Among the winners of this year's Israeli environmental "Oscars" will be a parliament aiming to become a beacon of sustainability, as well as Jews and Arabs fighting together to preserve their local greenery.
The 11th annual Green Globe award ceremony will take place at the Knesset this Tuesday, among the keynote activities occurring during the Knesset's official Environment Day. The Green Globe is awarded by Life and Environment, the umbrella group for all of Israel's environmental organizations. At this year's events, hundreds of activists from dozens of environmental groups around the country are expected to arrive to the Knesset to participate.
In addition to 11 recipients of Green Globe prizes, the judging committee routinely selects a "black globe" recipient for causing environmental harm.
"The Green Globe award reveals the full breadth of the devoted, enduring and comprehensive work of environmental organizations and of individual activists, volunteers, public workers and many others, who strengthen in their activities general welfare, public health and the preservation of future resources," said Naor Yerushalmi, CEO of LIfe and Environment.
The all-around annual Green Globe prize will be presented to the leaders of the Green Knesset project. The project, launched by Knesset Speak Yuli Edelstein and director-general Ronen Plot in January, has budgeted NIS 7 million to overhaul the parliament's infrastructure. In addition to featuring a 4,650-sq. m. photovoltaic roof installation, the project involves revamping the building's water, air conditioning and light systems and other projects.
"In its decision to adopt sustainable behaviors, the Knesset shows that it is attentive to the wishes of the public, interested in protecting the environment and serves as a shining example for public bodies and millions of citizens," a statement from the prize committee said.
A Green Globe award for public figures will be presented to Miki Haimovich, a television personality who has advanced Sir Paul McCartney's concept of a Meatless Monday in Israel. She has mobilized her public power and professional skills to promote the initiative in Israel, convincing others to reduce their meat intake one day per week on a permanent basis.
The Green Building School, of the Israeli Green Building Council, will be receiving a Green Globe for education on Tuesday. Established in 2012, the school is engaged in development content, courses and various training tools for a large range of professionals about green building. To date, the school has already trained more than 2,000 professionals, in fields of architecture, academics, contracting, management, engineering, real estate and policy, according to the prize committee.
In the local organization category, a Green Globe will be awarded to the Arab-Jewish Civilian Forum in Biqat Bet Kerem (the Beit Kerem Valley), near Karmiel. Among the 40 active member communities in the forum, established three years ago, are Majd al-Krum, Gilon, Tzurit, Deir al-Asad, Bu'eine and Misgav. The forum members have drafted a common vision of transforming the Beit Kerem Valley into a beacon of tourism, with an emphasis on its natural resources, and they have also come together to combat environmental neglect.
Among the forum's environmental activities have included the promotion of a sewage system in the Beit Kerem Valley, as calls for a promenade along Road 85. Working with national environmental organizations and government offices, the forum continues to promote practical solutions to environmental stresses on the region's rivers, Life and Environment said.
The business sector Green Globe award, meanwhile, will be going to Clalit Health Services, the country's largest healthcare provider. For the past five years, environmental considerations have begun to be reflected in all aspects of the company's operations, including in engineering, construction, water, waste, public health, marketing, nursing and more, Life and Environment said.
Prof. Adi Wolfson, chairman of the chemical engineering department and founder of the Green Processes Center at Sami Shamoon College of Engineering in Beersheba, will be receiving the Green Globe for volunteer work, including educational projects in Beersheba and an environmental course for the Beduin community. In addition, Wolfson voluntarily serves as an environmental and sustainability advisor to Beersheba's mayor, Rubik Danilovich.
For the first time in the Green Globe's 11-year history, an award is being presented in the category of sustainable transportation – to the Haifa Bay's Metronit bus rapid transit system. The prize committee described the Metronit as a "model of a successful mass transit system, integrating speed, reliability and efficiency of a light rail with the flexibility that bus service enables." The judges further praised the system of 90 buses – six of which are hybrids – for running frequently, thanks to advanced operational features in the vehicles, real-time information for passengers, accessibility and comfort.
In the category of public works, the Green Globe recipient will be Baruch Kompano, who recently concluded his position has head of environment and sustainability in Misgav Regional Council, following 30 years of extensive public service. Kompano is among the first leaders in Israel to integrate the concept of sustainability into the operational plans of a local authority, Life and Environment said.
The Jerusalem Municipality's urban nature program will be winning a Green Globe for urban sustainability. In recent years, Jerusalem has advanced a master plan for urban nature, the first of its kind among Israeli local authorities, Life and Environment said. Based on a survey of urban nature in Jerusalem conducted by the municipality and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel in 2010, the plan is being developed by the city engineer and the deputy mayor for planning and environment.
In the category of local struggles, a Green Globe will be awarded to the Organization and Committees of Lev HaIr – Green Instead of Concrete," a Tel Aviv-based group run by Michal Barzel Cohen that has fought for the establishment of a public park, community center and community pool in the Kiryat Sefer compound – which was slated to become home to highrises. In March 2013, group members finally saw the opening of their own community park.
A special Green Globe award will be granted on Tuesday post-mortum to Azaria Alon, a lifelong environmentalist who died on January 19, 2014. A founder of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Alon was "a symbol of nature and landscape preservation in Israel," according to the judges. Alon was involved in a wide range of environmental struggles and published more than 30 books on nature and geography during his lifetime. Since 1959 and till the eve of his death, he served as a radio host of the show "The Landscape of Our Country," the prize committee added.
Although many Israelis excelled in promoting environmental values, Life and Environment will also be presenting its annual "black globe" for behaviors that have harmed the environment, public health or public interest in general.
This year's black globe is being given to the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization, for advancing the construction of about 20 new Negev and Galilee communities, when existing communities require reinforcement and support, the judges said. The prize committee slammed the Settlement Division for lack of transparency and for developing new communities in open spaces, at the economic expense of existing towns.