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November 19, 2021 10:18 am

EU Roundtable Focuses on Desertification, Food Security Across Middle East

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European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, in this file picture taken October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

JNS.org – Representatives from the European Union, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Frontier RNG met on Tuesday as part of  “Regional Climate Innovation Roundtables” on food security in the face of desertification with an emphasis on the Middle East.

Experts came from the European Union, Egypt, Germany, Israel, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

It was the second of four such discussions focusing on shared regional challenges.

The Nov. 16 Zoom session brought together diverse regional stakeholders—among them top academics, government officials and policymakers, as well as private sector leaders and innovators—to collaborate on solutions for “reclaiming the desert” to enable sustainable agriculture in desert climates.

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Efrat Duvdevani, director-general of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, said “our role is threefold: to raise awareness, especially among youth; to join hands with regional and international partners in the face of this crisis; and to encourage innovation and startups to tackle these challenges. The Peres Center is doing all it can in this regard to bring these environmental challenges to the forefront of people’s minds and to harness Israel’s tech ecosystem to address these issues.”

A severe reduction in rainfall has led the air to become hotter and drier, causing dramatic changes in soil across the region. Studies also show that the world’s deserts are expanding.

The roundtable facilitates regional cooperation on shared environmental challenges through a multi-disciplinary network for information-sharing and policy recommendations, setting the foundations for broader actions in line with the EU Green Deal objectives. Participants said solutions lie in prevention and preparation.

EU Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev said “working together on the global climate agenda is in everybody’s interest, particularly in a region where the consequences are more severe. That’s why we are glad to partner with the Peres Center on this science diplomacy initiative, bringing together experts from different countries to exchange their views and best practices, with the possibility of establishing new cross-border partnerships.”

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