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Global Compact Launched in Israel 

(Jerusalem, 16 July 2008) – The Global Compact was officially launched in Israel today, in a ceremony hosted by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. The meeting, which was attended by almost 150 representatives of Israeli business and civil society, set the stage for the future establishment of a Global Compact Network in Israel.

Following an introduction by Rony Adam, Director for UN Political Affairs in the Ministry, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni explained that it is of crucial importance for companies from Israel to join the Global Compact, especially as the country seeks to contribute to addressing global challenges, such as climate change, hunger and the food crisis. "I believe that there is a real need today to join forces and tackle internal and global challenges crossing the boundaries between the public and private sectors," the minister said.
Georg Kell, the Executive Director of the Global Compact Office, was introduced by Talia Aharoni, President of Maala – Business for Social Responsibility, Israel's leading CSR organization tasked with promoting the Global Compact in the country. Mr. Kell described today's launch as "a historic opportunity to contribute to a better world."  He stressed that commerce, trade and investment "build bridges between cultures and nations" and are "fundamentally important to build peace." He added that Israeli businesses had a lot to offer in this regard and complimented Maala on the work that has already been done to promote CSR in Israel. "Much of the infrastructure is already in place," Mr. Kell said.
Ofra Strauss, Chairwoman of the Strauss Group, one of Israel largest food and coffee producers, explained that joining the global agenda is "not a choice, but a must."  "I see CSR as huge opportunity to use our influence and power to make a difference in the world," she said, stressing the importance of acting in partnership with other business leaders and societal actors.
Strauss also stressed the positive business case for CSR, highlighting that "issues previously considered risks and dangers are now regarded drivers of business success."
Ofer Bloch, Director-General of Netafim, a pioneer of drip irrigation and one of the first Israeli companies to join the Global Compact, explained that participation in the Global Compact is obvious for a company built on sustainable solutions. He also highlighted the Global Compact's additional engagement opportunities, such as the CEO Water Mandate, which Netafim joined earlier this year.
Currently, seven companies from Israel are Global Compact participants. Following the launch, several leading businesses are expected to join the initiative in the coming weeks. The emerging network will be coordinated by Maala. 
Matthias Stausberg
UN Global Compact