Dialogue, Mediation and Conflict Resolution Between Industry and Community

In the past, industry has not always adequately addressed environmental issues, nor have the authorities developed laws and bylaws suitable to tackle these problems. Yet over the last decade, governmental and municipal authorities are taking a hard line on environmental issues, and public awareness of environmental risks is increasing. In recent years the chemical industry is perceived as being particularly harmful to the environment, and a crisis in the relationship between the chemical industry, the environmental authorities and the community is deepening. A similar situation can be observed in other industrial sectors such as metals and food, even when their impact on the environment is considered to be less damaging.

Over the last two decades, we are witnessing a change in the reciprocal relations between industry around the world and its neighboring communities. A tradition of disregard of environmental concerns by industry, and the criticism, mistrust and the defiance that this has engendered in the community, is gradually being replaced by attempts to negotiate, which are geared to creating peaceful coexistence between industry and its environment.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the chemistry industry has been a part of this trend. During the latter part of 2006, an agreement was reached between the industrial council of Ramat Hovav and the Ministry of Environment regarding the environmental situation in the facility's vicinity. It is safe to assume that improved communication between industry and the communities helped to improve the environmental quality in the Negev region.

This project is exploring how to reinforce this positive trend, and to implement the lessons learned in other places in Israel, particularly in relation to industries and communities in the Haifa Bay. In this suburban area of Haifa, many communities feel threatened by the proximity to heavy industry, particularly following the experience of the Second Lebanon War, and in light of the effects of environmental pollution on public health. The methodology and tools for creating agreements are being developed within the framework of this project together with all of the involved parties. The S. Neaman Institute team is cooperating in this process with representatives of the central government, local authorities, economic organizations, civilian groups and social and environmental organizations.

The main goal of this project is to promote genuine dialogue between the industrial sector and the community on environmental issues. This dialogue is designed to expedite sustainable economic development, accompanied by ongoing environmental protection measures. This project combines scientific innovation and contributions to society, the economy, and the environment. Furthermore, it is intended to serve as a model for additional development and applications in Israel and in other countries.
This project employs findings from several other S. Neaman Institute projects, particularly "A National Plan for the Chemistry Industry in Israel" and "Air Pollution in the Haifa Bay"; interdisciplinary knowledge on how to constructively cope with complicated disputes, and lessons from the Chemistry Industry initiative (Responsible Care) in many countries worldwide, and recently in Israel as well.


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