achieve basic food security and sustainability other than to engage in the enhancement of the agricultural sector in developing countries.
But if long-term goals are to be achieved, developing countries need to develop their own capabilities for technology and innovation. It is not enough to assist developing countries to acquire new technologies. We must focus on capacity building, education and transfer of skills, in order to guarantee sustainable growth.
To this end, a High level Expert Group Meeting on “using green agriculture to stimulate economic growth and eradicate poverty” is taking place in Israel. Co-hosted by the Government of Israel, through MASHAV and the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, this meeting will be an important contribution to the preparations for the Rio +20 conference next June.
The purpose of the meeting is to raise awareness of the central role that green and sustainable agriculture can play to stimulate economic growth and combat poverty through the sharing of know-how, best practices and lesson learned. The focus will include agricultural development under conditions of limited natural resources, including water and land, and climatic instability. Participants from countries around the world have the opportunity not only to learn about Israel’s experiences in green agriculture, but to see it for themselves.
Israel remains committed to sharing its experience and knowhow with partner organizations and countries to help identify the most efficient and successful methods to ensure food security, develop sustainable agriculture and to ultimately achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
We look forward to working with all of you to ensure that the work of the Second Committee continues to further these objectives.