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INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ISRAEL


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INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available  

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available  

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Since the 1990s, environmental aspects have been incorporated at an early stage of the planning process into regional and national plans, in addition to environmental assessment of detailed plans of specific projects under the Planning and Building Law of 1965 and the Planning and Building Regulations of 1982, which deal with Environmental Impact Statements for all major development activities, at national, district and local levels.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available  

Programmes and Projects   

Following the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development, sustainable development policy was further integrated into Israel's environmental management program. The Ministry of the Environment is formulating a comprehensive sustainable development programme in conjunction with government ministries, local authorities, industry, academics and non-governmental organizations.

Status 

Israel today has become a densely populated nation, in which 92% of its 5 million inhabitants live in an area which covers only 40% of the land area, concentrated in the coastal area. Since 1989, there has been a large influx of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. This phenomena, together with the peace process and the rapid rate of industrial development in Israel, has resulted in the drawing up of a national long-range master plan for the 21st century - "Israel 2020", prepared under the auspices of the Ministries of Housing and the Interior as well as the Jewish Agency Settlement Department, the Israel Lands Administration, and involving the Ministries of Finance, Education Culture, and Transport. Israel 2020 was to be completed and submitted to the Government in 1997, with the aim of preparing comprehensive strategic documents as a framework for national plans for the next 20 years. Environmental considerations form an integral part of the master plan, which deals with sustainable development policies for various sectors, including transport, energy, the urban sector, tourism, agriculture and open spaces.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

In November 1996, an Agreement relative to the Coastal Areas Management Programme for Israel was signed between the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan and Israel, constituting a three-year intensive program of coastal zone management. The main objective of this Programme is the development of a sustainable development strategy for Israel, by initiating dialogue with all sectors of Israel's economy (energy, industry, transportation, tourism, etc.). The inauguration of the Programme initiated a public debate, beginning with a seminar on a sustainable development strategy for Israel.

Israel is a party to several regional agreements which touch on issues related to sustainable development. Within the framework of the multilateral peace talks for regional cooperation in the Middle East, the Working Group on the Environment has achieved consensus on several concrete projects designed to promote environmental projects in the region and encourage the integration of environment and development into the decision-making process on a regional level, where applicable. These include, for example: the Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba between Israel, Egypt and Jordan, with the aid of the European Union; a regional action plan involving Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to control natural resource degradation and desertification, coordinated by the World Bank; endorsement by all 41 delegates to the October 1994 Working Group on the Environment held in Bahrain, of the Environmental Code of Conduct for the Middle East. The Code sets common guidelines and norms which will govern the development policies of each state in a manner which will not have an adverse impact on the environment of neighboring countries.

As part of the Middle East peace process and the bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, environmental components were incorporated within the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Washington 1993. Amongst several bilateral agreements for environmental cooperation with a number of countries, Israel has agreements with Egypt (1993) and Jordan (1995).

Israel is an active member of the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan, together with 21 other Mediterranean countries, and served as one of the vice presidents of the UNEP/MAP Bureau 1995-1997.

A major focus of the development of shared resources in the Middle East is the Jordan Rift valley. Israel and Jordan have begun an integrated program of regional planning and pre-investment studies, including environmental impact assessment on key proposed subjects.

 

 

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This information is based on Israel's submission to the 5th and 9th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: April 1997.

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MAJOR GROUPS

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SCIENCE

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INFORMATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Environment is responsible for catalyzing the collection, analysis, management and dissemination of information and data related to sustainable development. Other ministries involved include the Ministries of:

The Environmental Planning Division in the Ministry of the Environment coordinates the flow and management of information on sustainable development. The Division has a special coordinator who coordinates studies, reviews and strategies on sustainable development in all relevant agencies. Inter-ministerial committees on sustainable development in industry, energy, transport, tourism, agriculture, urban sector and biodiversity have prepared draft documents on each of the subjects. These documents have been disseminated as information documents among decision makers in different sectors and have helped increase awareness.  

