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NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ISRAEL

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AGRICULTURE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Israel established a Ministry of Environment in 1992, largely in response to the recognition that more than fifty percent of the land area of Israel would become among the most densely populated in the world. The Ministry of the Environment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, is responsible for issues related to agriculture and sustainable development, including long-term strategies at the national level; medium-term tactics at regional and district levels; and short-term operatives at regional, community and private levels.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Pesticide control is governed by several legislative tools under the responsibility of different enforcement authorities:

The Plant Protection Law, 1956, grants the Minister of Agriculture authority, following consultation with an advisory interdisciplinary committee, to regulate the import, sale, distribution and packaging of pesticides, fertilizers and other materials. The law authorizes the Minister of Agriculture to regulate the use of pesticides, to require a permit for their use, to promulgate regulations on the safe use of pesticides and to forbid or limit the use of pesticides deemed dangerous to human health and the environment.

The Animal Diseases Ordinance, designed to prevent the spread of animal diseases, is under the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture. Regulations dealing with chemical preparations for the control of animal diseases were promulgated under this law in 1982 while regulations stipulating prohibitions and means of treating abattoir waste and carcasses were promulgated in 1981.

Public Health Regulations dealing with pesticide residues in food were promulgated in 1991. The regulations, under the responsibility of the Minister of Health, establish standards for maximum permissible levels of pesticides in food products.

The Hazardous Substances Law, 1993, which establishes, inter alia, Poison Permit requirements for all businesses dealing with hazardous materials, has paved the way for more efficient supervision of pesticide storehouses throughout the country.

Water Regulations promulgated in 1991 prohibit the rinsing of sprayers of chemical and/or biological substances into water sources and forbid aerial spraying of such substances for agricultural purposes near a water source.

The Public Health Ordinance of 1940, which authorizes the Ministry of the Environment to eliminate nuisances from the confines of a local authority, and Licensing of Businesses regulations, which incorporate conditions on the environmentally-sound operations of dairy farms and rendering plants, provide additional legislative tools in the control of pollution arising from improper agricultural practices.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The State of Israel has established a national policy on sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD). This policy aims to deal with:

  1. Increasing environmental awareness in the rural sector and in related bodies.
  2. Freshwater supply: since Israel's freshwater potential will be targeted to the urban sector in the future, development of marginal water sources and wastewater will be essential in order to supply agricultural needs in the long term. While wastewater can and should be used in agriculture throughout the country, wastewater quality must be adapted to each specific use. Precautions must be taken to assure a suitable quality of effluent in the highly sensitive central region of the country above the coastal aquifer in order to minimize potentially adverse effects on soil and groundwater. Effluent, fertilizer and pesticide use should be determined according to the sensitivity of soils and groundwater to pollution.
  3. Utilization of wastewater and sludge in agriculture should be based on potential risks to humans, soil, crops and water sources. The recommended approach takes into account sludge properties and irrigation water quality in combination with geographical-pedological conditions. This approach advocates combined use of wastewater and sludge in the region where they are generated along with their transport to regions where they are needed on a year round basis and adjustment of treatment levels to designated use.
  4. Pesticide application. At present, several researches and projects are conducted in order to get the data on the impacts of pesticide use on water quality in the region overlying the coastal aquifer. In the short term, resources should be allocated to research and legislation in areas where damage can be minimized. In all cases, farmers are advised to reduce pesticide quantities and develop biological control methods which are environment-friendly.

Minimizing the land areas which will be transferred from agriculture to the urban sector and to maximize the area left for agriculture. The problem is especially acute in the center of the country and in the vicinity of major cities where the preservation of orchards and field crops is an important means of safeguarding essential "green lungs." Agriculture can significantly contribute to environmental conservation and the prevention of urban sprawl in the center of the country.

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

As a world leader in agriculture, Israel depends on irrigation and fertilization to increase its crop yields. The country meets most of its food requirements through domestic production, using about 1.25 million cubic meters of water and over 100,000 tons of fertilizers annually. The result: about 5 million tons of field crops, 1.2 billion liters of milk, 1.6 billion eggs, and 1.2 billion flowers.

The Ministry of the Environment's Agro-Ecology Division deals with the prevention of environmental degradation arising from improper agricultural practices in Israel's rural sector. By means of monitoring, legislation, enforcement, education and guidance, and in cooperation with the farming community, agricultural organizations, research institutes, regional councils and government ministries, the ministry is helping to address the challenge of cultivating high-quality produce which meets both agricultural and environmental and health standards.

Israel's policy calls for the reduction of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture. Means of achieving this target were compiled and summarized by a steering committee on pesticide reduction which presented its report to the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1990.

The State of Israel adopted several policies regarding the use of pesticides in agriculture:

The Plant Protection and Inspection Services in the Ministry of Agriculture are in charge of the registration, regulation and supervision of pesticides. Pesticide use is monitored by three bodies: the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and the Environment. There are 878 registered pesticides in Israel, of which 80 require a special permit along with registration. Of all licensed pesticides in Israel, about 30% are insecticides, 16% fungicides, 22% herbicides, and the remainder molluscicides, rodenticides, bird and mammal repellents, fumigants, materials for post-harvest treatments, wound sealing materials, plant growth regulators, micronutrients, pesticides for home gardens and adjuvants.

The Pesticide Division of the Plant Protection and Inspection Services has established criteria for submitting a toxicology file to the inter-ministerial committee for coordination of pesticide use. The registration of new formulations requires a wide array of toxicity tests. Impact on humans and the environment, for example, is tested in relation to the material's behavior in soil and air and its effect on birds, aquatic organisms, and additional non-target organisms. In recent years, Israel has placed special emphasis on restricting or banning chemicals that were previously authorized for use. Today, all substances included in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure are banned or severely restricted in Israel.

National Maximum Residue Limits have been established for all pesticides in Israel that are based, wherever appropriate, on the Codex Alimentarious Limits. The Ministry of Agriculture supervises and regulates quality and health requirements of exported agricultural produce and cooperates with international bodies on standardization of pesticide tolerance regulations.

The Ministry of the Environment places special importance on reducing the risks of pesticides to the environment. Inspectors play a vital role in both supervising and instructing farmers on environmentally-sound use and storage of pesticides and respond to complaints on improper use and storage. Inspectors integrate enforcement with instruction and supervise pesticide use in several areas: aerial and ground spraying, pesticide warehouses and investigation of citizen complaints.

Land conservation and rehabilitation

At the present, the Division for Land Conservation at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is the main governmental factor dealing with land rehabilitation and conservation. Israel’s primary objective in this issue is to reduce land mining. In order to do so, the Division of Land Conservation is currently drafting guidelines for land-use that will serve as a basis for future regulations and land mining permits.

Agricultural Wastes

Dairy and beef herds account for over 17% of the country's total agricultural production. Dairy farms are located mainly on kibbutzim (collective settlements) where herds average about 300-500 cows, and moshavim (cooperative settlements) where herds consist of about 30-50 cows. While Israel's milk production per cow is the highest in the world, dairy farms are major polluters of the environment. Livestock farms produce substantial amounts of animal sewage which usually finds its way to cesspools and from there to groundwater. Proper treatment, disposal and recycling of the solid and liquid wastes which are generated by dairy and poultry farms require the establishment of appropriate facilities. Due to the severity of the problem, a professional inter-ministerial committee on treatment of animal sewage and waste was set up in 1994 to propose solutions to these problems and to formulate guidelines for planning, operating and maintaining livestock farms including cattle and sheep, water fowl, poultry, pigs and aquaculture. As a result, environmental guidelines were formulated which define the requirements of the Environment Ministry for each sector. These guidelines will form the basis for regulations under the Water Law and for business licensing conditions.

Attention is also being focused on poultry farms which generate more than a million tons of manure annually. Although poultry farms constitute a lesser environmental risk than dairy farms, they generate myriad nuisances which require solutions. A master plan on poultry waste treatment was published in 1996. It calls for the establishment of regional plants for the collection and treatment of this organic waste.

Plastic sheets are widely used in agriculture with some 20,000 tons of plastic sheet waste generated each year. The problem can be solved through recycling, use of degradable plastic and disposal to an authorized waste disposal site. To solve the problem, a master plan was prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the Local Government Center.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

The secret of Israel’s agricultural success lies in the close interaction between farmers and researches because, this strengthens their partnership in developing and applying sophisticated methods in all agricultural branches, as well as technological advancement, new irrigation techniques and innovative agro-mechanical equipment.

Following this principle, the Ministry of the Environment believes that public participation is crucial to the sound development of sustainable agriculture and cooperates not only with other governmental ministries (such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Interior, Industry and Commerce, and Health) but also with local authorities, the private sector, academic institutions and scientists.

In addition, in order to involve the public in the decision making process, people of the agricultural sector are taking an important and direct part in several country-wide projects. For example, in a project concerning the environmental nuisances caused by geese fattening, representatives from the dairy-farming sector have been actively involved.

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

A welcome sign is growing citizen awareness and activism. Complaints from residents living in urban settlements interfacing with farmland and from residents of agricultural settlements themselves regarding pesticide inhalation or skin contact as a result of aerial and ground spraying are spurring action. A 1992 amendment to the Pharmacists Regulations prohibits aerial spraying at a distance of 120 meters from a dwelling or 12 meters from a road. It allows the Minister of the Environment, after consultation with the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, to establish areas in which aerial spraying is absolutely prohibited.

The development of organic agriculture promises further reductions in environmentally-harmful agricultural practices. In 1983, some twenty farmers banded together to form the Israel Bio-Organic Agriculture Association (IBOAA). Today the Association is some 300 growers strong and is a full-fledged member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement. Produce supplied by certified IBOAA growers is cultivated according to rigorous bio-organic principles: soil fertility is maintained through balanced organic nutrition and monitored plant rotation; insects, pests and disease are controlled solely by biological means, such as laboratory-bred natural enemies; produce is never treated after harvesting; and natural resources are carefully conserved. Furthermore, greenhouses are heated only by the sun's rays and water is strictly rationed, using Israel's advanced irrigation techniques.

Programmes and Projects 

Several agriculture development projects have been carried out in Israel, one of them is dealing with a supervised collection and reuse of dairy-farming manure (on the Hula Valley).

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

Some 200,000 hectares of land are sprayed from the air each year. The Ministry of the Environment's inspectors supervise the operations of Israel's four crop spraying companies to ensure that they do not pollute drainage canals, streams, roads and residential areas. Supervision of ground spraying is more difficult due to the sheer magnitude of ground spraying which encompasses both individual farmers and numerous companies throughout the country.

Supervision includes, inter alia, enforcement of water pollution prevention regulations on aerial and ground spraying which are designed to prevent water contamination by pesticides. Enforcement of a 1991 regulation, which forbids aerial spraying of biological and/or chemical substances for agricultural purposes near water sources, has led to investigations and legal actions against spraying companies which circumvented the regulations.

Another 1991 regulation prohibits the emptying or rinsing of pesticide application equipment into a water source, directly or indirectly, and requires the installation and operation of rinsing installations. Enforcement of the regulation has resulted in major improvements, especially in the Lake Kinneret watershed basin where the Kinneret Authority has established rinsing installations for some 20 kibbutzim in the area. A comprehensive program of enforcement and education is helping to change entrenched practices, including the rinsing of sprayers in structures adjacent to water wells.

Israel's airports and secondary landing strips are also subject to routine inspections to ensure that crop sprayers do not contaminate soil, groundwater and air. Landing strips must be properly constructed and equipped, crop spraying companies must rinse and perforate empty containers before transferring them to solid waste disposal sites, and rinsing installations and rinsing equipment must be operated according to the regulations. The regulations require rinsates to be discharged into evaporation ponds or to a rinsing container. In order to reduce the risks of transporting or accumulating rinsates in evaporation ponds, the Ministry of the Environment is promoting on-site treatment facilities which will allow the safe disposal of rinsates to the sewage network.

Biological control, largely pioneered in Kibbutz Sede Eliyahu in the Beit She'an Valley, is currently being implemented in several agricultural areas in Israel. The development and introduction of beneficial natural enemies (e.g., predatory mites, predatory beetles, parasitic wasps) is proving to be a superior alternative to conventional chemical pesticides in terms of long-term effectiveness, cost and safety. Projects include isolation and synthesis of pheromones secreted by insects to trap males and confuse pests in respect to their mating patterns; use of pheromone traps to monitor the number of males as well as the egg-laying period in order to pinpoint the ideal time for spraying; commercial production of the Bacillus t. israelensis (BTI) to control water-breeding insects; use of fungal products to control fungi that cause plant diseases; and release of barn owls to effectively control rodent populations in farming areas.

Agricultural Wastes

Poultry and cow manure, carcasses and abattoir waste, yard waste, plastic materials and crop residues--all constitute agricultural waste. While all are sources of groundwater, air, landscape and nature pollution, they can be converted into environmentally and economically profitable products provided regional collection, transport, compaction and disposal systems are set up.

The total quantity of carcasses and abattoir waste in Israel is estimated at 140,000 tons per year. Proper treatment of this waste is imperative in order to prevent air, soil and water pollution as well as the spread of diseases such as rabies. Today, only one plant is authorized to render both carcasses and slaughterhouse waste; the other eight handle slaughterhouse waste only. Most of the plants that handle slaughterhouse waste do not comply with environmental provisions. In view of the high economic value of this type of waste, an inter-ministerial committee is working on solutions to minimize the number of rendering plants to two or three, in different parts of the country, to make the treatment process more environmentally friendly and to implement recycling. Central plants are expected to replace or merge with existing plants which currently violate the law. As a first step, the rendering plant in the Jezreel Valley has been upgraded thus allowing it to treat a significant portion of the country's carcasses and slaughterhouse waste in an environmentally-friendly manner. Efforts are now being invested in promoting an additional plant for the south of the country.

Accumulated experience has demonstrated that regional systems are best suited to provide environmental infrastructures and services to farmers, on the one hand, and to help dispose of and treat agricultural wastes, on the other hand. Centralized manure collection and transport of agricultural sewage to regional treatment facilities are only some of the measures which are being promoted to deal with the problems generated by the agricultural sector. For this purpose, surveys and masterplans in different parts of the country are being initiated. A prominent example is the "Greener Upper Galilee Project" in which government ministries, local authorities and farmers themselves have banded together in order to tackle such issues as sewage and waste, pesticides and fertilizers, environment-friendly agriculture and education and information. Within this framework, a comprehensive survey of all sources of organic waste in the region was conducted and solutions were recommended for manure collection and recycling from dairy farms. The project received a special boost in 1997 when the European Union, within the framework of its LIFE II program, approved joint funding, in cooperation with the Ministries of the Environment and the Interior, for the establishment of a centralized site for the treatment of organic waste in the Galilee Panhandle.

