PROJECT WADI ATTIR
A MODEL SUSTAINABLE DESERT COMMUNITY
Project Wadi Attir is a groundbreaking initiative of a Bedouin community in the Negev desert, demonstrating an approach to sustainable desert agriculture, replicable locally as well as in other arid regions around the world. Using The Lab’s sustainability principles as a guide, the project is designed to leverage Bedouin traditional values, know-how and experience with modern-day science and cutting edge technologies.
“Project Wadi Attir is creating a new reality of empowerment and hope for the future, encouraging a move to self-reliance. In particular, the project creates an unprecedented new situation whereby women are equal partners in leading a significant development process with men. Involvement in the project will open new horizons and new opportunities for women and strengthen their ability to influence the fabric of family.”Amal Elsana-Alh’jooj
“This project offers a golden opportunity for people in the Bedouin community to organize in an independent, democratic fashion, with emphasis on common goals, shared effort and commitment to community values. With this project we broke the mythos that ‘these people’ are not able to manage themselves, that they always need someone else to tell them what to do. In all my years in community work, I have never come cross a change-making project like Project Wadi Attir.”Aatef Abu Ajaj
Founding Member of the Project Team
“Once the project is fully realized, it will undoubtedly serve as a blueprint for the development of rural areas in Africa and other Less Developed Countries. I am very optimistic about the success of this project under the leadership of Dr. Ben-Eli, whose creativity and imagination is put to use to conceive, organize and orchestrate the process.”Professor Jimmy Weinblatt
President, Sapir Academic College, Formerly Rector, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
“The project actually enhances our tradition. In the case of preserving indigenous seeds, just as in the case of reviving traditional medicinal plants and animal husbandry, there is much to learn from people in the community. I think that everyone – adults, young people and children – can all join in this project. Everyone can learn, as well as teach.”Abu Rakayek
Founding Member of the Project Team
“It has been an honor for me to participate as one of the founders of Project Wadi Attir. This unique project constitutes an important breakthrough in the area of sustainable development, an idea which resonates with values and principles that were deeply ingrained in Bedouin society, prior to the era of urbanization of the last few decades.”Dr. Mohammed Alnabari
Mayor of Hura, Founding Member of the Project Team
VISIT PROJECT WADI ATTIR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION
GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY FELLOWS
A TRANSFORMATIVE, GRADUATE-LEVEL LEARNING EXPERIENCE
The Global Sustainability Fellows Program is designed to inspire, inform and mobilize future generations of leaders who are committed to adding an in-depth exposure to sustainability issues to studies in their chosen disciplines. Integrating a rigorous theoretical orientation with experience-based learning, international exposure, and cross-discipline work, the program will impart the core competencies required to effectively tackle urgent sustainability challenges on a local, regional and planetary scale.
Twenty students from 15 countries on five continents, and representing a range of disciplines, participated in the pilot session of the GSF Program, held at EARTH University in Costa Rica during July of 2014.
“As a person brought up in a poor, rural area, I understand that the heaviest brunt of the effects of climate change, environmental degradation and poor leadership are faced on a daily basis by those whose ecological footprint is too insignificant to mention. I therefore desire to be a leader in transforming the lives and livelihoods of the very poor, marginalized, and hard-to-reach people.”Boru Halkano
Global Sustainability Fellow from Kenya
“I want to create a definition of sustainable practices that I can incorporate into my future work as an architect. As a student peering out of the academic bubble, I seek to understand how ‘sustainability’ can move from the theoretical to the tangible without losing the clarity of the idea.”Christopher Taleff
Global Sustainability Fellow from the USA
“By using group model building and qualitative modeling, we could integrate the stakeholders in the process of developing the plan. It was great to experience what a powerful tool system dynamics can be, and how the participants of the workshop engaged in the task given.”Therese Bennich
Global Sustainability Fellow from Sweden
“I believe there is a clear need to involve social scientists when conducting environmental research; sustainability projects should consider the communities’ values, beliefs and practices in order to combat poverty, improve their social organization and protect their resources.”Rosa Ana De Luca
Global Sustainability Fellow from Mexico
View the Global Sustainability Fellows Program photo gallery
“Meeting a diversity of inspiring, like-minded people, determined to making the world a better place, helps to reignite one’s optimistic spirit, in the face of all the challenges that lie ahead. Now it’s time to get to work!”Conrad Steinhilber
Global Sustainability Fellow from Germany
VISIT THE GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY FELLOWS WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION
THE SUSTAINABILITY PRIZE AT EARTH UNIVERSITY
INCORPORATING THE LAB’S “FIVE CORE PRINCIPLES OF SUSTAINABILITY” INTO REAL LIFE PRACTICE.
