Nonprofit Venatata wins NIS 1m. in Toyota Israel's Earth Israel Prize

The prize money will be allocated towards Venatata's 100 Gardens Project, which aims to establish 100 therapeutic gardens across Israel.

The Toyota logo (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)
The Toyota logo
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

Israel's official importer of Toyota, Union Motors, has awarded the nonprofit Venatata the NIS 1 million prize for winning its Israel Earth Prize competition.

Venatata secured the top spot in the competition with their innovative solutions to tackle environmental issues, with a focus on promoting sustainable charges for a better society and a cleaner, safer and more accessible world. The committee specifically noted Venatata for its commitment to realizing the forest-city vision in Israel.

The prize money will be allocated towards the organization's 100 Gardens Project. This initiative aims to establish 100 therapeutic gardens across rehabilitation centers in Israel to help those in need, including the elderly, Holocaust survivors, PTSD patients, sexual assault victims, at-risk youth and individuals dealing with mental health issues.

Ventata has stated its belief in the importance of bringing nature into the city and is actively planting trees in city centers and communities to create greener spaces.

The winner of the prize was announced at a special gala event at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

THE ISRAEL MUSEUM. (credit: TIMOTHY HURSLEY)THE ISRAEL MUSEUM. (credit: TIMOTHY HURSLEY)

Also attending the event was Japanese Ambassador to Israel Koichi Mizushima, Toyota Motor Europe president and CEO Matt Harrison as well as Toyota executives from Israel and Europe, the six finalists and members of the Selection Committee. 

"Personally, I have had the good fortune to visit Israel many times over the past 15 years and experienced the beauty of this wonderful county," Harrison said at the event. "At Toyota, we strive to be not only an automaker but also to be a company of Mobility for All. Being a significant mobility company means that we want to facilitate freedom of movement, safety, welfare and ensure a better and brighter future for society.

"At Toyota, we strive to be not only an automaker but also to be a company of Mobility for All. Being a significant mobility company means that we want to facilitate freedom of movement, safety, welfare and ensure a better and brighter future for society."

Matt Harrison

"Our commitment is to achieve this through environmental responsibility that is inclusive and accessible to all and, of course, by providing the safety, quality and reliability that represents the Toyota brand."

During the final stages of the event, Toyota Israel and Europe executives, alongside representatives from the selection committee and initiatives, were honored guests at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog congratulated and praised Toyota for their significant contribution to the initiative.

What is Toyota's Israel Earth Prize?

In September last year, Toyota Israel launched the Israel Earth Prize competition as part of a broader, multi-year initiative coinciding with the company's 30th anniversary in the country.

This competition, which seeks to promote sustainability, innovation and responsibility, is being supported by Union Motors, which has vowed to provide at least NIS 5 million over the next five years to fund and promote innovative solutions for improving the Israeli environment. 

The competition is open to initiatives across a wide range of fields, including carbon emissions reduction, conservation, sustainable transportation, climate crisis management, circular economy, urban sustainability, sustainable fashions and sustainable food. The goal is to recognize and support creative, dedicated efforts to build a better world and society.

More than 200 organizations, nonprofits, start-ups and academic institutions that are actively engaged in promoting environmental causes applied. 

After careful consideration, the panel of judges selected six finalists, including Song of the Grasses, a project under the Good Energy Initiative that measures and sells the environmental value generated by renewable farmers, benefiting dozens of farmers while preserving agricultural land in Israel.

Another finalist, THEMO, created by the University of Haifa, comprises buoys equipped with advanced monitoring technology that helps researchers tackle important questions regarding the warming of the Mediterranean Sea.

Agma's City River Revitalization project, in partnership with Haira, aims to transform The Ga'aton River into a public asset for the city of Nahariya and the entire State of Israel.

The start-up Carbon Blue aims to develop technology to capture carbon dioxide from the environment and protect marine ecosystems.

Additionally, Sea Trail, a 240-kilometer trail down the length of the Mediterranean, was designed to promote eco-tourism, leisure and sports activities while connecting people to their homeland and heritage.

In the end, the prize went to Venatata.

Founded in 2019, Ventata aims to transform urban spaces into green havens. Through planting trees, establishing therapeutic gardens and promoting a culture of conservation, Ventata says it is attempting to create a sustainable future for people and the planet.

With a focus on carbon storage, soil regeneration and economic growth, the organization says its efforts are designed to contribute to climate balance and clean air.

In addition to promoting environmental health, Venatata has also said it is dedicated to improving mental health through the creation of therapeutic gardens. 

Its flagship project, the 100 Gardens Project, seeks to establish 100 such gardens at rehabilitation centers across Israel.

Who is on the committee?

The committee responsible for judging the prestigious environmental award is composed of a diverse group of individuals including academics, government officials and environmental activists. 

Its makeup is as follows: 

  • Prof. Ophira Ayalon, an esteemed researcher and lecturer at the University of Haifa's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
  • Ron Gonen, CEO and founder of New York-based investment firm Closed Loop 
  • Hana Rado, a social business entrepreneur who promoted gender equality and employment growth in Israel's periphery
  • Dr. Muhammad al-Nabari, former head of the Hura Local Council who has experience in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Elie Wurtman, founding partner and CEO of venture capital fund PICO Venture Partners
  • Prof. Vered Blass, a lacturer and researcher at Tel Aviv University's Department of Environmental Studies

The second Israel Earth Prize contest opens for submissions in July 2023. Visit www.israelearthprize.toyota.co.il to submit an application to win the NIS 11 million prize.