Scientific and technological progress has been a key driver of human and social development for centuries. It has vastly expanded the limits of human potential and enabled radical transformations in the quality of life enjoyed by millions of people.
In its short history, the State of Israel has proven the powers and benefits of science and innovation with its innumerable contributions to fields such as technology, agriculture, and medicine. In just 63 years, Israel has evolved from a fledgling agricultural society to a hi-tech powerhouse, housing more start-up companies, producing more patents, and winning more Nobel prizes in science per capita than any other country in the world.
2011 proved to be another year of great scientific accomplishments for our country. In September of this year, Israel officially became a formal associate member of the Center of European Nuclear Research, known as CERN, lending the country significant prestige in the global academic and research community, despite ongoing boycott attempts of scientific cooperation with Israel.
Just a few weeks ago, we were proud to see Professor Daniel Shechtman, from the Technion Institute of Technology, win Israel's 10th Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, for his discovery of unusual patterns in atoms. This is only two years after Professor Ada Yonath from the Weizmann institute won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the first Israeli woman to receive this esteemed prize.
As Bill Gates once said: “Just as technology allows us to see the world's inequities, it can also help us address them.”
Science and technology are inextricably linked to economic development. One of the most effective means of eradicating poverty and spurring economic growth is through the acquisition, adaptation and application of new technologies. Scientific and technical capabilities determine the ability to provide adequate infrastructure, good health care, clean water and safe food, and therefore are crucial for development.
Scientific research conducted in Israel has long served as a model for other countries, and has offered great possibilities for cooperation in the developing world.
Israel is a small country, with a shortage of natural resources. As a result, we have been forced over the years to confront problems such as water scarcity and desertification by developing sophisticated agricultural techniques. Making optimal use of scarce water, harsh land and a limited labor force has led to revolutions in agricultural methods.
One example of a highly successful Israeli agricultural project is known as TIPA: Techno-agricultural Innovation for Poverty Alleviation. It has been implemented by MASHAV-Israel’s International Development Agency- 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.
Israel has also made significant advancement in Aquaculture over the past few years. With fewer fish in the sea with each passing year, the Israeli private company Grow Fish Anywhere has found a way to grow them in the desert by developing an on-land environment where fish can be raised, without having to exchange water or treat it chemically. GFA is currently the only solution that eliminates the environmental problems associated with fish farming.
In the medical field, Israel has recently developed a simple mobile-phone imaging system for diagnosing and monitoring malaria. Now in the prototype phase, this new weapon against Africa's second-leading cause of death will be tested in the field in 2012. Using an ordinary mobile phone camera with an inexpensive specialized lens, the system can detect malaria by imaging the eye or the skin to look for a pigment generated by the malaria parasite when it digests red blood cells. This will be a welcomed technology in Africa, where the mosquito-borne disease causes an estimated 1,900 deaths every day in children under the age of five. This age group accounts for about 85 percent of malaria-related deaths.
Experts from anywhere in the world can help apply science and technology to assist developing countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals. But if long-term goals are to be achieved and growth and problem-solving are to become local and sustainable, developing countries need to develop their own capabilities for science, technology, and innovation.
Israel believes that for development cooperation to work, 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.
The “Agricultural Technology for Development” Resolution, which Israel will bring to the Second Committee this year for the third time, embodies this very important idea. By calling for the transfer of sustainable agricultural technologies and knowledge that is easily assimilated by local farmers, this resolution ensures sustainable agricultural productivity, which will continue to yield successful development outcomes.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.