A National Council for the Environment in Israel was founded in September 2000 based on a 1999 government decision.  The Council is composed of 75 volunteer representatives from all segments of society and is chaired by the Minister of the Environment. The Council will work by means of six subcommittees, one of which will be dedicated to sustainable development.  Tasks of the Council will include, inter alia, forums for discussion among government representatives, public organizations, the private, business and academic sectors and presentation of a report on the state of the environment in Israel to the government.

The Environmental Planning Division in the Ministry of the Environment coordinates the flow and management of information on sustainable development. The Division has a special coordinator who coordinates studies, reviews and strategies on sustainable development in all relevant agencies. Inter-ministerial committees on sustainable development in industry, energy, transport, tourism, agriculture, urban sector and biodiversity have prepared draft documents on each of the subjects. These documents have been disseminated as information documents among decision makers in different sectors and have helped increase awareness.  

A National Council for the Environment in Israel was founded in September 2000 based on a 1999 government decision.  The Council is composed of 75 volunteer representatives from all segments of society and is chaired by the Minister of the Environment. The Council will work by means of six subcommittees, one of which will be dedicated to sustainable development.  Tasks of the Council will include, inter alia, forums for discussion among government representatives, public organizations, the private, business and academic sectors and presentation of a report on the state of the environment in Israel to the government.

Authority for information management is largely concentrated at the national level. Local authorities are not currently an integral part in decision-making on information management.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Israel enacted a Freedom of Information Law in 1998. According to this law, every citizen is entitled to receive information from a public authority, subject to a number of restrictions. The law has made information more accessible to the public and has facilitated its flow among different government agencies. All government agencies and ministries have a special delegate to deal with matters related to the flow and management of information.

Environmental Impact Statement Regulations within the framework of the Planning and Building Law are targeted at planning authorities, developers and the general public and provides a framework within which to integrate environmental experts in decision making on planning and development.  The regulations call for EIAs to be prepared according to specific guidelines which ensure that the EIA will be a useful tool to decision makers.

Several laws and regulations include provisions on the flow and management of data and information to relevant authorities, especially provision of reports on environmental monitoring and sampling.  The following represent only some examples of such requirements:

Israel enacted a Freedom of Information Law in 1998. According to this law, every citizen is entitled to receive information from a public authority, subject to a number of restrictions. The law has made information more accessible to the public and has facilitated its flow among different government agencies. All government agencies and ministries have a special delegate to deal with matters related to the flow and management of information.

Environmental Impact Statement Regulations within the framework of the Planning and Building Law are targeted at planning authorities, developers and the general public and provides a framework within which to integrate environmental experts in decision making on planning and development.  The regulations call for EIAs to be prepared according to specific guidelines which ensure that the EIA will be a useful tool to decision makers.

Several laws and regulations include provisions on the flow and management of data and information to relevant authorities, especially provision of reports on environmental monitoring and sampling.  The following represent only some examples of such requirements:

        1972 regulations on the emission of particulate matter into the air under Abatement of Nuisances Law include a requirement to report on emission rates of particulate matter.

        The Water Commissioner is required, under the Water Law of 1959, to present a yearly report to the Economics Committee of the Knesset (Parliament) on water pollution in the country and on the activities taken to prevent it. 

        1994 water regulations on the reduction of salt use in industrial water softening processes require reports to the Minister of the Environment on monitoring and follow up.

        Public health regulations on the sanitary quality of potable water require reports on the results of microbiological and chemical monitoring. 

        The Prevention of Sea Pollution (Dumping of Waste) Law, 1983 and the Prevention of Sea Pollution from Land-Based Sources Law, 1988 regulate the dumping of wastes into the sea by a strict permit system and require reports on quantities and manner of dumping and discharge as well as monitoring results

        Hazardous substances laws and regulations require reporting forms and procedures.  The Hazardous Substances Regulation on the import and export of hazardous wastes of 1994, for example, require reports to the Minister of the Environment on the quantity of hazardous waste imported or exported by a holder of a permit.

Israel is in the initial stages of setting up a program on indicators of sustainable development.  These indicators will communicate environmental information to decision makers about the priorities for policy development and goal setting.  They will provide a gauge by which the Ministry of the Environment can measure its success in implementing policy while pinpointing goals for future achievement.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Indicators of sustainable development are being developed in different frameworks. Within the framework of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD), Israel is part of a regional project for the development of some 130 indicators on sustainable development in the Mediterranean area. It has already prepared dozens of indicators for submission with the assistance of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

The Environmental Policy Research Center of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies is developing a program for indicators of sustainability.

The Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics is advancing an environmental indicators project targeted at publishing some 160 indicators which will present the status of sustainable development and environment in Israel.  Plans are currently being advanced to publish an initial booklet of indicators in the areas of legislation and enforcement, research, hazardous waste, energy production and consumption, transportation, river quality, air pollution, solid waste, and wastewater.

As part of a partnership between the Greek Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works through the University of Athens and the Israel Ministry of the Environment through the Hebrew University of Jerusalem environmental indicators will be developed within the framework of MED ERMIS (Mediterranean Environmental Reporting, Monitoring and Information System).

The Heschel Center, a non-governmental organization, has been given the rights to produce Worldwatch publications in Israel.  In cooperation with the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, and with the sponsorship of the Revson Fund, the Center has begun to produce Worldwatch Papers as well as a translation of Vital Signs with an augmented section on Israel which includes indicators on sustainable development.

It is anticipated that harmonization on a national level will be reached through the assistance of the Central Bureau of Statistics while harmonization on a regional and international level will be reached through cooperation with such institutions as MCSD and CSD.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Scientists are the major group contributing to the collection, assessment, management and dissemination of information and data for decision-makers in the field of the environment. Several universities and research centers are actively involved in these subjects.

Indigenous people are involved in much lower capacity. They have cooperated with non-governmental organizations and universities in the development of knowledge on several topics, one of which is the medicinal use of native plants.

Non-governmental organizations take an active role in the collection, assessment, management and dissemination of information and data for decision making for sustainable development.

The private sector is involved in providing information at local and national levels. Decision-makers may commission research papers and reports from the private sector. In addition, industries are required to provide information on monitoring, stack sampling, quantities of hazardous materials, pollutant emissions and means utilized to prevent pollution to national authorities. This information is an important means of surveying the quality of the environment in Israel, assessing environmental trends and drafting new policies/legislation. 

Major groups were consulted in the development of an information system for sustainable development, especially members of the scientific and academic community as well as experts in electronic communication systems.  These are also involved in the development of Israelís indicator program for sustainable development. In preparing its sustainable development strategies, target groups met to prepare documents for different sectors using the consensus building approach.  Discussions were conducted within a round table framework with the participation of all stakeholders including NGOs, academics, experts in different fields and public and private enterprise. Israeli experts served as facilitators for each of the target groups and helped formulate conclusions and recommendations.  

Programmes and Projects 

Israel is developing and using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The Environment Ministryís Information Division has been using the GIS as a planning and information tool since 1998 and has developed a GIS which contains over 25 layers of information for the country. This has allowed for the development of a database for several sectors.

A remote Sensing Support for Analysis of Coasts (RESSAC) project was launched in 1998, within the framework of the European Commission Programme on Environment and Climate.  Its purpose was to demonstrate the advantages of integrating remote sensing techniques with other sources of information to improve knowledge and understanding of environmental conditions in Mediterranean coastal areas and help develop a sound database for management systems.

The National Air Quality Monitoring Network of the Ministry of the Environment provides real-time information on air quality throughout the country. Monitoring networks also exist in the areas of groundwater, surface water, river and coastal water quality.

The Central Bureau of Statistics is continuing to collate, analyze and upgrade information in all areas and a special department on the environment has been set up.  Data in the form of tables and graphs is available on the Internet.

Significant efforts are currently being invested in developing environmental and sustainable development indicators in Israel. The intention is to present all data on the Internet as well as in publications.

Major programs include the following:

1)      Development of indicators on sustainability.

2)      Upgrading and improvement of the GIS system.

3)      Preparation of a national report on sustainable development which integrates national information on environment and development.

4)      Development of methods of data assessment in the field of sustainable development.

5)      Strengthening programs in the public and private sectors and in universities which deal with the collection, assessment and dissemination of traditional/indigenous knowledge and know-how.