Status 

Agriculture plays an important part in Israel's economy, representing some 1.9% of the GNP and 7.5% of the country's total exports in 1996. Since Israel attained its independence in 1948, the total area under cultivation has increased from 165,000 hectares to approximately 437,000 hectares, and irrigated land has increased by a factor of 8 to 240,000 hectares. During the same period, agricultural production has expanded 16-fold, more than three times the population growth.

Approximately thirty percent of the total population in the rural areas is employed in agriculture. The general trend in rural areas includes a declining effective labor power working in agriculture and increasing non-agricultural entrepreneurship (from a low percentage to approximately 10% today, with projected increases for the future). The main activities that replace agricultural sustainable activities include tourism, commerce, and services.

The structure of production in Israel includes the "Moshave," which is a private community with cooperative activities; the "Kibutz," full cooperative farming; and a regular system of private farmers. There is a movement of the whole system towards privatization and the "profit centered concept".

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

About 200 pesticide suppliers operate in Israel, and some 3000 pesticide warehouses are dispersed in kibbutzim and moshavim throughout the country. According to the Hazardous Substances Law, anyone dealing with poisons, including pesticide warehouses, is required to hold a Poisons Permit and to operate in accordance with specific instructions. The Ministry of the Environment has prepared detailed instructions on pesticide storage and warehouse maintenance. Permits for storage, marketing and use of pesticides are only granted if instructions are fully observed. Hundreds of pesticide warehouses are inspected each year to check compliance with environmental guidelines and laws.

About 3500 hectares of land are currently used for bio-organic production in Israel, and a number of high-quality organically-grown products, such as carrots, already account for a sizable portion of Israel's agricultural export.

Challenges

Agricultural planning from an environmental perspective must emphasize the sustainable use of non-renewable production factors which are in short supply in Israel: namely, water and soil. Water, as a production factor, will constrict agriculture and/or the composition of agricultural sectors if its price will rise. Extensive use of wastewater will have implications for future agricultural planning based on water quality rather than quantity. Land availability in the central region will be dependent on loss of agricultural land to development.

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

While all pesticide containers in Israel are labeled with specific instructions on frequency and manner of spraying, these directions are inadequately enforced. Farmers often exceed recommended doses or ignore final dates for use before harvesting.

While pesticide residues in agricultural produce earmarked for export are regularly tested by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that export produce meets stringent environmental and health standards, lack of manpower and budget prevents the routine testing of produce designated for local consumption. The Food Service in the Ministry of Health is responsible for regular monitoring and testing of food quality for local consumption, but testing is sporadic, due to budgetary constraints and lack of manpower.

Water for sustainable food production and sustainable rural development

In the past year, Israel has suffered a drought. This fact caused for an increased use of purified wastewater for irrigation which contains a large quantity of metals and other toxic substances. Purified wastewater irrigation must be supervised and controlled in order to prevent its influence on food growths. The MoE is currently preparing guidelines for farmers on this matter.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising 

One of the most significant changes in raising awareness about agriculture and sustainable development is the introduction of periodical statistics, which attempt to cover and understand the major trends relating to change in the rural structure, particular as it relates to the shift beyond agriculture, from traditional farming to developed entrepreneurship.

There has been an impressive change in farmers and local entrepreneurs who are aware of the environmental problems they themselves create, although the lack of financial resources may limit their capacity to move forward. Two of the most relevant achievements in this area are Integrated Pest Management and Bio-organic crops, which are well advanced both on a scientific and practical commercial level.

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

Awareness of the potentially grave repercussions of agricultural practices has only recently emerged and with it the new discipline of agro-ecology. Raising the environmental awareness of farmers, initiating research and development to find technological solutions to problems, and financial aid for environment-friendly projects are primary aims of the Environment Ministry. The Ministry operates according to a holistic approach which seeks to reduce the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment and advance sustainable agricultural development.

Information 

Agricultural Wastes

Other projects are focusing on other parts of the country. Thus, for example, in the Beer Tuvia Regional Council, Israel's largest center for milk production, a comprehensive survey and master plan on treatment of solid and liquid waste originating in dairy farms was prepared in order to reduce environmental nuisances and protect precious groundwater sources in this sensitive region from contamination. These and other master plans will provide the foundation for a comprehensive database on pollution levels in the rural sector, in general, and on pollution from dairy farms, in particular. The integration of these data in a Geographical Information System will facilitate informed decision making on this important subject.

Research and Technologies  

Agricultural Wastes

Livestock farms span large areas in Israel. There are about 125,000 milking cows in Israel dispersed in nearly 370 settlements. The pollution they cause equals the pollution generated by the entire human population of the country. It is estimated that livestock farms generate some 3 million tons of manure. Ill-advised practices such as the accumulation of cow manure and slurry on the ground and the improper disposal of waste from Israel's geese farms are especially problematic: they result in groundwater and soil contamination, stench, and visual blight. On the other hand, these nuisances are free of concentrated chemicals, and the waste may be reused and recycled. 

Experts are hard at work finding innovative solutions--disposal into sealed pools and recycling and reuse technologies, utilizing additives along with the wastes themselves. The advantages of waste and wastewater recycling, when conducted according to strict environmental guidelines, are clear: agricultural irrigation, savings in the purchase and use of synthetic fertilizers, enrichment of the soil with organic material and a low-cost solution to environmental nuisances.

Financing 

Finance is provided by the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture with the participation of various other institutes. There is a budget allocated annually for specific projects, ranging from research to semi-commercial projects. There is also a budget allocated for advertising, promotion, and public relations, mainly for meetings and symposia. Negotiations are now underway with the Ministry of Treasury in order to define the criteria for direct financing of preferred projects.

Integrated pest management and control in agriculture

The Ministry of the Environment has granted financial aid to a number of regional councils for setting up regional collection and disposal networks to monitor expired pesticides which are unsuitable for use, extremely toxic, and require disposal to the national site for disposal and treatment of hazardous waste at Ramat Hovav. 

Financial assistance has been offered to farmers for purchasing rinsing facilities for empty pesticide containers which pose yet another hazard.  In all cases, burning or burying options are prohibited.  They are discarded throughout the country in fields, roadways, near wells and water sources, near irrigation outlets and in approved and illegal waste disposal sites. While label guidelines require disposal of empty pesticide containers to Ramat Hovav, farmers are loath to abide by the instructions. The Ministry of the Environment has therefore issued guidelines which require all empty pesticide containers to be repeatedly rinsed (3 times) and perforated before disposal to approved waste disposal sites. 

Agricultural Wastes

The Ministry of the Environment initiated the establishment of an Administration on Environmental Investments in Agriculture, with the participation of the Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture, which provides financial grants at a rate of up to 30% of the environmental investment. Priorities for grants are based on the type of agricultural sector, geo-hydrological region, local sensitivity of the water source and proximity to residential areas. Initial funds have been allocated for environmental investments in dairy farms in the Kinneret watershed basin--the most problematic pollutant in the most sensitive area of the country.  Requests for grants are reviewed in terms of environmental, agricultural, engineering and economic aspects. Grants are approved for investments in pollution prevention systems, transition to environment-friendly technologies and materials, and recycling projects for agricultural wastes--in line with the worldwide move from "end-of-pipe" treatment to pollution prevention at source. It is anticipated that the project will serve as a model for investments in geese and pig farms and for other agricultural sectors as well.

Both stick and carrot have been used to ensure the environmentally-safe operation of dairy, geese and pig farms. Where necessary, farmers have been prosecuted for contaminating water sources. However, side by side with enforcement and legal action, incentives have been introduced as well. To reduce nuisances and improve environmental quality, major investments are required--on the organizational, professional and financial levels. For example, more than $275,000 are needed to treat one dairy farm alone. 

Cooperation

As for foreign trade, stringent global requirements for the export of agricultural produce haveled to the introduction of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) procedures among more farmers than ever before. In light of the pollution potential of agricultural practices, the Ministry of the Environment has placed the subject high on its list of priorities. One of the first sectors to adopt and implement the principles of GAP and IPM is the flower sector. Hopefully, coming years will see the development of GAP in more and more agricultural sectors.

An example of integrated pest management project that is conducted in Israel with the support of the United States is the project launched in the Beit She'an Valley in the wake of the Middle East multilateral peace talks in 1994. The project, which includes representatives of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the USA, aims to better define the extent of adverse effects of pesticides on health in the Middle East region, to promote the safe use of agricultural chemicals and to assure effective pesticide management practices. An important element of the project is the establishment of a sophisticated laboratory for monitoring pest resistance to pesticides.

 

* * *

This information is based on Israel's submission to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: October 1999.

To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here:
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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ATMOSPHERE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for many of the decisions on the protection of the atmosphere. Its Air Quality Division is responsible for activities related to monitoring, drafting of legislation and standards, and enforcement. Protection of the atmosphere is coordinated by the Ministry of Environment in partnership with other government Ministries of:

Government bodies coordinate their work through inter-ministerial committees.  Decisions are taken through a process of continuous review and revision until consensus is reached.

In addition, Israel has initiated a negotiated rulemaking procedure, with the participation of representatives of government ministries and relevant bodies, for the purpose of formulating environmental standards, including emission and ambient standards. Guiding principles require that all relevant considerations be taken into account in the standard setting process (including environmental, economic, technological and legal considerations), that the standards will be applicable and that they will take account of anticipated benefits, costs, and best available technology under reasonable technological and economic conditions. Guiding principles also relate to prevention at source, transparency and open deliberations, and precaution.

Local authorities may enact bylaws on air pollution prevention. Several Israeli towns have adopted such bylaws, including Petach Tikvah (in 1988) and Carmiel (in 1993).

Local authorities may impose special environmental conditions within the framework of the Business Licensing Law. This law permits local authorities to refuse a license to a business if it does not comply with environmental criteria.

The trend in environmental administration is toward greater cooperation among local authorities in a variety of regional matters, including air pollution. Numerous local authorities have banded together within the framework of town associations for the environment. Dozens of municipal environmental units, regional environmental units and associations of towns for the environment operate throughout the country.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Under the Planning and Building Law, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are required since 1982 for major projects enumerated in the law or required by planning authorities. The EIA must include an assessment of anticipated environmental impact and the means necessary to prevent or abate negative impacts, including restrictions on emissions of air pollutants from planned installations as dictated by emission standards based on Best Available Technology (BAT). Projects for which EIAs have been prepared include the coal-fired power plants in Hadera and Ashkelon, the crude oil refineries in Haifa and Ashdod and the cement plants in Haifa, Beit Shemesh and Ramle.

The 1961 Abatement of Nuisances Law is the principal legislative instrument for controlling air pollution.  It authorizes the Minister of the Environment to promulgate regulations defining what constitutes considerable or unreasonable air pollution.  Israeli air quality standards were defined in a regulation first promulgated in 1971 and revised in 1992 (see table below).

Personal decrees, issued by the Minister of the Environment under the Abatement of Nuisances Law, have been used extensively to control air pollution from existing stationary sources and are currently being prepared for public bus cooperatives as well.

The Traffic Ordinance of 1961 authorizes traffic magistrates to enforce provisions of the Abatement of Nuisances Law which relate to motor vehicles.  Regulations prohibit the registration of a vehicle unless it conforms with inspection standards for emissions, including European Union standards.

Under the Licensing of Business Law of 1968, local authorities may impose special environmental conditions within the framework of business licenses. Environmental restrictions and conditions may be based on USEPA regulations, on emission standards issued by the Federal Government of Germany (e.g., TA-Luft), or on other acceptable standards.   Emission standards for all types of waste incinerators (for urban, hazardous, medical and other forms of waste) are being prepared as framework conditions to be included in business licenses and as regulations.

The Ministry of the Environment has drafted emission standards for the following air pollutants: gaseous inorganic substances, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, hazardous inorganic particulate matter, carcinogenic substances, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.  Although these standards have not yet been published as regulations, a Covenant on Implementation of Standards on Pollutant Emissions into the Air was signed between the Ministry of the Environment and the Manufacturers Association in 1997.

Emission standards for power stations operated by the Israel Electric Corporation are currently being finalized. A proposed ambient standard for respirable particulate matter (PM2.5) is under discussion.

  Current Israel Ambient Air Quality Standards

Pollutant

Chemical Formula

Concentration (in micrograms per cubic meter)

Time Period

Sulfur Dioxide

SO2

1000

 500

 280

  60

0.5 hour (absolute)

0.5 (statistical)*

24 hours

1 year

Ozone

O3

230

160

0.5 hour

8 hours

Nitrogen Oxide (as NO2)

NOx

940

560

0.5 hour

24 hours

Respirable Particulate Material

PM10

150

60

24 hours

1 year

Carbon Monoxide

CO

60 mg/m3

11 mg/m3

0.5 hour

8 hours

·        45 exceedances are permitted annually

Fiscal and financial regulatory and incentive measures for promoting the protection of the atmosphere. is under review in Israel. The aim is to use subsidies as a means of promoting “clean” technologies, including technologies which will protect the atmosphere. Some projects have been launched in recent years to provide financial support to industrial plants wishing to invest in environmental technology or to promote economic efficiency.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The main sources of air pollution in Israel are energy production, transport and industry. Israel's air quality policy is based on the following elements: prevention of air pollution through the integration of environmental considerations and physical planning, monitoring and intermittent control systems, legislation and enforcement (including ambient and emission standards), the reduction of pollution sources, and the reduction of pollutant emissions from motor vehicles. According to this policy a new Programme for the control of air quality was completed in 1994.

Top priority is accorded to the creation and implementation of a comprehensive legal infrastructure and guidelines for all sectors that may adversely impact the atmosphere including transport, energy generation and industry.   While an overall national strategy for protecting the atmosphere has not been officially adopted, proposed strategy includes the following elements:

Greenhouse gas emissions: 

     Israel ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1996 and signed the Kyoto Protocol in  1998. It has prepared a policy document on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which examines potential measures and technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in different sectors: energy, industry, private and commercial buildings, transport, agriculture, solid waste and sewage. Alongside the formulation of technological mitigation options for reducing greenhouse gases, Israel has prepared a preliminary estimation of the economic costs and benefits of emissions reduction to 1996 levels under different scenarios. On this basis, a national climate change action plan was drafted which proposes solutions for overcoming legislative, bureaucratic and political impediments by harnessing forces in the economy for the requisite economic and environmental changes.

Terrestrial and marine resource development for greenhouse gas sinks: 

    Israel’s strategy is based on afforestation. From 4.5 million trees in 1948 spanning an area of 96,000 hectares, the country’s afforested area has grown to 200 million trees covering some 120,000 hectares. Israel’s forested area includes 80,000 hectares of plantations (including 57,000 hectares of conifers, 9,000 hectares of eucalyptus and 14,000 hectares of broad-leaved trees) and about 40,000 hectares of natural woodlands. Although most forests are composed of conifers and broad-leaved trees, the relatively small area planted with eucalyptuses contributes about 20% of the CO2 removals.

