As terror attacks raged for another tragic day around Israel, former president Shimon Peres on Tuesday called upon countries around the globe to harness the peacemaking capabilities of water and hi-tech innovation.
“We started by having nothing – now we want to share our water or our knowledge about water with others,” Peres said at a biennial water convention in Tel Aviv that attracts delegations from around the world.
“To share is the right foreign policy – not to fight, not to kill,” he continued. “We can learn from each other.”
Peres was addressing participants in the opening conference session of the biennial WATEC Israel event, the 8th International Exhibition and the 5th International Conference on Water Technologies and Environmental Control.
He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Economy Minister Arye Deri who told the former president he remains a symbol of hope for the future.
Despite the ongoing security situation, hundreds of dignitaries and entrepreneurs from around the world flocked to WATEC – many giving the former president a standing ovation and clamoring to take smartphone photos as he entered the conference hall.
Describing Israel’s evolution from a nation lacking water entirely to a beacon of innovation in the sector, Peres stressed the importance of sharing that know-how and fostering global cooperation.
“Before we knew it, there was agriculture not based on land, but based on hi-tech,” he said.
“Israel is an example of having nothing in natural resources and having so much in human resources. And believe it, for me, human resources means every human being.”
As scientific innovation moves forward, Peres explained that the world is facing a new technological reality.
“You don’t own – you share, you cooperate,” he said.
“Now what has changed so much is that in the age of science you don’t have to fight. You can have more without anybody having less,” Peres continued.
Such an outlook can apply especially to places that have been riddled with conflict and are struggling to develop their natural resources sectors, like many countries on the African continent, according to Peres.
These nations, he said, can regain their land, freedom and pride through technological collaborations, assuming they eliminate ongoing wars.
“[The wars] are not needed,” Peres said. “They are a mistake.”
A dignitary from one African nation, Kenyan Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, likewise, stressed that “Africa and Kenya in particular are ready to engage the world in new technology.” The continent, he explained, is home to seven of the fastest growing economies in the world and provides some of the highest returns on investment.
“Going into the future, we believe that in order to transform the fortunes and change the lives of millions of people on our continent, we must act together,” Ruto said. “I want to promise you that policy-makers in Africa, very specifically [those] in Kenya, are ready to work with the innovators.”
The WATEC exhibition, according to Ruto, provides an ideal opportunity to engage with those who are developing the latest technology.
“We have come here with open minds to engage,” he added.
Israel’s economy and environmental protection ministers also emphasized the importance of employing cutting- edge technologies to solve the water crisis around the globe.
Prior to presenting Peres with his award, Deri discussed how Israel has learned to implement innovation to overcome the water sector’s challenges.
“This is how, out of action, overcoming challenges and learning from mistakes, Israel has evolved into an oasis,” Deri said.
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, similarly, discussed the world’s population increase, rising food-supply demand and man-made pollution threats, emphasizing that “challenges are expanding.”
“Water is renewed with every rainy season, but we can hardly forecast how much,” Gabbay said.
As Israel moves forward in its ongoing quest to solve the water sector’s challenges, the environment minister stressed that assistance through government funding will remain crucial in getting new ideas off the ground.
“Government must play a key role in enabling new technologies,” he added. “It’s all about new technologies.”