Israeli companies can now claim grant to promote sustainable practices

Up to NIS 100,000 can be claimed from the Strategic Affairs Ministry to showcase ethical practices within Israel's business community.

The Ofaimme Farm restaurant at Beit Hansen in Jerusalem, on February 7, 2018. The Ofaimme Farm for sustainable agriculture was established in Moshav Idan, in the Southern Arava district, and has two restaurants and shops in Jerusalem. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
The Ofaimme Farm restaurant at Beit Hansen in Jerusalem, on February 7, 2018. The Ofaimme Farm for sustainable agriculture was established in Moshav Idan, in the Southern Arava district, and has two restaurants and shops in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
Businesses in Israel can now receive grants in order to publish reports demonstrating the environmental and social benefits they bring to society, thanks to a new governmental initiative.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry has earmarked NIS 3 million for the "Impact Nation" initiative, with companies being able to bid for up to NIS 100,000 each to produce Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reports.
The aim of the initiative is twofold: It comes as part of a broader strategy to encourage Israeli business to promote and implement ethical business practices, but also as a counter to actions which have aimed to discredit Israeli businesses among the international community.
In February, the UN's Human Rights Council published a blacklist of 112 companies operating in Israel that they claimed were engaging in unethical business practices by operating in areas over pre-1967 lines in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
In response, Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the UN of being a servant and accomplice to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The list was unprecedented in that it was the first time companies had a black mark placed against them for operating within a particular geographic area.
Commenting on the launch of the Impact Nation initiative, Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said the grant would "add value to Israeli companies, which is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic, and will further strengthen Israel’s reputation against efforts to delegitimize it.”
The initiative also acknowledges that ethical investment is a growing trend internationally that Israel, so far, has been slow to adopt. Globally, investments based on ethical considerations such as welfare, the environment, health, education and employment were estimated at $30.7 trillion in 2018, yet the field is still considered to be in its infancy in Israel.
This despite the fact that many Israeli companies already naturally promote the goals laid out under the UN's 2015 “Sustainable Development Goals” strategic plan within their work.
That document set out sustainable business practices within sectors such as clean water, poverty eradication, innovation and infrastructure, clean energy, access to health services, reducing inequality and more. The Strategic Affairs Ministry hopes that the grants will enable companies to formally lay out their achievements in ESG reports for the public and investors alike, raising the profile of the ethical actions they are already taking.
"I see great value in promoting this first-of-its kind government initiative to encourage ethical financial reporting of companies in the State of Israel," Farkash-Hacohen said.
"Israel is filled with businesses which promote many values such as social integration, technology, innovation, environment, health, education and more," she said. "'Impact Reporting' is gaining steam throughout the world, and it is important that Israeli business take part as well. During this period, I see great importance in showcasing Israel not only as the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ but also as the ‘Impact Nation.’"
The grants are available to companies who have not published ESG reports within the past two years and meet the threshold. Applications can be submitted from October 13 until November 27. The ministry's Committee for the Encouragement of the Publication of ESG Reports will examine all applications received, in accordance with the terms published on the ministry website.
Inquiries can be directed to grants@pmo.gov.il, and the government's portal for applications is at https://www.gov.il/he/departments/general/merkava-portal-supports