The Sustainability Prize, established in 2009 by The Sustainability Laboratory in collaboration with faculty members from EARTH University in Costa Rica, is awarded to the student project that best exemplifies implementation of The Lab’s “Five Core Principles of Sustainability.” The $10,000 prize is awarded to the winning project in order to support project implementation, with $1,000 earmarked for the high school attended by the prizewinner.
“In underdeveloped and developing countries, it is very difficult for young adults to start private businesses. Without family support and financing, it is improbable that any financial institution will lend the necessary capital. The Sustainability Prize is therefore not just monetary – it represents an opportunity for an EARTH University student to fulfill their dreams.”Professor Irene Alvarado
EARTH Faculty Member
“My graduation project designed a system for coffee farmers in my home community of Opórapa, Colombia to associate plantains and coffee in their fields, thereby improving farming practices, taking better advantage of space, and generating income and employment. Many small coffee growers in my community have implemented this plan, and are benefiting from harvesting plantains when coffee growing season is over. They are role models for other community farmers.”Diana Milena Cajibioy Artunduaga
EARTH University Prizewinner, 2012
“Because of the prize money, we were able to finance a waste management project in the high school I attended, introducing ideas that are new to many areas in Peru. Seeing a change in the quality of life in the place that I live is the best motivation to keep going!”Yngrid Espinoza Villaruel
Sustainability Prizewinner, 2011
“To me this prize was more than a recognition of the substantial effort that my classmate and I did in our graduation project – it represented the beginning of my career in the field of scientific research and biodigestion. It also honed my professional skills in project design and coordination in rural communities in developing countries.”Johanny Perez Sierra
Sustainability Prize winner, 2010
VISIT THE SUSTAINABILITY PRIZE AT EARTH UNIVERSITY WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION
PROJECT TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN
TURNING A TOXIC SITE OF ABANDONED MINES INTO A THRIVING ECOSYSTEM
Project Turquoise Mountain is a proposed innovative approach to mine remediation and ecosystem restoration in Gleeson, Arizona, a remote area that contains a slew of long-abandoned mine shafts, tailings, and associated contamination. The Lab is currently collaborating with the owner of the site of these abandoned mines, with the intention of launching a model project that would showcase the application of sustainability principles to the vexing problem of mine remediation.
VISIT PROJECT TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION
PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT
The Lab is being developed as a network linking advanced research centers mapped onto specific eco-zones around the world. The centers will subscribe to a common set of principles, values and operating practices. Each center will aim to pioneer strategies, technologies and best practices that will be applicable in similar eco-zones. Individual centers representing specific eco-zones will also work collaboratively with one another.
Following a successful pilot session of the Sustainability Entrepreneurs workshop, held at the Esalen Institute in California in 2008 and inspired by professional interest in the format and content of the recently launched Global Sustainability Fellows Program, The Sustainability Laboratory plans to launch a special yearly workshop geared at helping professionals integrate sustainability concerns into their chosen field.
The Sustainability Laboratory is working on establishing a Project Development Fund, which will be used to finance the preliminary stage of projects. This facility will make possible financing of early preparatory activities including preliminary concept formulation, reconnaissance and concept validity assessment, identification and early engagement of key stakeholders, and the establishment of an early project team and strategy.