As the diplomat of my country to Hong Kong, I have been sharing Israel’s successful coronavirus vaccination experience with Hong Kong officials and media in the past few months.
The coronavirus pandemic has presented us with one of the most acute challenges of our generation. It has also, however, presented us with a unique opportunity to pursue economic recovery programs following the pandemic that incorporate strong sustainability and low-carbon measures. The world could effectively use the exit from COVID-19 to accelerate a green transition, and the commemoration of this year's Earth Day has thus taken on an even deeper meaning.
In fact, there is a direct link between environmental crises, climate change, and the novel coronavirus. Experts have found that global warming has led to the emergence of new infectious zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, meaning that our current global pandemic is most probably tied to the grim environmental situation of our planet. This fact should serve as a strong and urgent call to action for all of us.
When it comes to climate innovation and sustainability, Israel can serve both as an example and as a provider of solutions to global problems.
Facing arid and water scarce conditions, Israel combined its entrepreneurial and problem-solving spirit to make the country a leader in the field of environmental innovation. Drip irrigation and the development of resistant, fortified crops are world-renowned and highly sought after technologies that were actually originally developed in Israel.
Israel is also at the forefront of one of the world's latest trends in sustainability: animal protein replacements. Innovative Israeli companies have successfully produced lab-grown protein that is almost indistinguishable from high-quality meat, and have even grown real meat from animal cells in a lab.
Israel also happens to be a global water powerhouse, holding the world record for water reuse with almost 90% of its wastewater recycled for use in agriculture. It also has one of the most unique national water systems in the world, with some 80 percent of its drinking water being desalinated saltwater.
Over a century of experience in reforestation have also made Israel a leader in the reforestation of semi-arid areas, expertise that will only grow in value as large-scale tree planting and other nature-based solutions become ever more prevalent as methods of mitigating against the effects of climate change.
Israel has an exceptional set of assets that mean it is well-placed to make a unique contribution worldwide when it comes to pursuing green recovery programs from COVID-19. Its cutting-edge technologies and decades of practical experience were all borne of the demanding environmental challenges that Israel faced from the very outset of its statehood, and the solutions it developed to meet those challenges could now serve the world well.
As Hong Kong is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and to a greener and more sustainable future in general, with various measures to promote the development of local renewable energy, electric vehicles, water management and waste recycling, all facilitated by innovative and smart technologies. Israel is willing to share its experience and knowhow with Hong Kong, and every country in the world; we only have one planet, and we must all work together to protect it. With all of the hardships that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted upon us, it has also provided us with a unique opportunity to change our ways moving forward.