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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev hosts UNESCO conference on drylands, deserts and desertification

SEDE BOQER, ISRAEL, October 12, 2010 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will once again host an international conference on desertification. More than 500 people from 50 countries, including more than 20 presenters from American universities and U.S. government agencies will attend next month's conference. A number of Palestinian and Jordanian delegates are also expected to participate.

The Third Annual International Conference on "Drylands, Deserts and Desertification: The Route to Restoration" is organized by BGU's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The conference highlights BGU's and Israel's role as a leader in this critical field. It will take place November 8 11, 2010 on the University's Sede Boqer Campus in the Negev desert.

The penultimate discussion will focus on the feasibility and synergisms associated with the three Rio Conventions, namely the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention to Protect Biodiversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

For the first time, the public health aspects of desertification will be addressed with panels that explore the interface between ecological and health sciences. A number of unique workshops will focus on sustainable building in desert environments; remote sensing; grazing and the Bedouin community; the future of the Dead Sea; environmental education and dryland agriculture; as well as soil and water restoration. The Second Jeffrey Cook Workshop on Desert Architecture and Urban Planning will also be held and will include the presentation of the Cook Award for Desert Architecture.

According to conference organizer, BGU Prof. Alon Tal, "We believe that by bringing a diverse group of academics, professionals and policy makers together to confront the myriad critical issues of desertification, the BGU conference can serve as a meaningful catalyst for cooperative and collaborative projects in the future at the global level.

"Israel is one of the only countries in the world that has successfully restored marginal lands and is recognized worldwide as a leader in protecting its drylands from further deterioration," Tal explains. "The unique local experience and our extensive associated research contribute to making this the premiere international conference about combating desertification that attracts significant participation from around the world."

U.S. government attendees speaking at the conference include representatives from the USDA, US Forest Service and NASA. Additionally, multiple researchers will be speaking at this prestigious event, including those from Columbia University, Colorado State University, Ohio State University, University of Arizona, Utah State University, University of California, Texas State University, and Philadelphia University.

The conference will be held in English with simultaneous translation in four languages French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian for all plenary sessions. Significant delegations are expected from Italy, Australia and China. Five MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development) groups, coordinated through the Israeli Foreign Ministry, will also be attending. With the support of Yad Hanadiv and the Arava Institute, a number of Palestinian and Jordanian delegates are also expected to participate.


Contact: Andrew Lavin
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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