Israeli environmental scientist wins 2012 World Food Prize

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd July 2012

A world-renowned Israeli environmental scientist and hydrologist, Dr Daniel Hillel, whose work has been behind some of the leading Israeli irrigation technologies that are used throughout Australia, has been awarded the 2012 World Food Prize.

The World Food Prize, an international award created in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and General Foods, recognises the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

Dr Daniel Hillel’s development of micro-irrigation techniques has dramatically improved agricultural output and water efficiency in the Negev desert of Israel, across the Middle East, and in chronically dry regions around the world, including Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, and Australia. Most recently, he has been researching ways to adjust agricultural techniques in adaptation to increasing water shortages resulting from climate change. Dr Hillel has also worked as an advisor to the World Bank and to the United Nations.

The World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony was held on 12 June 2012 in the Benjamin Franklin reception room at the State Department. The host, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, commended Dr Hillel for conceiving the radical innovation of transporting water and across arid regions of the world. Dr Hillel’s micro-irrigation technology became the catalyst for a food production revolution in the Middle East.

Dr Hillel is currently collaborating with global science publisher World Scientific to produce the Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems, dedicated to elucidating the actual and potential impacts of climate change, and to formulating effective responses. The first Volume of the Handbook has already been published.

World Scientific’s Executive Director, Max Phua, congratulated Dr Hillel in a media release. He said, “It is a great privilege for us to be able to work alongside Dr Hillel on such an important issue such as climate change and to bring this important knowledge to the scientific community to further its cause.”