Information services at local levels include the local media.  NGOs and grassroots organizations play an important role in providing information services at this level.

The Ministry of the Environment is strengthening its own electronic networking capabilities to advance communication and promote information sharing in all areas of environmental concern. Internet sites of the Ministry of the Environment and of major environmental NGOs in Israel include links to additional information both in Israel and abroad. They cover all areas of sustainable development and environment.

Status 

The network on sustainable development is part of the environmental information network of the Ministry of the Environment. Information is collected from government sources, NGOs, universities and the private sector.  Information is disseminated by means of special publications, annual reports, quarterlies and the Internet. An interministerial information network on sustainable development does not exist at this stage.

Since information on sustainable development in Israel is relatively recent, accessibility and level of use are not yet adequate to meet the commercial, private and public sector needs and demands. Nevertheless, written reports on sustainable development in different sectors have been prepared and disseminated, and study days have been held with the aim of introducing the subject into different sectors. Since information on sustainable development in Israel is relatively recent, accessibility and level of use are not yet adequate to meet the commercial, private and public sector needs and demands. Nevertheless, written reports on sustainable development in different sectors have been prepared and disseminated, and study days have been held with the aim of introducing the subject into different sectors.

Indicators on sustainable development are in initial stages of preparation.  They should serve planning, assessment and research needs.  Specifically, they will will be used to increase awareness and understanding of current conditions and potential problems, they will inform decision-makers about priorities and goals for policy development and future directions for funding and research, and they will facilitate an understanding of current trends.

The availability and quality of sustainable development information at the national level can be summarized as follows:

TABLE

Agenda 21 Chapters
Very
good
Good
Some good
data but
many gaps
Poor
Remarks
2. International cooperation and trade
X
3. Combating poverty
X
4. Changing consumption patterns
X
5. Demographic dynamics and sustainability
6. Human health
X
7. Human settlements
X
8. Integrating E & D in decision-making
X
9. Protection of the atmosphere
X
10. Integrated planning and management of land resources
X
11. Combating deforestation
X
12. Combating desertification and drought
X
13. Sustainable mountain development
X
14. Sustainable agriculture and rural development
X
15. Conservation of biological diversity
X
16. Biotechnology
X
17. Oceans, seas, coastal areas and their living resources
X
18. Freshwater resources
X
19. Toxic chemicals
X
20. Hazardous wastes
X
21. Solid wastes
X
22. Radioactive wastes
X
24. Women in sustainable development
X
25. Children and youth
X
26. Indigenous people
X
27. Non-governmental organizations
X
28. Local authorities
X
29. Workers and trade unions
X
30. Business and industry
X
31. Scientific and technological community
X
32. Farmers
X
33. Financial resources and mechanisms
X
34. Technology, cooperation and capacity-building
X
35. Science for sustainable development
X
36. Education, public awareness and training
X
37. International cooperation for capacity-building
X
38. International institutional arrangements
X
39. International legal instruments
X
40. Information for decision-making
X

Challenges

Flow and management of information need to be improved in some areas, including transportation and energy. There is also a need to integrate existing information, currently dispersed among several bodies, into an integrated database of information.

Weak segments of the population have the greatest need for improved access to information. Similarly, geographically dispersed areas, especially the southern region of Israel, the Negev, needs improved access to information.

The major challenges are institutional and financial rather than technical. Limited funds and lack of personnel are the major limiting factors in the development of a national information system. The institutional challenge is linked to inadequate public awareness of sustainable development issues.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

The Ministry of the Environment and the main environmental NGOs in Israel are involved in a process of promoting use of information on sustainable development. Publications, press releases to the media and the Internet are used to promote public interest on sustainable development. Special study days on sustainable development in different sectors have been held in recent years during which written material was distributed.

Two main kinds of programs exist for capacity building:

1)      Training programs for employees of government agencies.

2)      Specific projects within the framework of the Ministry of the Environment which include staff training.

Non-governmental organizations have also promoted training programs to build capacity. For example, the Heschel Center has established an Environmental Fellows Program to build leadership capacity, assists other environmental organizations to enhance their effectiveness through better networking and sharing of ideas.

