Reporting from COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 12:21 PM


By KKL-JNF representatives Karine Bolton, Eran Ettner and Gil Seyaki

The KKL-JNF Booth. Photo: Karine Bolton Laor

The Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) is an annual two week event, where policy makers from all over the world meet to discuss ways to deal with climate change. The UN conference on Climate Change is a two week event.

KKL-JNF, as part of the Israeli delegation to COP 19, has been participating in the second week of the conference. As part of its mission to share its expert knowledge with other countries, KKL-JNF is operating an information booth at the conference, and is also holding a side event.


According to KKL-JNF International Projects, Conference and Events Coordinator Ms. Karine Bolton-Laor, the KKL-JNF booth has generated a lot of interest so far. "Within minutes of opening the booth, we had people lining up to speak to us. More than 50 visitors from 18 countries came to our booth to speak to us".

One of the visitors to the booth was Mr. Razaq Aziz Muhemmed, of the Iraqi Delegation, who serves as Council of Ministers Director of the Kurdistan Region. Aziz Muhemmed showed much interest in KKL-JNF programs. He and his colleague confided that they would "love to visit Israel, if the political reality was different".

Another visitor was Mr. Sheha Idrissa Hamdan, Director Department of Forestry and Non-Renewable Resources of Zanzibar, who asked if KKL-JNF would be interested in expanding its capabilities to Eastern Africa.

Dr. Jose Luis Maccarone, Advisor for International Environmental Issues for the Secretary of State, Argentina, also paid a visit to the KKL-JNF booth. Maccarone, a Jewish Government Official, expressed interest in KKL-JNF increasing involvement in Argentina, and was delighted to find out about KKL-JNF's Friends in Argentina.

Side Events Attended by KKL-JNF

Eran Ettner and Gil Seyaki.
Photo: Karine Bolton Laor

KKL-JNF is constantly evolving with the changing needs of the State of Israel and its people. The organization participates in environmental conferences not only to share its knowledge and form partnerships, but to keep abreast of the latest technologies and policy developments.
KKL-JNF representatives have been attending some fascinating side events at COP 19, to learn more and to further the organization's professional interests.

The following are summaries and reflections from KKL-JNF staff, from some of the side events they participated in:

A) The Global Landscape Forum (formerly Forest Day) – This forum focused on the following four issues:

1. Taking the Holistic approach to Climate Change: This idea is indicated in the name of the forum - Global Landscapes. Today, more and more environmentalists are approaching forestry, agriculture, water and land management in an integrated, holistic manner. Forestry, agriculture and water are all connected to one another, and the issues should be managed as a whole unit, rather than in sectors.

KKL-JNF is in sense already doing this, mainly because of space restriction and the real need to incorporate sustainable development with the needs of people.
All participants agree that one must have input from the people and have their best interests in mind in order to make sustainable progress with an environmental state.

In one case study, participants spoke about "Edible Playgrounds". This is a brilliant idea – particularly in urban areas. Schools would be a good place to start, where a garden and orchard can be planted to bloom and harvest at different times of the year. The idea is not only to educate the children on farming or on the benefits for the environment, but it provides them with a green environment and provides them with a place where they can go to play, explore and eat. The edible playground also encourages children to develop healthy eating habits.

Photo: Karine Bolton Laor

2. Financial Investment in Sustainable Development:
In several sessions, the importance of the private sector and government support was emphasized as critical for the advancement of positive environmental change on the ground. It was agreed that one can no longer perceive business and the environment as opponents with conflicting interests; on the contrary, they are integrated partners that need each other.

One of the main problems mentioned was that finance ministers are not well enough informed on the economic benefits of sustainable development and environmentally friendly policies.

Many business councils are emerging to study and consult top agencies on this issue. The consumer population is changing - people are focusing not just on financial capital, but also social and natural/ecological capital. Business are beginning to realize that cutting down on waste and considering the interests of local population and employees will create more efficiency, and efficiency equals money.

From a risk management point of view- companies are beginning to realize that they are putting themselves at serious risk if they do not worry about securing a sustainable supply chain.

Lastly, governments and companies are beginning to realize that despite the cost involved in investing in climate/environmental policies in the short term, they will save money in the long run.

3. Economic analysis of sustainable development: Economic analysis was discussed here as an angle that organizations often miss when looking at the benefits of sustainable development. Economic analysis would also have the added benefit of showing the positive effects of KKL-JNF's projects.

In many senses, KKL-JNF is ahead of the game in open space management, green belts around cities, wetland rehabilitation, watershed management and forestry. The organization should, however, begin to actively look at its parks and sites in a holistic landscape approach, and investigate more on the benefits of trees to agriculture, and think about how it can we increase its position as a leader in this integrated approach.

Nasa display. Photo: Gil Seyaki

B) Side Event of US Center (NASA):
The presentation was a hyper wall satellite portrayal of the rapid urbanization of the entire world. NASA presented one slide of a night view, showing all of the major lit-up areas in the world from space. The second slide showed the same map, portraying population density. There was no correlation between the developed areas and population density. Another series of slides showed, via satellite, photographs of the ecological damage done by mines and oil fields over a ten year period, and how the damage has spread and affected rural areas. Finally they also showed a 10-year study of how climate change is systematically drying up the Colorado River – once a mighty source of water for the Southwestern US.