Substances that deplete the ozone layer: 

    Israel has been party to the Montreal Protocol since 1992 and has ratified the London, Copenhagen and Vienna Amendments.  It complies with all provisions of the protocol and its amendments, prohibits or severely restricts the import of ozone depleting materials, with the exception of permitted recycled materials, and enforces the restrictions placed on methyl bromide production in Israel. The strategy is to phase out import, consumption and production of ozone depleting substances in accordance with the timetables set in the protocol and amendments.  The sale of new equipment (e.g., refrigerators, air conditioners) making use of controlled substances has already been prohibited, both in order to reduce use and in order to protect consumers from future implications of the purchase of such equipment. 

Transboundary air pollution: 

Israel is ready to cooperate with its neighbors to lower the level of transboundary air pollution. Environmental cooperation on such issues as air pollution is part of the peace agreement signed with Jordan in 1994.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: Although not a developed country under the Climate Change Convention, Israel’s goal is to increase economic efficiency while reducing emissions.  Recommendations have been made for the reduction of emissions to 1996 levels by 2010 and 2015, with a constant percent of reduction set for each year from 2000 until the target years.  In the short term, the introduction of natural gas into the energy production sector, probably beginning in 2003, and methane treatment in landfills beginning in 2002 will bring about reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  To further reduce emissions in the long term, Israel will have to introduce technological improvements while reducing energy consumption by means of taxes, incentives for removal of market failures and cost-effective technological and market substitutes. Energy conservation methods, especially in residential and commercial buildings, introduction of cogeneration and combined cycle technologies, and further development of alternative energy sources, especially solar energy, will help reduce greenhouse emissions in the interim. 

Conserving and increasing greenhouse gas sinks: 

    Israel expects to further develop its forests and to double their surface within ten years. The National Masterplan for Forests and Afforestation, approved in 1995, designates 160,000 hectares for the development and conservation of forested land.

Mitigating ozone depletion: 

Israel’s goal is to further limit the import of ozone depleting substances and the production of methyl bromide as per the requirements of the Montreal Protocol and the accompanying amendments. Although not required to do so, Israel has already begun to reduce the quantity of permitted recycled materials which are imported into the country through restrictions in import licenses.  This is expected to increase prices and encourage a move to alternatives. In addition, draft regulations on implementation of the Montreal Protocol have been prepared. They are based on the provisions of the Montreal Protocol and relate to restrictions, inspection and control mechanisms for the import, production and consumption of substances that deplete or are likely to deplete the ozone layer.  Initial steps have been made to formulate a policy on implementation of the protocol which will include, inter alia, accelerated phase-out of halons and CFCs in accordance with availability of alternatives. The Standards Institution of Israel has already approved alternative substances for use in fire extinguishing systems, which will gradually phase out the import of certain halons, including those which are recycled and permitted for use.

Mitigating transboundary air pollution: 

Israel seeks to reach agreements with its neighbors on reduction of transboundary pollution. In the short term, reduction of air pollution levels within Israel will reduce transboundary air pollution in the region.  

To date, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emission have not been separated from measures to reduce pollution and contamination from industrial and agricultural activities. Measures, however, have been introduced which will, inter alia, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To lower the level of emissions from the industrial sector, the Environment Ministry and the Manufacturers Association of Israel signed a Covenant on Implementing Standards on Pollutant Emissions into the Air in January 1998. In addition, changes in the technology of cement and lime plants from a wet process to a dry process will bring about considerable savings in the use of fuel, estimated at 53%. For an anticipated 7.6 tons of cement in 2010, a switch to the dry process (which has already begun) will bring about savings in CO2 emissions of about 2.3 million tons. Efforts are also focusing on energy savings through cogeneration cooling systems and hybrid air conditioning.  Energy savings in large buildings may range between 25-40% through such means as green building and more efficient heating and cooling systems.  In the agricultural sector, improved manure management and introduction of controlled release fertilizers are expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Two main changes have been introduced to land use practice in Israel:

The primary measures to increase greenhouse gas sinks relate to afforestation. Some 200 million trees have been planted from the time of independence of the State in 1948. This represents about 3.5% of the land area of the country. These 800 square kilometers of forested areas absorb 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year (less than 1% of the greenhouse gas emissions each year).  Programs call for planting another 200 million trees over the coming decade. This will double the forested surface in Israel and thus also double the capacity of greenhouse gas absorption as well.

 Several government agencies as well as universities and private groups are involved in the development of methods or programs aimed at providing a better understanding of atmospheric changes. Following is a partial list:

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

The main groups involved in the decision-making are business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and NGOs.  Industrialists are involved in the decision-making process by participating in advisory environment-related forums. In the framework of these forums, industrialists and such organizations as the Manufacturers Association of Israel present recommendations to government agencies and provide technical and factual support to decision-makers.  NGOs play an advisory role in these forums, representing the concerns of consumers and environmentalists. The Israel Economic Forum on the Environment was established in 1991 with the aim of increasing environmental awareness of the business community, deepening industry’s involvement in the advancement of environmental quality and minimizing the environmental and atmospheric impacts of industrial operations. 

The Forum encourages industry, agriculture, transport and other economic sectors to incorporate environmental concerns into their socio-economic development planning. in line with the principles of sustainable development.  The Forum includes over 250 leading economic and academic bodies in Israel and has joined the International Network for Environmental Management (INEM). The Israel Union for Environmental Defense, established in 1990, uses legal means to tackle environmental problems. The organization has served as a “watchdog” to ensure stringent implementation of environmental laws and has initiated campaigns to further its aims. It has received legal standing under a number of Israeli environmental laws to represent the public in court on environmental issues. Its staff members serve as consultants in Knesset committee hearings, government meetings and public commissions dealing with environmental protection. Environmental grassroot organizations have been created in many geographic areas of the country to deal with local issues, including air pollution.Scientists play a central role by providing the professional basis and the expertise necessary for decision-making.

Programmes and Projects 

To date, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emission have not been separated from measures to reduce pollution and contamination from industrial and agricultural activities. Measures, however, have been introduced which will, inter alia, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To lower the level of emissions from the industrial sector, the Environment Ministry and the Manufacturers Association of Israel signed a Covenant on Implementing Standards on Pollutant Emissions into the Air in January 1998. In addition, changes in the technology of cement and lime plants from a wet process to a dry process will bring about considerable savings in the use of fuel, estimated at 53%. For an anticipated 7.6 tons of cement in 2010, a switch to the dry process (which has already begun) will bring about savings in CO2 emissions of about 2.3 million tons. Efforts are also focusing on energy savings through cogeneration cooling systems and hybrid air conditioning.  Energy savings in large buildings may range between 25-40% through such means as green building and more efficient heating and cooling systems.

In the agricultural sector, improved manure management and introduction of controlled release fertilizers are expected to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two main changes have been introduced to land use practice in Israel:

The primary measures to increase greenhouse gas sinks relate to afforestation. Some 200 million trees have been planted from the time of independence of the State in 1948. This represents about 3.5% of the land area of the country. These 800 square kilometers of forested areas absorb 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year (less than 1% of the greenhouse gas emissions each year).  Programs call for planting another 200 million trees over the coming decade. This will double the forested surface in Israel and thus also double the capacity of greenhouse gas absorption as well.

Several government agencies as well as universities and private groups are involved in the development of methods or programs aimed at providing a better understanding of atmospheric changes. Following is a partial list:

Status   

It is assessed that over 1,500 people die each year as a result of air pollution. Furthermore, epidemiological surveys conducted over the past two decades have been carried out to assess the impact of major sources of air pollution, such as power plants and industrial areas, on the health of the population in their vicinity. Health impacts associated with air pollution have generally been related to an increase in respiratory diseases and symptoms, aggravation of cardio-pulmonary conditions, reduced lung function, and eye and respiratory irritation.

A preliminary attempt to assess how systems in Israel will react to climate change has been completed. Given the level of medical care and standard of life in Israel, it is unlikely that climate change will adversely impact human health. Nevertheless, it is possible that climate change will facilitate the spread of existing vectors and the establishment of invasive ones and will increase the probability of water-related epidemics. It is also possible that sandstorms and dust storms, which are expected to increase with climate change, will exacerbate respiratory disorders. With regard to settlements, Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain will be most vulnerable to coastal erosion. Sea level rise may lead to the loss of valuable lands, buildings and tourist facilities in close proximity to the sandstone coastal cliffs.

Climate change is also expected to impact on agriculture.  Greater rain intensities and flooding may destroy crops in the coastal plain, on the one hand, while the drought effect may intensify, on the other. Israel’s advantage in exporting early crops may be lost when the growing season will be delayed due to the projected delay in winter rains. Furthermore, climate change may create environmental conditions favorable to the establishment of pests and pathogens. Climate change is also expected to adversely impact biodiversity in Israel.  Sensitive ecosystems in Israel include the coral reefs of the Red Sea, the coastal wetlands and isolated mountain ecosystems.  The most dramatic changes in ecosystem structure and composition are likely to occur in the semi-arid region of Israel, the desert/non-desert ecotone.  Moreover, climate change is expected to exacerbate desertification.

Israel has prepared a national inventory of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases.  By far the largest source of CO2 emissions is the oxidation of carbon when fossil fuels are burned to produce energy. In 1996, 51,863 thousand tons of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere, as a result of fuel combustion and industrial processes (mainly cement production).  CO2 emissions from electricity production have grown steadily in the 1990s, largely as a result of the dramatic increase in population and economic activity in Israel (Israel’s population grew by nearly 30% over the past decade with the influx of over 950,000 immigrants in the 1990s alone). The increase in demand for electricity in the past decade was an unprecedented 6% per year.  As a result, CO2 emissions from electricity production alone increased from 16.66 million tons in 1990 to 44.21 million tons in 1999.

The contribution of methane emissions from decomposition of solid waste is very significant.  It is second in importance only to the contribution of CO2 from energy production. Enteric fermentation contribution about 75% of the methane emissions from domestic livestock, mostly from cattle.  Manure management contributes 25% of the emissions mainly due to cattle and poultry manure.  In all, some 425 thousand tons of methane were emitted in 1996.  The contribution of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture is dominant, but nitrous oxide contributes only 3% to total CO2 equivalent emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from N2O totaled just over 6 thousand tons in 1996. 3.7% of the land in Israel can be considered a greenhouse gas sink. This represents 827 square kilometers of forest, mostly planted by the Jewish National Fund.

Challenges  

Sulfur dioxide concentrations have decreased significantly since the 1980s as a result of the growing use of low sulfur fuel. On the other hand, nitrogen oxide concentrations have increased significantly, especially in urban centers, with the Tel Aviv metropolitan area plagued by the highest concentrations.   A regional analysis shows an annual average of 25 micrograms/cubic meters in Ashkelon, 33 in Haifa, 34 in Hadera, 57 in Ashdod, 60 in Jerusalem and over 121 in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

Since ozone is a secondary pollutant, it is difficult to associate concentrations measured in different parts of the country with specific emission sources in the same region.  As a result, relatively high concentrations of ozone were measured in more remote areas, including Jerusalem and the eastern parts of the country, rather than in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.  Results of monitoring reveal the severity of reparable particulate matter pollution. The center to south of the country is characterized by levels which approach and even exceed the annual standard. This is attributed to the combination of desert dust and industrial and transport emissions.   Populations living near transportation axes are most severely affected by pollution. An analysis of pollutants emitted by transportation sources show that some 80% of nitrogen oxide concentrations measured in transportation monitoring stations originated in diesel vehicles.

With regard to greenhouse gases, it is necessary to create competitive conditions in the energy production sector through greater privatization and through internalization of the external costs of energy production.  In addition, greater investments in research and development by government are required along with changes in the tax system, such as imposition of a carbon tax. The small area of the country precludes significant increases in greenhouse sinks. 

Atmospheric pollution affects different parts of the country, but especially the population residing in congested urban areas.  There is no mechanism of compensation or protection from damages caused by air pollution.  Atmospheric pollution affects different parts of the country, but especially the population residing in congested urban areas.  There is no mechanism of compensation or protection from damages caused by air pollution.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The Ministry of the Environment and NGOs are the major actors involved in promoting public awareness of climate change and protection of the atmosphere. They disseminate information by utilization of the media, publications, demonstrations and school programs for students. Results of air monitoring in Israel are published on the Internet site of the Ministry of the Environment.  Public information campaigns focus on air quality and on enforcement of environmental legislation, including laws related to pollution from motor vehicles.  Drivers whose cars do not comply with air quality standards are subject to fines.

Since 1995 Israel has participated in the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) project, a worldwide network of students, teachers and scientists working together to study and understand the global environment.  The three-year program is implemented in 60 elementary, junior and senior high schools throughout the country.  Students take part in scientific observations in a number of areas, including atmosphere and climate.   To assimilate energy conservation principles, students are exposed to the subject at different grade levels. 

An energy conservation curriculum program is included in the educational program for fifth to seventh grades.  At higher levels, drawing competitions are held and a national energy conservation contest is conducted.   In recent years, a new prize bearing competition for secondary schools focusing on the environment has been launched.  Two prize categories are awarded: one for outstanding research projects on the environment prepared by 11th and 12th graders and one to high schools that promote environmental studies. In both cases, protection of the atmosphere is included.  About 30% of Israeli high schools currently offer programs dealing with environmental protection. 1000 students conducted environmental projects in high school in 1997/1998, 1500 in 1998/1999 and about 2700 in the year 1999/2000. Such programs exist in all Israeli universities. All universities have departments for atmospheric studies.

Information   

Israel has established and operates a computerized national air quality monitoring network which generates real-time information about air quality throughout the country. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment has begun to develop indicators on air pollution which currently relate to nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. These indicators show the change in pollutant emissions per capita over time and compare Israel’s emissions to European Union levels.  They also predict future levels based on various development scenarios.

Scientific data and information, based on the results of the national air quality monitoring network, appears on the web site of the Ministry of the Environment: www.environment.gov.il  Annual reports are published in Hebrew and in English.  The Israel Space Agency – Middle East Interactive Data Archive was established in order to create and maintain an earth observing data center available through Internet to the research community and to the general public.  It is one of the international data centers participating in NASA’s Earth Observing System Data Information System (EOSDIS). The regional center for NASA’s EOSDIS was officially inaugurated in 1999.  Data will include detailed assessments and forecasts of atmospheric variables such as temperature, wind, humidity, clouds, dust, ozone, other aerosols and gases over the Middle East as well as earth surface fields such as land cover, moisture and vegetation.  Such information is disseminated through written reports and through the Internet.

