Israel Environment Bulletin Autumn 1993-5754, Vol. 16, No. 4

UPDATE ON THE YEAR OF THE ENVIRONMENT

The Year of the Environment in Israel was officially launched on September 6th, 1993 but the events associated with the year began long before. Dozens of activities have already taken place, their impact exceeding initial expectations. In the past few months, no day has gone by without media coverage of environmental issues, without environmental lectures, happenings, exhibitions or cleanups somewhere in the country. Requests for information and educational material have poured into the Ministry of the Environment in the thousands. Specially-prepared pamphlets, car stickers, posters, bookmarks and garbage bags for vehicles have been distributed to the general public. Pamphlets and stickers in English and Arabic are currently being prepared.

The formal education system will be flooded with new curricular material in December, the official opening of "Environment Year" in the school system. The Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI) has already published several instruction booklets with specific proposals on the active study of such subjects as recycling, water conservation, pollution, etc. Moreover, in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, the SPNI has published three textbooks on the environment especially geared for elementary school students. The books are part of a comprehensive project designed to implement a new approach to the teaching of science and technology in primary schools. A special B.A. program in environmental studies, the first of its kind in Israel, was inaugurated this year in the Tel-Hai College and an Environmental Academy designed for teacher training was opened in September in Menahamiya.

A 1993-94 "Green Diary" was published by Eretz magazine under the patronage of the Environment Ministry. The entire diary is made of recycled carton and paper. The diary features drawings and descriptions of plants or animals alongside a potpourri of environmental information and proposals for citizen action on behalf of the environment.

The multitude of events which have already taken place in Israel as part of Environment Year are too many to enumerate here, but suffice it to say that events such as the Environment Ministry’s week-long anti-litter campaign around government buildings under the slogan "Cleanliness Begins at Home" have made a major impact. Throughout the country, organizations and citizen groups are taking part in local and regional events. The kibbutz movement, for example, has declared its intention to establish a model ecological kibbutz while the tourism sector is redoubling its efforts to integrate tourism and the environment.

Following are only a few of the highlights of Environment Year events thus far:

  • June ’93-May ’94: Exhibition entitled "Landscape" in the Youth Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The exhibition focuses on the encounter between man and the scenery around him and features visual displays alongside active participation by the public using computers and audio-visual equipment.
  • August 22-23: Issue of a set of three stamps on the environment, each at a value of NIS 1.20, by the Philatelic Service. The stamp features the symbols of air, water and earth, with the sign "V" incorporated in them. The tabs display the sun, sea-birds and a plant. An "Environment Day" was included in the Israel stamp exhibition "Telephila ’93."
  • September 6: Inauguration of the Year of the Environment in the Hiriya landfill and at the Presidents’ Residence in Jerusalem (see accompanying article).
  • September 26: Environmental happening in Tel Aviv organized by the volunteer youth movement, "Youth for Youth." Activities included battery collection, recycling and recruitment of "cleanliness trustees."
  • September 30-October 6: Environment week at the Safari Zoological Park in Ramat Gan featuring active participation by the public and an environmental exhibition. An elephant was recruited to stamp down beverage cans showing the advantages of waste compaction.
  • October 4: "Life to the Rivers," a musical happening calling for the rehabilitation of the Amud River and other streams, drew thousands to the Galilee area near the Kinneret. The event was a joint project of the SPNI, the Jewish National Fund, the Nature Reserves Authority, the Ministry of the Environment and the Zefat municipality. It hosted singers, artists and composers and included marches and hikes.
  • September 30-October 6 (Succot holiday): Thirty information stations were dispersed throughout the country from the Golan Heights in the north to Ramat Hovav in the south, as part of a special campaign organized by the Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with local environmental units. Tens of thousands of travelers and hikers stopped at the stations, picking up environmental material, asking environmental questions and signing on as "cleanliness trustees."
  • October 3-4: Environmental happening in the Tel Aviv Museum, entitled "The Green Succah."
  • October 4: Inauguration of the "Sources of the Yarkon National Park" near Petah Tikva. The festivities included a march along the Yarkon River, recreational and sport activities and greetings by the Minister of the Environment and other dignitaries.
  • October 11-13: An international exhibition on quality of life, ecology, recycling and environmental and landscape protection, organized by Sigma Team and sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment, was held at the congress grounds at Kfar Hamaccabiah. Entitled "Green 1993," the exhibition featured some forty companies from Israel and abroad who exhibited innovative products in such realms as pollution prevention, sanitation, water purification, recycling, environmental design, waste transport, bins for separation at source, electronic air purifiers, waste compactors, radon detectors, radiation detectors for microwaves, etc.
  • October 19: The Information Center, together with the Ministry of the Environment, held a central study day on the environment. Representatives of green organizations, the general public, teachers and students took part in the study day which included lectures and environmental films on a variety of subjects.
  • October 29: Publication of an environmental supplement in the "Hadashot" newspaper. The supplement is being distributed in gas stations and on interurban bus routes. The supplement, published by a private company, was sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment.
  • November 10: Art exhibition using recycled materials entitled "From Material to Material." The exhibition, which opened in the Museum of the Negev in Beersheba, will wander to five additional museums during the course of the year.

    The above represent only some of the prominent events of the past few months; countless others are planned for the coming months.

    Some coming attractions:

  • The Histadrut Federation of Labor will devote the entire month of December to environmental activities.
  • December 12: Environment Day at the new central bus station in Tel Aviv.
  • December 10-16 (Hanukkah): Environmental film marathon at the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv.
  • December 13: Environmental education fair featuring the entire gamut of educational materials on the environment.
  • December 28-30: International environmental conference organized by the Jewish Agency in the Ben Gurion University in Beersheba.
  • December 28-30: International conference of jurists on environmental legislation in the Law Faculty of Tel Aviv University.