Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, though speaking half in jest,
said on Sunday he might propose President Shimon Peres for one of the
Environmental Excellence Awards for 2013.
Speaking at the annual awards
ceremony at the President’s Residence, Erdan said Peres not only talked about
protection of the environment, he did something about it.
Heschel Center deemed to environmentally excel
Erdan who in
December 2009 accompanied Peres to Copenhagen for the UN Conference on Climatic
Change, recalled that before the conference there had been arguments among
government minister’s as to what Israel’s objective should be. Peres took the
initiative and told the conference that he wanted Israel to be a regional
laboratory for the environment, said Erdan, adding that this was more or less
what has happened.
Prizes of NIS 50,000 each were awarded on Sunday in
categories of environmental protection after the screening of a video
illustrating the work of each of the winners. They also received certificates
and environmental statuettes created by artist David Gerstein.
video, Intel Israel CEO Maxine Fassberg declares: “We have to give our children
a better world than we received. The footprint we leave here will determine the
quality of life of future generations.”
• Intel Israel was awarded the
prize in the Industrial and Commercial category in recognition of its leadership
in the adoption of environmental technologies, for the integration of
environmental principles and technologies in all areas of its
• In the Personalities category, Alon Schuster, head of the
Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, was honored for his extensive environmental
• In the Young Entrepreneurs category, Nader Alafinish and
Aya Rimon, leaders of the young environmental leadership program in Rahat, won
recognition for promoting environmental education and awareness among the
• In the Volunteers category, Eti Altman, a well-known animal
rights activist, was lauded for changing public attitudes toward animals. Erdan
said that every time he witnessed the humane work that she did, it brought tears
to his eyes.
• In the Associations and Organizations category, the
Environmental Fellows Program of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning
and Leadership won high praise for its implementation of the flagship program
for environmental training in Israel, established 10 years ago. Also in this
category, the Eretz Carmel NGO received accolades for its ever-growing
activities on behalf of separation of waste in Israel.
• In the Local
Government category, the Misgav Regional Council in the Galilee was chosen for
initiating the “Sustainability Master Plan” in local government, a model adopted
in other local authorities.
Erdan said he regarded it as a privilege to
be serving as environmental protection minister, because it gave him the
opportunity to not only meet wonderful, caring people, but also to learn about
numerous environmental problems and how to solve them.
government discussed budgets and cutbacks, it was easy to overlook the
importance of the environment, said Erdan. That’s why it was so essential for
people outside of government to take the initiative and to approach
environmental issues with a sense of mission.
“Sometimes you need some
crazy people to start the revolution to bring about change,” said Erdan, citing
as an example a 12-year-old Canadian girl by the name of Severn Suzuki who at
the UN Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, addressed delegates on
the urgency of sustainable development.
They were so moved by her
sincerity and her passion that they really started to move things along, he
Peres said that in the Garden of Eden, Man had everything he needed
in terms of fresh air, pure water and organic fruits, but was expelled because
he didn’t behave appropriately.
Unfortunately, said Peres, even after the
expulsion he still didn’t behave appropriately, and didn’t to this very
“We are beginning to understand that the battle for the environment
is the battle for our existence,” Peres said.
Being friendly to the Earth
meant cooperation between people and between nations, “because nature has no
political borders,” he said.
In this context he mentioned joint
initiatives undertaken by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority in water
management and development.
Environmental needs could not wait for
political solutions, he said. On the contrary, with the parties to conflict
working together on solutions to environmental problems that affect all of them,
they were building a bridge for peace.
Earlier in the day. Peres hosted a
delegation of US senators led by Daniel K. Inouye (D Hawaii), chairman of the
Senate Committee on Appropriations and president pro tempore of the
At the start of the working meeting, Peres told Inouye that
Israel owed much of its security to Inouye’s contribution, his work and his
steadfastness with regard to Israel.
Peres also had warm praise for
Senators Thad Cochran (RMississippi) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).