Israel brought its leading water experts to South East Asia at the end of August for a series of events, headlined by “Israeli Water Week in Vietnam.” This main event brought together Vietnamese water utilities and companies, Israeli water companies and government representatives, and World Bank representatives together, to forge cooperations and bring advanced water technologies to Vietnam.
“The World Bank is a key player in Vietnam,” tells us Zafrir Assaf, Head of Israel’s Economic and Trade Mission in Hanoi. “The Bank invests around $8 Billion a year in Vietnam, hundreds of millions of which goes to the water sector. Cooperating with the Bank is the best way to work in Vietnam, as the Bank’s projects are characterized by a high degree of transparency and good business practice.” According to Assaf, the World Bank representatives were very positive about creating strong ties between Israel and Vietnam in the water arena, with head of the World Bank in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa commenting in her presentation that the connection between Israeli water technology companies and Vietnam’s industry has the potential to be very fruitful.
Vietnam Water Week was also an opportunity to advance business cooperations. Assaf tells us that a number of Israeli companies, who have been active in Vietnam for some years now, found that the event gave them unprecedented access to high-level decision makers in the Vietnamese government, industry and at the World Bank and was very effective. “We got great feedback from the event from Israeli companies including Netafim, Amiad, Bermad and Odis.” Following the event, a leading Israeli water technology company was invited to a follow-up meeting with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture to discuss opportunities for micro-irrigation.
Vietnam Water Week also celebrated 20 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Israel, and was a channel for advancing WATEC 2013, the international water event coming up in Israel in October. Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Thang committed to attending WATEC, at the event.
The key note speaker at the event was Dr. Sinaia Netanyahu, the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Following the Vietnam Water Week, Dr. Netanyahu continued on to Thailand, where she attended an event organized by Federation of Thai Industries and Israel’s Economic and Trade Mission in Bangkok.
We spoke with Dr. Netanyahu about Thailand’s water needs and how Israeli companies can provide solutions: “The Thais are very concerned with drainage, having experienced some very severe flooding recently. What is really needed in Thailand is first of all strategic planning, and regulation, after that stage will come the technology to implement the strategy. Israel has some very experienced companies focused on strategic planning of water networks, and I believe cooperation can be very fruitful.”
At the event, Dr. Netanyahu gave a presentation on water management. The presentation covered three areas: desalination solutions, securing the quality of drinking water, and wastewater treatment and reuse for agriculture. “In Israel we view agriculture as having ecological value, not only as a burden on the environment, as it is viewed in some places. Wastewater that is reused for agriculture contributes to this value, which supports both biological richness and the green scenery that is of value to a nation. We received positive reactions to the presentation, including from a U.N. representative from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) who noted that this view of agriculture was very advanced.”
Following the event, the Thai attendees expressed interest in visiting Israel, to learn about the strategies and technologies used in Israel such as at the Shafdan Wastewater Treatment Plant. “The idea is to tailor the visits to the needs and interests of each delegation from Thailand, for example wastewater treatment, treatment of industrial wastewater, and so on.” Concluded Dr. Netanyahu.