Jul. 16, 2021

Former President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin and the President of Germany Dr. Frank Walter Steinmeier visited the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) on BGU's Sde Boker campus last Friday (July 2). They later laid a wreath at the grave at Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Photo credit: Shlomi Znati

The guests were received by BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and Director of the Blaustein Institutes Prof. Noam Weisbrod, and were given a tour of the Sde Boker campus, where the presidents heard about the dozens of research projects in the fields of desertification, sustainability and climate change being carried out at the campus with an aim of finding solutions to the challenges posed by climate change over the last few years.

The presidents visited the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) and learned from the director Prof. Amit Gross and his students Verena Sturm, from Germany studying for a master's degree, and Muhamad Al Bream, a graduate student from Gaza, on the ability to store energy, the reuse of sewage and the growing of greenhouse lettuces using grey water.

Photo credit: Shlomi Znati

Prof. Iris Visoly-Fisher, head of the Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center and chairperson of the Alexandre Yersin Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics (YDSEEP) in the Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental & Energy Research (SIDEER) and Israeli doctoral candidate Gilad Mozes, presented the hidden abilities of solar energy.

Photo credit: Shlomi Znati

At the French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands (FAAB), the visitors took part in a wine-tasting, sampling the wine from the Experimental Wine Grape Vineyard, and meeting Prof. Naftali Lazarovitch, Prof. Aaron Fait​ and Ethiopian doctoral candidate Kelem Gashu. They learned about the connection between climate change and the quality of wine, and its relevance to Israeli agriculture, and how Israel has become a model for other countries experiencing changes in climate, which in turn affect agriculture and food security. 

During the visit, President Rivlin commented, "Our partnership with Germany is a partnership of life, of creating acquaintances between young people in Israel and Germany and of countless collaborations in science, academia, culture and business, for the advancement of our two nations and for the whole world. I am very happy for the opportunity to visit together with my friend the President of Germany in our common and wonderful centers of knowledge. I have no doubt that these will increase and deepen."   

BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz noted: "Already 21 years ago, before the concepts of 'sustainability' or 'climate change' became known around the world, the German government understood that research in water, desert agriculture and energy, conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was necessary for the future of the world. At the time, you gave us a loan (which we are repaying!) that allowed us to build the wonderful facilities you saw here today, and you enabled the world-changing research. Just to emphasize the importance of this research, we arranged that the weather would emphasize that the world is getting hotter!"