The nation’s cities are generally doing “a good job” raising environmental
awareness among their residents and advancing long-term policy changes,
according to a first annual green index released on Monday by the Local
Sustainability Center of the Tel Aviv-based Heschel Center for Environmental
Learning and Leadership, in cooperation with the Life and Environment
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The index examined 22 cities – those that had participated
in the lights-out Earth Hour on March 24 – and rated them in 10 categories on a
scale of five emoticons, from “excellent” green smiley faces with yellow
sunbeams to bright red pouting faces.
More and more cities are declaring
themselves as “green cities” and are taking steps to advance and initiate
environmental change, the study team concluded in a statement.
there was no clear-cut winner – “we’re not comparing them,” according to
initiator Orli Ronen – some municipalities fared better than
“Most of the data was actually supplied by the cities
themselves. The cities were very cooperative,” Ronen told The Jerusalem
. “They are doing a good job – that’s something that needs to be said. These
22 cities are the leading cities, cities that have an environmental policy. What
we’re evaluating is how progressive that policy is.”
The 10 categories
examined were energy, public participation, environmental management,
environmental and social justice, open spaces, sustainability education, water,
waste separation, city biking, and local economy.
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In terms of energy, the
indexers looked at overall conservation, efficiency and climate preservation
trends, explained Ronen, who is the deputy director of the Heschel Center and
director of the Local Sustainability Center.
The public participation
category considered the presence of environmental municipal groups and the
growth of community gardens, while checking for “open spaces” mostly meant
examining the prevalence of trees in each city, according to Ronen.
checked the number of trees per resident,” she said, noting that Tel Aviv did
the best in this category, with one tree per two residents.
sustainability education, the indexers looked at whether schools had received
Environmental Protection Ministry certification, the number of public events on
sustainability, and progress in implementing a “health for all” policy, Ronen
The water category focused on conservation, and the waste
separation section asked cities if they had master plans for waste management
and if they had already implemented pilot programs to test them, Ronen
The biking category looked for the presence of bike lanes and
policy supporting biking as a “major transportation vehicle,” and the local
economy section looked primarily at the municipalities’ efforts to promote local
Collectively, the cities performed worst in
environmental administration, environmental and social justice, and local
economy, and the most promising categories were water conservation and the use
of renewable energies, according to Ronen.
The 22 cities that were
included in the index were Eilat, Ashdod, Bat Yam, Givatayim, Dimona, Herzliya,
Holon, Haifa, Yavne, Yokneam, Yeroham, Jerusalem, Kfar Saba, Modi’in, Ness
Ziona, Netanya, Arad, Petah Tikva, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Ra’anana and Tel
Tel Aviv may have received the most green smiley faces on the
chart, but Ronen stressed that this was no indication that the city was the
winner because the study was far from complete.
“Even if Tel Aviv is very
green at this point, there are a lot of things we didn’t look at like public
transportation,” she said. “Maybe if we looked at that Tel Aviv wouldn’t have
gotten as many points.”
Some of those she considered the best performers,
however, were Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba, Ra’anana, Bat Yam and Yeroham, and she
praised the energy policies in Ashdod.
Among the worst, she named Rehovot
– for not “doing much” – and Netanya, a city that “is looking at expansion and
continual growth, which is counter to sustainability.”
Other cities with
leading green policies not included in this index – such as Beersheba and Ramat
Gan – will be included in future studies, according to Ronen.
just the beginning,” she said, acknowledging that the data was still very
partial. “We will be developing it and expanding it more and more.”
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