The Colleges welcomed Israeli environmentalist Etai Pinkas to campus on Sunday, Feb. 26 to discuss sustainable development and water preservation in Tel Aviv. Speaking to students and staff in the Geneva Room, Pinkas shared details of his role in reshaping urban spaces to improve quality of life, recycle infrastructure and minimize environmental impact.
“Pinkas’ work on environmentalism makes Israel a more sustainable country, provides it with greater security, and makes Israel a world leader in water recycling and sustainability,” says Julianne Miller, director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life, which sponsored the event. “Given that water shortages and lack of access to clean water are issues in many parts of the world, his work is applicable not just to Israel but helpful to many countries.”
Israel primarily relies on desalinization systems, which remove salt from ocean water, to support residents in a constant state of drought. The country also leads the world in water recycling, with 86 percent of its irrigation resources coming from treated sewage water. Spain takes second with just 19 percent of its resources consisting of recycled water.
“I was inspired by how Pinkas and his team restore and convert places into public spaces valuing the sea and local landscapes,” says Alex Cirra ’17. “His work with successful corporations, local politicians, and community members, listening to their interests and dreams for Israel’s future generations, is inspirational.”
Pinkas currently spearheads a major public park project that will construct public space over a major highway in the heart of Tel Aviv. One of “the 100 most influential people in Israel” according to Israeli news outlet The Maker, Pinkas has won a Green Globe for his work in sustainability and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli LGBT Association for his role in advancing the recognition of same-sex marriage and ensuring equal rights for same-sex couples.