The 8th greenXchange seminar was held, for the very first time, in Eastern Germany. From 24 to 30 September 2018, nineteen young and very skilled professionals explored Berlin and its surrounding State of Brandenburg. Main topics investigated and discussed were the periphery, processes of structural changes, social and sustainable innovations and environmental restoration, food waste, and urban gardening and farming.

The 7th greenXchange seminar, which took place this year in Israel from September 6-12, was the catalyst for the generation of ideas and exciting partnerships between 24 talented and highly motivated young professionals from Israel and Germany. Organizers declared this year’s event as the most successful to date.
greenXchange is a program founded by KKL-JNF and JNF-KKL Germany to serve as a platform to promote cooperation between young Israeli and German professionals on their way to becoming future leaders in the field of environmental sustainability and protection. To get accepted to the program the candidates must either be studying for their masters or doctorates, or already working as professionals in their respective fields. Half the participants are from Israel while the other half are from Germany. 
The location of the annual seminar alternates between the two countries. Each candidate is committed to attend two consecutive seminars over two years (once in each country). 
The program consists of lectures and tours related to environmentalism throughout the designated country. This year, the seminar included a visit to the Knesset where the participants met Knesset member and environmental activist Yael Cohen Paran. They also toured places such as the town of Maale Adumim on the outskirts of the Judean Desert, areas along the seam line between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi. Each site visit was accompanied by an explanation of environmental issues and solutions regarding sewage, water supply and water conservation.
One of the highlights of the trip this year was a visit to the Mekorot Water Filtration Plant at Eshkol in the Galilee, where the participants were presented with a close- up look underground at the activities of Israel’s primary water supplier. They learned about Mekorot’s crucial role in realizing the Zionist vision. In addition, Mekorot happens to be the 7th largest water company in the world.
The greenXchange participants also visited the Solaris Synergy Company plant at the Mekorot site. The Solaris system enables energy production from solar panels that can float on bodies of water. Solaris’s first commercial production faculty is in operation in Singapore. Company technical advisor Elad Betser told the group that KKL-JNF one of the system’s firm supporters right from the very beginning, and one of the project’s major investors.
Regarding the seminar and tours themselves, greenXchange coordinator Liri Eitan-Draisaid that the seminar participants played a pivotal role in deciding the program agenda and organizing the events.
“A big change that took place this year - the participants wanted to contribute some of their own expertise to Israel in general, and to their host KKL-JNF in particular. Anat Gold of KKL-JNF Planning Department welcomed the idea and asked them to produce suggestions for two new building projects in northern Israel that are currently in the design phase. She told the participants that, if accepted, there is a good possibility that some of their proposals would be incorporated into the plans.”
One of the building projects concerned is the planned center for young leadership at the KKL-JNF Field and Forest Center in Tzippori, and the other is the Visitor’s Center at the Hula Lake Park which will be entirely rebuilt.
The group enthusiastically took on the challenge. Members were divided into six groups of four, each group comprising of 2 Germans and 2 Israelis. 
Participants toured both facilities and were presented with in-depth explanations of the role of the planned structures and future expectations.   
Their proposals were presented on the last day of the seminar to a panel comprised of KKL-JNF Northern Region Landscape Architect Mor DinNoa Tal of the KKL-JNF Planning Division, KKL-JNF Education Officer at Hula Lake Park Inbar Rubin, Upper Galilee and Golan Heights Regional Director Aviram Tzuk, and KKL-JNF emissary to Germany Dr. Schaul Horev, who was the founder of greenXchange.
Horev said at the outset that he was thrilled to hear of this new development.
“This is the first time that such a group of highly educated and highly motivated individuals, who really want to have an impact on the environment,  have connected in this way with KKL-JNF and its goals, and I hope that this trend will continue for the benefit of all.”
Almost every participant made suggestions and offered ideas to further their group’s proposals.
For example, Martin from Berlin suggested that instead of creating a large car park and electric vehicle hiring facility at the Hula Lake Park visitor’s center, it would be better to create an offsite location, far from the Hula, where commuters would board electric shuttle buses to come to the Park. “The space that is saved”, he said, “could then be allocated for the benefit of the migrating birds”.
Another idea, concerning the car parks at both sites, was presented by Israeli Environmental Consultant Ester Peled, who suggested that the parking bays could be covered by solar panels, which would serve the double purpose of generating green electricity and providing shade.
KKL-JNF Northern Region Landscape Architect Mor Din said that the ideas she heard were way beyond what she expected.
“You all amazed me. I myself benefited greatly from hearing the ideas. I want to thank you all for making the effort to think outside the box and show us aspects connected to our planning that we had not taken into consideration.”
She promised to let the group know which ideas will eventually be integrated into the actual design.
German participant Philipp Aepler, a researcher in climate and environmental economics at the London School of Economics, said that greenXchange provided him with a view of Israel that he would never have seen on his own.
“Despite what one reads about Israel, taking into consideration all the other problems you have in this region, I believe that the country as a whole, and KKL-JNF in particular, is doing an admirable job in environmental protection.”
Ester Peled said that she benefitted greatly from the program.
“Israel lacks enrichment programs for environmental professionals. greenXchange provided a possibility for me to network and meet new people and hear new ideas. I met Shiri from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and together we found a possible solution to a problem that is bothering one of my clients.”
In turn,Shiri Hefer, who is a senior consultant at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, explained:
“One of my responsibilities at the ministry is to find a solution for glass bottle recycling. Today Israel exports its used glass bottles. We want the glass manufacturers to recycle glass here. I have just heard from Ester that Israel’s biggest road construction company Solel Boneh is interested in using ground glass for road surfaces. The problem is that there is no entrepreneur in Israel that has invested in machinery that can sort and grind recycled bottles into powder. With this new information that I received here at greenXchange it will be easier for me to arrange governmental assistance to draw investors in the expensive equipment. If that works, we will put an end to the export of Israel’s glass. It will be a win-win solution for all.”
German participant Nicole Glass, who works part time for KKL-JNF in Munich and is currently studying for her Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering at Munich University, said that she was thrilled to take part.
“Funnily I only found out about greenXchange several months after I started working at KKL-JNF. It feels like the program was tailor made for me. I now have a new perception of KKL-JNF that I did not know about, and also this been very enriching for my studies at university. It has been extremely interesting. I am looking forward to participate in part two, which will take place in Germany next year.”