Israel's energy economy is based on fossil fuels, mainly oil and coal. Data on the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere from fuel combustion show significant declines in the levels of sulfur oxides and lead, increased emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, and no significant change in concentrations of suspended particulate matter.

In 1994, 63 air monitoring stations were operating in Israel. All of them monitor sulfur dioxide. Nitrogen oxide and particulate matters are monitored in most of the stations, and ozone and/or carbon monoxide in a few. A new network monitors airborne chemicals at the hazardous waste disposal site. The limited information available indicates that sulfur dioxide levels are mostly below regulation limits; nitrogen dioxide is significantly above the limits in some areas; and ozone levels are mostly above the recommended limits.

The monitoring network, as it is today, is not comprehensive enough for formulating a national air quality management programme. Consequently Israel has recently prepared a preliminary programme for a multimillion-dollar national air monitoring system with a central data storage and display center. The national system will be based on three levels of activity: individual stations, regional control centers and a national data processing center. The types of station will vary according to the nature of the pollutants. Some 50 stations are planned, in addition to the 63 stations currently in operations. The project will be implemented over a three-year period.

Research and Technologies   

The air monitoring network includes a national control center in Ramle, three regional centers and 24 monitoring stations based on the following four categories:

  1. General stations are designed to monitor general air quality in densely populated areas with more than 150,000 residents. Stations are located in representative areas which are not adjacent to specific emission sources such as industrial plants, at roof height. The pollutants measured are SO2, NOx, O3, CO, PM10.
  2. Population zone stations are designed to monitor air quality in populated areas with up to 150,000 residents, at roof height. They measure SO2, NOx, PM10.
  3. Secondary pollutant stations monitor secondary pollutants caused downwind at relatively far distances from sources of emission, at roof height. They measure, NOX, O3, CO, HC.
  4. Transportation stations monitor pollutants originating in transportation sources. Stations measure NOx, CO, HC and are located near primary traffic junctions, at pavement height.

The analytical monitors in each station are fully automated and EPA approved.  In addition to monitoring the pollutants noted above, each station contains an automatic calibration system, temperature and relative humidity sensors, data acquisition and transfer hardware, wind speed and direction measurement.  Intermittent control systems provide for early detection of high pollution levels and dictate the use of    very low sulfur fuel.

The technologies linked to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are largely related to development of non-polluting forms of energy. Solar heating is widely used in Israel and wide-scale research on solar energy technology is taking place in institutes of higher learning, especially the Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In the former, a 3000-kilowatt facility enables solar technologies to be tested on a large scale.  Major features include a field of 64 computer-controlled mirrors which track the movement of the sun and are controlled by a computer that calculates the sun’s position relative to the earth for every second of the year. The light collected in the field is redirected to a receiving tower at the field’s southern edge.  This 54-meter receiving tower contains five separate experimental stations, allowing several experiments to be carried out simultaneously.  The directions of research include high-temperature solar thermal conversion; solar-driven chemistry for energy storage and synthetic fuel production; advanced optics for high concentration; solar pumped laser; split-spectrum multiple conversion systems; and solar enrichment of fuels.

At the National Solar Energy Center at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev a wide array of solar-thermal facilities exist for testing purposes. The Center is active in solar radiation studies, photovoltaic research, solar-thermal research and advanced parabolic troughs research. Of special interest is the use of a 25-m diameter parabolic dish to generate electric power by concentrating solar energy onto a relatively small area of photovoltaic cells. Some of the technologies developed in universities have formed the basis for industrial scale application.  An industrial consortium has been set up to develop concentrated solar energy technologies aimed at future commercial applications.

Additional alternative energy technologies include the “energy tower” developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and wind energy. Several Israeli companies have pioneered solar energy technologies that influence the international renewable energy industry. One company has become a world leader in the design and installation of electricity generating equipment for low temperature heat, mainly geothermal and industrial waste heat.  An Israeli company has developed a system for bio-treatment of municipal waste to produce clean energy and compost.  The process automatically separates recyclable matter such as metals, plastics and glass from unsorted household waste and transforms the organic fraction of the waste into biogas and soil conditioning compost.  Israel needs technologies targeted at reducing car emissions. These include computerized fuel injection systems, carbon canisters, particulate traps for fuel vapor absorption, and installation of oxidizing and catalytic converters.

Financing   

The main sources of funding are public.  At present, ideas are being discussed with respect to means of increasing the volume of funding for protection of the atmosphere.

Cooperation  

Israel has signed bilateral agreements with several countries on environmental protection, including cooperation on protection of the atmosphere. Agreements signed with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and with Germany, for example, include a framework for scientific and technical cooperation and for development of more advanced standards.  Academic cooperation is an important element as well. Universities cooperate to develop programs of monitoring and protection of the atmosphere. Notable is the collaboration between Israel and Germany on the development of an electric car.

Environmental research studies are also carried out within the framework of research and development agreements with North America, Europe and Asia as well as bilateral agreements with countries throughout the world.  One notable example is the United States-Israel Science and Technology Commission, which includes a binational committee on environment.   Also noteworthy are the European Union Fourth and Fifth Framework Programs.  Within this program, several activities relate to quality of life, energy, environment and sustainable development.

 In line with its obligations, Israel has prepared a national greenhouse gas inventory and a policy document on mitigation options for reducing emissions in various sectors.  A preliminary assessment of vulnerability and adaptation measures to climate change has also been prepared.  These and other reports have been integrated into Israel’s First National Communication to the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention which was submitted in November 2000.

 Israel ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1996 and signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998. Israel established an inter-ministerial committee on climate change in 1996 whose members include representatives of relevant government ministries, industries and non-governmental organizations.  The committee is charged with formulating national policy and strategy, while closely following up on developments in the field.  

With regard to policy on climate change, following the ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1996, the government instructed the Environment Minister to establish an inter-ministerial committee to formulate Israel’s policy on greenhouse gas reduction. The committee includes representatives from the Ministries of the Environment, Industry and Trade, Transport, Finance, National Infrastructures, Science, and Agriculture. It also includes representatives of the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Electric Corporation, the Manufacturers Association, and the academic sector.  

Israel ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1992 and has subsequently ratified the London, Copenhagen and Vienna Amendments. To comply with all provisions of the Montreal Protocol, Israel prohibits or restricts the import of ozone depleting materials with the exception of permitted recycled materials, enforces the restrictions placed on methyl bromide production in Israel, and invests major efforts in finding alternatives to methyl bromide. 

Since ratification of the Montreal Protocol, Israel has made the required annual contribution to the Montreal Trust Fund (an amount of $US 465,885 for 1996). At the 1995 Conference of Parties to the Montreal Protocol (reiterated at the 8th Conference of the COP in Costa Rica), Israel committed itself to a 25% reduction in the production of methyl bromide by 2001, a 50% reduction by 2005 and total phase-out by 2010. Intensive efforts are being made in Israel to find an environmentally safe alternative to methyl bromide.

To comply with all provisions of the Montreal Protocol, Israel prohibits or restricts the import of ozone depleting materials, with the exception of permitted recycled materials. The production of methyl bromide has been severely restricted, and control is ensured by means of special conditions incorporated into the business license of the Israeli manufacturer. With the aid of expert committees and research groups, Israel has invested major resources in investigating various alternatives to methyl bromide.  Recommendations have been made on the use of agro techniques such as solarization, steam sterilization, resistant varieties, crop rotation and detached growing media. At present Israel is seeking to accelerate the phase out of halons and CFCs, to reduce the quantity of permitted recycled substances, to promulgate new regulations and standards on ozone-depleting substances and to formulate a new policy on preventing further depletion of the ozone layer. In an effort to raise consciousness of the Montreal Protocol and its provisions among industrialists in Israel, the Ministry of the Environment published a Hebrew information booklet in December 1998.  The publication surveys the substances controlled by the protocol, specifies the timetable for reduced use and phase-out, and presents some of the alternatives to the controlled substances. To commemorate the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Israel has issued press releases and posted information and advice on the Internet site of the Ministry of the Environment.   

Israel is adopting European standards on vehicle emissions. It has adopted the European standard for diesel (EN 590) and the European standard on unleaded gasoline for automobiles (EN 228).  Israel ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in May 1996; the Montreal Protocol (1987) in 1992, the London Amendment (1990) in 1992; and the Copenhagen Amendment(1992) in 1994. The latest report to the Montreal Protocol were prepared in 1995.

 

 

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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. Last update: March 2001.

Click here for national information from the Web site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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BIODIVERSITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and is the main authority for nature protection in Israel. The Ministries of Education (under the Antiquities Law), Agriculture (under the Wild Animals Protection Law) and Interior have limited authorities on related issues. The Nature Reserves Authority and the National Parks Authority, both acting under the Ministry of the Environment, are the main authorities for carrying out nature protection policies. The Nature Reserves Authority is the scientific advisory body in Israel for the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Jewish National fund and Israel's leading environmental non-governmental organization, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, are other major groups centrally involved in biodiversity issues.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Following the second meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Israel set out a series of steps to be taken for the purpose of preparing a national strategy plan for the conservation of biological diversity. Some are as follows: (1) The establishment of an inter-ministerial committee comprised of representatives of the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Interior, Science, Trade and Industry, Transport, Defense and Education; (2) the integration of conservation of biological diversity into environmental planning; (3) the preparation of guidelines for the protection of biological diversity which will constitute part of the Ministry of Environment guidelines for the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements; and (4) the allocation of priority to research proposals on the conservation of biological diversity to be partly financed by the Ministry of the Environment.

In 1993, a National Outline Scheme for Afforestation was approved to designate 160,000 hectares for the development and conservation of forest lands in Israel. The plan, implemented by the Jewish National Fund, calls for the planting of 200 million trees in an area of 81,000 hectares.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

Nature conservation and biodiversity protection in Israel are not recent developments. Israel's location at the crossroads of climatic and botanic regions gives the country a rich variety of plant and animal life. Within the small land area of Israel, two opposing climatic regimes are found - Mediterranean in the North and desert in the South. The central part of the country is a transition area between these two biogeographical regions. While about 25% of Israel's land area is preserved within declared nature reserves, most of these reserves (80%) are located in the desert areas of Israel, and a large number overlap military training areas.

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

Israel ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in March 1980, and the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1995.

The Nature Reserves Authority (NRA) oversees Israel's 155 nature reserves, covering 33.5 thousand hectares of protected areas. One area in Israel - Mount Carmel - has recently been declared a biosphere reserve within the framework of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program. In order to overcome the problem of habitat fragmentation in Israel, the NRA and the Jewish National Fund have cooperated on an Open Landscapes Plan. Geographical and lithological data, collected by the Jewish National Fund, and botanic data, collected by the NRA, are currently being compiled, evaluated and mapped on the GIS and NRA. Both the first part of the project (encompassing an area from Beersheba to Nazareth) and the second part (encompassing the Jezreel Valley, Upper and Lower Galilee and the Jordan Valley) have been completed, while the Negev section will follow at a later date. The NRA has already drawn up a proposal for data collection, mapping and evaluation in order to develop an action plan for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Israel is involved in regional and international cooperation regarding biodiversity protection on a number of different levels.  At the bilateral level, an Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Protection and Nature Conservation has been signed with Jordan. A joint proposal to establish a marine peace park is being seriously considered. An Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Matters and Nature Conservation and an Agreement in the field of Desertification have been signed with Spain.

At the regional level, within the framework of the multilateral Middle East peace talks on the environment, the successful Gulf of Aqaba project has been developed. The project establishes a Jordanian-Egyptian-Israeli Oil Contingency Spill Plan for the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat in order to protect the eco-system and the unique natural asset that the Gulf itself constitutes. Biodiversity protection in the desert region on a regional level is part of the wider desertification project involving Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, within the multilateral framework. As an active member of the Mediterranean Action Plan, Israel is very involved in the Protocol on Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas.

In March 1997, Israel hosted an international workshop dealing with three important international conventions - the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Biological Diversity Convention and the Climate Change Convention.

 

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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

For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here:
For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
Click here for the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages

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DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

A National Outline Scheme for Afforestation was approved in principle by the National Planning and Building Boards in 1993. The plan is being implemented by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), and it designates over 15% of Israel's total land area for the conservation of forest lands. About 50% of the JNF's tree planting endeavors are carried out in forest lands. The JNF has instituted a relatively new program of savannization, aimed at preventing desertification and increasing productivity and biodiversity without resource enrichment. In addition, the Sde Boker Center for Desert Research and Restoration Ecology has integrated the Ben Gurion University's Desert Research Institute's academic frameworks for basic and applied research and the JNF's field experience in the development and management of open space systems. Various techniques and technologies developed in Israel for combating desertification have implications for regional cooperation on desert issues, for e.g. use of water harvesting techniques and saline water-based agriculture.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

The high priority accorded by Israel to combating desertification led to the establishment, in January 1994, of the Center for Desert Research and Restoration Ecology on Sde Boker, a joint project of the Jewish National Fund and the Ben-Gurion University's Desert research Institute.

In Israel, the Negev desert, comprising over half of the country's land area, is inhabited by only seven percent of the population. Israel is extensively involved in afforestation activities in desert areas, utilizing existing landscape and geographical resources to ameliorate conditions around Negev townships and intensive savannization programs and research.

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

Israel ratified the International Convention to Combat Desertification in 1996, and has been actively involved since the beginning both in the preparation of the Convention and the first meeting of the Parties to the Convention (Oct./Nov. 1997). The last report to the Secretariat of the Convention was prepared in 1996. Israel has also been active in developing the Sub-regional Action Program for Combating Desertification in the Aqaba/Eilat-Jericho section of the Jordan Rift Valley. Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian teams took part in the study surveying and detecting desertification risks and proposing future activities.

Israel is an active partner in current efforts to promote both regional and international cooperation in combating desertification, in the framework both of the multilateral peace talks on the environment and the International Convention to Combat Desertification. International cooperation in combating desertification is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular in the Division of International Cooperation. The Sde Boker Center for Desert Research and Restoration Ecology is a leading force in international, regional and domestic efforts to combat desertification. Other authorities involved are the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jewish National Fund.

Israel is one of the parties involved in two desertification projects within the multilateral peace talks: the tri-lateral IACD project (Jordan, Israel & the Palestinians) and the Desertification Initiative (Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia & the Palestinians). In a sub-regional Round Table discussion on a sub-regional action programme to combat desertification in the lower Jordan Rift Valley, experts from Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel presented 15 joint project proposals to potential donors, in Amman, in February 1997. The proposals were based on a joint survey of a major watershed, the Rift Valley, shared by the three parties. The objectives of the survey were to detect desertification risks in this sub-region and to identify gaps in knowledge required for averting these risks. The project proposals address not only desertification, but also conservation of biodiversity and dry land afforestation, as synergetic vehicles for promoting transboundary sustainable development of the dry land watershed shared by Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinians. UNESCO announced in this meeting its pledge to support a transboundary binational Jordanian-Israeli biosphere reserve in the Rift Valley, for promoting sustainable development.

