More than 400 people from 28 countries participated in a unique online event organized by Israeli innovation and project management company Maof, together with the Pontifical organization Scholas Occurrentes and universities from Latin America.
The statement by Scholas Occurrentes’ president, José María del Corral, was given during an international meeting of Israeli companies with universities and government officials in Latin America and the Caribbean about the future of water & water challenges in the region.
It took place on International World Water Day, March 22nd and featured four prominent Israeli companies that provide solutions to water challenges: Metzer, Aqua HD, LED-UV and Contel, as well as distinguished researchers from 6 Latin American universities: UNAPEC in the Dominican Republic; Tech de Monterrey from Mexico; The Center for Innovation of the Catholic University of Chile; University of Technology in Panama; Pereira Technological University of Colombia; and Del Valle University in Guatemala. They presented research innovations in the field as well as water challenges in the near future in the region.
The event led to promising connections between academics and the private and public sector, and is expected to initiate new projects in Latin America with the participation of leading international companies in the water field. It was also attended by Mr. Giora Shaham, Chairman of the Water Authority in Israel, Professor Ram Shpinner of Kinneret College, Prof. Ruth Fine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sigalit Lidai from Startup Nation Central, Ms. Hila Cohen Mizrav, responsible for water innovation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Israeli Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Mr. Daniel Biran Bayor.
Scholas is a Pontifical organization active in 190 countries, founded by Pope Francis to build the Culture of Encounter. In the educational field, its network integrates more than 450,000 schools and educational networks, connecting students from different socioeconomic environments and diverse cultures and religions. Today, Scholas links more than 100 universities in 35 countries, creating synergies, building bridges and sharing knowledge for the benefit of the communities where they operate.
In the spirit of the Papal encyclical, Laudato si´, Scholas also strives to preserve our “common home”, the planet. Among other efforts, it seeks to educate in the spirit of environmental respect and preservation of the planet and its ecosystems, biodiversity and also its inhabitants. The COVID crisis has further hurt the health and livelihoods of millions, and increased the environmental challenges facing the world so its work is needed now even more than before.
The president of Scholas, Prof. Jose Maria del Coral, spoke at the event about the importance of water as a means of providing adequate living conditions to millions in the world, and particularly in Latin America. He announced from that day the beginning of the “Water Year” for Scholas, Maof and local universities. Throughout it, the organization will hold educational programs with young people from all over the world making a particular focus on water issues, where the youth might propose solutions to tackle them in their communities.
The events will be held in conjunction with Scolas’ “University of Meaning” project, which was launched by Pope Francis last June to propose meaningful projects to be carried out throughout the world by universities and students. Prof. del Corral offered to work on solving water challenges in a combined scientific, cultural, political and economic way, adding, “I am happy about the connections that Maof is making between the representatives of countries suffering from poor water treatment and supply and Israeli companies that have advanced solutions to the issue.”
Maof provides water and waste management services, oversees the planning and execution of environmental projects, and develops innovative technologies for waste treatment, especially those that turn waste from a hazard into a resource, while building sustainable business models.
Ygdal Ach, CEO of Maof, commented: “The company has unique ties with universities in Latin America that are a focus of advanced knowledge as well as a beacon of stability. In this event were able to create opportunities for international companies to offer their solutions to these universities and significantly reduce entry barriers. “
Last May, Maof signed a cooperation agreement with Scholas Occurrentes and the worldwide network of Scholas university chairs to plan and carry out environmental projects, which also have social and economic impact, i.e. a Triple Bottom Line. These projects will promote sustainability and decent living conditions for populations whose living conditions have been harmed due to environmental threats, while sharing knowledge between countries and organizations. Among the projects:
- Green technology parks with facilities for energy production from renewable sources, waste treatment and wastewater treatment, which will help prevent pollution, improve the living conditions of the residents and encourage economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
- International centers for sharing knowledge on environmental issues that will connect universities, organizations, government authorities and small and medium-sized companies
- Establishment of an accelerator program for startups that offer problem solving in the fields of environmental protection, according to the principles of Laudato si´.
The meeting was one of the steps that Maof is taking to connect the innovative Israeli ecosystem that develops water solutions, countries and regions where there is a need for them, with the support of Scholas Occurrentes.