Israel Climate Change Conference 2023 - Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change in Middle East and North Africa
The MENA region is one of the most affected regions worldwide by climate change and is already experiencing its effects in the form of, among others, frequent droughts, record temperatures, sand storms and rising sea levels. Like its regional neighbors, Israel is affected by this and needs to take steps in order to adapt to new circumstances and to contribute to combatting climate change. Additionally, governments in the region, Europe and regional actors must work together to find sustainable solutions. With this in mind, KAS-REMENA brought a delegation of international experts from Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium together to attend the Israel Climate Change Conference 2023, which Haaretz organized in cooperation with KAS-REMENA. Additionally, discussions with Israeli stakeholders and a roundtable provided the opportunity for the delegation to explore potentials and challenges for regional cooperation around climate change.
Discussions during the Israel Climate Change Conference on 14 February 2023 focused on the economic, social, and political factors that have shaped Israel’s and the MENA region's response to climate change. Speakers highlighted that MENA countries face unique challenges in sustainable development due to their dependence on the oil and gas industry. They also stressed that the response to climate change must be integrated into a broader development policy that takes into account the economic and social concerns of local populations. Another important aspect addressed during the discussions was the role of innovation, for example in the water and food sector, in order to reduce the environmental footprint and to adapt to the changed environmental context in the region.
Another key topic of discussion was the need for increased regional cooperation to address climate change. The speakers from diplomacy, politics, civil society, academia and the private sector emphasized the importance of cooperation between MENA countries to meet this challenge. Discussions also focused on ways to strengthen existing regional cooperation, with an emphasis on creating regional networks for the collection and sharing of information and data, as well as the establishment of common initiatives to promote the use of renewable energy.
A workshop on 15 February held in Tel Aviv offered the opportunity to further deepen the discussions on regional climate policies and initiatives, the economic, social, and political factors that have shaped the region's response to climate change, and the challenges and potential for regional cooperation in the MENA region to address climate change.
Ambassador Gideon Behar, the climate envoy of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in the fight against climate change and called for collective action to overcome the challenges facing the region. He stressed that regional cooperation can help develop common solutions to address climate-related problems such as rising sea levels, water resource management, food security and renewable energy production.
Tamar Zandberg, former Israeli Minister of the Environment, put the emphasis on raising awareness about climate change and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She stressed that governments and businesses in the region must work together to promote sustainable climate policies such as the transition to renewable energy and reducing energy consumption.
During the subsequent roundtable, the delegation members discussed how economic, social, and political factors influence the region's response to climate change. They stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to address these issues, including addressing the economic and social concerns of local populations, promoting renewable energy, and increasing regional cooperation. They also emphasized the need to address social and economic inequalities in the region and ensure that marginalized communities are not left behind in the transition to a sustainable future. In addition, the experts discussed the role of technology in addressing climate change and highlighted the importance of investing in renewable energy sources and developing innovative solutions to reduce emissions.
The roundtable concluded with a call to action for increased regional cooperation and concrete steps to address climate change in the MENA region. Participants emphasized the need for governments, businesses, and civil society to work together to develop sustainable policies and initiatives that promote the use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Overall, the conference and roundtable provided a valuable opportunity for regional and international experts to come together to discuss the urgent challenge of climate change and explore potential solutions for the MENA region. Through increased cooperation and innovative approaches, the region can work towards a more sustainable and equitable future.