Promoting Environmental Sustainability

About the project
The need – The project was developed in response to the urgent need to amend public policies regarding urban planning and sustainability in order to redress the unfair distribution of environmental hazards and health risks placed on the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel. Despite recent efforts by the government to promote environmental initiatives and its approval of a number of new environmental protection laws since its entry into the OECD in 2011, the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel continues to experience multi-layered environmental discrimination.
The low level of public health documented extensively in the Arab Israeli population is the result of wide-ranging unsafe environmental practices, lack of equitable enforcement of environmental laws and an absence of urban and regional planning in Arab townships. For example, limited waste management systems in Arab localities lead to high levels of air and water pollution from illegal waste disposal and burning. Further, according to the findings of research conducted by the GS in 2013, not only are stone quarries frequently unlicensed and unregulated, but more than 50 percent of the population affected by stone quarries is Arab even though they constitute just 21 percent of the overall population. This research also revealed that stone quarries increase the incidence of respiratory diseases, eye diseases and stress-related disorders.
The improvement of these issues is impeded by both a lack of representation of Arab Israelis on decision-making bodies and a low environmental (and health) consciousness in the Arab sector. The Palestinian minority is not appropriately represented in relevant urban planning committees and as such is denied the opportunity to improve the environmental and health conditions in their communities.
Goal – The goal is to minimize or mitigate the disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects of current government policies and practices on the Palestinian minority of Israel; and to ensure the full and fair participation of that population in decision-making processes. The objectives are to i) reduce unjust and unsustainable environmental policies and practices; ii) reduce environmental hazards within, and in the vicinity of, Arab localities; and iii) develop the capacity of Arab communities to promote sustainable and just conduct and conditions.
Activities – The project will be implemented by the Health Rights and Environmental Justice Centre in the GS, which strives to deepen the public’s awareness of the importance of environmentalism and sustainable behavior, as well as advance their social and human rights. A range of methods and approaches are employed to achieve this goal including developing community advocacy; monitoring and documenting environmental hazards (particularly stone quarries in the vicinity of Arab localities); publishing reports of research findings; networking with civil society organizations and stakeholders; initiating strategic legal interventions to combat environmental hazards and injustices; launching public education campaigns; and holding the first Arab Green Festival.
Target groups – The project’s environmental mainstreaming and advocacy activities are targeted at citizen committees, journalists, women’s groups, farmers, businesses in the private sector and educational institutions, which have the capacity to promote a public consciousness of environmental justice and sustainability. The evidence based research and legal advocacy activities are targeted at policy makers and environmental offenders.

Thanks to Camera 48/  National Photography for the picture.