By: Or Carmeli
Rows of nervous high school students filled the hall at Tel Aviv University on May 17, where over a dozen participants were invited to compete in the annual Stockholm Junior Water Prize. The prestigious ceremony was held in the company of Swedish Ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus Nesser, previous Stockholm Prize Laureates, Tel Aviv University professors, and Jewish National Fund (JNF)-USA representative Alon Badihi.
Over 100 students from 24 schools all over Israel took part in the international water contest, but only a few got to attend the acclaimed event. Each year the competition draws more than 10,000 project submissions from over 30 countries around the world.
The winner of the prize receives a $15,000 award, the Blue Crystal Sculpture, a diploma, and the honor of representing their country on a visit to Stockholm during World Water Week.
The event began with moving speeches by members of the Tel Aviv University faculty, when Professor Eyal Zisser connected world water issues to the Middle East. “If there is a water solution between Israel and Jordan, there is a solution for peace,” said Zisser, who spoke about the students’ and their roles as part of a generation that provides “instant results.”
Professor Yossi Rosenwaks of the Energy Research Center at the university similarly expressed Israel’s impact on the world. “We don’t have a lot of water in Israel, but we do have a lot of manpower,” he said.
Previous Stockholm Junior Water Prize recipient, Ya’ari Vigder, shed light on the contest with his encouraging words. Now a high school math and physics teacher, he spoke to the students about the importance of presentation and delivery of their projects. “It all depends on how much effort you’re willing to put in,” Vigder said. He also emphasized the idea of representing Israel as an “opportunity” to the world due to its leading advances in water supply and technology. “This is an ongoing project,” Vigder said, stressing the need to continue making an impact on the international water crisis.
Rounding out the speeches before announcing the winner was Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser, who impressed the crowd with his Hebrew-speaking skills. Ambassador Nesser addressed his love for Israel and spoke to the participants about taking part in the competition. “You are an example to society,” he said, lauding the dedication and hard work required to compete in such a competition.
An important part of its water initiative and National Water Task Force, JNF began sponsoring the Stockholm Junior Water Prize nearly a decade ago to encourage Israeli students to discover new and creative ways to improve water development. Its success has allowed Israel to be a world leader in solving the global water crisis for generations to come.
All junior candidates in the ceremony were honored with awards for their participation, alongside their school science teachers. Four entries received monetary prizes and a one-year scholarship to Tel Aviv University for each individual involved.