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U.S.-Israel Sign Agreement to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture

(July 19, 2023)

Vice President Kamala Harris and President Isaac Herzog of Israel announced a new joint five-year initiative whereby the Biden-Harris Administration, working with the U.S. Congress, and the State of Israel intend to invest $70 million, with up to $35 million from the United States and up to $35 million from Israel, over five years to support climate-smart agriculture through innovative technologies and improved capture, storage, use, and protection of critical water resources in the Middle East and Africa. This investment in innovative solutions for sustainable food production and water use augments existing cooperation between our two countries and will help build resilient food systems and address the climate crisis around the globe. 

The United States and Israel are leaders in the development of low- and high-technology climate-smagriculture and water management, and this new joint initiative will strengthen our cooperation in these critical areas while also contributing to the foreign policy goals of both countries.  This cooperation builds upon the U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology, leverages the expertise of American and Israeli research and academic institutions, and demonstrates the remarkable value of the U.S.-Israel relationship in facilitating investments in technology that improve the lives and livelihoods of populations across the globe.  Options for impact programming will potentially include employing these technologies alongside partners, such as Negev Forum and I2U2 participants, bringing existing technologies or techniques to scale, expanding access to certain tech tools or apps, and/or investing in training, technical assistance, and education.

Additional Ongoing Cooperation:

The United States and Israel already maintain robust cooperation across a range of science-based initiatives pertaining to technology, the environment, food security, and health. 

Negev Forum Working Groups: Negev Forum members Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States believe that working together provides the best chance to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, including in science and technology.  The Food Security and Water Technology Working Group promotes projects that harness existing methods and technologies and develop new approaches to improving food security and water technology. The Clean Energy Working Group advances implementing clean energy projects, sharing best practices, and developing policies that promote and unlock the clean energy potential of the region.  Other initiatives to promote regional solutions include Project Prosperity, by which Israel, Jordan, and the UAE are working together to send desalinated water from Israel to Jordan and clean energy from Jordan to Israel.  The United States remains committed to helping the parties complete this project.

I2U2:  This grouping of countries (the United States, India, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates) harnesses a collective entrepreneurial spirit to tackle common challenges, with a particular focus on joint participation and initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, technology, health, and food security, while also advancing Israel’s global integration.

U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology: In September 2022, the United States and Israel launched a forum to further bilateral collaboration on critical and emerging technologies across working groups on climate change, pandemic preparedness, artificial intelligence, and trusted technology ecosystems.

Joint Research and Exchange Programs:  The United States and Israel coordinate scientific and cultural exchanges through the Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), and the U.S.-Israel Education Foundation. To facilitate economic cooperation, the two countries convene a Joint Economic Development Group each year to discuss our economic partnership and possible initiatives for the coming year. 

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Treated Water Reuse: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection have a strong partnership, including an MOU on treated water reuse. Approximately 50 American water experts visited Israel last year for exchanges in best practices and lessons on water management.

Middle East Regional Cooperation Program (MERC): The USAID MERC program was established in 1981 to facilitate research collaboration between Egyptian and Israeli scientists following the signing of the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt. Today, MERC promotes scientific cooperation, technology-led development, and capacity building between partners in Israel and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through grants that support applied research and regional workshops on scientific topics. MERC’s current portfolio of over 40 active grants spans topics including climate resilient agriculture, water resources management, public health, and environmental and marine conservation. MERC emphasizes training, outreach, and dissemination of research outcomes to support and inform sustainable resource management, economic growth, and policymaking in the Middle East and North Africa.

USAID-MASHAV Cooperation: In 2019, USAID and MASHAV, Israel’s development agency, signed a global MOU for development cooperation. Since then, USAID and MASHAV have collaborated trilaterally with countries in Europe, Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, across sectors, such as water technology, agriculture, and education. Notable partnerships include:

  • In 2019, USAID Power Africa and the Government of Israel signed an MOU to address energy poverty and expand access to energy, for which Israel committed to financing 300 megawatts of power generation projects in sub-Saharan Africa through its private sector. Renewal of this Power Africa agreement is currently under discussion.
  • In 2020, Israel and the USAID/Georgia Mission signed an MOU to strengthen agriculture and demo USAID and NEMA, Israel’s disaster response agency, are working to establish an MOU to facilitate the sharing of disaster response and emergency preparedness expertise and best practices.
  • In December 2020, Congress included $2 million in Economic Support Funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to finance cooperative projects among the United States, Israel, and partner countries that identify and support local solutions to address sustainability challenges relating to water resources, agriculture, and energy storage, which USAID programmed for northern Central America, Albania, and the MERC Program. In northern Central America, cooperation focused on climate adaptation activities through work in the agricultural, water, and energy sectors. In Albania, USAID and Israel are cooperating in the smart-agriculture sector on high-value crop production. In addition to its ongoing programming, MERC used $1 million of FY 2021 funds to issue a special call for proposals on climate adaptation and mitigation that was announced at COP27 in Egypt. Congress also supported trilateral cooperation projects among the United States, Israel, and partner countries in FY 2022. USAID is working closely with Israel to develop program options.

Source: New and Ongoing U.S.-Israel Cooperation on Science, Technology, and Innovation, The White House, (July 19, 2023).