In September 2016, the sixth greenXchange seminar was hosted in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia – a region formerly known as Germany’s industrial center, which is now shifting towards green innovation. From September 11th until September 19th, this year’s participants toured Cologne, Jülich, Düsseldorf, Essen and Hamm visiting organizations as diverse as green start-ups, research facilities, city planning initiatives and a hard-coal power plant.

Find the detailed programme brochure here and read more about the seminar.



Research Centre Jülich

This year’s on-site seminar started at the “Natürlich für Israel” Congress, where the greenXchange participants had the chance to present their program to the public in a panel discussion and learn about various other activities in the field of German-Israeli cooperation. After welcoming the new participants and getting to know each other, the group set out on their first excursion to the Research Centre Jülich, a member of the Helmholtz Association. The participants were introduced to the broad spectrum of research conducted by the center and got a deeper insight into plant and agrology research. In the media center of Cologne, greenXchange participants met with the CEO and the nutritional scientist of Food Loop. The start-up aims to cut food waste in retail by integrating the grocery inventory systems into an application, which then offers discounts to customers for products that are about to expire.



Düsseldorf's city planning department


In Düsseldorf, the greenXchangers were invited to the city planning department, where they discussed structural obstacles that the city of Düsseldorf has to tackle when coping with the growing number of inhabitants. Measures such as revitalizing neighbourhoods, maintaining attractive housing standards, cooperating with other European cities and improved waste management were introduced to the participants.




Media Harbor, Düsseldorf

A tour through the city’s Media Harbor completed the visit and provided the participants with a practical example of the city’s development. Another green start-up, the Bug Foundation, gave greenXchangers a chance to question their eating habits. The Bug Foundation is working towards overcoming the stigma of eating insects in Europe, which could potentially help to alleviate sustainability issues in meat production. Up until now the Bug Foundation has already started to sell its insect-based products on the Belgian and Dutch markets, and explained how it was preparing to enter the German market in 2018.



Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland e. V. (BAND) in Essen


In Essen, greenXchange visited the Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland e. V. (BAND) – an umbrella organization for business angels, i.e. informal risk investors who invest between €50.000 and €500.000 on average in early-stage companies. BAND representative talked in particular about the challenges faced by green tech start-ups and its approaches to match them with their associated investors






RWE's hard-coal power plant in Hamm

At a hard-coal power plant run by RWE, the biggest German energy provider, greenXchangers also had an opportunity to experience the more “traditional” side of the Ruhr area. During a presentation and a visit of this impressive industrial site, which has a conversion rate of up to 46 %, an employee explained the processes and obstacles the plant has had to face up until now. This also fueled a discussion about different energy scenarios for Europe, the role of renewable energy, its impact on fossil-fuel power plants, and the risks and opportunities of a possible coal phase-out.



Sorpesee lake, on the way back to Cologne

To get the most out of every visit, an Israeli-German team presented each project beforehand, giving the group some background knowledge and a chance to prepare questions. A daily recap session ensured that participants could share their views on the day’s schedule, give feedback and exchange opinions. The seminar also included a greenXchange lab and mini-workshops to work on participant’s own ideas and the further development of the greenXchange program. From time to time, the group also had a chance to appreciate the touristic attractions of the region, mostly during a guided tour of the Cologne Cathedral and Shabbat dinner barbecue on the shore of the picturesque Sorpesee.

Discussing urban planning at Tel Aviv municipality, learning on food forests, being inspired by research centers in the Negev Desert - and much more. The fifth seminar of greenxchange brought together young professionals from Germany and Israel to learn and exchange their ideas and knowledge on sustainability and the environment. 28 participants took part in the seminar that started on October 6 and continued for 8 days.

Tel Aviv

8-2-sde-boker-research-centreStarting point after the first meeting and mingling was the Dizengoff Center's Green in the City, where the  participants learned on urban Rooftop Farming and hydroponic agriculture. Later that day, the new greenxchangers met KKL-JNF representatives for a nice Israeli dinner in the old train station of Jaffa.

The next day started at the Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection, where the group learned on the Israeli policy to enhance the use or renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Later on, the group visited the Ariel Sharon Park, which was once an open landfill and today is a new park where visitors can learn about recycling and sustainability. At the end of the day the group visited a pilot site at Kfar Saba where runoff water is filtered and infiltrated into the groundwater reservoir.


South into the Negev Desert7-2-community-garden-shvuat-haadama

After two days in the city, the greenxchange group made its way south
to the Negev Desert. On the way south, the group visited the community forest in Shoham, which engage the nearby citizens with nature. Later that day, the group participants visited Ashdod municipality and the Bedouin village Um Batim, where it learned about Home-Biogas initiative to produce cooking gas from animal manure.

On the next day the group cycled through Yatir Forest, planted by KKL, and later that day, visited KKL project to rehabilitate the Beer Sheva River and create an urban park around it. In Beer Sheva the group also visited the community garden Shvuat Haadama. In the evening the group had a nice Shabbat dinner in Kibbutz Mashabei Sade.

On Saturday the group spent the day in the kibbutz enjoying the sun and the swimming pool and yet also discussing entrepreneurship and environmental collaborations between Israel and Germany. Dinner was held in a small hotel in Nahal Boker in the middle of the desert.dsc_0289

The next day the group visited the Midreshet Sde Boker, a research center for the desert and the environment. The group stopped in the beautiful view point near the research center for a group picture and then went on to the spectacular Kibbutz Neot Smadar to visit their school for building with mud. Later on the group visited the Paran Lookout to the Arava Valley and had a Bedouin Dinner at "Desert Days".

On the day after the greenxchangers visited the Vidor Center and the Yair Research and Development Center – both dealing with agriculture in the desert. Later the group learned on the acacia tree and its ecological importance in the Israeli desert, and the research being done to learn how to preserve those trees in Israel. On that day the group also visited the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training, and then went all the way north to Jerusalem.


