How Israel pivoted itself onto the world stage of sustainability practices

Clean energy, sustainability, and environmental concerns are starting to cause tension between residents and the government with mounting academic and scientific evidence painting a vivid picture of our environmental future.

Increased human activity and a growing global population have now pushed climate change towards a tipping point, mounting itself as one of the biggest challenges in the 21st century.

In dormant nations such as Israel, the effects of global warming are already present, with the country reporting its hottest April on record, with surface temperature measuring 2 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer than the 30-year average according to a recent article by Haaretz.

The warning signs related to climate change, and changing weather patterns have led nations across the world to look towards innovative technology and foreign environmental policy and legislation to mitigate the effects of global warming.

In recent years, some nations have committed themselves to partake in the Paris Agreement of 2015, which promotes increasing sustainability practices and the reduction of carbon emissions in developed and developing nations. Currently, Israel is ranked 24th on the Global Sustainability Index.

While many countries have established environmental goals that will help them meet the assigned agenda outlined by the Paris Agreement, Israel has already looked toward increasing development, support, and innovation in the field of cleantech (clean technology) and agri-tech (agricultural technology) to help meet sustainability goals.

Notes by the Sustainable Development Organization commented on the “dynamic entrepreneurial spirit, robust technological infrastructure, and a highly-skilled workforce,” Israel has produced over the last few decades.

Even when considering this, it’s difficult to see how much improvement the Israeli government with aid from the private sector has made in the last few years since the signing of the Paris Agreement.

Industries across the board are now starting to face immense challenges when it comes to producing and developing innovative tools and software that can help drive sustainability efforts. The mounting challenges could perhaps fuse a relationship between the government and the private sector to help fast-track viable environmental solutions.

So how has Israel pivoted itself onto the world stage of clean energy and sustainability practices over the last few years, and where are we heading?

Innovative Guidance From the Cleantech Sector

Israeli cleantech companies and startups have built a national and global reputation in recent years, providing both private and public entities with guidance on sustainable technology and software innovation.

The international research and consulting firm, Cleantech Group has recently included three Israeli companies as part of its Cleantech Global Top 100 list.

Among the three companies included in the global 2021 report were BreezoMeter, Future Meat, and FSight.

Those companies mentioned in the global report work across various fields ranging from clean air monitoring, cultured meat and food science, and clean energy. Above these primary practices, some Israeli cleantech startups have also partnered with multinational firms, providing them with intuitive data, otherwise assisting the public with environmental changes.

The Cleantech Global report provides insight into clean tech companies and startups helping to pave a road towards sustainable and environmental affairs. According to the report, more than $6.9 billion in startup funding were raised in 2021, with several of these becoming unicorns.

But aside from these notable companies, other less celebrated startups in the sustainability sector have been working alongside government institutions to offer feasible guidance on improving traditional practices across an assortment of sectors and industries.

The need to address environmental issues has perhaps shifted from conversational means to more practical applications, looking to fuse technology and software development, towards adoption in the broader Israeli society.

Food Waste Prevention

The growing global population and fluctuations in climate have now posed new challenges to our ability to grow and produce food. Year-over-year, changes in the average surface climate have meant that natural resources are becoming more scarce, while consumer demand has increased over time.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that higher average global temperatures and severe weather conditions associated with climate change can significantly reduce our reliability of food production.

Developing nations are perhaps in the direct line of fire when it comes to food security and production sustainability. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, are perhaps those with the highest risk associated with climate change, decreasing availability of crops, and increasing costs.

But in Israel, where natural resources and land for cultivation are scarcely available, the private intervention has meant that increased awareness surrounding food security could otherwise improve government efforts to improve food waste management programs.

A report by the Environmental Protection Ministry and Leket Israel, a leading food rescue organization found that more than 2.5 million tons of food ended up in landfills in 2020. This wastage amounted to more than $6 billion or NIS 19.9 billion in total loss. More than 2.5 million tons represent about 35% of the local food production in the country.

The decay and spoilage of perishable foods have given birth to startup companies such as Bountica, Fresh Start, and Agritask to develop tools and methods that would help producers and companies minimize their impact on the environment, while also improving farming practices.

These companies, some founded as early as 2020, are providing suggestions on how producers can optimize their land and water usage to improve crop turnaround. Other firms such as Taranis have developed a platform that helps to predict changing weather and climate patterns. Platforms such as these can assist farmers in better utilizing their land during warmer seasons, and managing pest control.

Food waste is but a partial contributor to climate change. The production and cultivation of land and soil on the other hand have meant that larger areas are now being used as farms or grazing fields for cattle.

The increase in population and consumer demand has made matters even more severe. Current estimates predict that by 2025, the world would have lost more than 250 million crop-production acres, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found.

Better intervention from local authorities and government institutions will be required to help develop a national effort that could improve farming practices, while also ensuring food security for the growing population.

Progressive Green Regulation

At the start of June 2022, the Israeli government, more so the Environmental Protection Ministry, have been focussing their efforts on businesses in the financial and credit sector to increase their green efforts in the upcoming years.

Progressive green regulations and policy could mean that business leaders across an array of sectors and industries, primarily manufacturing, banking, and investing could increase awareness of their environmental efforts.

The move could also mean that companies who are not able to comply with the new direction the Israeli government is looking to take could sink businesses financially.

Leaders from both sides of the aisle are looking to create new standards that could make it more difficult for companies to attract international investors if they’re not willing to comply with new green regulations.

While the government is looking to take a stronghold on private businesses and enterprises, the notion looks to build an improved understanding surrounding the Environmental, Sustainable, and Governance (ESG) practices businesses should aim towards if they’re looking to attract potential investors from abroad.

This could pose a big challenge for those who have yet made any adjustments in regards to ESG-based policy, or who have yet transitioned from traditional to contemporary means.

This is perhaps the perfect opportunity for the government to weigh in on how businesses, more so, multinational firms and organizations could adopt a green policy that meets both domestic and international standards. Bridging this divide could still take some time, but faster and more progressive legislation is perhaps the only weapon the government currently holds within its artillery.

The Bottom Line

Ongoing research, development, and innovation, both from the private and public sectors could mean that Israel will be able to meet its environmental goals ahead of schedule. Yet, this might seem impossible in the current climate of things.

Our solution lies perhaps well situated within innovative startups in the technology and software sector.

But the push should come from both residents and the government, not only on the premise to meet sustainability goals, but to improve environmental practices and standards on a national level.

The hard work is perhaps more prominent in the application of these tools, and how they’re able to create a more sustainable future in an era fast approaching a climate tipping point.

About the Author
I am the founder and CEO of ValueWalk - a popular financial information company. Before launching ValueWalk, I was first an equity analyst at a micro-cap focused private equity firm and then moved to a small/mid-cap value-focused research shop. I also have experience working in business development for hedge funds. I live with my wife and four kids in Passaic, New Jersey.
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