Think diplomacy. Think multinational negotiations. Think environment. Today the environment is finally being considered an integral part of international relations, and this requires a change in approach on the part of governments. The Institute's Environmental Policy Center, having identified "environmental diplomacy" as an evolving area of policy research, has added two new research topics to its work program: Ori Livne is exploring "Environmental policy" in the context of negotiations between Israel and parties in the region, and Shahar Sade has surveyed the international literature available on "Environmental peacemaking."
The EPC held a roundtable meeting on this theme last week, with the participation of representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Environmental Protection and from academic institutions. The meeting focused on such issues as: Can discussions on environmental issues contribute to confidence-building measures? Can the environmental dialogue be separated from the political conflict? Can lessons learned from previous negotiations serve as a basis for formulating guidelines for future activities representing Israel in the international scene?
EPC Director Valerie Brachya told those attending, "We believe that Israel's attitude in international relations should not be based solely on the political aspect of the Middle East conflict. Israel is a player on the global scene as well, and this arena is very environment-oriented today." A goal of the EPC research is to bring a change in approach in the diplomatic sphere, which will help negotiators deal with those issues as well if and when regional peace talks are revived. Brachya well understands the value of this goal: she represented Israel in a range of forums, leading negotiations on environmental issues.