Israel’s envoy to the World Bank, Yoav Gavish, said the developing world’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic offers the possibility of a greener and more sustainable future, and Israeli technology will play a major role in the process.
Israel’s record in dealing with environmental challenges and its emerging creative culture has piqued the interest of the World Bank and put Israeli companies in a good position to secure profitable investments and make an impact, Mr. Javesh.
“The potential is enormous because Israel has faced many of the challenges that developing countries face today. Drought, water scarcity and energy dependence,” he said.
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Mr. Javesh spoke with Times of Israel Shortly before accompanying the bank’s president, David Malpass, on a visit to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other senior officials.
Founded in 1944, the bank has 189 countries among its members and seeks to reduce extreme poverty and promote sustainable prosperity by providing financial assistance to poorer nations, among other measures. It is one of the main sources of finance and knowledge for developing countries.
The Bank said in a recent report that COVID-19 has restored years of progress in the developing world, pushing an estimated 100 million people into extreme poverty in 2020, another 161 million people suffering from food shortages, and 1.6 billion unaccompanied children. More than 100 million people are expected to fall into extreme poverty – living on less than $1.90 a day – in 2021.
In many developing countries, immunization rates remain below 10% and governments lack the resources to implement the kind of massive stimulus measures that have boosted economic recovery in wealthier countries.
The World Bank has committed $157 billion to combat the scourge of the pandemic and operates in 142 countries. The Bank defines a country as low-income if its per capita GNI is less than $1045, while lower-middle-income countries earn up to $4,095 per capita. 27 countries are classified as low income economies, and 55 countries are classified as lower middle income countries.
Mr. Javesh, who holds a position on the bank’s board of directors, said the pandemic, as well as last year’s climate chaos, have opened up some opportunities, as he takes care of international projects and manages cases. Banking business related to Israel, including investments and international cooperation efforts.
The bank has put together a plan, dubbed GRID (Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development), to recover from the pandemic.
“We see this as an opportunity because, first of all, it is an awareness of many of the importance of the green agenda, and we see it today with all climate-related situations, be it fires, floods, hurricanes, droughts,” Javich said. “Since we need to revive the economy, we see an opportunity to increase investment. In a more climate-friendly and inclusive way. “
The plan is aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement to address climate change and aims to help achieve the agreement’s sustainable development goals.
Achieving these goals will cost more than $3 trillion annually, Javesh said, which will require private sector investment and new technologies.
We cannot rely on traditional techniques. There has to be some kind of disruption, and this is where we see Israel and Israeli solutions playing their part,” he said, adding that Israel has faced many of these problems by demonstrating innovation and creativity in agricultural technology, water technology, digital health and other fields.
The World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation provides loans, equity, and advisory services to stimulate private sector investment in developing countries. The International Finance Corporation is one of the leading global investors in emerging markets. It made $22 billion in long-term financial commitments in 2020. About $1.5 billion of that went to startups and disruptive technologies for small, high-risk, high-potential businesses.
The organization has focused more on Israeli technologies, especially in the areas of agriculture, water and digital health, all of which intersect with the climate crisis, as well as energy technologies.
The World Bank has focused more attention on Africa than any other region, with about 30% of its portfolio in the region, as this is where poverty will increase more than ever during the next decade. Many startups are keen to operate in Africa, where competition is less but where governments, multinational companies and aid organizations working with small farmers are investing significant capital.
Digital health has become a priority for the International Finance Corporation, and although Israel is a leader in this field, most Israeli technologies target countries with more advanced infrastructure, limiting their usefulness in developing countries.
For startups, IFC investments mean funding, prestige and opportunity, said Mr. Javesh.
“It’s not just about the impact on the environment, but also a huge business opportunity for carbon capture technologies, renewables, agriculture, water, and more,” he said. Other things too.”
World Bank President David Malpass met with Mr. Bennett, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, and a panel of digital health startups to discuss regional cooperation, trade facilitation, and health and technology collaboration during his speedy visit in early October. He had earlier visited Sudan, Jordan and the West Bank.
IFC’s investments in Israel to date include agricultural technology companies SeeTree and Netafim.
SeeTree provides services to growers, powered by artificial intelligence, that determine the rate of tree health and growth and provide information for growth plans, including tracking pests and diseases and their best time. harvest. This technology greatly improves crops, increasing farmers’ income and allowing for better planning and marketing. The International Finance Corporation invested $8 million in the company.
The organization has pledged $69 million to Netafim, the global leader in irrigation technology, to help the company grow in sub-Saharan Africa, China and Turkey. Netafim’s drip irrigation system increases crop yields with less water, which will help water-scarce regions better meet food demand, become more drought-resistant and increase incomes.
At the IFC’s Transformational Business Awards 2020 event, 11 out of 35 finalists were from Israel, and in 2019, six Israeli startups were selected out of 270 global companies to receive awards in multiple categories.
Israel has also funded a program run by the International Finance Corporation, called TechEmerge, which connects innovative technology solutions to emerging markets. Eight Israeli companies have been nominated for pilot programs under this initiative.
“The global trend towards impact investing is getting stronger and stronger, and there are many opportunities emerging in Israel, so I think there is a huge opportunity to be a nation of influence. And not just a nation of startups,” Gavish said.
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