In Jerusalem, towards the end of the seminar the group visited KKL headquarters for meetings and discussions. Later that day the group had a big farewell dinner in the botanical gardens.


Tel Avivdsc_0405

The last day the group departed back to Tel Aviv, where it met at Porter School for Environmental Studies a representative from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and from HeinrichBoell Stiftung. The group finished the seminar at the WATEC convention, one of the world biggest conventions of water technologies, held every year in Tel Aviv.

Forest tours, political discussions, hightech institutions - the fourth Sustainability Seminar once again proved the versatility of the greenXchange. From August 3 until August 12, 24 participants from Germany and Israel travelled though Southern Germany.

Find the detailed program brochure here


People standing in front of a map discussing aspects of globalisationStarting point for the greenXchange 2014 was Munich. The participants were hosted by the European Janusz Korczak Academy and the Jewish Community. The first two days included a Green City Tour, a capacity building workshop and a meeting with representatives from the Plant for the Planet Foundation, a graasroots initiative founded by nine year old Felix Finkbeiner from Bavaria, whose aim it is to fight climate change by planting trees all over the world. The first night in Munich proved the well-known Bavarian hospitality: Over beer and local organic food, the greenXchangers got to know each other.

Lindau and Konstanz

Konstanz_EatDifferntOn Tuesday, the greenXchangers continued to Lindau for an overnight stop and a glimpse at the beautiful old city lokated on an island in Lake Constance. Programme on Tuesday started with a Green City Tour through the university city of Konstanz with a focus on sustainable consumption. The greenXchangers met the founders of the green catering service Vida Eat Different and had a workshop with the Nature School of Konstanz.

Freiburg im Breisgau

In Freiburg, greenXchange met Dr. Dieter Salomon, Lord Mayor of Germany's greenest city since 2002, for a discussion on green urban development. Also on the agenda was a tour of the Fraunhofer ISI institute, Germany's renowned hightech research institution. An architectural tour of Freiburg's Vauban quarter showed how politics and technology can together form new ways of sustainable living.

Freiburg_vauban  Freiburg_ForestFreiburg_NirNoa



Final stop before heading back to Bavaria's capital was Stuttgart. The greenXchangers had a presentation on the Stuttgart 21 project, a new train station that is discussed controversially for years in terms of budget, necessity and citizen's participation. Also on the agenda was a meeting at the Ministry for the Environment of Baden-Württemberg. Here, the young professionals learned about Germany's federal structure and the competences of the Bundesländer in the field of sustainability.


Finally, after a week of touring Southern Germany, the participants arrived back in Munich. The last days of the seminar included meetings with former president of the German Jewish community Dr. Charlotte Knobloch and a tour of the sustainable farms of the Hermannsdorfer Landwerkstätten.



Tel Aviv Walking TourWith new members recruited to the existing team, and the strong incentive to establish a long-term operative platform where the German and Israeli participants can bring their skills and knowledge to create concrete environmental projects, greenXchange 2013 was ready to roll!
The third annual greenXchange seminar began in Tel Aviv, with a walking tour of “The First Hebrew City of Israel” (left picture).

Participants attended meetings at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and at City Hall to discuss Planning and Sustainability, and Green Architecture projects. A tour in Bat Yam included the Butterfly Park and a local Urban Regeneration Initiative Center; participants learnt Michmoret Sea Turtle Rescue Centerabout how complex development procedures can be, and how cooperation between planners and architects, city councils, residents, and even scientists/ experts is crucial to achieving any progress.

In Michmoret greenXchange was provided an insight view to Marine Biology in Israel and also learned about the Sea Turtle Station (right picture), that helps to recover injured Sea Turtles, with its unique project.

Alexander River Demonstration Project - Purifying the Nablus RiverA trip to the Hefer Valley addressed water management solutions focused on river rehabilitation (Alexander River Demonstration Project (left picture); Yad Hanna Sewage Treatment Plant and Bahan Recycled Water Reservoir) and wastewater recycling for agricultural purposes. A lecture at an R&D center presented further opportunity to understand the scope of the issues. Cross-border relations and the goal of a joint Israeli-Palestinian water purification project were also discussed. “Ecology, which knows no political borders, has become a unique bridge between people from both sides of the security fence.”

