Israel to host 1st event on food scarcity, climate tech with Abraham Accord nations

International Summit on Food from the Sea & the Desert to be held in Eilat October 18-20, with representatives from Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan expected to join

The southern Israeli city of Eilat at dusk, April 2021. (gorsh13 via iStock by Getty Images)
The southern Israeli city of Eilat at dusk, April 2021. (gorsh13 via iStock by Getty Images)

The first conference centered on the concerns of food scarcity and climate with signatories to the Abraham Accords will be held in the southern city of Eilat next month.

The event, taking place from October 18 to 20, is the initiative of the Agriculture Ministry, and will be attended by representatives of two Abraham Accords countries, Bahrain and Morocco; Jordan; and Mediterranean countries Cyprus and Malta.

“The whole world is currently dealing with the issues of food security and the climate crisis. The connection between the desert and the sea offers much opportunity to develop advanced technologies on which future food growth will be based,” said Oded Forer, the minister of agriculture and rural development.

“The State of Israel has tremendous potential in this field, and is already leading relevant research and technology development. This conference will set the wheels turning on cooperation with countries across our region with similar challenges and climates.”

The First International Summit on Food from the Sea & the Desert is part of an effort to increase economic and agricultural ties between Israel and its Arab and Mediterranean neighbors.

The event also highlights the increasing cost of climate in countries in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The World Bank has estimated that by 2050, Middle Eastern countries are expected to lose approximately 6-14 percent of their GDP from climate-related water scarcity alone.

Seaside development work in Eilat, in a photo distributed by an Environmental Protection Ministry official on July 4, 2022. (Eli Warburg/Environmental Protection Ministry)

Food scarcity is also rampant. In 2020, the World Bank said that the Middle East and North Africa region accounted for one out of every five food-insecure people, despite only making up 6% of the global population.

The effects of climate change are also of concern to the city of Eilat, a tourist hotspot in southern Israel by the Red Sea, as well as similar seaside locations such as the Red Sea Riviera in Egypt and Aqaba in Jordan.

Eilat is attempting to brand itself as an international hub for agritech and foodtech, having last year implemented a multi-year, NIS 170 million ($49 million) development plan for this purpose.

However, a study from Israeli researchers published earlier this year predicted that “the number of international and domestic tourists to outdoor recreation sites in Israel will significantly decline” by 2050, due to increasingly extreme climate patterns.

The impact of the changing climate has been recently felt throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Massive floods devastated large swaths of Pakistan and Iran over the summer, with Pakistan receiving its worst monsoon floods in a decade, leaving a third of the country underwater.

Displaced people float belongings salvaged from flood-hit homes on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, August 28, 2022. Officials in Pakistan say deaths from widespread flooding have topped 1,000 since mid-June. Flash flooding from the heavy rains has washed away villages and crops as soldiers and rescue workers evacuated stranded residents to the safety of relief camps and provided food to thousands of displaced Pakistanis. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

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