In March 1997, Israel hosted an international meeting to discuss the operative relationships among the three conventions dealing with Biodiversity, Climate Change and Combating Desertification. Israel is also involved in bilateral cooperation to combat desertification with China, India, Turmanistan and Namibia.

 

* * *

 

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

For access to the Web Site of the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, click here:

 

ENERGY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of National Infrastructures is responsible for making decisions on energy issues in general and energy-related aspects of atmosphere and transportation. The Fuel and Gas Authority is responsible for fuel and gas use in Israel, determines tariffs and controls and enforces fuel and gas quality standards. The Natural Gas Authority is responsible for advancing natural gas projects. The Electricity Authority is responsible for decision-making in the field of electricity. The Environmental Unit deals with environment-related energy issues.   The Ministry of Environment also takes part in the decision-making process related to energy issues. The Air Quality Division in the Ministry of the Environment deals with air pollution originating from energy production and utilization.

Coordination is largely achieved through the work of inter-ministerial committees based on a process of review and revision to reach consensus. The central player and the coordinator of the energy policy is the Ministry of National Infrastructures. Other ministries involved in decision-making on energy and energy related aspects of atmosphere and transportation include the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Transport. National companies also take part in the decision making process.  Israel Electric Corporation is the most prominent in this regard.

Decision-making is mostly at national level. The local level is involved in decision-making related to issues with direct impact on a specific locality, such as siting of energy-producing plants.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Electricity Sector Law of 1996 regulates the activities in the electricity sector to ensure reliability, availability, quality and efficiency. According to the new law, the exclusive concession possessed by the Israel Electric Corporation in the past was replaced by a system of supervision and licenses.   The Abatement of Nuisances Law of 1961 is the principal legislative instrument for controlling air pollution. The Abatement of Nuisances Law empowers the Minister of the Environment to address specific polluters with personal decrees which instruct them on steps to be taken to prevent pollution.   Regulations promulgated under the Abatement of Nuisances Law include the following:

Regulations in effect since 1980 require the installation of solar water heaters in new buildings. Since 1986, new residential buildings must also comply with an Israeli standard which mandates insulation levels that provide thermal comfort at reasonable energy consumption.  Emission standards have been established within the framework of personal decrees issued under the Abatement of Nuisance Law and business licensing conditions under the Licensing of Businesses Law. 

In addition, the Environment Ministry has drafted regulations on emissions standards which are based, to a large extent, on the German regulation (1986 TA-Luft) and its dynamic concretization of 1991 and on the European Directive on large combustion devices. Accordingly, emissions standards have been prepared for the following pollutants: gaseous inorganic substances, volatile organic compounds, particulate matters, hazardous inorganic particulate matters, carcinogenic substances, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

To facilitate reduction of pollutant emissions even prior to promulgation of the regulations, the Ministry of the Environment and the Manufacturers Association of Israel signed a covenant on implementing standards on pollutant emissions into the air in January 1998. Emission standards for Israeli power plants have been formulated by the Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the Israel Electric Corporation. The Operation of Vehicles (Engines and Fuel) Law, 1960, allows the Minister of Finance, after consulting with the Minister of Transport, to regulate the kind of fuel by which any motor vehicle will be propelled and operated and the kind of engine which will be installed.

According to a 1997 government decision, the present mix of energy resources will be diversified by facilitating import of natural gas in large quantities, and future power plants will be mainly Combined Cycle Gas Turbines fueled by natural gas. These decisions, which are aimed at diversifying Israel’s energy basket, will reduce the environmental impacts of oil and coal combustion for power generation. Moreover, the government determined that up to 20% of generating capacity will be allocated to Independent Power Producers in the electricity generation sector.

The Ministry of National Infrastructures grants financial support for demonstration projects, energy conservation activities and energy conservation surveys. There are no regulations, incentives or subsidies directed at consumers or industries. However, the government has stimulated progress in the development of alternative energy sources by providing financial support for the formation of a consortium, CONSOLAR Ltd., aimed at developing and commercializing solar energy technologies.  The consortium is composed of four industrial corporations and three research institutions.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Although Israel has not formulated an approved sustainable energy strategy, it has prepared a draft document on sustainable development in the energy sector which is based on the following elements:

The country’s primary goal is to ensure reliable and high quality supplies of energy while preserving environmental quality to create the foundation for long-term sustainability.  Meeting this challenge requires rethinking as to the optimal structure and operation of infrastructures and redefinition of the relationship between the government and private enterprise. Energy consumption in Israel, especially that of electricity, is growing comparatively faster than in most of the Western world.  The recent discovery of natural gas off the Israeli shore will introduce a new environment-friendly energy source for electricity generation, which should reduce both the costs and the environmental damage of electricity generation while enhancing reliability and quality of supply.

In the short-term and according to a 1997 government decision to diversify the country’s energy supply by the addition of natural gas, a switch to natural gas is advocated in coming years.  It is anticipated that the potential consumers of natural gas will include existing and future power plants, industrial energy users, petrochemical industries using gas as a feedstock, industrial cogeneration plants and the commercial sector.  A transmission network has been designed to be able to accommodate Israel’s future gas requirements.  A master plan on natural gas was formulated by the Ministerial Committee for Interior and Services. The goal is to use four million tons of natural gas by 2005. It is anticipated that the share of natural gas will be approximately 25% of the total energy basket in 2025.

Israel’s sustainable development document on energy has targeted conservation, especially in buildings, industry, transport and water, as an important measure for achieving sustainable energy development in the short and long term. The Ministry of National Infrastructures estimates that it is possible to reduce energy use by 21% based on investments which will be paid back within 5 years.  It is estimated that energy consumption in buildings may be decreased by 25-40% by utilizing green building parameters. The Ministry of the Environment has spearheaded a green building initiative which is expected to promote energy efficiency and conservation through natural and innovative techniques for heating, cooling and lighting. The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Education have cooperated on a green building in educational institutes initiative as well. An Israel Center on Green Building, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, the Israel Building Center, the Raanana-Kfar Saba Municipal Unit and the Israel Economic Forum for the Environment has recently been established.

Plans for the prevention of environmental degradation are incorporated within the operational permits of power generating facilities.  The plans call for stringent regulations and control procedures, including the establishment of monitoring networks, to ensure that environmental quality is not degraded due to the operation of the power plants.  Environmental supervision over fuel oil fired facilities is performed within the framework of personal decrees issued under the Abatement of Nuisances Law of 1961.  These decrees spell out specific steps which the polluter must take to reduce pollution and prevent the degradation of environmental quality. Inter alia, the personal decrees spell out limitations in the sulfur content of the fuel oil. According to an agreement between the Ministry of the Environment and the Israel Electric Corporation on pollution prevention from power generating stations, the Electric Corporation will be required to switch to the use of low and very low sulfur fuel in its generating stations, will install scrubbers in the Hadera power plant, will introduce natural gas to the energy production system by 2003, will phase out old oil-powered stations and replace them with combined cycle gas turbines by 2005, will use best available technologies and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These measures are expected to substantially reduce air pollution from electricity production in Israel.  

The Israel Electric Corporation expects to implement plans for the production of alternative energy, including solar and wind energy, over the coming five years with the aim of supplying 20 megawatts of electricity from environment-friendly power plants by 2010.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

The scientific and technical community is most actively involved in the decision-making process on energy, largely as a result of its research and development activities. Business and industry are involved in decision-making as advisers (through energy companies and the Israel Manufacturers Association). NGOs are also involved as advisers in some issues (Israel Economic Forum for the Environment, Greenpeace, women’s organizations, etc.).  Activities of other NGOs, not directly involved in the decision-making process, are covered by the media and help raise awareness of energy related issues.

The electricity system in Israel is operated by the Israel Electric Corporation, a government-owned company which supplies over 99% of the electricity consumed nationwide. The IEC’s exclusive right to generate electricity for the sale, transmission and distribution in Israel expired in March 1996.  Presently, the electricity sector operates under the Electricity Sector Law passed in March 1996.  According to a government decision, generation of electricity will be opened to independent power producers – 10% within the borders of Israel, but not less than 900 megawatts, and 10% outside the borders of Israel. In the event that the supply of electricity from independent power producers outside Israel is not feasible, the quota for the generation of electricity by independent power producers within the borders of Israel will be increased to 20%.

Independent power producers are permitted to sell electricity directly to final customers while using the transmission services of the national and regional grids.  Tenders to independent producers are published by the government. While it does not appear that the 20% generation quota for independent power producers will be reached in the foreseeable future, the decision to advance Combined Cycle Gas Turbines fueled by natural gas in the future should create favorable conditions for the involvement of the private sector in the electricity generation sector.B  The private sector, at times in cooperation with universities, is taking a lead in the development and production of non-polluting energy (especially solar energy).  Private companies are involved in the production and distribution of new energy sources, including cogeneration, geothermal energy, photovoltaic cell technology and solar panels.

In recognition of the importance of renewable energy sources, the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Ministry of Industry and Trade approved financial support for the formation of an industrial consortium (CONSOLAR) to develop concentrated solar energy technologies aimed at future commercial applications. In addition, several Israeli companies have pioneered technologies that influence the international renewable energy industry.  One company has become a world leader in the design and installation of electricity generating equipment for low temperature heat, mainly geothermal and industrial waste heat. Coordination of the private sector with state agencies is largely through technical cooperation and financial assistance of private projects, mostly by the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of the Environment.

NGOs influence the energy consumption pattern of Israel by raising public consciousness and initiating educational activities. Internet sites as well as written literature are used to inform the public of these issues.  In addition, position papers are published and disseminated and study days are held. An Israel Center for Green Building has recently been initiated by the Israel Economic Forum for the Environment (an NGO), the Ministry of the Environment, the Israel Building Center and a municipal environmental unit.

Programmes and Projects   

Regulations in effect since 1980 require the installation of solar water heaters in new buildings. Since 1986, new residential buildings must also comply with an Israeli standard which mandates insulation levels that provide thermal comfort at reasonable energy consumption. Today, more than half of the homes in Israel have solar heaters. Israel Electric Corporation has outfitted a “solar house” in Israel in 1996.  This demonstrates the possibilities of small grid connected photovoltaic systems which could find application on available free space atop residential buildings.

The Ministry of National Infrastructures has supported a number of projects that promote energy and climate-conscious design in buildings. These include a bio-climatic laboratory which enables the study and demonstration of such subjects as energy loss in buildings, shading solutions and natural and artificial lighting.  Computer work stations enable architectural design of single dwelling and high-rise buildings aimed at achieving thermal comfort and efficient lighting with minimal energy consumption.  In addition, data accumulated during a recent study on daylight luminance has been translated into a designer’s manual for efficient utilization of natural luminance. A task force composed of experts in climate-conscious design is being established to provide consultation on urban development projects.

Efforts have been made to improve the fuel quality of vehicles and to update emissions standards.  In 1999, the sulfur content of diesel for transportation was reduced from 0.2% to 0.05%, with plans for a further reduction to 0.015% in the year 2000.  Israel’s major bus cooperatives have recently switched to so-called city diesel (0.015% sulfur) in some major cities.

In addition, lead-free gasoline and catalytic converters have been introduced, the benzene content of fuel was reduced from 5% to 1%, roadside inspection and enforcement of emissions standards has been increased with the aid of dedicated mobile air monitoring units, demonstration projects on buses have been initiated with regard to diesel oxidation catalysts and particulate traps.  Plans are being advanced to switch at least part of the public transportation system in Israel to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pending the results of tests and experiments.

The Ministry of National Infrastructures grants financial support for demonstration projects, energy conservation and activities. Regulations require large-scale industrial consumers of energy to appoint energy conservation officers, to monitor energy consumption and to conduct energy conservation surveys. The Department of Infrastructure Resource Management provides technical consulting and guidance, promotes education and encourages demonstration projects for energy conservation. Education targeted at professionals includes the establishment of advisory services for plants and institutions, workshops for energy conservation officers and professional literature on subjects such as air conditioning, steam boilers and water pumping.  

The study on options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions proposes new approaches and innovative technologies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The approaches relate to energy production, industry, domestic and commercial energy consumption, transportation, waste and agriculture. In addition to a gradual transition to cleaner fuels as a result of greater environmental awareness, current energy policy calls for increasing the use of natural gas, upgrading the efficiency of the power station system, encouraging commercialization of processes and technologies for clean energy production, exploiting alternative energy sources available in Israel and reducing energy loss as a result of long-distance transport. Other projects relate to waste and sewage sludge treatment, energy production in combined cycle, cogeneration, energy-conscious building, transport improvements, industrial improvements and agricultural changes

Status   

Urban and rural household have access to energy.

Israel has very limited energy resources. Its energy economy is based on imported fossil fuels.  In 1998, the annual supply of primary energy was about 18 million TOE (tons of oil equivalent) with fossil fuel comprising 98% of the total (72% crude oil and 28% coal). Domestic solar water heaters provide approximately 2% of the primary energy supply and natural gas energy currently stands at 0.1% of the gross energy consumption.  Both these forms of energy are being developed for larger consumption in the future.

Total Primary Energy Supply

Thousand Tons of Oil Equivalent (TOE)

 

1997

1998

Percent Change

Crude Oil and Petroleum Products

11,177

11,875

6%

Coal

  5,466

  5,748

5%

Solar Energy( 1) and Alternative Energy Resources

     466

     487

3%

Natural Gas

       17

       11

-35%

Export of Electricity

      -95

    -104

9%

Total Primary Energy Supply

17,031

18,016

6%

Transformation (2)

  5,548

  5,938

7%

Final Energy Consumption

11,483

12,078

5%

 

 

 

 

 1.    Used for domestic heating

2.    Net energy transferred from primary energy, including electricity generation and oil refining.

Israel's energy economy is based on fossil fuels, mainly oil and coal. Data on the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere from fuel combustion show significant declines in the levels of sulfur oxides and lead, increased emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, and no significant change in concentrations of suspended particulate matter.

Oil represents the most important source of energy (about 66% of the gross energy consumption). In 1998, approximately two-thirds of the national energy needs were supplied by oil. Since domestic production of crude oil is insignificant, most resources to meet Israel’s energy needs are imported. Oil shale is the only major fossil fuel resource to have been discovered in Israel. Its quality varies and ranges between 5% and 20% of organic carbon. Research has been conducted on the development of technologies to utilize oil shale as an energy source.