Biriya "Forester for a Day"Participants got a taste of KKL-JNF’s Forestry activities from touring the beautiful Biosphere Park in the Menashe Hills, a recently recognized UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the heart of KKL-JNF’s forest projects in the area. Further North in the Eastern Galilee, greenXchangers engaged in discussion with a KKL-JNF Forestry Representative about historical and current projects, problems and solutions, and some ecological and political challenges faced in Israel today. The group enjoyed a hands-on experience in the Biriya forest through the “Forester for a Day” program (left picture), understanding that KKL-JNF represents more than just  “planting trees”.

Rish Lakish

A visit to Rish Lakish, a family-owned ecological olive press in Zipori, enabled participants to learn about and experience first-hand the process of harvesting olives (right picture), and to better understand some of the environmentally harmful side-effects of modern olive-industry practices. The group was very impressed by the eco-architecture, and the family members who told their story entwined with passion and philosophy.

Hula Valley

Another point of interest was the Hula Valley, where participants enjoyed an eco-tourism bird-watching excursion (left picture). The history of the region was detailed, and the group learned about the complexities involved in altering an ecosystem (consequences of draining the valley’s marshes) and the economic/ ecological drawbacks and benefits to a restoration and rehabilitation effort. From there, a water drilling station was visited, exploring key concepts in aquifer “natural pumping” technologies and uses. The Northern R&D Station provided insight into current agricultural research and its application of technological innovations. A branch of the station, where natural geo-thermal waters are harnessed to grow and maintain specific edible fish breeds in ponds, was also part of the visit. Finally, participants met with local hero Mario Levy on the bio-kibbutz Sde Eliyahu to talk about the history of (and struggle for) sustainable/ organicagriculture in Israel, and current efforts to curb the negative effects of mass-production Cooking Workshopon the land and people’s health.

Throughout the seminar, the group also partook in bonding and team-building activities, such as a cooking workshop (right picture), a mountain biking tour near the Sea of Galilee, pomegranate wine-tasting, and cultural tours of the Old Cities of Yaffo, Tsfat, and Jerusalem.

The seminar’s final days in Jerusalem, spent at KKL-JNF Headquarters, were dedicated to sharing summaries of the experience and brainstorming which directions greenXchange can Enjoying the sun and a laughgrow. Alumni and various KKL-JNF staff were invited to give presentations; project groups were selected, and time granted to expand ideas for proposal; practical tasks and roles were assigned to participants to ensure the continuation of greenXchange in the future.

On the horizon: greenXchange to meet in Germany, summer 2014!

Find details about the seminar content here.

More about...

> Environmental Issues: Dominik presents a comparative look at Israel and Germany regarding its main environmental challenges. Measures are assessed on how to deal with those challenges.

> Green Business Cases: Mario sheds light on innovative thinking in describing the regulatory frameworks for innovation and special “green business cases” in Israel and Germany.

> Climate Change in Israel: Naomi depicts climate change as a mirror of the erroneous environmental management by humanity and its consequences for Israel.

> Recreation in Israel: Yonatan describes the ups and downs of Israeli environment related recreation and explores the possibility of creating car-free forests.

> Scientific Water Projects of the Jordan River: One greenXchanger describes the aspects of collaboration on sustainable development and peace making (Israel, Jordan, P.A., Germany).

> Sustainable Tourism: Eva presents the concept of sustainable tourism on the example of two case studies- Sde Eliyahu (Israel) and the Forum anders reisen (Germany).

> Healthy Israeli Cooking: Anna writes about a healthy Israeli diet and gives us some insights into her daily alimentation.


greenXchange Seminar 2012

In September 2012, 24 participants from Israel and Germany joined the greenXchange seminar, in order to extend dialogue and cooperation in the environmental field of both countries. Over a one week seminar, greenXchangers learnt about environmental issues in the field of agriculture, energy, urban life and transportation in Germany, with the ultimate goal of looking for ideas of a joint environmental project. The meeting was a follow-up to the greenXchange seminar held in Israel in the previous year.