Information 

Potential users can locate information on sustainable development on the Internet site of the Environment Ministry, the central site for data and information on sustainable development. The site, http://www.environment.gov.il is linked to other relevant sites, including sites of the main Israeli NGOs active in the field of environment. The site will be upgraded during the course of 2001.

Research and Technologies 

The Geographical Information System (GIS) is being improved and upgraded. The Environment Ministryís Planning Division has been using the GIS as a planning tool since 1988 and has developed a GIS which contains about 25 layers of information for the country, the average scale being 1:50,000 meters.

In addition, satellite-based remote sensing technologies have been used increasingly to improve methods of data collection, especially with regard to the sustainable development of the Mediterranean coast of Israel and open spaces throughout the country.

Geographical Information System are used in numerous fields including solid waste, open spaces, river contamination, air pollution, hazardous substances, noise and others. Remote sensing techniques have been used to improve knowledge of environmental conditions in the Mediterranean coastal area and to help develop a sound database for management systems. Models have been used in a variety of areas including noise assessment, air pollution, groundwater quality research, climate change scenarios, etc. 

Israelís needs relate to methodologies for improving the quality of information available on the Internet and for adapting different types of information to different types of users.  Israelís needs relate to methodologies for improving the quality of information available on the Internet and for adapting different types of information to different types of users. 

Financing 

Specific information is not available.  The initial collection, analysis and dissemination of information on sustainable development was supported by the Coastal Area Management Program (CAMP Israel) of the Mediterranean Action Plan, UNEP.  Additional money has been allocated by the national budget. Various private funds have provided funding to non-governmental environmental organizations for the collection and publication of material on sustainable development as well.

The Ministry of the Environment is allocating funds for improving the national information system, and especially the Internet network.

Cooperation

Israel has taken an active part in different working groups operating under the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD). It is also part of the Mediterranean initiative on the development of indicators on sustainable development. In addition, as an active partner of the Mediterranean Action Plan is has taken a significant part in all components of the plan, including legislation and planning.  

Israel has signed several bilateral agreements on environmental and sustainable development issues. Bilateral agreements were signed with the United States (1991), Germany (1993), Egypt (1993), Spain (1993), Turkey (1994), England (1997), and several other states.  In addition, the peace agreement signed with Jordan in 1994 contains clauses on information exchange on environmental subjects and on sustainable development.

Cooperation is implemented through the following:

1)      The bilateral and multilateral agreements signed by Israel which relate to cooperation in the transfer of technologies, among other subjects.

2)       The Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organizes courses in Israel for participants in other countries. Several of the courses deal with development and management of national information systems. For example, in 1999, tailor made courses were developed for African and Asian countries, in cooperation with UNESCO, on such subjects as information retrieval and Internet-based systems and establishing and running large scale Internet-based services.

Israel is participating in the MCSD program on indicators of sustainable development.  Within this framework, links will be established between information systems/indicator programs at national and international levels.

 

 

 

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This information is based on Israels submission to the 5th and 9th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: March 2001.

For a direct link to the National Statistics Office of Israel, click here:

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INTERNATIONAL LAW

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Israel hosted an Expert Meeting on Synergies among the Rio Conventions, supported by the Governments of Israel, Japan, Denmark, and also by UNDP, to elucidate the links between the Convention on Biodiversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Forest Principles, and correspondingly to detect the overlaps, convergencies and synergies between these Instruments.

The meeting pointed at some means for attaining synergy: (a) identification of a national "entry point" - a dryland country will focus its efforts in combating desertification and use it as an "entry point" for addressing also the other conventions, whereas a country with much forested area will use the Forest Principles as an entry point; (b) establishing a coordinating mechanism between the national focal points of each of the conventions, as well as between the conventions' secretariats; (c) identification of indicators that apply to the assessment of progress in all instruments, establishment of a monitoring system and harmonizing the information gathering and analysis procedures, to enable the quantification of progress made towards sustainable development in the implementation of the conventions, and (d) use of this analysis for non-overlapping, shared, streamlined reporting.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

The following is a list of major agreements and conventions entered into and relevant to Agenda 21, but not covered elsewhere in this report:

 

 

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This information is based on Israel's submission to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.


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