(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Nine local authorities have been chosen as the most environmentally friendly for 2009 by the Cleantech 13 board as part of World Environment Day activities, and ahead of the annual Cleantech exhibition to be held at the end of June at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
The local authorities were: Eilat, Yokne'am, Kfar Saba, Ma'aleh Adumim, Ramat Hasharon, Lehavim and Shoham, along with regional councils Mateh Asher and Misgav. They will be awarded their prizes at the Cleantech Exhibition on June 29-30, which brings together local and international companies to display their wares in the fields of water, alternative energy, "green" building and more.
A special 10th prize was also awarded to the Eretz Ahavati organization, which promotes preservation of open spaces.
Last year, authorities were judged on their parks and green spaces. This year, the criteria were widened considerably. The criteria for winning were water conservation, recycling, use of alternative energy, sewage treatment, and environmental education.
Representatives of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), the Manufacturers Association, and the editors of Green Gardens and representatives of the public chose the winners.
"Modern cities around the world recycle about 70 percent of the waste they produce and in Israel - less than five percent," Mashov CEO Haim Alush said in a statement. Mashov is producing Cleantech 13.
"The time has come to support and strengthen the cities that act for the future alongside the present. Through this year's contest, we wanted to recognize those who know how to deal with the water shortage, know how to protect the environment alongside a high standard of living and who are committed to protecting a beautiful and green Israel."
These nine authorities stand out even more when compared to the general trend in Israeli municipal efforts. While some can boast individual initiatives, most have not made concerted efforts to clean up or prevent environmental problems. Air pollution in the major metropolises is continually getting worse and few, if any, municipalities invest much time and energy in preventive maintenance of sewage systems, for example.
Arab sector locales are still struggling to meet basic environmental protection needs, like hooking up all the houses to the sewage system.
The judges praised Yokne'am, in the North, for cutting its water usage by 18% through reductions in gardening and municipal buildings. They also praised the city for weathering the transition from local council to municipality while maintaining a high standard of environmentalism for its residents.
Ramat Hasharon managed to finally force the closure of the Pi Glilot oil and gas depot as well as install an advanced sewage purification system. Kfar Saba has adopted environmentalism as its byword and has become a "green city" in which environmental concerns are considered in nearly every aspect of municipal decision making, the judges wrote.
Eilat has managed to educate its residents, the hotels and the tourists to a culture of sustainability, while local authority Lehavim, in the northern Negev, is the only one in the country to meet all of its gardening needs from treated sewage water. The judges also noted the efforts to encourage residents to recycle.
Shoham was a "green settlement with a green council," which was one of the few to develop a green master plan and only one of three to receive ISO 140001 environmental management certification. Shoham's schools were also cited for their green curriculums.
Similarly, Ma'aleh Adumim was praised for its ISO 140001 standard, its water-saving initiatives, environmental education and commitment to cleanliness and green spaces.
Finally, regional authorities Misgav and Mateh Asher were cited for a series of commendable actions, including waste removal and recycling.
Mateh Asher has an environmental master plan which it is constantly pushing forward, and Misgav attempts to move ever closer to becoming a "sustainable settlement," according to the judges.