Organic farming and viniculture in the German Midlands

1The seminar started in Frankfurt, and from there the participants continued to the German Midlands to visit the Dottenfelder Hof, a traditional German farm that was established more than a thousand years ago. In 1968 the Dottenfelder Hof converted to organic farming, and began to manage the farm in a dynamic way, biologically, thereby promoting agro-ecosystem health, biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. “Our methods of organic farming include crop rotation, biological pest control, green manures and compost while all synthetic off-farm inputs are excluded” explained Ms. Hinterlang, a member of the organic farming community of the Dottenfelder Hof. “Legumes that fix nitrogen and make nutrients available for the crops of the following seasons, constitute a fundamental part in the system of crop rotation,” she further added.  Researches in the “Landbau2schule Dottenfelder Hof” continuously enhance and develop the methods of organic fertilization, as well as focus on animal and nature conservation, landscaping, environmental education and social and economic concepts in agriculture. They cooperate with universities and research institutes. At the next site, the “Bioweingut Lorenz”, the greenXchange group learnt about organic viticulture in Germany. During the guided tour through the vineyards, the group passed the scenery of the German Midlands, and discussed organic methods for weed and pest control. “Phones imitating bird voices provide an important method of our pest control”, explained Wendelin Lorenz, who guided the participants through the vineyards and the vine cellar. “Mechanic weed control makes the use of synthetic off-farm inputs unnecessary and legumes support the vine with nutrients.” The tour ended with a winetasting, wherein all participants convinced themselves of the excellent quality.

Renewable energy and sustainable living 

5The greenXchange group is particularly interested in renewable energy, and as such, consulted with the JUWI Holding AG, a company for renewable power supply facilities in Frankfurt Wörrstadt. The meeting included a lecture about technology in bioenergy, wind energy, and solar energy. Following a decentralized approach, the company supports small communities around the world, to become self-sustained and independent from fossil energy. They enable communities’ access to their local resources by using environmental sustainable technology. Local mechanical engineering industries, as well as construction and operating technologies will certainly profit and generate new employment opportunities. The high number of visitors at the JUWI Headquarters in Wörrstadt, underlines an additional ecotourism or “energy” tourism potential for renewable energy parks and facilities. The company has built many large solar parks and wind parks in Germany, such as the “Waldppolenz Solarpark”, or the “Landschaftspark Hunsrück.” The headquarters in Wörrstadt were recently established in a new building; the high standards of the energy efficient design, including the coupling of different energy cycles, make it one of the most energy efficient buildings in the world.

The greenXchange group continued to the grounds of the large European energy supplier “Vattenfall.” The Swedish corporation acts in the fields of mining, generation, trading, distribution, sales, and heat and sets new scales to testify its reliable, environmentally sustainable and customer friendly standards. The corporation has already reduced its CO2 emissions by one third, compared to the 1990s and follows its ambitious goal to accomplish climate neutrality by the year 2050, through invest4ment in new generation technologies. They rely on processes of carbon capture and storage, renewable energies (bioenergy, wave energy and wind energy), as well as energy efficiency. “In particular the technology of carbon capture, transport and subsurface long-term storage can reduce greenhouse gases to an extended degree,” explained Mrs. Cornelia Höhne, who guided the greenXchange  group through the company grounds.

The onsite powe6r station “Kraftwerk Schwarze Pumpe” serves as a pilot project for the carbon capture process. The interaction of different components of the power plant, such as burners, and materials, are tested to optimize efficiency and rates of carbon capture.  Carbon capture attained a degree of 90% and already 10500 tons of carbon has been captured between 2008 and 2011. The captured carbon can be transferred to underground storage, such as porous rocks, salty subsurface aquifers and former natural gas deposits. Researchers can explore the potential risks with geo-technological methods, such as interactions between the captured carbon and th7e surrounding rocks, changes in pressure, and potential pollution effects. Released pressure might serve as a source of geothermal energy. Carbon capture utilization (CCU) provides a further way to reduce carbon emissions. Currently, research focuses on the use of carbons for the production of biofuels and high quality synthetic materials, and the CO2 fertilization of algae.

