Environmental Issues Bring Countries Together

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Published on AJC-AccessJune 14, 2013

In my last trip to University of California, Irvine, I was able to participate in Orange County Hillel’s annual Israel festival on campus. Each year students organize a weeklong celebration of Israel, which includes a Shabbat dinner, tabling on campus to teach the campus about Israel, and a social event celebrating Israel culture. One of the events held this year, in conjunction with the Azerbaijani Student Association, was a panel discussion on environmental issues titled “Making the world a better place.” On the panel was Deputy Consul General of Israel, Dr. Uri Resnick Consul General of Switzerland Bruno Ryff, Deputy Consul General of Azerbaijan Ramil Gurbanov and moderator Professor Richard Matthew of the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs.

I was interested to hear the diverse group speak, and was curious how their comments would be tied together. I could see how Azerbaijian and Israel may have things in common with each country being in the Middle East, but I wasn’t sure how Switzerland would fit in the mix. But as the speakers talked about their countries, their connections became clear.

Mr. Ramil Gurbanov spoke about Azerbaijan’s oil pipeline and its benefits for many countries including Israel. Dr. Uri Resnick spoke primarily about the lack of clean water in the world and Israel’s efforts on this specific front. For instance, he mentioned Israel’s use of drip irrigation and how that practice is changing water conservation in Azerbaijan, Switzerland and other countries.

My biggest takeaway from the event was seeing how different countries embraced relationship building on a national level for a common cause. Whether for water or oil, countries were able to put aside their differences for mutually beneficial causes.

The title of the event, “Making the World a Better Place” took on new meaning for me as I saw that through our relationships we can make change on a massive scale. - See more at: http://www.ajc-access.org/?option=com_k2&view=item&id=117:environmental-issues-bring-countries-together&Itemid=213#sthash.oV707Z8J.dpuf