Coal is the second most important source of energy (more than 30%). Solar energy provides about 3% of the consumption (used mostly for domestic water heating). It is expected that solar energy will contribute more substantially to the energy economy in future years. Natural gas is less developed in Israel than others classic forms of energy. Today, about 0.1% of the Israeli gross energy consumption is from natural gas, but as per a government decision and a master plan, natural gas will become more prominent in the national energy balance in coming years.  Significant reserves of natural gas have recently been discovered offshore Israel and will be used to implement the government decision to diversify the country’s energy supply by the addition of natural gas.

Israel is among the world leaders in the development and utilization of solar energy technology.  Most homes use solar water heating, reducing national fuel consumption by approximately 3%.

At present, solar heating is used in Israel for two main applications: domestic heating in more than 50% of the homes in Israel and evaporation ponds in the Dead Sea for sodium chloride production and for crystallization of sodium chloride and carnallite.  Solar energy accounts for about 3% of the gross energy consumption.

Wind energy, geothermal energy and other forms of sustainable energy are only at experimental stages at this stage, and are not expected to contribute significantly to Israel’s energy economy. Their potential is assessed at less than 3% of the energy demand.  

Trade liberalization, privatization and globalization will improve the energy alternatives available to Israeli consumers, especially since these trends will impact positively on the development of alternative and renewable sources of energy.  The development of potentially cheaper energy sources and the introduction of independent power producers into the energy market will increase competition and efficiency.  Increased competition will have positive impacts including:

Challenges  

Production and consumption of energy cause degradation of the environment mainly by atmospheric pollution. Fuel combustion (including space heating, motor vehicles and industry) is responsible for a significant part of pollutant emissions in Israel. For example, in 1999, it was responsible for the emission of 265,375 tons of sulfur oxides, 410,141 tons of carbon monoxide, and 309,793 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 62,022 tons of carbon dioxide.   Energy production also impacts on water quality as follows:

An analysis of the relative contribution of such sectors as transportation, electricity production and industry to air pollution reveals the following: motor vehicles are the foremost polluters in terms of particulates (especially diesel vehicles) and nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions.  Electricity production is responsible for a significant part of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. Industry is responsible for significant emissions of particulates and sulfur dioxide.  An analysis of air pollution trends in recent years reveals continuous increases in pollutant emissions with the following exceptions:

In terms of geographical areas, the densely populated Tel Aviv area requires the most immediate attention in improving energy use and efficiency, mostly for transportation. The contribution of motor vehicles to air pollution is especially problematic.  Firstly, car emissions occur at ground level, with little opportunity for dispersion.  Secondly, the mixture of pollutants including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds is particularly reactive and is a major factor in the formation of photochemical smog.

The fact that most of the energy production sector is public constitutes a structural barrier against development and use of renewable energy sources and cleaner fossil fuel techniques. It is anticipated that increased competition will allow small and clean producers to sell electricity to the distribution system and will accelerate the move to clean energy. Additional barriers include insufficient government allocations for research and development on “clean” energy production and renewable energy sources and lack of economic incentives for developing and using clean energy sources.

Today, electricity produced by burning fossil fuel is subsidized, and external costs of producing and consuming this fuel are not internalized. In choosing between energy alternatives, the elimination of subsidies and the internalization of external costs must be taken into account.  In order to meet the goals of environment-friendly energy, a number of steps must be taken.  These include: an economic climate free of distortions, incentives and financial tools, and the promotion of research and development at all levels.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

To promote public awareness, the Ministry of National Infrastructures operates an advisory office and a toll-free telephone number for advice on energy conservation.  Leaflets are available to the public on all major home appliances. The Ministry of the Environment, in cooperation with additional bodies, is spearheading programs for energy conservation in the domestic sector through a green building initiative.

NGOs are actively involved in the promotion of public awareness of energy-environment related issues, especially through the media.  Under the leadership of the Ministry of the Environment, the government is promoting public awareness of energy-environment issues. Special days and weeks are dedicated to subjects such as green transportation, air pollution abatement and green building.  Tel Aviv joined hundreds of European cities on September 22, 2000 in a day dubbed "In town without my car." Only buses, emergency vehicles and municipal service vehicles were allowed to enter the city center. The event was organized to increase public awareness of air pollution and to underline the benefits of environment-friendly alternatives such as bicycles and public transport.    The Center for Educational Technology has an Internet site with a virtual library dedicated to numerous issues, one of which relates to energy-environment issues, especially solar and wind energy.

 In 1985, environmental education centers were established throughout Israel within the framework of municipal environmental units. Today, thirty-five local environmental education and information center operate throughout the country. Among other subjects, energy-environment related issues have a central place. To assimilate energy conservation principles, students are exposed to the subject at different grade levels.  An energy conservation curriculum program is included in the Education Ministry’s program for fifth to seventh grades.  Environmental NGOs, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, also play a major role in promoting early awareness of energy-environment related issues. Organizations such as the Herschel Center have compiled a Resource Center with an educational section. A Green Audit Kit has been developed for schools and kindergartens which raises environmental issues including energy.

Training programmess dealing with energy and environment related issues are conducted by government ministries and academic institutions. The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of National Infrastructures deal with such issues as well as universities (the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Center of Rehovot, to name just a few).   The private sector also conducts training programmess on energy related issues.

An International Conference of the Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Quality Sciences is held every two years, with sessions devoted to energy-environment issues. In addition, a Sde Boker Symposium on Solar Electricity Production is organized every 18 months.

The Israel Electric Corporation has visitor centers in three major power plant sites throughout the country.  In addition, the Ministry of the Environment organizes study days on environment and energy related issues. At the solar education facility at the Sde Boker campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, several educational and outreach projects have been launched aimed at increasing public awareness of the importance of solar energy.  The visitor’s programme offers demonstration tours as well as advice to individuals and groups on solar energy. 

Information   

The study on options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions proposes new approaches and innovative technologies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The approaches relate to energy production, industry, domestic and commercial energy consumption, transportation, waste and agriculture. In addition to a gradual transition to cleaner fuels as a result of greater environmental awareness, current energy policy calls for increasing the use of natural gas, upgrading the efficiency of the power station system, encouraging commercialization of processes and technologies for clean energy production, exploiting alternative energy sources available in Israel and reducing energy loss as a result of long-distance transport. Other projects relate to waste and sewage sludge treatment, energy production in combined cycle, cogeneration, energy-conscious building, transport improvements, industrial improvements and agricultural changes. 

National estimates of air pollutant emissions play an essential role in air resources management.  The Ministry of the Environment, in cooperation with the Central Bureau of Statistics, has prepared annual estimates on the countrywide quantities of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere from fuel combustion. The Central Bureau of Statistics also compiles and analyzes information on several energy-related issues.  A national air quality monitoring system has been established which includes 24 monitoring stations, three regional centers and a national control center.   Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been developed and used in Israel in recent years. These relate to energy and energy-related issues such as air pollution and oil pollution.

Such information is disseminated mostly by government publications and through the Internet. The web sites of the Ministry of the Environment and of the Ministry of National Infrastructures provide information on these issues, including monitoring results.  The annual report on the state of the environment in Israel (in Hebrew), published by the Ministry of the Environment, provides data on energy related issues. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment publishes annual results of air quality monitoring in Israel and organizes study days and forums on the subject (in Hebrew).  An air quality index is published in the press and the media plays a role in publishing information on energy related issues in general.  NGOs also play a vital role in disseminating information on energy related issues at the domestic local level.

At the international level, information in English is available on the web site of government agencies and major Israeli NGOs. Reports of the Central Bureau of Statistics are available in English and Hebrew in written form and on the Internet.  Written information in English is available in quarterly publications of the Ministry of the Environment (Israel Environment Bulletin) and in periodic reports on the state of the environment in Israel (The Environment in Israel).  Israel has recently submitted its First National Communication to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The publication includes data on energy related issues.  The Ministry of National Infrastructures publishes English booklets on Israel’s National Infrastructure which include information on Israel’s energy economy.

Information on energy and energy-related issue is made available to the public. Internet web sites include the following Websites of the:

Ministry of National Infrastructures www.mni.gov.il

Ministry of the Environment www.environment.gov.il

Israel Electric Corporation www.israel-electric.co.il

Central Bureau of Statistics www.cbs.gov.il

Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel www.spni.org.il

Israel Union for Environmental Defense www.iued.org.il

Heschel Institute for Environmental Learning www.heschelcenter.org

Research and Technologies   

Most progress has occurred in the development of wind and solar energy.  

In the field of wind energy, the potential of this non-pollutant form of energy has been estimated at about 600 megawatt. A 200 kilowatt wind facility has been erected at Yodfat, in the lower Galilee, as a pilot project for the possible development of wind turbine farms. A wind farm on the Golan Heights has an installed capacity of 6 megawatts. 

In the field of solar energy, most homes in Israel use solar water heating, reducing the national fuel consumption by approximately 3%.  The solar tower complex at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot consists of an array of mirrors that can prove up to 3 megawatts of concentrated solar light, and an array of receivers housed in the tower. The Ministry of National Infrastructures has supported research and development in concentrated solar energy technologies at the solar tower and some of the technologies have progressed towards a commercial stage. Progress was stimulated in this field with the formation and operation of a consortium, CONSOLAR Ltd., aimed at developing and commercializing solar energy technologies. The objectives of the project are to develop and test the technology required for the construction of a solar-thermal electric power plant and to construct a commercial solar power conversion system whose components will be integrated with a 250 kilowatt gas turbine.

The Ben Gurion Solar Energy Research Center, at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, is involved in both solar-thermal and photovoltaic applications.  The Center is used as a testing ground for a variety of demonstration facilities. A technology based on both wind and solar energy, named the “energy tower” has been developed in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.  Several companies have developed and commercialized solar energy technologies and geothermal heat technologies.

Each of the technologies described above requires two elements. Wind energy requires wind and space while solar energy requires sun and space. Studies have shown there while there is wind energy potential in some areas of Israel, such potential is not sufficient to permit large-scale production of wind-powered electricity. Moreover, the constraints of open space in a very small and densely populated country present a major obstruction.   Sun is available in Israel more than 300 days a year. However, there are several stumbling blocks to using the sun’s energy.  Since solar radiation arrives in dilute, unfocused form, large areas are required to collect significant amounts of sunshine.  Secondly, the sun provides an intermittent source of energy, available only in daytime and in clear weather.  Thirdly, while solar energy can be harvested easily in deserts using collectors, it is usually needed elsewhere in population centers where open spaces are not available.  Furthermore, while the sunniest region of Israel is in the sparsely populated Negev desert, the installation of solar facilities in this region will deplete the country’s few open spaces and may threaten desert species and ecosystems. The currently high cost of solar energy is yet another factor that must be taken into consideration.

Three main energy technologies have been developed in Israel for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner production:

Plans for light rail within cities and improved interurban train service are currently being advanced. Furthermore, efforts are being concentrated on the removal of obstacles to the introduction of vehicles powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), especially buses.

Several other technologies are currently being investigated for development.  These include biomass combustion and energy towers which create electric power and desalinated water in desert conditions, using air and a spray of water as an energy source.  The Israel Electric Corporation expects to implement plans for the production of alternative energy, including solar and wind energy, over the coming five years with the aim of supplying 20 megawatts of electricity from environment-friendly power plants by 2010.

Solar energy research is conducted both by the Israel Electric Corporation and by universities in Israel, especially the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The Ben-Gurion Solar Energy Research Center is involved in both solar-thermal and photovoltaic applications and is used as a testing ground for a variety of demonstration facilities. The Solar Tower at the Weizmann Institute of Science focuses on the utilization of concentrated solar energy.  Research projects at the 3 MW facility include development of advanced technologies for high-temperature heat and electricity generation, gasification of biomass, storage and transport of energy and development of a solar powered laser. The Ministry of National Infrastructures has supported research and development in solar energy and some of the technologies have progressed towards a commercial phase. As a result, a development and demonstration program of a complete 250 kW plant is already underway.

Oil, in its various refined forms, is the principal fuel in Israel's economy.  In 1998, approximately two thirds of the rational energy needs were supplied by oil.  Since domestic production of crude oil is insignificant, most resources to meet Israel's energy needs are imported.  Oil shale is the only major fossil fuel resource to have been discovered in Israel.  Its quality varies and ranges between 5% and 20% of organic carbon.  Research has been conducted on the development technologies to utilize oil shale as an energy source.  Significant reserves of natural gas have recently been discovered offshore Israel and will be used to implement the government decision to diversify the country's energy supply by the addition of natural gas.  Israel is among the world leaders in development and utilization of solar energy technology.  Most homes use solar water heating, reducing national fuel consumption by approximately 3%.  

Financing   

Financing of energy-related projects in Israel is mostly by public sources, including the Ministry of National Infrastructures, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Private companies fund energy related projects in the fields of solar energy and geothermal energy. To some extent, bilateral agreements on the environment with such countries as Germany and the United States allow for partial financing of projects by these countries. 

Cooperation  

Bilateral agreements signed between Israel and the USA and Germany promote the transfer of energy-related technologies.  Since 1995, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has offered a one-month international course on energy management and conservation.  Participants, mainly from developing countries, learn about available technologies and methods to utilize and conserve energy.  To date, more than 150 graduates are dispersed over 40 countries on all continents.   Because Israel has pioneered several solar energy technologies, both for domestic use and for solar power stations, the country’s solar energy developments have gained international recognition.  

Israel has entered into cooperation with the US, through the US/Israel Science and Technology Commission, to develop a commercial solar power conversion system whose components will be integrated with a 250 kW gas turbine.  Israel has signed an agreement with the European Union’s Commission on Science, Research and Development which allowed it to join the Fourth Framework Program. The Fifth Framework Programme, in which Israel is participating, includes four specific thematic programs, one of which is energy, environment and sustainable development.  

Based on technology developed in Israel, a large-scale solar powered electricity plant was developed and installed in South California’s Mojave desert by an Israel company.  Moreover, foreign and local companies, in cooperation with Israel research institutes, are investigating the commercial feasibility of an advanced solar power plant capable of generating electricity at competitive prices.   An Israeli company has taken a lead in the design and installation of electricity generating equipment for low temperature heat, mainly geothermal and industrial heat. It has installed clean power generating plants in 21 countries.

Bilateral cooperation on environmental issues, which include research and development activities, exists between Israel and several countries, among them the USA and Germany. Israel works in cooperation with Australia on programs related to solar energy.  Such cooperation also exists at the university level. Cooperation is ongoing between universities in Israel (mostly the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology at Haifa, and Weizmann Institute for Sciences at Rehovot) and universities in other countries, most notably in the United States, Western Europe and Australia.  

Because Israel has pioneered several solar energy technologies, both for domestic use and for solar power stations, the country’s solar energy developments have gained international recognition. Based on technology developed in Israel, a large-scale solar powered electricity plant was developed and installed in South California’s Mojave desert by an Israeli company.  Moreover, foreign and local companies, in cooperation with Israel research institutes, are investigating the commercial feasibility of an advanced solar power plant capable of generating electricity at competitive prices. 

