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February 2023

New Country Director

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Alma Gadot Perez as the new Country Director for Israel.
Alma joins the British Council after serving as the Head of Intangible Heritage at the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, where she managed a portfolio of over 60 million NIS, focusing mainly on digital transformation and connecting tangible and intangible heritage assets to provide a holistic, more meaningful human experience. Alma brings years of senior leadership, strategic consulting and project management experience from her years in the United States and Israel. An expert in policy and innovation, economic development, impact investment, applied research, strategy development and tri-sector collaborations.
Alma’s excited to join the team and dive right into the doing – with the forthcoming event by the end of March – the “UK-Israel Science Days”.
Alma is married to Prof. Nahshon Perez, a leading scholar of state and religion challenges, and a mother to two boys who love Taekwondo. She loves local culinary and cultural explorations, reading fantasy books, and sleeping. On occasion, she volunteers as a mentor for social entrepreneurs with programmes run by partners such as Ashoka and Schusterman Foundation.

UK Minister for the Middle East meets with BIRAX recipient

Last month Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has concluded his first official visit to Israel as Minister for the Middle East, accompanied by HMA Neil Wigan. During his visit he met with Professor Hossam Haick at the Technion university. Prof. Haick is one of our BIRAX recipients, who participated in 2015 BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative (RMI) awarded a grant, together with Prof. Roger Barker from Cambridge University to develop a breath test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, and since then continues to accomplish groundbreaking work in ageing research.

Recent activities supported by The Wohl Clean Growth Alliance grants

Prof. Lee Brown from The University of Leeds and Prof. Shai Arnon from Ben-Gurion University succeed in organising the UK-Israel Environmental Flows Alliance workshop after being hampered by covid-19 travel restriction during 2021-2022.The five-day workshop included a balanced mix of senior and early career scientists and was hosted in Israel by Dr. Gideon Gal, head of the Kinneret Limnological Laboratory (Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research), and Shai Arnon from the Zuckerberg Institution for Water Research (ZIWR) at BGU- with the mutual goal to discuss how to move forward with joint proposals for funding calls and two collaborative papers. Participating were seven UK delegates from the School of Geography, School of History, and Yorkshire Water who met with hosts from Israel professionals from ZIWR, BGU, the Yarkon-River Authority, The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), the Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), the Drainage Authorities, and Ministry of Agriculture.

Highlights included the viewing of research devices such as a new multi-parameter water quality sensor that has been funded by both Leeds and BGU, to understand any future changes in river flow regimes, campus facilities at BGU including a flume laboratory, and desalination experiments. Along with academic field trips to the north, central and south parts of Israel visiting the Jordan River catchment and the Hula Valley to discuss historical land use change, climate, peatland restoration, hydrology, and land use, as well as to Tel Aviv to learn about the Yarkon Estuary, restoration of the river and the recently installed water sensors to discuss water quality and river restoration issues.

Another outstanding activity was organised by Dr. Clive Lipchin from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIE), Israel, and Dr. Richard Friend from the University of York, UK.

The ‘Off Grid and Community Implemented Water and Wastewater Quality Monitoring Workshop’ was hosted by the EIA and Kinneret college. The five-day workshop met with different stakeholders and addressed various issues related to measuring and monitoring technologies for water/ wastewater quality, how to facilitate, coordinate and empower community participation in water quality monitoring and how to bring communities living in transboundary basins and, within regions of conflict, develop transboundary water/wastewater quality monitoring protocols. It also included a field trip to Nahal Ada-Binyamina, along with a consultation with an Israeli community group dealing with pollution discharges into local waterways to learn about issues and strategies, highlighting the challenges of waterways under pressure from diverse uses and users, the importance of locally appropriate, affordable technologies for monitoring water quality and the potential for participatory monitoring across river basins/landscapes to build collaboration and understanding between different communities with shared water resources.
The main outcome of the workshop is the development of a programmatic inter-disciplinary approach to addressing challenges of water quality, access, and distribution, with three core elements: Participatory local monitoring of water quality, Building river basin/landscape model of water quality, and Co-development of water re-use and treatment technologies for off-grid communities.

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