GRASSROOTS APPROACH TO GLOBAL INNOVATION
Israeli Ambassador Ilan
Fluss highlights innovation
as the key to developing
each country, while further
strengthening bilateral ties.
BY HELEN HERNANE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA JR.
Ambassadors often have a very glamorous, jet-setting image with most of their duties and responsibilities
shrouded in mystery. At least to those not involved in governance, ambassadors are representatives, travelling the world while rubbing elbows with country leaders, the rich and the famous. It’s a huge misconception that Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Ilan Fluss, is trying to address by engaging in grassroots projects.
GLOBAL TITLE, LOCAL WORK
“It’s hard work, not just going to cocktails and parties. It’s constantly looking for new opportunities to enhance relations between countries. It’s important to engage with as many people and partners as possible—a lot of thinking, planning, implementation, outreach, and engagement. And then the follow up, which is the most important thing,” Fluss stresses.
He shares that interacting with government secretaries and other similar leaders is still very much important because they make the decisions. But at the end of the day, the projects they push for are for the benefit of the public.
“We want and need to address everybody, interact, and be relevant. And that’s the challenge for ambassadors because, especially here in the Philippines, they look very highly at ambassadors. There’s no expectation for us to go down [to the local level]. But for me it’s extremely important, touching the grassroots, touching people’s lives,” the University of Haifa alumnus says.
Fluss cites one example, a project that the embassy is spearheading in Tarlac. They visited the Tarlac Agricultural University (TAU) and he met with alumni of an agro-internship program in Israel. Students actively teach their fellow students regarding the latest in agriculture, but they also encourage teaching the surrounding communities.
During his visit, the Israeli ambassador sampled some of the produce and remarked that their quality is at par with those in his home country. However, the visit also revealed some concerns and challenges with the
“When we visited and were made aware of their issues, we found an opportunity for partnership. So we are contributing some upgrades to their technology. Some Israeli experts will visit soon in order to consult
and provide more training. That’s an example of how we help develop partner countries; we join local....