06/20/2013 01:41

Biennial World Leadership Conference focuses on sustainability and global environmental cooperation.

Development of the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea conduit will occur under the joint administration of the State of Israel and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, leaders from both parties announced on Tuesday.

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, KKL-JNF chairman Efi Stenzler and presidents of JNF chapters from all over the world agreed to the joint pursuit of this enormous project at the KKL-JNF World Leadership Conference, which has been taking place all week in Jerusalem.


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The World Leadership Conference, which occurs every two years, brings together KKL-JNF leaders from all over the world to focus on achieving sustainability for generations to come.

While the World Bank has determined that the 180-kilometer pipeline project to replenish the dwindling Dead Sea with Red Sea water is feasible, there has been heavy opposition to the plan from environmental groups. Not only will the project be highly energy intensive, but green organizations also fear that the influx of seawater will cause changes to the unique composition and appearance of the Dead Sea.

After months of examining various options, however, KKLJNF teams decided that the Red-Dead Canal is the ideal vision for generating growth in the Negev, replenishing the Dead Sea and catalyzing cooperation with the Jordanians, who would play a critical role in the project’s development.

Stenzler said he was confident that the joint plan of KKLJNF and the government to move forward with the Red- Dead conduit would be a success, as “KKL-JNF knows how to harness the entire Jewish people to change-inducing projects.”

On the previous day of the conference, the participants also discussed cross-border environmental cooperation, particularly looking at collaborations on forestry and water.

“Due to climate changes, many countries are facing challenges similar to those of Israel, which has made KKLJNF’s knowledge more relevant than ever,” said David Brand, chief forester of KKL-JNF.

“Together with the KKL-JNF representatives in different countries, we can promote international collaborations. This can contribute a great deal to the image of Israel as well as to the involvement of the younger generation in KKLJNF’s work.”

Suhail Zeidan, director of groves and grazing in the KKLJNF forestry department, stressed how important cooperation between KKL-JNF and the Palestinian Authority remains concerning forestry and wild land management. In the past two years, he explained, there have been numerous joint workshops on afforestation as well as fire prevention.

“As a result of this cooperation, we hope to see progress in the PA with regard to runoff water harvesting in the desert, the creation of community forests, the improvement of grazing areas, the preservation of nature and biodiversity and the establishment of improvement areas and a gene bank.”

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, meanwhile, praised KKL-JNF for embodying one of his most reiterated mottos – “One cannot separate environment justice and social justice.”

Characterizing the KKL-JNF leaders as being among “the first green activists,” he stressed the importance of continuing to develop the land while maintaining environmental consideration.

“Our country has changed its appearance and its landscapes thanks to the sustainable management of the land and of the water, much of which has been done by KKL-JNF,” Peretz said.