‘Economy of Tomorrow requires green strategies'
Environmental program focused on long-term sustainability would be turning point for stability, experts say.
Environmental activist Photo: REUTERS
Only an economic policy rooted in concepts of long-term sustainability and
natural resource preservation will be able to bring the country the prosperity
and social welfare that its people seek, according to authors of a new
“Israel is currently confronting a combination of economic,
social and environmental crises,” the report says. “Crisis management must also
be integrative in order to create a sustainable and healthy economy that bridges
social gaps while generating real quality of life in a manner that does not harm
residents’ pockets and health, or undermine their trust while weakening the
The report, titled “The Economy of Tomorrow: Challenges,
Solutions and Recommendations,” was released on Wednesday evening in Tel Aviv
and is sponsored by the Israeli Economy of Tomorrow Project and by the German
organization Heinrich Boll Stiftung Israel. While an original draft was
originally written by Green Movement co-chair and project steering committee
Alon Tal, the first author on the latest version is Rachel
Berner Shalem, a senior economic analyst. The editors of the project included
Sagit Porat, professional director of Tel Aviv University’s Akirov Institute for
Business and the Environment and Ronny
Daniel, a project manager at The Israeli Society for Sustainable Economics and an associate at Whiteboard Service Design.
Containing contributions from a series of environmental and
social researchers and activists, the project has the support of many
environmental organizations and academic institutions – like the Life and
Environment umbrella group for Israel’s environmental organizations, the Green
Movement, Adam Teva V’Din – The Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Friends
of the Earth Middle East, the University of Haifa, Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.
economic concepts and recognizing the importance of environmental and social
sustainability, the project joins a series of initiatives around the Western
world that have collectively become known as the “Green New Deal,” according to
Rather than seeking “tree hugger” environmental solutions,
the report aims to focus on practical data and experience to find better
alternatives for green taxes, transportation, energy, green society and
employment, the authors write. Although gross domestic product has been the main
instrument for indicating quality of life in the Western world, The Economy of
Tomorrow argues that following this indicator only does not properly reflect
other factors of well-being.
Activities like smoking, pollution and
traffic accidents all may contribute positive economic value according to GDP,
but they also cause significant damage left unaccounted for.
indices we use fail to reflect this situation, indices that will provide optimal
policy guidelines and data must be found,” the report says, and goes on to
present various green indices adopted around the world.
In addition to
altering the type of index that the country uses to calculate wealth, the report
also suggests introducing “green taxes” in which the polluter pays for his
actions and non-polluting activities can receive positive reinforcement.
Although market economies tend to “encourage economic creativity and efficacy,”
all too often the negative results of consumption and production end up
preventing the markets from achieving sustainable growth and optimal social
circumstances, the report explains.
Improving the efficiency of
transportation is also a key element of The Economy of Tomorrow, and will help
increase market productivity, reduce the cost of living, lower housing prices
and diminish damage caused by air pollution, according to the report
“Despite this, the government chooses to continue to shelve good
programs for many years while avoiding prioritizing mass transportation,” the
Looking at energy, The Economy of Tomorrow pinpoints
electricity production as one of the main sources of pollution and notes that
today’s electricity production is based mainly on fuels whose prices are
ever-rising and which come from countries hostile to Israel.
alternative to energy production that is not dependent on external parties will
guarantee Israeli independence and strength in the event of war or economic
crisis,” the report says.
A sustainable energy market in Israel can
emerge through behavioral changes with respect to energy consumption, demand
management in homes and public places, green construction standards, regional
cooperation and use of renewable energy and natural gas, according to the
Addressing issues of social justice is also critical to the
growth of a successful green economy, as the lower class is currently unable to
escape the cycle of poverty and the middle class is facing difficulties coping
with Israel’s high cost of living, the authors write.
Green jobs for
neglected populations as well as an open local economy that supports small and
medium-sized businesses could therefore provide immense economic
Cleantech “can and should be a cornerstone for Israel’s
technological future, one that will be reflected in the development of human
capital and job creation,” the report says.
The Economy of Tomorrow
project bears many similarities with the Green Growth strategy being promoted by
the Environmental Protection Ministry, and the permission for a government task
force to create a green growth economic plan was approved by the cabinet last
year. Praising the version that Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
has tried to push through the government, Tal said that the only problem with
the ministry’s program is that it simply has not been able to achieve government
“This Green New Deal is not sort anomalous extreme green
program. It’s now public policy in Norway, South Korea,” Tal said. “Israel
doesn’t need to feel that we’re so out there. We can realize that just as the
New Deal of the 1930s redefined the modern economy of the Western world, Green
New Deals that are increasingly being adopted can be looked upon as a turning
point for stability.”