Ecological sustainability in urban areas: Hamburg Hafencity

8Continuing the seminar, the greenXchange group visited the innercity urban developing project located in the Hafencity in Hamburg. The close proximity to the sea comes out by a unique integration of the interaction between land and water into the urban developing concept. Embedded in the warft concept, the tides were used as design elements and provide access to the water along terraces and places. Working, living, retailing, culture and tourism are united in the close neighborhood. Innovative systems in heat and energy supply, match the high standards in ecological sustainability regarding the areas facilities and daily life. In combination with parks and recreation areas they underline the cities green and ecological atmosphere. The decentralized and diverse structure of the energy system holds the potential for extension. “We don’t really know , how much energy we will need by the year 2020”, explained Mr. Gödtel, a city planner of Hamburg Hafencity. “Therefore we have an open energy system that can grow with us!”  In total, the Hafencity includes space for around 6,000 flats and 12,000 inha9bitants, areas with nearly 45,ooo employment opportunities in the field of retail industry, culture, recreation and food service industry. The high degree of building coverage and the short distances on horizontal and vertical green pedestrian ways makes it to a livable place with high life quality. The area used for streets and cars was minimized to a proportion of 25%.  The high density of living and working matches the need of the extension of urban areas on a global scale.

 The JNF-KKL- Bustanei and urban gardens

10Close to Hamburg, greenXchange visited the KKL-JNF Forest in Norderstedt. The forest and gardens represent the partnership project with the Israeli Forest “Wald der Deutschen Länder” that was planted in Israel near Beer Sheva. Crossing the huge park that includes 5000 trees, greenXchange explored the natural vegetation in northern Germany. The area, which contains pine forests and also open patches covered by birches and heathland, was part of the Landesgartenschau in Hamburg in 2011. Sitting in the biblical Bustanei, Ayala Nagel, the vice-chairwomen of the garden started the follow up discussion about establishment and management of gardens, and experimental ideas by regarding the organization as an organic system.  A great example of an urban inner city garden project provided the “Princess Gardens” in Berlin Kreuzberg. The project aims to transform available open space in Kreuzberg into gardens, thereby opening green space to local residents. People living in the neighborhoods nearby come to grow their own fresh and healthy food as well as to share their experiences and competenci11es with the community. The local restaurant offers vegetables harvested in the garden thereby creating an atmosphere of communication and relaxation. The garden intends to increase local biodiversity, as well as social and cultural life in the neighborhood and to be pioneer for a modern and green way of urban life. “’Nomadisch Grün’ stands for mobile gardening” explained Robert Shaw, the cofounder of the Princess Gardens. “We temporarily transform unused spaces such as building areas, car parks and roofs into organic urban farmland and green meeting places. Our herbs and vegetables are grown in raised compost beds without using any synthetic materials.” The gardens concept is open to everybody who wants to join and find his own role in the garden.

International cooperation in the environmental field and future perspectives

On their way to develop an international acting network, the participants of GreenXchange visited the headquarters of the GIZ in Frankfurt/Eschborn to gain input and share experiences in the field of international cooperation and international project management. The GIZ has joint cooperation projects with Mashav, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation in order to strengthen rural development, agriculture and resource use efficiency in Ethiopia. The global engagement of the GIZ for environmental issues, in particular climate and biodiversity comes out in their global partnerships and cooperation. In the environmental ministry the state secretary Ms. Katherina Reiche presented international cooperation and projects in the environmental field supported by the German government. “The great environmental challenges, namely the climate and the maintenance of biodiversity can only be addressed by international cooperation. “We support projects in developing countries, as well as transition and newly industrialized countries on their way to establish an environmental sustainable economy as well as to face the problems of climate change. The maintenance of local resources, biodiversity and carbon sinks is a major request,” she explained the work of the German environmental Ministry.

In the end of the one week lasting seminar, a future session was hold, to set up plans and projects for cooperation in the environmental field between Germany and Israel. The fruitful discussion based on the information obtained from the environmental projects visited during the seminar, as well as knowledge about project management and international cooperation.



