GreenXchange has established itself as a German-Israeli environmental exchange program for young professionals with the organization of an annual alternating on-site seminar in Israel and Germany together with additional and thematically focused activities since 2011. The program aims at motivating participants to shape infrastructures of their societies in a sustainable way, tackling social, ecological, and economic challenges. Applications to the seminar open once a year, please check the homepage for further information!
The first years: 2011 – 2012
How can we strengthen the German-Israeli relations? The Youth Forum of the German-Israeli Society held a workshop in 2010 to answer this question. One solution that came up: greenXchange – an exchange program focused on environmental issues. Naturally, JNF-KKL, Israels largest environmental organization, was the first choice to initiate such an exchange program.
With JNF-KKL Germany and Dr Shaul Chorev, Main delegate of JNF-KKL, at the helm an annual alternating on-site seminar was established. Every year about 30 participants explore a region and learn about its unique social, ecological, and economic challenges. In workshops, the participants work on their own ideas and projects.
The first results: 2013 – 2014
2014 saw the implementation of the first project by a greenXchange participant. The idea of floating solar panels sums up what greenXchange is about: a sustainable solution for existing challenges. Putting solar panels on water reservoirs saves space on land, reduces water loss due to evaporation in reservoirs and increases the effectiveness of solar panels/ PV cells by using the water to cool the panels.
KKL-JNF contracted the Israeli start-up Solaris Synergy in Israel and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources (joint investment). Consequently, Solaris Synergy installed their panels on the Eshkol Water Reservoir. Since September 2014 the facility is operating. It produces electricity and supplies it to the electricity grid.
In a joint initiative with the Youth Forum of the German-Israeli Society 31 Israelis and Germans explored Israel’s and Germany’s International Green Agendas in a Future Workshop. In collaboration with the Industry and Trade Chamber Potsdam (IHK Potsdam), greenXchange held a seminar at the Green Ventures – the international business forum for energy and environmental technologies in Leipzig January 2015.
(Article in German: http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/print/id/21413)
The first milestone 2015 – 2016
With the funding by DIZF greenXchange was able to develop activities beyond the annual seminar, e. g. a public panel about “Berlin – Tel Aviv: Ideas for green cities” in cooperation with the Israeli embassy and the grassroots think tank Polis 180 e.V.
In Germany, JNF-KKL organized the educational project “Mobile Ideas for Tomorrow” by greenXchange participants. 23 groups of school kids handed in films about their idea for a “green future”. The three best projects were selected by a jury and awarded with a trip to Israel. (Article in German: http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/25231)
The road ahead: 2017 – 2018
2017 will see the 7th annual Seminar in Israel and preparations for next year’s seminar are already underway: The 2018 seminar will take place in eastern Germany and focus on the challenges of structural changes and energy transition from a coal reliant energy system to renewables.
GreenXchange is also involved in the creation of greenXerator, a green startup accelerator program by the city of Freiburg (Germany)
Today greenXchange contains five core activities
- Organization of annual on-site seminar: Every year between 12 and 14 new participants join greenXchange for the on-site seminar. Together with 12 to 14 alumni, they experience Germany’s and Israel’s “green future”. The goal of every seminar is to develop a consciousness for environmental challenges and learn in skills-oriented workshops.
- Development and implementation of hands-on environmental projects: Participants and alumni initiate and accompany new hands-on projects. For example Renewable energy project of floating PV cells over KKL water reservoirs in Israel, educational project in Germany „Mobile ideas for tomorrow“ (www.mobile-ideen-fuer-morgen.de).
- Engagement with the environmental organization JNF-KKL: JNF-KKL supports the activities of greenXchange and ensures the sustainable implementation of the greenXchange projects. The network of greenXchange provided KKL with volunteers for an environmental project in Turkana (Kenia) and speakers for public events (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitstag, “Natürlich für Israel Kongress 2015/2016”).
- Transfer of know-how: GreenXchange organizes and realizes environmental seminars and panels for alumni but also the general public. The bi-national framework is used to discuss common challenges and best practices of both countries.
GreenXchange participants met with politicians and environmental experts of both countries, i.e. Dr. Dan Shaham Ben-Hayun, Israeli Consul in Munich, Emmanuel Nahshon, Minister of the Embassy of the State of Israel in Germany, meeting during the German-Israeli Future Workshop, Sven-Christian Kindler, Member of Parliament Alliance ‘90/ The Greens, Dr. Dieter Salomon, Mayor of the city of Freiburg and Dr. Barbara Hendricks, Federal Minister for the Environment, who is the patron of the greenXchange program since 2015.
- Cooperations with partner organizations: Recent project partners in Germany include the Youth Forum of the German-Israeli Society, the Central Welfare Board of the Jews in Germany (ZWST), youthinkgreen (jugend denkt um.welt e.V.), Alliance ‘90/ The Greens, the Embassy of the state of Israel and the grassroots think tank Polis 180 e.V.