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U.N. Sponsors Desertification Conference at BGU

U.N. Sponsors Desertification Conference at BGU

July 11, 2008

Press Releases

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – November 15, 2006 — More than 200 participants from over 30 countries participated in an international conference coordinated by and held under the auspices of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – Annex IV nations (UNCCD). “Deserts and Desertification: Challenges and Opportunities” took place November 6-9, 2006 at the University’s Sede Boqer campus. The conference highlighted Israel’s role as a leader in this field.


Speaking at the opening plenary session, Ambassador Gregoire de Kalbermatten, deputy general secretary of the United Nations Conference on Combating Desertification (UNCCD), lauded Israel’s success in developing solutions for desert living. He presented a statement prepared by the United Nations Development Programme that acknowledged Israel’s role as a leader in dryland agriculture. The full statement is attached. 


This is the first time that a UN General Assembly resolution has welcomed an Israeli initiative on an issue that is high on the global agenda and it comes as an acknowledgment of the State of Israel’s leadership role in the worldwide battle against desertification.


University President Prof. Rivka Carmi welcomed the UN initiative and the guests from around the world. “Nearby this hall lies the gravesite of David Ben-Gurion, visionary founder and first prime minister of the State of Israel. He is buried on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Zinn Canyon because he believed that the desert holds all the potential and hope for the future,” she said. “Combating desertification and making the Negev desert bloom were Ben-Gurion’s passionate missions and this conference is also serving as a living memorial to this great man’s ideals.”


“We are very proud that the Israeli event marking the year of Desert and Desertification has been organized by the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. This is just part of the ongoing commitment to realize the mission of BGU and to contribute to the development of the Negev and other drylands of the world,” said the director of the BIDR, Prof. Avigad Vonshak. “Our researchers represent Israel on a number of multi-lateral and international committees. By hosting the conference here in Sede Boqer we are able to highlight the Institutes’ role in the worldwide effort to stem desertification.”


The four-day conference addressed the effectiveness of different initiatives employed to combat desertification and shared a variety of opportunities available for ensuring the quality of life and sustainable livelihoods in the drylands. In addition, organizer Prof. Alon Tal explained, “We are attempting to assess different domestic policies and strategies in countries affected by desertification. We have brought together social activists and scientists, technicians and politicians, so that they can confront the urgency of combating desertification.”

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) celebrates its 50th birthday this year, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications
516-944-4486
alc@alavin.com