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Israeli embassy celebrates Earth Day with plogging

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Israeli and Korean staff at the Embassy of Israel in Korea pose for a photo during their
Israeli and Korean staff at the Embassy of Israel in Korea pose for a photo during their "plogging," a combination of jogging and picking up litter, at Yeouido Hangang Park in Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Kwon Mee-yoo

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Staff at the Embassy of Israel in Korea gathered at Yeouido Hangang Park, Tuesday, to "plog," a combination of jogging and picking up litter, in celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22.

Rasha Atamny, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Israel in Korea, said plogging is a great way to remind ourselves of the basic needs for human life, which are taken for granted, like nature, oxygen and a healthy lifestyle, explaining why the diplomats are having a day out.

"With our hectic daily life, not many opportunities come along to allow us to actually be in deliberate contact with nature. Sometimes we need to create opportunities instead of waiting for them," Atamny said in an interview with The Korea Times.

After plogging around the park for a while, Atamny said she saw so many little pieces of trash, though everything looks clean at first glance and worried that this trash might damage the environment and ecosystem around the park.

"Environmental pollution is a challenge that we all need to find time and space in our daily lives to decrease our personal carbon footprint by making educated choices. Climate change requires active action all over the world, not only by governments but also by communities and individuals," she said.

"The embassy of Israel is committed to these goals wherever it may be in the world, and it is our duty to contribute to the society we live in, raise awareness and encourage others to take action."

Atamny outlined Israel's efforts for tackling climate change, including a roadmap to carbon neutrality.

"As the world is experiencing a growing need for practical solutions to the climate crisis, Israel has put climate change at the center of our government policies and is one of the world's leading countries in the field of climate change innovation. It has come a long way in addressing challenges in many areas, such as agriculture, food security, desertification and water shortages," she said.

Israel's roadmap has the objective of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent by 2030, and by 85 percent by 2050, compared to the 2015 level.

"The plan includes many items, for example, a resolution on clean, low-carbon transportation, an energy-streamlining program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a focus on utilizing renewable energy in infrastructure projects and the development of technologies for use in the areas of climate, energy, food and agriculture. Israel aims to accelerate innovation by removing regulatory obstacles to research and the development of technologies for public infrastructure," Atamny explained.

The deputy head of mission noted that the development of technologies in climate, energy, food and agriculture has helped Israel to realize its carbon emission reduction targets, and the Israeli government hopes that those innovations will also be adopted by other countries keen to tackle global climate problems.

For instance, an Israeli delegation from Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), a non-profit organization that buys and develops land for Jewish settlement, where it has planted 240 million trees, will participate in the upcoming World Forestry Congress in in Seoul from May 2-6.

"Among its environmental goals, KKL-JNF advances forestry in various ways that include education, technology and R&D in Israel. Seventy percent of Korea's territory is composed of forests. Despite people's best efforts, forests change ― trees grow older, fires break out and the condition of the soil deteriorates. Following the UN Climate Change Conferences, KKL-JNF updated its environmental policy to contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Atamny said.

"I see a very promising opportunity for cooperation between Israel and Korea in this field of forestry, but not only that. Israel and Korea seem like natural partners when it comes to solving global climate change-related issues, this is because both Korea and Israel are amongst the world's leading countries in the field of climate change innovation."


Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr


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