Perhaps more than any other organization, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) has been instrumental in increasing public awareness of nature and environmental protection. In its 40 years, the SPNI has established 26 field study centers, 33 branches and community centers, hundreds of youth clubs and comprehensive teacher training programs. Through a broad-based program of education, conservation, research and public action, the SPNI involves over a million people annually (about 20% of Israel’s population) in its activities.
The SPNI was involved in the creation of the Industrial Association for Environmental Quality (ALVA) in 1990, formed by the SPNI, Ormat Turbines, Ltd, and the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, to instill an environmental approach into industry. Recently it has established a Recycling Forum within its framework, with the cooperation of the public, government, local authorities and the industrial sector.
The Council for a Beautiful Israel (CBI), established in 1968, is active in promoting aesthetic and environmental values in the home, the workplace, the school and the neighborhood. An important milestone in the growing environmental commitment of the CBI was the inauguration, in May 1992, of the CBI Center for Environmental Studies in Tel Aviv.
Life and Environment, established in 1975, is the umbrella organization for all of Israel’s non- governmental organizations. It represents Israel’s environmental bodies as a lobby group at the level of the Knesset, government ministries and local authorities, it formulates solutions to. environmental problems, it publishes and disseminates environmental information and it represents Israel’s environmental NGOs on the international front.
The establishment of the Israel Economic Forum on the Environment in 1991 represented an important breakthrough in the greening of industry in Israel. The aim of the forum is to encourage industry, agriculture, transport and other economic sectors to incorporate environmental concerns into their socio- economic development planning, alongside economic and operational concerns. The organization numbers over 120 businesses and organizations.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) has been instrumental in reclaiming, developing and afforesting the land of Israel since its establishment in 1901. Greening strategies implemented by the JNF since 1948 have succeeded in pushing the edge of the desert southward, reversing the process of desertification. The JNF has developed innovative methods of harvesting scarce natural precipitation and has initiated water conservation projects to cope with the water scarcity problem in Israel.
EcoNet Israel, established in 1990, is an environmental research, information and advocacy organization which seeks to inform Israelis about key environmental issues. EcoNet has been instrumental in helping to establish a number of environmental NGOs in Israel as well as setting up an environmental library, and a phone and fax hotline which directs inquiries to their correct source of help.
The establishment of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (UED) in 1990 marked a milestone in the coming of age of Israel’s environmental organizations. The UED is a public interest law group which provides free legal advice and representation to individuals and grassroots organizations. Through a combination of lobbying, press releases and legal proceedings, the UED has been successful in bringing about more rigorous enforcement policies by government agencies. Where need be, it has turned to the courts, including the High Court of Justice.
Other grassroots organizations have been established in most areas of Israel, focusing on local issues as well as on national and international issues. Alongside environmental non-profit associations, Israel’s public service organizations have incorporated environmental issues in their agenda. These include the Histadrut Federation of Labor, women’s organizations and others.