The Green Committees Project
Through our work in the EJC, and being in a close contact with Arab local authorities, we identified a crucial institutionalweakness which resulted, in our opinion, in a poor performance of local authorities in the health and environmental field. It was an eye opening realization that the department of health and environment are limited, by there role definition, to specific tasks and actions, such as collecting garbage, business licensing and etc. On the other hand, according to an amendment of the Municipalities Law, an old mechanism was revived. The environmental committees had been upgraded in two ways: first, Environmental committees became compulsory in all local authorities while they were voluntary previously; and second, a new composition of these committees was introduced according which it should include four municipality members, the senior employee in charge of the environmental issues and – this is new – two public representatives. Thus, Environmental Committees, in their new formula, provide a sound democratic mechanism, professional-political in its nature, for promoting environmental issues in a wide scope.
Based on these perceptions, we have applied a for project support to the EU for establishing and empowering Environmental Committees in three Bedouin local authorities: Ber El-Maksour, Basmt-Tabo’n and El-Kay’bia-Tabbash-ElHajajra. The proposal was accepted and another Bedouin local authority, El-Zarzer, has joined the project. The action is aiming at strengthening the local authorities capacities in Environmental planning through establishing and activating these committees. According to the action, in the first phase, the committees’ members will be recruited including the public representatives.
A study day for staffs and municipalities members was conducted in 29.5.2014 which aimed at paving the way for establishing the committees by introducing the theme which would encourage members to apply their nominee to these committees and would facilitate future cooperation between these committees and the other departments in the local authorities. By including public representatives who can demonstrate the residents’ demands based on their needs, public participation can be enhanced indirectly. Aspiring to recruit representatives from both sexes, we aim at promoting gender issues. A more active public participation is supposed to be achieved through ‘Open Days’ in which the residents will participate and get the opportunity to build channels for interaction with these committees. After establishing the committees, the members will get through a series of workshops after which they will be qualified to fulfill their role in the committees.
As the committees culture is lacking in the Arab local authorities, we hope that creating a good model in the environmental field can assist in introducing this vital mechanism in other fields resulting in enhancing the democracy proceedings in the Arab society.
This project is supported by the European Union.