The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) have been jointly funding research and development projects in the field of water technologies since 1974, with annual calls for proposals on current focus topics. So far, 166 projects have been implemented, giving rise to trusting collaborative relationships between Israeli and German researchers.
Water in sufficient quantity and quality is an essential basis of life. However, global water demand is on the steady rise while natural water resources and water-dependent ecosystem are shrinking rapidly. This applies even more to arid and semi-arid areas. Germany and Israel, both world-renowned manufacturers of water technologies, work together to provide answers to these challenges and to help ensure supply a growing global population with clean water.
The objectives of the German-Israeli Water Technology Cooperation programme are:
- To improve the water situation in Israel, its immediate neighbouring countries and/or Germany,
- To facilitate access to new markets for Israeli and German companies in the water and environmental sector,
- To maintain and strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the water sector as well as cooperation between science and industry.
The overarching technical spectrum of cooperation includes:
- Increase of water availability and quality,
- Wastewater treatment and reuse,
- Energy efficiency in the water sector,
- Groundwater investigation and remediation,
- Drinking water treatment and health aspects of drinking water supply,
- Integrated water resources management.
In 2023, there are ten ongoing collaborative water technology projects focusing on the topics of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, groundwater remediation, irrigation efficiency, and water quality protection. Selected results are published via the BMBF’s Atlas of Water Innovations.
A Status Seminar in Ashdod, Israel, in late October 2022 produced an overview of current activities in water technology cooperation. Another status seminar is envisaged to take place in Germany in 2024 (50th anniversary).
In 1999, BMBF and MOST launched the Young Scientists Exchange Program (YSEP) with a view to promoting long-term bilateral cooperation. Until 2022, almost 150 young scientists from Israel and Germany had already benefited from the programme.
Next to bilateral cooperation, multilateral collaborative projects have also been carried out since 1997, involving German, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian research institutions. Between 2006 and 2019, a multilateral multi-phase project was implemented under the title “Integrated Water Resources Management in the Lower Jordan Rift Valley: SMART – Sustainable Management of Available Water Resources with Innovative Technologies”. The research consortium included a total of 17 partner institutions, from universities and research institutions to public authorities, businesses and non-governmental organizations from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Germany.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is currently funding multilateral collaborative projects with Israel under the umbrella of the MEWAC programme 2021-2024 (Middle East Regional Water Research Cooperation Program). The programme focuses on the development of new technologies and strategies to increase water use efficiency and promote integrated water resource management across national borders. Israel is also collaborating with Germany on jointly supporting cooperation on water technologies with neighbouring Arab countries and is providing specific funding for this purpose. Since 2021, three collaborative projects with partners from Germany, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories have been funded under the MEWAC programme. These cross-border projects are aimed at increasing water security in the Middle East.