“I am happy to join Ben-Gurion University and lead an institution based on a vision that will revolutionize environmental and climate policy in Israel,” Zandberg said.


 Former Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (photo credit:  Dani Machlis/BGU)
Former Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg(photo credit: Dani Machlis/BGU)

Former enviromental protection minister Tamar Zandberg will head up the new National Institute for Climate Policy Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The center is meant to translate scientific knowledge about climate change into best practices that can be followed by government and industry.

The institute will be part of the new Goldman Sonnenfeldt School of Sustainability and Climate Change in conjunction with the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management.

“I am happy to join Ben-Gurion University and lead an institution based on a vision that will revolutionize environmental and climate policy in Israel,” Zandberg said. “At a time of threats and challenges, the climate crisis is a challenge that is not being marginalized and is not going anywhere,” she said.

“Climate research and science in Israel and around the world are advancing rapidly, and we must design science-derived policies that will affect reality most effectively and as shortly as possible,” she continued. “The climate crisis is worse than we thought, and we have already reached the middle of the ‘decisive decade’ in which humanity must change direction. This means that we must act now.”

BGU said that the new institute aims to create policies based on evidence, ensuring they help the environment and economy at every level of government and business. It will give political and business leaders the power to make climate policies that make a difference for people and society by bridging the gap between academia, local and national government, and industry.

 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Marcus Family Campus. (credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Marcus Family Campus. (credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)

Translating scientific data into policy 

“We saw a real need to translate scientific findings, the result of years of research, into specific policy measures, hence the decision to establish the institute,” said Prof. Yaron Ziv, head of the Goldman Sonnenfeldt school. “I am confident that we can maximize the environmental impact while ensuring scientific innovation tailored to the needs of society,” he said

The institute comes when there is a strong focus on building the western Negev “back better,” meaning more sustainably, following the October 7 Hamas massacre. The Environmental Protection Ministry has already designed some plans for improving waste management, increasing recycling, and designing more open spaces, among other efforts to improve southern Israel.

BGU in Beersheba has been at the forefront of climate research for over 50 years. It is also playing a pivotal role in rebuilding the South.

“The institute, led by Tamar, will leverage groundbreaking research at the university to design policies that will build a better world,” said Prof. Miki Malul, dean of the Guilford Glazer faculty.

As environmental protection minister, Zandberg focused on climate change policy. She was the first minister to pass a climate bill through the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. Her bill was brought to the Knesset and passed in its first reading shortly before the parliament disbanded.

It took the current government more than a year to pass a new version of the climate bill. It has not yet been presented to the Knesset, despite commitments to move such a bill forward before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which took place in late November. While the Israel-Hamas war certainly sidelined much-unrelated legislation, the delay was due more to tensions between the Energy, Finance, and Environmental Protection ministries over the bill’s details.

In 2021, Israel adopted a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 under Zandberg’s leadership.