An Israeli company has taken a lead in the design and installation of electricity generating equipment for low temperature heat, mainly geothermal and industrial heat. It has installed clean power generating plants in 21 countries.

The major international treaties concerning energy and energy related aspects of atmosphere are the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the London and Copenhagen Amendments.

Israel ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in May 1996 and signed the Kyoto Protocol in December 1998.  At the time of ratification it established an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change which has overseen the preparation of Israel’s national inventory of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases and of its initial reports on mitigation options and action plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Israel has established an Inter-ministerial Committee on Climate Change to oversee the preparation of Israel’s national inventory of emissions and removal of greenhouse gases and of its initial reports on mitigation options and action plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Although defined as a developing country under the Climate Change Convention, Israel is examining recommendations and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  As a party to the Montreal Protocol, Israel fully complies with all its stipulations with regard to the restriction and phase-out of ozone depleting substances.  Furthermore, as one of the world’s leading suppliers of methyl bromide, Israel enforces the restrictions placed on methyl bromide and invests major efforts in finding alternatives to methyl bromide. In an effort to raise consciousness of the Montreal Protocol and its provisions, the Ministry of the Environment published an information booklet in Hebrew entitled “Use and Trade in Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.” Israel has also participated in the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Authorities are currently examining various strategies for accelerating the phase-out of CFCs and halons.  

 

 

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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. Last update:  March 2001.

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FORESTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

A National Outline Scheme for afforestation was approved in principle by the National Planning and Buildings Board in 1993. The plan, implemented by the Jewish National Fund, calls for the planting of 200 million trees in an area of 81,000 hectares, and it designates over 15 of Israel’s total land area for the conservation of forest lands. About 50 of the JNF’s tree planting endeavors are carried out on forest lands.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available.

Status   

The forests which once covered the land of Israel were destroyed over the centuries; most of those seen today have been planted since the beginning of the century. When Israel became independent in 1948, there were about 4.5 million trees; today, their number has reached about 200 million.

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  

No information is available.

 

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This information is based on Israel's submission to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: October 1999.

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FRESHWATER

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Israel's priority in this issue is the long term conservation of water resources and extended reuse of wastewater.

Wastewater from households, agriculture, and industry can pollute the water sources. As water is so scarce, considerable efforts are being made to prevent such pollution, and effluents are recycled for secondary use. Administrative authorities have been established to control the contamination of groundwater and rivers by effluents, and to promote the restoration of the rivers. Increased awareness has resulted in improvements in existing water treatment plants and in planning of new plants that conform to the new standards on effluents. Investment in these plants has been extensive in recent years. The main use of treated effluent is in agriculture. Standards of effluent quality are strictly kept to prevent threats to health and damage to crops.  The following five areas comprise Israelis primary water policy objectives:

  1. Drinking Water Quality. The Water Commission has initiated a project for rapid sand filtration of drinking water, which aims to reduce the water turbidity level to less than 0.5 NTU which is the acceptable standard in the E.U.
  2. Water Conservation. A national campaign is being sponsored by the Water Commission, in which the use of water conservation devices at the household level is promoted. Pressure reducer devices for taps and showers, pull handle taps and double quantity dispensers for toilet cisterns are being introduced in order to reduce water consumption in households without any discomfort to the user.
  3. Water Demand Management. A shift from the traditional management of the supply side to the demand side is being introduced by the Water Commission. Water demand management is emphasized, combining certain measures which include: progressive water charges, price incentives for water reuse, public participation, water systems improvement, and introduction of advanced technologies in order to institutionalize sustainable use of water throughout.
  4. Water Resources Protection. The Water Commission adopted an overall policy for the safeguarding of water resources. The major principle is to use the best technology and best practice in industry, agriculture, and society in order to minimize the pollution of water resources. The Water Commission oversees the planning and certification of development projects in order to protect water resources and their long term conservation for future generations.
  5. Water Resources Monitoring. The state of available water resources is continuously monitored by the Hydrological Service Department of the Water Commission. Annual and periodical Reports are used to influence the planning process and to control development projects. A water resources conservation map, restricting land use to activities that are not harmful to water resources, has been produced and considered in land use planning.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

All Israeli settlements are served by public waterworks, supplying a per capita average of 90 cu.m/year. Similarly, 94% of the generated wastewater is drained to a public sewer and 80% is treated in biological treatment plants. Only 14% of the generated wastewater is drained without treatment to water courses, while 42% is reused for irrigation after secondary or advanced tertiary treatment. A national plan to increase the reuse of treated effluent for irrigation is being implemented, with a reuse target of 65-70% of the generated wastewater.

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  

No information is available

*    *    *

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

For national information on freshwater in Israel, click here:

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LAND MANAGEMENT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

All building and land use activities in Israel are regulated through the legislative framework which operates through a three level hierarchy - national, district and local.

The National Planning and Building Board (the National Board) at the top level of national planning, is composed of representatives of government ministries, local government and public and professional organizations, including nature protection bodies. The primary responsibilities of the National Board are to enact national outline schemes (NOS), review regional outline plans and serve as an appeal board for decisions of the District Planning and Building Commissions. The national level of the hierarchy includes two statutory committees: the Committee for Protection of Agricultural Lands and Open Spaces, responsible for protecting lands of agricultural value and open spaces and minimizing their loss to building, and the Territorial Waters Committee, responsible for approving all offshore structures.

The regional level is the responsibility of six District Planning and Building Commissions, composed of regional representatives of government ministries and representatives of local authorities. They receive the national outline schemes for comment, prepare their regional outlines schemes for approval by the National Board and assess plans submitted to them by the local level of the hierarchy.

The local level consists of about a hundred Local Planning and Building Commissions, serving one or more local authorities and composed of the elected members of the municipal councils.

The Local Commissions prepare outline and detailed schemes for their areas and submit them for approval to the District Commissions. Local schemes set out conditions for land and building use in local areas in order to ensure, inter alia, appropriate levels of health, welfare and cleanliness, abate nuisances, preserve historical buildings, and protect and develop special sites. Local Commissions are also responsible for decisions on development applications, building permits and action against illegal building. The Ministry of the Environment is represented on the local committees but has no voting status. In practice, however, at the district level there is more power and influence than at the local level.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The vast majority of the land in Israel is publicly owned and as such differentials in land prices can encourage or discourage people to locate in a particular area.

There is very strong protection of forest lands in Israel, most of which have been planted in the latter half of this century. The transfer of forest lands for other land uses is minimal and if this is allowed, there is an obligation on the developer to establish forest in compensation somewhere else. Specific permission is required under the provisions of NOS 22 for the destruction of forest.

Most land in Israel is nationally owned and rented out on a long term lease. This however, has led to problems of what the rights of the tenant are at the end of the lease if he seeks to change the land use designation. The Bedouin Arab population of the Negev have largely recently transferred from a nomadic pastoral lifestyle to an urban based one, but many still farm and graze flocks. Grazing licenses are available but some of their settlements lack permission and basic services. There is an official organization for Bedouin management in the Negev, but adequate settlements and housing solutions for them still remain a problem.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

A masterplan for the 21st Century, Israel 2020, was completed in 1996. This study established models for the evaluation of open space, evaluation of building density, and set the basis for revising transport policy. Following on from this the National Outline Scheme 35 for building and development was drawn up and is at a draft proposal stage. The sustainable development policy within this has three primary goals: intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity and economic growth. The main emphases are on the efficient use of land; effect on the landscape; conservation of open space; and development within settlements. There are no specific ways of dealing with possible land use conflicts in planning policy at present. However, there is a move to encourage consensus building amongst stakeholders in the planning system by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Environment.

In Israel, the issue of food security is not relevant as agriculture is technologically advanced and sufficient food is produced for the needs of the population. Likewise, because the country is small, rural development and viability are not problems. As there are pressures of sprawl and sub urbanization from the cities, there is an emphasis on trying to prevent unsuitable commercial or housing development in rural areas. The environmental aspects of open spaces and groundwater are addressed in the NOS.

Biological diversity is a consideration in open space development as well as in environmental impact assessments which are required for major plan proposals.

Management of water resources is under the control of the Water Commission which is responsible for fresh water management, allocation of water resources to users and water saving. There are specific National Outline Schemes dealing with water, sewage and runoff. In addition there is an effort to prepare management plans for various rivers with a view that this will eventually cover the entire river network. To date three have been prepared - for the Yarkon, Alexander and Kishon Rivers.

Fragile mountain areas gain protection in two main ways. The first is the designation as a nature reserve which strictly protects the area against development. The second is the designation of areas of high sensitivity which emphasizes the fragile nature of the environment. The Judean mountains around Jerusalem are under great threat of development and their conservation is currently under discussion.

Plans for the expansion of human settlements are reviewed strictly with regard to the impacts on farmland, landscape and open space, forest, wetlands and biological diversity in coastal areas. The drastic provisions of NOS 35 demand that no new settlements will be established outside of the Negev desert area and that only expansion within existing settlements, and on the edge of settlements if there is an overriding need, will be permitted.

Areas of low income are considered to be priority development areas, which means that more investment is allocated in the area and land may be released more readily for development in order to encourage economic activity.

There are no specific anticipated impacts of the El Niń o Southern Oscillation on land resources in Israel and therefore there is no relevant land management planning policy relating to this.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

The National Board and the District Commissions offer a forum for coordination among the responsible bodies for land management as members from various governmental and non-governmental organizations participate in the meetings and the decision making.

The involvement of communities and people at the local level in decision making on land use management in Israel is minimal. There are provisions for objection at the deposit stage of a plan, but the practical influence of any comments or objections is low and even the knowledge that it is possible to object is not wide spread. At present there is a growing awareness that there should be more involvement and there are several initiatives to enlist local people in decision-making. Examples include opening up discussion on the restoration of the Alexander River and policy relating to antennas in Ra’anana.

Programmes and Projects   

The total annual quantity of solid waste in Israel is about 4.7 million tons, or 2.34 kilograms per person per day including the business sector and construction debris.

In 1993, some 96% of Israel’s domestic waste found its way to about 500 garbage dumps. Most of the sites were poorly managed and many had reached or were soon to reach full capacity. Recognition of the severity of the problem led to a landmark government decision in 1993 which was later incorporated into an amendment to the National Outline Scheme for Solid Waste Disposal. The decision mandated closure of most of the country’s unregulated dumps, including Hiriya near Tel Aviv, and their replacement by 14 regional and five central landfills. In the interim, two existing landfills, Ashdod in the southern coastal area and Evron in the Western Galilee were to be equipped to serve as regional sites while Dudaim near Beer Sheva and Talya in the northern Jordan Valley were to be improved and expanded to serve as central sites for a significant part of the country’s waste, with the exception of hazardous waste. Oron, an abandoned phosphate quarry in the center of the Negev, was to be evaluated as a potential central landfill for the long term.

The decision required all landfills which appeared in the original masterplan of 1989 to comply with stringent conditions stipulated by the Environment Ministry in their business licenses. Otherwise, they would be slated for closure. An inter-ministerial team with representatives of the Ministries of the Interior, Environment, Finance and the Israel Lands Authority was appointed to classify sites slated for closure according to their economic value. It is anticipated that certain sites, such as Hiriya, will be transformed into parks while others will be rehabilitated and reused for other purposes. Where development is not economically feasible, the government should cover rehabilitation costs. About half of the 500 dumps that existed in Israel in the early 1990s have already been closed or improved. Of 77 sites that had received domestic waste on a daily basis, all but six have been closed. Today, the country’s waste is concentrated in 25 national and regional sites - 19 of which comply with stringent environmental conditions. About 80% of Israel’s municipal waste is currently disposed or treated in an environmentally sound manner.

Progress has also begun on rehabilitating garbage dumps which were closed in recent years. A few sites have already been rehabilitated according to strict environmental standards, and rehabilitation plans for others are now on the drawing board. On the other hand, plans for establishing new landfills have not fared as well. Vigorous opposition to all new landfills, motivated by the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome, had led to protracted legal battles and staunch citizen opposition. As a result, progress is only now beginning as follows: Dudaim and Talya have passed through all formal stages of planning and approval; Ashdod will serve as a landfill on a temporary basis until an alternative is found; Evron is being upgraded and expanded to serve as a regional landfill; Oron has limitations for the disposal of domestic waste, and another potential site is currently being evaluated as a central landfill in the long term; Hiriya was closed in 1998.

It is estimated that Israel uses over one million tons of hazardous substances annually (excluding fuel) with major concentrations in industrial areas such as Haifa Bay, Ramat Hovav, Petah Tikva and Ashdod. About 3500 tons of hazardous substances are transported daily over Israel’s roads. Israel’s regulations on hazardous waste establish the obligation to dispose of hazardous waste at Ramat Hovav, but they also allow for alternative methods of hazardous waste treatment under specific conditions subject to prior permission. Until the mid 1970s Israeli industries improvised their own methods of hazardous waste disposal - from storage on their own grounds to discharge into municipal waste sites, sewage systems, watercourses, the sea, vacant lots and abandoned quarries. The cumulative quantity of hazardous waste discharged into the environment without supervision or control since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is estimated at tens of thousands of tons. In 1977, Ramat Hovav, located about 15 kilometers south of Beer Sheva, was chosen as a national disposal site for hazardous substances. Geological, hydrological and demographic factors led to the selection of this location. The original plan for Ramat Hovav envisaged its operation as a treatment plant and not merely as a dumping ground. However, from the time of its opening in 1979 until 1987, wastes that arrived at the site were haphazardly received, stored and treated.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

Outline schemes at all levels incorporate resource evaluation, technologically feasible alternatives and environmental reviews and impact assessments. A National Outline Scheme 35 for conservation and development for the year 2020, which is declared to follow the principles of sustainability, is in an advanced stage of preparation. The major challenges to the development of integrated land management and the sustainable use of land resources in Israel remain the scarcity of land, water quality and quantity problems, population growth and the loss of agricultural land to other land use designations.

Although there is data on quality of the environment it is not comprehensive and so these data gaps need to be filled. 

There is a wealth of information gathered in a few ministries and research institutes but dissemination is not actively undertaken due to resource constraints. Information can however be given out according to a specific need.  The development of sustainable development indicators for the use of land resources by the Government has not yet been undertaken.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

A comprehensive analysis of open spaces has been carried out whereby the country has been divided into landscape or open space units. Parameters of biodiversity, geology, soil, flora and fauna, historical and heritage values are used in the classification. The results are used in the evaluation of open spaces for conservation or development and are shown on maps at a scale of 1:50,000. There is also a computerized geographical information systems database. The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of the Environment, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Nature Reserves Authority and the Jewish National Fund.

