A warrior in the struggle against desertification, Prof. Alon Tal knows how Israel can contribute in many spheres of global environmental work.
Professor Alon Tal (http://web.bgu.ac.il/Eng/Units/bidr/Faculty_Members/Tal.htm) of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (http://web.bgu.ac.il/Eng/Home) is fighting for an orphan. "Desertification is an issue which remains an orphan in the international field," explains the professor, who was interviewed at the four-day international conference entitled "Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification -- the Route to Restoration," held at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in November.
The trouble with desertification, he explains, is that it tends to be perceived as an African problem, even though wealthy nations like the US and Italy, and Israel too, have historically had problems with it.
The amount of world resources and attention going to desertification is remarkably small, he continues, pointing out that the budget of the UN secretariat that deals with it is tiny, and the available grants are small.
He describes the BGU desertification conference, which has been held three times in Israel, as a "rare expression of solidarity for the hundreds of millions of people worldwide whose lives are affected by desertification," which leads to famine, refugees and cultural turbulence.
As for Israel's potential role in global environmental work, Tal says that precisely because Israel is such a small country, it's like a fast-forward for the world: "What Israel's doing in terms of desalination or wastewater re-use "are things that the whole world is going to be doing, sooner or later," he says.
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