The 10th annual Green Globe awards

By
April 21, 2013 22:48

Life and Environment, umbrella group for 130 Israeli ecological organizations, to fete country’s top green achievers.




SHARI ARISON

SHARI ARISON. (photo credit: Reuters)

Green Globe award

The principle Green Globe award, the environmental Oscar equivalent to best film, will be awarded to a collective group of organizations and individuals who successfully fought against a controversial planning reform that was first launched in 2009.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Approximately 30 social and environmental organizations fought against the reform, which, they say, aimed to streamline the planning process and render local planning authorities powerless.

While the government decided to abandon the reform in March, the environmental organizations warn that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intends to move forward with the plans once again in the new government.

If such legislation were to proceed again, the negative implications would be many, according to the Green Globe judges. Public participation in planning processes would be curbed to a minimum.

“They won several battles, but a huge battle is still in front of them,” Life and Environment CEO Naor Yerushalmi told The Jerusalem Post. “This is still a major battle.”

Green in the city


Making sure that garbage becomes an environmentally friendly and profitable resource has become a priority for the Environment Committee of the Union for Local Authorities in Israel – the winner of the Green Globe award in the urban environmental category.

The Environment Committee has served as the crucial middleman between the local authorities and the Environmental Protection Ministry, particularly in implementing separation of waste projects, diverting revenue from landfill taxes to projects in the waste field and by encouraging environmental education in local authorities, the judges said.

Meanwhile, the committee has worked to streamline the consumption of water resources and energy and the running of municipal waste collection in about 70 local authorities around the country, in a variety of sectors.

The committee has also successfully started a campaign called “Environmental Price Tag,” a project that promotes the reduction of natural resource exploitation within municipalities.

Local environmental action

When one morning, the residents of Kiryat Shmona woke up to find that the stream crossing through their city had dried up due to over-pumping, one organization took action to revive their lost resource.

Kiryat Shmona’s Nature and Natural Wonders Preservation Society, headed by Yohanna Nazari, led a struggle that involved many social organizations nationwide as well as representatives of Tel Hai Academic College.

Eventually, their work bore fruit, and Mekorot found an alternative place from which to pump water, allowing the stream to return to life.

In addition to saving the city’s beloved stream, the Nature and Natural Waters Preservation Society also managed to fight the Israel Lands Authority and bring about the cancelation of a plan to build 70 housing units, the judges said.

After battling the residential project, the organization succeeded in moving forward a development plan for a green boulevard along the stream, the Green Globe judges said.

Volunteer environmental service

The Green Globe winner in the volunteer environmental activism category is Dani Morgenstern, for his years of work promoting the deposit law for beverage containers.

Although initiated in 1992, the bottle deposit law took 10 years to officially legislate and since then has gone through various incarnations, with many beverage companies aiming to thwart its authority, out of fear of profit damage, according to Life and Environment.

In the process, Morgenstern, now 70, had denounced the ELA Recycling Corporation’s bottle deposit policies, and the company sued him NIS 1 million for defamation.

Recently, however, the district court accepted Morgenstern’s appeal and ruled in his favor, a decision that the Green Globe judges viewed as an important achievement in freedom of expression.

The environmental organizations praised Morgenstern for never “flinching against the beverage company lobby” and for making a just deposit law his life’s work.

Environmentalism in the business sector

Due to the company’s decisions to implement significant, sustainable chances in its core business activities, Shikun V’Binui will be the recipient of the Green Globe in the business sector.

“The Shikun V’Binui group has adopted the concept of sustainability as a leading component in its vision and as a management concept that takes into account environmental and social considerations alongside economic ones,” the Green Globe judges said.

In addition to adopting green building standards in its residential housing projects, Shikun V’Binui has invested heavily in research and development for energy and research conservation projects, and has 11 staff members dedicated to sustainability, according to Life and Environment.

“They're not the only ones who are doing it, but they are the only real major construction company that adopted this course of action,” Yerushalmi told the Post.

Of particular importance is the company’s decision to move forward with green residential development, as such a step demonstrates that the price gap between developing traditionally and developing green is not so wide, he added.

Excellence in environmental education


The winner of the environmental education Green Globe, the Ecology & Environment journal, has made environmental expertise on an academic level much more accessible and readable to the public, award officials said.

Officially titled Ecology & Environment: Journal for Science and Environmental Policy, the journal is published three times yearly in Hebrew by The Israel Society of Ecology & Environmental Sciences, and is edited by Shachar Bookman.

The journal was established in 2010 to compensate for the lack of professional platforms on environmental sciences, public policy and ecology and explores a wide variety of topics – such as groundwater contamination, the benefits of local versus imported agriculture and the Dead Sea salt harvest.

Public figure involved in green issues Environmental issues have long been a personal concern for Israeli actor and radio host Dalik Volonitz, after a heart attack at a young age prompted him to turn to organic, non-industrial foods.

For six years, Volonitz dedicated time each morning on his Army Radio program to environmental issues, and while this program concluded in 2012, Volonitz still continues to cover the topic on other television and radio shows.

His uncompromising struggle against the use of insecticides in mainstream agriculture, as well as his sensitivity to animal issues, children and disabled individuals inspired the judges to grant him the Green Globe this year in the public figure category.

Black globe

While seven groups and individuals will receive Green Globes recognizing their positive environmental work on Monday night, an eighth person will receive the far less coveted Black Globe – a critical stamp regarding actions taken contrary to sustainable development.

This year’s Black Globe recipient will be Transportation Minister Israel Katz for his work to promote the 262-kilometer railway from Beersheba to Eilat.

Deeming the project harmful to finances, transportation and the environment, the judges slammed the railway as a waste of NIS 30 billion that will come at the expense of more urgent transportation projects, like a subway for the Gush Dan region or metropolitan rapid transit bus routes.

Meanwhile, Life and Environment and its organizations – particularly the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel – criticized the minister for failing to carefully examine alternative routes and for authorizing the railway’s path through environmentally sensitive regions.

Rare biological diversity exists throughout the Negev and Arava deserts, but those behind the railway plan have failed to take such environmental implications under consideration, the judges claimed.

Stressing that the Eilat railway plan is just a microcosm of Katz’s overall transportation policies, the environmentalists blasted the minister for prioritizing private car use and grandiose projects over developing the country’s public transportation infrastructure.

In response to Katz’s receipt of the Black Globe for promoting the Eilat railway, the Transportation Ministry stressed that the project does not, in fact, come at the expense of any other transportation project and is instead designed to meet the growing needs of public transportation.

One of the railway’s main objectives, the ministry explained, is to allow for the easy passage of freight from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean – an issue of national and international strategic importance.

In addition, each train reduces the equivalent of 300 to 600 cars on the road and thereby curbs pollution and increases safety, the ministry noted.

The train route was designed in such a way to induce minimum impact upon the environment, and a significant portion of the route will pass through areas of the Arava that have already been violated.

The ministry examined dozens of alternatives; and according to environmental and engineering considerations, this proved to be the best, the office said.


Related Content

Riot
August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night

By DANIEL K. EISENBUD

Israel Weather
  • 9 - 18
    Beer Sheva
    13 - 18
    Tel Aviv - Yafo
  • 8 - 12
    Jerusalem
    11 - 15
    Haifa
  • 12 - 22
    Elat
    12 - 19
    Tiberias