Inga, greenXchange participant, describes her impressions of the seminar in Israel

In September 2011, 24 young professionals from Germany and Israel joint greenXchange, the new young leadership program of the KKL-JNF. During the one week seminar, the young environmental professionals from Germany and Israel gained an insight into environmental issues and ecological challenges in Israel.
The program greenxchange represents innovative cooperation, dialogue and exchange in the environmental field between Germany and Israel. Sustainable development, nature conservation, environmental education, transport, recycling and the maintenance of open spaces and cultural highlights in Israel were the main issues to be addressed during the seminar.

The environmental situation in Israel is especially characterised by the scarcity of water. Regarding the issue of water scarcity environmental education, is fundamental. The seminar participants joint the environmental education program in Kibbutz Nizzana, supported by the KKL. There, they experienced how far waste of fresh water can be limited by considering the personal habits and the private use.

The participants further saw how freshwater resources can be obtained when they visited the biofilter projects in Kfar Saba. Following precipitation events water will be transferred to collecting tanks. Biofilters clean the water and transfer it to the groundwater. The need for energy is minor. All seminar participants appreciated the ecological sustainability of the biofilter system as well as the integration of the biofilter system in the urban city planning in Kfar Saba.

Water desalination provides another option to address the need of water resources in Israel. By using a reverse osmosis, freshwater will be gained from seawater. Desalinated water is widely used for the irrigation of cultivated crops. However the process of desalination needs high amounts of energy and its environmental sustainability was questioned by the German and Israeli seminar participants.

Water resources in Israel are essential to maintain the agricultural productivity in the Negev desert. The Arava institute is leading in the agricultural research and production in drylands. Research topics presented to the seminar participants included cultivation techniques that enable high productivity under decreasing amounts of precipitation and increasing variability of precipitation events. The participants were impressed by the fact that nearly 60% of the agricultural production is originated from the Negev, where the annual precipitation is often lower than 200mm.

Visiting the Yatir Forest planted by the KKL in the Negev desert, the participants realized that also the natural vegetation suffers from the climate change that comes along with less but more intensive rainfall events. As a consequence, soil erosion is in progress. Afforestation helps to control the overland flow and to limit the progress of soil erosion. But afforestation in an area which suffers from less 280mm of precipitation is a challenge, said Itzik Moshe - Deputy Manager of KKL - who is responsible for the south of Israel.

Especially serious droughts in recent years have damaged the forest. Now they are going to reduce the tree density in order to limit the competition for water resources. Due to support by JNF-KKL Germany, the Yatir Forest is being supplemented by a water reservoir that controls overland flow and stores water resources. Additionally the cooperation with Bedouins is essential to protect the forest. Grazing by sheep and goats is essential to prevent forest fires, said the manager of the Yatir Forest. Grazing reduces an accumulation of dry understory biomass that might enlighten the trees. By means of cooperation with the local Bedouins the former degraded soil was regenerated.

Students from Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan talked about their studies on the threshold between traditional Bedouin life, settlements, afforestation and the protection of the natural vegetation in the Negev desert. Regarding afforestation, a critical issue is provided by the fact that pine trees in the Negev do not regenerate themselves. Research about other tree species and tree density is in progress to prevent soil erosion and maintain resources in the area of the Yatir Forest.

The environmental education programm in Kibbutz Lotan provided a further part of the seminar program. Young people get a chance to volunteer in the construction of low energy houses. Living in these houses, reduces the amount of energy up to 70%. The seminar participants additionally tested the functioning of solar ovens. The KKL has supported the ecological community of Kibbutz Lotan since their foundation. Projects under supervision of Kibbutz Lotan are bird conservation areas, waste water treatment and recycling, solar technologies, an environmental education center and ecotourism projects. All participants enjoyed the hospitality of Kibbutz Lotan.

Even the participants from Israel were quite impressed due to the large number of environmental projects supported by KKL in Israel. For the Germans it was an interesting experience to have their perspective about Israel changed during the seminar. For many people in Germany, Israel is mainly a place of political conflict. Also most tourists only get insights into historical and religious subjects. Getting in touch with the Israeli environment was a unique experience.

All greenXchange participants are now very much looking forward to the follow-up seminar in Germany in August 2012.