Today’s New York Times article, The Food Chain: Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water, was a good reminder to me as to why I am glad to be involved with Hazon, and the work that we do to create a healthier and more sustainable world. Learning a bit about the crises that have already presented themselves, particularly in the Middle East, also reminded me of just how much work we have ahead of us to bring about a world where healthy, nutritious, ethically raised food is a right of human existence and not a privilege. Water and land shortages are, of course, hitting hardest in the poorest places of the world where there is no money to invest in creative solutions.
The article presents a pretty bleak world. But, Hazon’s Israeli partners â€“ the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning & Leadership (of the Hike) and The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (of the Ride) are both doing critical work towards addressing some of the issues raised in the NYT piece in Israel.
At the Arava Institute:
* The Center for Research in Sustainable Agriculture combines research and teaching, developing and improving water thrifty plant species, and disseminating knowledge to farmers
* Environmental Studies students explore a range of environmental issues from a regional, interdisciplinary perspective while learning peacebuilding and leadership skills. Studies at the Arava Institute are international in scope, with a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, North Americans and others.
* Transboundary Stream Restoration is a three-year project running jointly with a Palestinian environmental organization based in Bethlehem.
At the Heschel Center:
* Green School Network is a growing web of schools that have embraced sustainability as a central part of their educational vision representing the wide gamut of the Israeli student body – Jewish and Arab, secular and religious, rich and poor, urban and rural â€“ to create environmental leadership and implement community-based projects.
* The Environmental Fellows Program develops a new generation of environmental leaders for Israel. It has already created a network of over a hundred agents of change promoting sustainability in fields such as architecture and planning, agriculture, politics, health, business, media, government and education.
* The Good Energy Initiative is a task force established by the Heschel Center which acts to reduce greenhouse gas production and emissions, and to support energy independence for Israel by means of energy efficiency and alternative technologies.
You can support their work and learn more about environmental issues in Israel and the Middle East by coming on one of our adventures in Israel. We’ll be walking for a sustainable future for Israel, March 15-19, 2009 and cycling for peace, partnership and environmental sustainablility, November 11-18, 2008 and Spring 2009.