On Thursday March 24th, the European Union, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and Frontier RNG held the last workshop in a series of three roundtables on Regional Climate Innovation. Experts from Bahrain, Finland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, the occupied Palestinian territories and the United States attended Thursday’s workshop, titled “Harnessing Renewable Energy for Water Desalination.”

The March 24th session, held via Zoom, brought together diverse regional stakeholders to collaborate on solutions for addressing water scarcity by harnessing renewable energy for a more environmentally, economically and politically sustainable approach to water desalination. Some of the presented case studies showed how, coupling desalination plants with an adjacent utility scale renewable energy, can help desalination plants become more environmentally friendly, economically feasible and reduce geopolitical dependencies. While desalination technologies are already available, several governance and political challenges still hinder their full implementation, including land use conflicts, security risk, geopolitical tensions and issues of social acceptance.

Thursday’s roundtable was the last of the three roundtables within the Regional Climate Innovation Initiative, with previous sessions focusing on other shared regional challenges, including Desertification and Red Sea Corals’ Resilience. Altogether, the initiative has been very participatory and inclusive, bringing together over 70 diverse stakeholders from across the Middle East and around the world. Through brainstorming and knowledge sharing, science and policy experts contributed to cross-border dialogue and ideation on pressing issues pertaining to climate change and environmental sustainability. Participants included experts in academia, government, policy, business and innovation from Bahrain, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Monaco, Morocco, Palestine, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Funded by the European Union, the Regional Climate Innovation Roundtable series was intended to facilitate regional cooperation on shared environmental challenges, establish a multi-disciplinary network for expertise cross- fertilization, and generate a regional action plan aligned to the EU Green Deal.

Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General at the European Commission Directorate-General Research and Innovation:

“More than ever, at a moment when the world is witnessing the return of war to the European continent, we need to reaffirm the importance of fostering synergies between science and the traditional diplomatic dialogue. In these times, Science Diplomacy is revealing itself as the most effective tool for Member States, together with the European institutions, to engage with partners across the globe for advancing EU vital interests and protect its values. This initiative represents a small but significant progress in that direction! Leveraging on its successful achievements, the EU stands ready to further work jointly with regional institutions, scientists and organizations, to nurture peaceful and prosperous relationships, within the MENA region, through research and innovation cooperation.”

Efrat Duvdevani, Director General, Peres Center for Peace and Innovation:

“This unique event, held just days after World Water Day, underscores the importance of regional collaboration on solutions addressing water scarcity. This issue is especially pertinent in our region, which faces chronic water shortages. Enhancing cross-border cooperation and knowledge-sharing in water desalination and related fields is crucial in ensuring joint peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the region. The Peres Center is proud to partner with the European Union and Frontier RNG on this incredibly important initiative.”

Eran Doron, Head of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council and Chairman of the Frontier Innovation Center:

 I welcome the conference today that deals with the basis of living together and life in general - water and energy.

The challenges are common and so are the opportunities,

It is precisely these days when war winds are blowing from Europe that the importance of creating a common dialogue for strengthening regional cooperation and for jointly tackling the challenges and opportunities while combining advanced technology and innovation for energy efficiency is increasing.

This is a pressing need today and together we will work for a common and progressive future.

I am pleased with the involvement of the Frontier Innovation Center in holding this important workshop and thank our partners Arieli Capital and our friends at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and the EU Embassy who work tirelessly to bring cooperation to the region.

About the European Union’s climate policies:

Over the past year, the EU has been leading the global fight against climate change, by adopting a series of adoption of policy initiatives and funding tools, such as the European Green Deal, with the objective to become climate- neutral by 2050, an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emission. Alongside reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% to their 1990 level by 2030 and to zero net emissions by 2050, the EU is also taking action to boost energy efficiency, promote a sustainable use of natural resources, and provide a fair, healthy and environmental-friendly food system. Furthermore, under the new R&I Framework Programme, Horizon Europe, climate and environment will have a prominent role in terms of funding opportunities (35% being allocated to green topics), to support cutting-edge research and innovation and having green tech solutions rapidly deployed on the market. 

About the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation:

The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation was founded in 1996 by the Ninth President of Israel, two-time Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres, and is dedicated to advancing his vision of a prosperous Israel within a peaceful Middle East. The Peres Center is a leading non-profit NGO that, together with local, regional and international partners, develops and implements cutting-edge and impact-oriented programs serving hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries of all ages, religions, genders and cultural backgrounds. Programs in the fields of medicine and healthcare, agriculture and the environment, education and youth leadership, business, innovation and entrepreneurship are designed to advance lasting partnerships between regional and international civil society and institutional stakeholders, fostering cooperation and joint prosperity in the spirit of Shimon Peres’ vision for peace.

About Frontier RNG:

Arising from the Israeli desert, FRONTIER, the leading desert agro-tech innovation center, is committed to making a meaningful and substantial regional impact. FRONTIER-rng was formed as a partnership between Ramat-Hanegev desert agriculture R&D center and Arieli Capital, a premier holding and investment company with offices in New York and Tel Aviv.