Environment is dealt with in a separate section of the National Statistics, including air quality, water quality, expenditure on the environment, etc. The main land inventory and mapping is done by the Israel Land Survey which is responsible for mapping and gathering information concerning land use. Data bases concerning land use are managed by the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of the Interior, and the National Parks Authority. There is a growing awareness and use of remote sensing and geographical information systems used by ministries, public authorities and large companies.

The main land inventory and mapping is done by the Israel Land Survey which is responsible for mapping and gathering information concerning land use. Data bases concerning land use are managed by the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of the Interior, and the National Parks Authority. There is a growing awareness and use of remote sensing and geographical information systems used by ministries, public authorities and large companies.

There is no specific source for land use management data but information can be obtained from Government offices including the National Bureau of Statistics, which has a site on the internet http://www.cbs.gov.il. General environmental information from the Ministry of the Environment is also available on http://www.environment.gov.il.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

No information is available

*    *    *

This information is based on Israel's submission to the 8th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: October 1999.

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MOUNTAINS

No information available.

 

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OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Marine and Coastal Environment Division of the Ministry of the Environment is the national authority responsible for all aspects of marine and coastal pollution. Other groups involved include the Ministry of Transport, Shipping and Ports Administration, non-governmental organizations (Israel Union Environmental Defense, Greenpeace-Israel) and local authorities.

The Marine and Coastal Environment Division has adopted a multi-faceted working plan consisting of detection of environmental problems along Israel's marine coastlines and territorial waters; prevention and abatement of all types of marine pollution; enforcement of national laws related to protection of the marine environment; updating of relevant legislation in accordance with international conventions and modern environmental criteria.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Ministry of the Environment is developing a comprehensive national oil spill contingency plan. According to this contingency plan, an ad hoc emergency headquarters will be set up in case of an oil spill. The headquarters will be commanded by the Shipping and Ports Authority, and will include representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Ports Authority, Israel Defense Forces, Coast Guard and local authorities.

In 1983, Israel approved a National Outline Scheme for the Mediterranean Coast with full consideration of environmental issues. The Scheme protects open space along large sections of the coastline, including nature reserves, national parks and coastal reserves. It also includes a highly effective clause prohibiting development within 100 meters of the coastline. Through a progressive GIS, the Ministry of the Environment is developing a Mediterranean Coast database, as well as a database for microbial and heavy metal monitoring stations along the Mediterranean Coast.

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   

Research efforts at various academic institutions, in conjunction with industry experts, have been made regarding marine clean-up and pollution treatment by means of oil-eating bacteria. Bioremediation has also been successfully developed and used in a number of cases in recent years.

Financing   

In recent years, Israel has made significant progress in pollution prevention and protection of the marine environment. Funds for combating marine and coastal pollution for clean-up operations are generated by the Marine Pollution Fund, totaling $700,00 annually. Income is derived from fees imposed on all oil terminals and ships calling at Israeli ports and from fines collected from violators of marine pollution prevention laws and regulations.

Cooperation

Israel ratified the 1976 Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution and its related protocols and the Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 and the 1978 Protocol (MARPOL 73/78) with Annexes 1 and 2. Efforts are currently underway to ratify Annexes 3,4 and 5 of MARPOL 73/78 as well as the 1993 Oil Pollution Responsibility and Cooperation Convention (OPRC) and international agreements for compensation in case of large scale accidents - Civil Liability Convention and IOPCF (Fund) Convention.

In November 1996, an Agreement relative to the Coastal Areas Management Programme for Israel was signed between the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan and Israel, for an 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 deals with all aspects of marine pollution: accidental and emergency oil and chemical spills from ships or terminals; polluting discharges from industrial or municipal land-based sources; dumping of waste at sea; airborne pollution into the marine environment; and litter in the sea or on the beaches. Israel's two coastlines - the Mediterranean and the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba) - are among the country's most valuable natural assets.

Israel's capacity in the Gulf of Eilat was dramatically improved in 1991 with the inauguration of a newly expanded pollution control and response center. The Gulf of Eilat's pollution control capabilities have been further expanded as a result of progress within the framework of the multilateral peace talks on the environment and the Bilateral Agreement with Jordan on Special Arrangements for Aqaba and Eilat concluded in January 1996.

Israel is an active participant in the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) which provides an important forum for regional environmental activities and cooperation to protect the Mediterranean Sea. Committed to the objectives of the Barcelona Convention, Israel signed a tri-lateral Sub regional Contingency Plan for combating major marine pollution incidents affecting the territorial sea, coasts and other related interests of Cyprus, Egypt and Israel in June 1995.

Within the framework of the multilateral peace talks, much progress has been made in the protection of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba. In view of the sensitivity and importance of this area, Israel, Jordan and Egypt agreed to cooperate in combating pollution in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba. A contingency plan has been developed whereby pollution control equipment is based in Aqaba, Nuweiba and Eilat to enable quick response and cooperation in protecting the environment. The plan saw success in September 1995 when Jordan and Israel cooperated in combating an oil spill in the Gulf. Subsequent to the Peace Treaty signed between Israel and Jordan on October 26, 1994, an Agreement on Special Arrangements for Aqaba and Eliat was concluded between the two countries in January 1996 with specific sections dealing with coordinated efforts for environmental protection in the Eliat/Aqaba area.

 

* * *

 

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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To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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TOXIC CHEMICALS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The issues involved in toxic chemicals are the responsibility of several bodies, including the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Industry and Trade, Health, Internal Security, and Defense, in addition to Customs, the police force, fire and rescue services, Israel Red Cross and the Home Front Command.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Hazardous Substances Law, 1993, provides the Ministry of the Environment with authority for the control of hazardous substances, including licensing, regulation and supervision of the various aspects of their production, use, handling, storage, marketing, import, export and transport. The administrative means for enforcement established by the law include a licensing requirement, in accordance with the Licensing of Businesses Law, for any premise engaged in the sale of hazardous substances, and a poisons permit requirement for any person dealing in toxic substances. The holder of a poisons permit, which must be renewed annually, is required to maintain a toxic substances register in which all sales and purchases of poisons are recorded. The law enables an authorized representative of the Minister of the Environment to enter any premise dealing with hazardous substances with the exception of pharmacies, for purposes of inspection, investigation or the collection of samples of hazardous substances. This authority provides the Ministry of the Environment with a powerful tool for the control and supervision of hazardous substances. The Ministry of the Environment is now investing major efforts in preparing the infrastructure for both implementation and enforcement of the law - the establishment of the permit system, discovery of the facilities requiring a permit, computerization of data and contacts with customs officials and chemical suppliers to ensure that hazardous waste is not delivered to industries which do not maintain the requisite permit.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

In a September 1993 decision, the Israeli government called for the establishment of a national contingency response system for chemical accidents, and allocated $US 22.6 million towards the establishment and operation of such a system. The system's steering committee is comprised of representatives of the police, Home Front Command, fire and emergency service, Magen David Adorn (Israel Red Cross), the Ministry of the Environment and other government ministries. Finances were allocated for the operation of the national contingency system and a two pronged contingency plan was established, consisting of an integrated action plan specifying the tasks of each body within the framework of the entire system.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information 

An Information Center on Hazardous Substances was established by the Ministry of the Environment in 1994 in coordination with the existing Home Front Command Information Center. Plans are currently being completed for the unification of these information centers into one centralized Information and Response Center for Hazardous Substances which will supply data on a 24 hour-a-day basis. The Information Center on Hazardous Substances collects data on safety, detection, identification, alertness, treatment, neutralization procedures and risk assessment. In addition, the center follows up on new developments in the area of legislation, regulation and restrictions, both worldwide and in Israel.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

The Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture have set up an ad-hoc committee to make the necessary domestic arrangements and examine the effects of joining an Internationally Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC). Israel is thus preparing the necessary groundwork to sign the instrument when it becomes a Convention.

Within the framework of the multilateral peace talks, a regional workshop was held on the issue of Management of Toxic Substances and Waste hosted by Switzerland.

 

* * *

 

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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WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

Solid Waste and Sewage

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of the Environment, through its Solid Waste Division and District Offices and the local municipalities, is primarily responsible for solid waste management. Siting of landfills and other waste disposal locations is within the authority of local municipalities and subject to the Planning and Building Law and its regulations as well as the National Outline Scheme for Solid Waste Disposal.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Water Law of 1959 establishes the framework for the control and protection of Israel's water resources, authorizing the Ministry of the Environment with responsibility for preventing pollution of water resources. Other ministries, including the National Infrastructure Ministry through the National Water Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Interior Ministry also share responsibility for the treatment of wastewater.

The impending closure of waste dumps and their replacement by a few central landfills will significantly increase the cost of solid waste disposal from $US 5 per ton of waste to an average of $US 20 per ton. Calculation of the economic and environmental costs of landfilling is expected to expedite the move to low-or non-waste technologies and to encourage the implementation of waste reduction, reuse and recycling options. To facilitate these developments, Israel is redoubling its efforts to promote recycling by every possible means -research, legislation and pilot projects. The current goal is to reach a 10%% recycling rate by 1997 for post-consumer waste and approximately 25% by the year 2000. The Collection and Disposal of Waste for Recycling Law was passed in June 1993. The law authorizes local authorities, and obliges them when so required by the Minister of the Environment, to allocate sites for recycling centers and to install recycling facilities and containers. In order to facilitate the adoption of relevant by-laws by local authorities, the Ministry of the Environment drafted a model by-law on the collection and disposal of waste for recycling.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

It is estimated that each person in Israel produces an average of 1.6 kg of solid waste a day, resulting in a total annual quantity of waste produced in the country by a population of 5.3 million equal to 3.1 million tons. Until 1993, about 96% of Israel's domestic waste was disposed in landfills in 514 waste dumps, most of which were unregulated. In June 1993, the government took a landmark decision designed to expedite the establishment of central sanitary landfills, close hundreds of illegal waste dumps and create infrastructure for environmentally-safe solid waste disposal. Since June 1993, 198 illegal dumps have been closed. It is estimated that by 1998, some 80% of the country's waste will be safely discharged at 20 environmentally-safe landfills (5 central sites and 15 local sites). As part of the Ministry's integrated solid waste management policy, several waste-to-energy plants will also be established.

By Israeli law, no industrial plant can be approved until it ensures adequate treatment of its industrial wastewater prior to discharge into the municipal system. An important issue currently being reviewed is the disposal and treatment of sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants. A Ministry of the Environment team has consolidated a policy which would require sewage treatment plants to treat the sludge to a point where it will not cause odors or attract insects. Some 30-50% of the sludge will then be used as fertilizer, with the rest earmarked for landfill disposal.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

Of the total volume of municipal wastewater produced in Israel, about 90% is collected by means of central sewage systems; 80% is treated; and nearly 70% is reclaimed for reuse, mainly for irrigation of non-food crops and animal fodder. By the year 2000, recycled wastewater is expected to provide up to 400 MCM of water per year for agricultural purposes. During the last three years, a major drive has been carried out to build new, modern treatment plants for most of Israel's major cities - Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya and Hadera.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

Sewage treatment is also a matter for concern. Because of a combination of severe water shortage, contamination of water resources, densely populated urban areas and intensive irrigation in agriculture, wastewater treatment and reuse is high on Israel's list of national priorities. Effluents constitute the most readily available and cheapest source of additional water, and provide a partial solution to Israel's water scarcity problem.

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

International cooperation has played an important role in Israel's management of both solid waste and sewage treatment. Bilateral cooperation between Sweden and Israel focused in 1995-1996 on the issue of solid waste management. Bilateral cooperation with Turkey and Egypt has focused on the issue of wastewater treatment and management. Within the multilateral working group on the environment, a regional workshop was held, hosted by Italy, on solid waste management, and attention has been given to the issue of wastewater treatment within the multilateral working group on Water. A major part of the cooperative action in the field of the environment between Israel and Palestinian Authority focuses on the two issues of solid waste management and wastewater management and treatment.

 

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For national information on solid waste in Israel, click here:

Hazardous Waste

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The main authority for dealing with hazardous wastes in Israel is the Ministry of the Environment, on both national and district levels. In addition, a few powers remain under the authority of the Ministry of Health.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Licensing of Business Regulations on hazardous industrial plants was promulgated in 1993 and requires owners of industrial plants in which hazardous substances or wastes are stored, sold, processed or produced to take all necessary measures to treat these materials according to the best available technology. Used Oil Regulations, under the Abatement of Nuisances Law, the Licensing of Businesses Law and the Water Law, came into effect in December 1993. The regulations call for the collection of used oil in specially-designed receptacles for eventual disposal either to the Ramat Hovav Hazardous Waste Site or to a recycling facility.

Israel's hazardous waste regulations require that all hazardous waste be properly treated, recycled or deposited at the Ramat Hovav National Disposal and Treatment Site for Hazardous Waste, located south of Beersheba, the Negev. While these regulations are implemented by the majority of Israel's large scale industries, solutions have not yet been found to the problems encountered by small scale industries, some producing only a few tons of hazardous waste a year. Efforts are currently being made to find economically feasible methods of transporting the hazardous wastes produced by these plants to the Ramat Hovav site. At Karnat Hovav, a state-of-the-art incinerator is currently being built, capable of burning about 15,000 tons of organic materials per year.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

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 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was signed in 1989 and ratified in 1994. The latest information was provided to the Basel Convention Secretariat in 1995. In compliance with the requirements of the Convention, the Ministry of the Environment promulgated regulations, under the Hazardous Substances Law, dealing with the import and export of hazardous wastes.

Israel is currently reviewing disposal and treatment options for other types of problematic wastes, such as medical waste. A joint committee of the Ministries of the Environment and Health, working according to guidelines on biological waste set by the World Health Organization, has called for the establishment of 15-20 regional disposal centers at main hospitals throughout the country.

 

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For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:
For national information on hazardous materials in Israel, click here:

Radioactive Waste

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Part of the responsibilities of the Ministry of the Environment's Radiation Division include supervision of radioactive materials and radioactive waste facilities. The authority for low-level radioactive waste management in Israel is the radiation officer appointed by the Minister of the Environment under the Pharmacists Regulations on radioactive elements. The regulations authorize the officer to issue a license for waste disposal services, after consulting with the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

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   

Israel's prime concern in the management of low-level radioactive waste, produced by hospitals, research laboratories and institutions, and industrial and agricultural premises, is population safety and environmental protection. The Nuclear Research Center in the Negev operates and monitors Israel's only national disposal site for radioactive waste. The Ministry of the Environment operates a computerized database management system on radioactive materials, with data on licensing, import and distribution, waste disposal and transportation. Supervision of the disposal of radioactive waste has improved recently, and a report was prepared based on the number of drums containing radioactive waste which were transferred from all institutions in Israel to the national disposal site in the Negev. Within the framework of the advisory committee on radiation, a report on waste disposal and treatment procedures has also been prepared.

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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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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