The first French ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals continues its journey towards a solidary planet in the Mediterranean. Since March 28th, the first electric vessel powered by renewable energies and hydrogen has been sailing the Mediterranean Sea.
It left Israel, the sixteenth stage of its world tour, on May 28th. After a 7-day stopover primarily meant to discover local pioneers and innovations promoting the ecological transition, as part of producing the documentary series “Odyssey for the future”, the crew set sail for Cyprus. Heavily invested in the high-tech, agriculture and education sectors, the country possesses wide-ranging expertise and the ideal conditions to put forward a sustainable development model which could, in time, benefit the whole region. Many initiatives have emerged and the crew, led by Victorien Erussard and Jérôme Delafosse, went out to meet and discover them.
Israel was the easternmost point of our Mediterranean Odyssey. For the vessel, the sunny conditions in Israel were optimal and enabled us to produce hydrogen, even though the system was subject to very strong heat, an abnormal amount for May, according to the Israelis we met. During this stopover, we discovered a country that has a large amount of resources to address the challenges of climate change, as much from a technological innovation perspective than from a human perspective.
Solar Energy: Incredible Potential
Indeed, Israel enjoys a favourable amount of sunlight. This presents a real opportunity for solar energy which, paradoxically, is weakly developed in a country that is 97% fuelled by fossil fuels. In spite of embargoes, boycotts, and the petrol crisis that occurred during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israel took time to invest in renewable energy, before a large-scale project was put in place by Negev Energy in 2014: the Ashalim solar tower. The highest tower in the world at 240 meters, it can power up to 130,000 homes by itself. According to David Faiman, physicist and father of photovoltaic energy in Israel, the development of renewable energies, particularly solar energy, represents a major asset for stability in the Middle East.
Red Sea coral, a source of hope for the reefs of the entire world
In Eilat in the south, the crew met Maoz Fine and his team from the Institute of Marine Science, who have recently discovered that corals from the Gulf of Aqaba are unexpectedly resistant to the rise in temperature of the Red Sea. While 95% of the planet’s coral population, key to the balance of the oceans, is in danger of becoming extinct by 2050, the corals in the north of the Red Sea could enable us to achieve a better understanding of the problem of bleaching and to find solutions to fight it.
Innovation for sustainable development, a commitment that transcends conflicts
Next, the team went to the Arava Institute in the Negev Desert, which welcomes students of different nationalities and faiths, and particularly brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian students. The objective of this training: promoting environmental innovation while encouraging dialogue between communities in a particularly tense context. At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this training highlights the inseparable links between the challenges of solidarity, fair distribution of energy resources, environmental quality and peace.
We explored Israel, from the burning hot desert to the depths of the Red Sea, as far as the Arava Institute, which welcomes Israeli and Palestinian students to work on peace and environmental issues. The creativity and the will of these women and men to move forward toward a cleaner future and especially toward reconciliation restores hope in a particularly delicate situation.
Our next stop is Cyprus, where the vessel is expected starting May 30th.
SDGs, a continuous course for EO
Through travelling the world for 6 years, across 50 countries and making 100 stops, Energy Observer, which is under the high patronage of the President of the French Republic, is a showcase of ecological transition initiatives. At each stopover, it greets the general public and presents all of the boat’s technology prototypes and the ways they can be used to fight climate change, under the banner of the Sustainable Development Goals.