22/04/2010 07:52

Israeli Umbrella organization awards prizes for most and least environmentally friendly conduct.

For the seventh year in a row, the Green Globes will be awarded by Life and Environment, the umbrella organization of environmental organizations in Israel, to activists, groups and companies for environmental action.

A Black Globe will be given for actions that will result in the most harm to the environment.

Timed to coincide with Earth Day, the ceremony will be held on Thursday afternoon in Tel Aviv.

The winners:
Protecting Open Public Spaces Committee to Save Palmahim Beach – Beginning with a small protest tent, Adi Lustig and her committee have grown into an organization that has generated government attention from the highest levels to prevent a planned 350-apartment holiday village from appropriating the beach, about 10 km. south of Tel Aviv.

The state comptroller has discussed the beach in a recent report, the committee roped in the Israel Union for Environmental Defense to push back construction to 100 meters from the water and it achieved a total planning freeze until the attorney-general rules on the matter.

Along the way, Lustig and her committee brought hundreds of people, including MKs, mayors and others, to show them the natural beauty of the beach.

Amit Mendelson – An engineer and urban planner, Mendelson has been a volunteer protecting the open spaces in the center of the country, where he has initiated a series of nature and heritage surveys.

He has also fought successfully to push forward a master plan for the Center that preserves open spaces such as the Daffodil Valley at Pi Glilot, the Glilot Valley, Ramat Gan and the eastern Poleg Hills.

Business sector
PowerSines – The Or Yehuda-based global company has a patented Rightvoltage technology that sends exactly the right amount of voltage to lighting systems and electric motors. Sending the right voltage can save as much as 38 percent of the customer’s electricity.

The company has achieved an impressive client roster including 100 municipalities, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, McDonald’s, Toys “R” Us, Microsoft, Intel and Amdocs.

Regional cooperation for public health
The Public Committee to Protect the Environment in Kafr Kanna, Mashhad and Mitzpe Hoshaya – The mixed Jewish-Arab group prevented an aluminum casting factory with a serious potential to pollute from being built in the Tziporit industrial area. Through their efforts, a regional planning committee decision to approve the factory was overturned by a higher body.

Environmental education
Good Water Neighbors, Friends of the Earth Middle East – The organization has created partnerships between 25 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian communities.

Paired communities, which sit on the seam line and on top of shared water resources, transform the potential conflict areas into a joint educational project focusing on water.

Members of each community come together to implement good water management on a local level, irrespective of progress, or lack thereof, in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Civil servant
Sharon Nissim, director of the Kishon Stream Authority – Nissim leads the fight to rehabilitate the Kishon Stream. The pollution in Kishon Stream became a national issue after a group of navy commandoes and divers became ill after training in it several years ago. The stream is slowly making a comeback, despite pressure from industrial interests in the Haifa Bay area.

Urban sustainability
Community gardens – It began in Jerusalem, and has spread to dozens of cities. About 200 community gardens are planted and tended by locals.

The community gardens become a platform for discussing and implementing urban sustainability. Composting, growing one’s own vegetables, recycling and reusing, water use and other topics come to life through the small gardens.

And the Black Globe goes to…
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his proposed planning reform – Environmentalists have come out very strongly against the proposal. They argue that it will reduce already limited public involvement in planning, rip out a layer of oversight, and put more power in the hands of local planning committees that are far more susceptible to bribery. It also threatens open spaces and public lands.

The Responsible Planning Staff, a joint environmental and social groups initiative, also objects to what it perceives as the behind-closed-doors attempts to get the reform passed without sufficient public input.

Earth Day was launched 40 years ago in the US, as a way to generate public enthusiasm and support for environmental conservation. About 1 billion people around the world are expected to mark the day on Thursday.