United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


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Check Against Delivery
Statement delivered by
H.E. Mr. Zeev Elkin, Minister of Environmental Protection, State of Israel
United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable
Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine
resources for sustainable development
United Nations, New York
6 June 2017
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Mr. President,
At the outset, let me congratulate the governments of Fiji and Sweden for convening
this important and timely conference.
The importance of conserving our oceans, seas and marine resources cannot be
overstated. They are our source of life and livelihood. They provide oxygen, food, jobs
and are among the world's most valuable natural resources.
However, our water resources are under threat, now more than ever. Invasive species,
overfishing, nutrient pollution, ocean acidification and plastic waste are only some of the
man-made pressures that are threatening marine ecosystems. We must not reach the
point of no return.
With the adoption of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the world set out on an
ambitious path to provide a sustainable planet for future generations. Sustainable
Development Goal 14 of the agenda calls for investments in marine and coastal
sustainability to save our oceans and seas.
Mr. President,
Israel has been working at the national level, as well as through regional and global
partnerships to achieve SDG 14.
We have made significant investments in infrastructure to treat wastewater discharged
from industrial and municipal sources. As a result - 95% of Israel's wastewater
undergoes treatment, and over 86% of Israel's treated effluents are reused in
agriculture, instead of flowing into the marine environment. Our target is to reduce
marine discharges by 80%, by the end of this year, from the 2012 baseline.
Since 2005, Israel has been implementing the Clean Coast program, which provides
assistance to local authorities and organizes coast clean-ups and media campaigns to
raise public awareness. We have recently tripled the budget for this program.
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Israel has joined UNEP Clean Seas campaign to reduce marine litter, specifically
plastics. We are also active Parties in the Barcelona Convention and its Marine Litter
initiatives. Our current goal is for 70% of our beaches to be considered clean for 70% of
the time.
In order to reduce the source of the problem, the Israeli government has recently
passed a law that substantially reduces the number of plastic bags used by the public
by charging for plastic bags in supermarkets. Within the first three months of this law
coming into effect, we have seen a reduction of up to 80% of plastic bags purchased by
supermarkets for distribution to the public.
Our marine protected areas along our densely populated and industrialized coast line, is
lower than 10%, and we plan to raise it from 1% to 3% within the next two years.
As part of Israel's commitment to expanding regional cooperation, we recently signed an
MOU with Greece and Cyprus and are preparing a contingency plan with the help of
UNEPMAP for mutual assistance in the event of an oil spill.
Mr. President,
It is our.duty to keep improving our domestic environmental policies. At the same time,
Israel's relative advantage and our most effective contribution to the achievement of
SDG 14 worldwide is to provide technological assistance to developing countries,
particularly to the most vulnerable.
Israel has faced many sustainable development challenges for a long time, and has
• developed innovative technologies and policies to address them. This allowed Israel to
evolve from a resource-challenged developing country to one of the most
technologically advanced members of the OECD in a few decades. Our technologies
and know-how are highly relevant to many developing countries.
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Mr. President,
Israel remains firmly committed to the Paris Agreement. Immediately following the
signing of the Paris agreement, Israel's government took concrete steps, including
setting goals, budgets and an action plan to achieve our commitment.
Due to Israel's history and circumstances we have rich experience in what are now
known as climate adaptation technologies. These include innovative water technologies:
drip irrigation, wastewater reclamation, smart grids for water management, and
desalination technologies of various sizes, including solar energy-powered installations.
We believe that we must institutionalize the sharing of our best practices.
We would be glad to share our experience and innovative technologies regarding
mitigation and adaptation specifically relating to water.
Mr. President,
Achieving the ambitious targets set by SDG 14 will only be possible with the concerted
efforts of all stakeholders, working together in partnership and cooperation.
Israel remains fully committed to further expanding its partnerships with all the relevant
partiesacross the region. In addition, we would like to enhance our partnerships with
• developing countries, and in particular Small Island Developing States, which continue
to face extraordinary challenges posed by the detrimental effects of climate change.
Mr. President,
As the representative of the People of the Bible, I cannot conclude before mentioning an
important message from the Bible. In the description of the "creation of the world" which
appears in the beginning of the Bible, water has a special stance, as a primary natural
source for the Creation of the world. God did not create water but used it to create the
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world. Right after finishing the creation of the world, the Bible mentions that "God took
the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it".
We all understand why weneed to cultivate it, but from who must man guard it? The
only possibility that emerges from reading the text, is that man has to protect it from
himself. God's instruction to guard the Garden of Eden from human civilization is even
more pronounced for water. As descendants of the first man, we are ordered to
preserve the water - the immense resource that was used for the creation of the world,
so as not to destroy it in the course of economic growth. This is the challenge God
provided us all. Only a joint effort of all humanity will enable us to attain this goal.
Thank you
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