Environmental achievements, failures cited by Life and Environment

Organization's Green Globes and Black Globes for this year to be announced Thursday night.

dead sea works 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])
dead sea works 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])
While impoverished Dimona has begun a green revamp, and local organizations fought off developers to push for a better future, the government of Israel failed to conserve the country's water supply. For its efforts, Dimona will receive a Green Globe award this year. For its failure, the government of Israel will receive a Black Globe award. Life and Environment, the umbrella organization of environmental organizations in Israel, announced the winners of its sixth annual Green Globes awards ahead of the official ceremony on Thursday night. The environmental movement's "Oscars" single out people and organizations in government, business and in society who have contributed significantly during the previous year. The organization also awards one or two Black Globes each year to those who have damaged the country's natural resources. This year, the organization awarded eight green globes and two black globes to companies, municipalities, civil servants and volunteers. In the category of biggest environmental achievement of the year, the award goes to the Forum to Advance the Clean Air Act. The Forum is comprised of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED), Citizens for the Environment in the Galilee, the Public Health Coalition, Life and Environment, Green Course, The Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership, Hasviva, Zalul and Transport - Today and Tomorrow. The Clean Air Act, which was passed in 2008, represents landmark environmental legislation in Israel. The forum brought together environmental NGOs, in conjunction with the social-environmental caucus and the chairman of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee in the Knesset to fight to get the bill passed. The forum's new goal is to ensure the full implementation of the law. The Dimona Municipality won the award for urban sustainability for implementing sustainable urban planning. Dimona launched its initiative in 2005 and since then a new neighborhood was built to fit in with the natural environment rather than just sit upon it. Some 450 civil servants have undergone courses, the city was awarded ISO 14000 status for environmental management, and environmental education is part of the curriculum from kindergarten through high school. Many more projects are planned including recycling, a water corporation, bike paths and more. The Afek Elementary School in Rosh Ha'ayin won a Green Globe for 10 years of pioneering efforts in environmental education. Afek teaches environmentalism as a subject in and of itself, while also integrating it into other subjects. Pupils have embarked on a range of environmental projects in the community. Life and Environment also recognized the efforts of local organization Achla - Quality of Life For the Residents of the Sharon and their success in dealing with the Sharon industrial area. Finding flaws in a plan to build in the abandoned and polluted area, local residents, led by Ronny Rom, convinced a court to order an environmental impact study of the area before any construction began. The entire organization is comprised of volunteers including its head, Rom. In the business category, Magic Ceramic took home an award for 10 years of manufacturing water-saving devices for faucets. The company sold 250,000 last year and if every household installed them, the savings would equal one large desalination plant or 100 million cubic meters per year, according to Life and Environment. The devices themselves are made by people with special needs, in line with the company's philosophy. Valerie Brachia, deputy director-general for policy and planning at the Environmental Protection Ministry, will take home a Green Globe in 2009 for bringing environmental planning to Israel. Since helping to found the Environmental Preservation Service in the Interior Ministry in the mid-1970s, Brachia has fought to make environmental considerations an active part of national planning, and the latest national plans do, in fact, give due consideration to environmental issues. Arnon Goren will be awarded a Green Globe for volunteerism for his work with "green basins" and attempts to save the mountain aquifer from contamination. Goren works to promote a plan to save the mountain aquifer by pairing Israeli and Palestinian villages to work together to purify their wastewater. One method of treating sewage to tertiary levels is the green-basin process, which uses water-purifying plant life to break down pollutants. The project is run by IPCRI in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Peres Center for Peace, along with local organizations. Life and Environment also decided to make special mention of Dame Shirley Porter, benefactor of the Porter School for Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. On the losing side, both the Central Bottling Company and the Israeli government will both be awarded Black Globes on Thursday night. The Central Bottling Company owns shares, along with other bottling companies, in the recycling corporation Elah. Elah failed to meet its recycling goals this year (or in any year) and therefore 600,000,000 bottles which should have been recycled since 2004 were not. The company is also resisting efforts to expand the Deposit Law to include 1.5 liter bottles, according to Life and Environment and IUED. If the government had budgeted the Water Commission's master plan in 2005, which had called for a 20-30% reduction in water usage each year, by now 400 million cubic meters of water could have been saved, according to SPNI figures. As a result of that failure, Israel is in a much more precarious place in the face of the ongoing water crisis, and the Black Globe is being bestowed on the government for its lack of foresight.