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National Priorities for the Environment in Israel - Position Paper I

Prof. Yoram Avnimelech
Cite As:
Avnimelech Yoram . National Priorities for the Environment in Israel - Position Paper I Haifa Israel: Samuel Neaman Institute, 1999.
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Environmental quality in Israel requires urgent action and numerous emphases. We are in a position where the air we breathe is, in many cases, polluted way above standards, sickness and mortality, caused by environmental pollutants are today a common occurrence and there are thousands of such cases. In some areas in the country environmental diseases are spreading and affecting even grammar school children. Clean water is almost non existent; garbage is heaped up in garbage dumps only part of them comply with international standards. State land, our most scarce resource, is highjacked for all kinds of uses without any planning. This eventually will lead to the disappearance of the country's open areas and green lungs. The towns are filthy, overloaded with fume emitting vehicles, and the beaches are stolen step by step by real estate entrepreneurs in cooperation with heads of local authorities. Environmental planning and a resolved environmental policy are essential. National policy in the area of environmental quality must, however, be based on setting priorities. Everywhere, and especially in Israel, where no emphasis was given to resources and environmental quality planning during the last decades, there are thousands of subjects demanding action. But the ability to act is limited and it is impossible to solve all the problems immediately. There is danger that without setting priorities and preferences the limited resources will be scattered without making any effective contribution because a considerable part of them will be allocated for marginal subjects which will lead to public scorn and mistrust.

During the last year over 100 professionals, experts in the various branches of environmental quality discussed the setting of priorities and preferences for environmental action in Israel. In each area a background paper was prepared which was passed on to other experts for comments. At the end of this stage workshops were held to discuss the proposals, and recommendations for action in the area under discussion were presented. In this work abstracts of the original works are presented. These abstracts were given to the various teams. Also presented are the summaries of the discussion and the recommendation of the expanded team for priorities in the different areas. (In the appendix to this brochure the background papers are presented as is, as submitted by the area coordinators). We are certain that the material crystallized during the year long work will serve as the basis for decisions and determine positions in the area of the environment, by governmental agencies, other executive agencies active in the area of environment as well as by public agencies active in this field. We also assume that the publication presented herewith will be studied by and be of interest to the public and serve as educational material on the subject.

With all the importance in submitting this work we have no intention of presenting a working paper of ever lasting validity. The emphasis in this work was to set an order of priorities and activities in the short range, in the region of five years. The editors of the work and those who initiated it intend to continue this work as a dynamic activity and ongoing updating of the recommendations for priorities and preferences in the area of environment in Israel. Besides the need to update the recommendations, the dynamic action to update the material has its own merit. Continuous work of a professional and independent forum will serve as a very important framework for professional discussion and setting a professional framework for orderly and purposeful activity in the area of the environment in Israel.

In future the updating of priorities and preferences will be examined, as well as the realization of the recommendations and their execution.

We hope that the publication of this work will constitute an important contribution to the advancement of environmental subjects in Israel, subjects which require very much promotion, cultivation and action, in order to protect the country entrusted to us, protect the environment and create conditions which will provide the country's citizens with a quality of life in an environment of quality.

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