This year 2007-2008 we can say that we "have arrived". SDN has become an institution in the Negev and in Israel as a whole. The Dimona Sustainable Development Project reached its apex with four SDN workers in the field and another three as consultants. Community Advisory Panels (CAPs) have proven to be a meaningful factor in decision making for the treatment of environmental hazards, as expressed by monetary investment on the part of industry at a degree, until now, unknown in Israel. Activities were based on the holistic approach using environmental, economic and social dynamics, and ranged from formal/informal education to environmental community planning. Projects include working with all segments of society, from preschoolers to adults, Bedouins and Jews, Beer-Sheva, Dimona and the Bedouin towns of Hura, Ksifa, and Tel Sheva.
*Dimona Sustainable Development Project
Meir Cohen - Mayor, City of Dimona
Eli Bronstein - Deputy Mayor and Head of Environmental Management, Dimona
Moshe Nachum - Head, Department of Education and Welfare, Dimona
Bilha Givon - Director, Sustainable Development of the Negev (SDN)
Eti Ben-Simol – Project Coordinator
Debby Lev-Hari, Agronomist/Advisor – Gardening and Landscaping
Marli Mahluf – Implementation, Gardening
Perri Davis, Environmental Advisor – ESO 14001
Edan Avidan and Ronen Hiert, SDN Employees – Environmental Surveys
Shlomit Korem and Eti Ben-Simol, SDN Employees – Educational directors
for Schools and Preschools
1. Activities in conjunction with the Local Council: SDN is an active participant on the Dimona Local Council, as a professional advisor and partner in implementing the following environmental activities for sustainable development:
a. ESO 14001 - International Standard for Development of Environmental Management – guidance for the accreditation process to the Municipality of Dimona. The purpose of ESO 14001 is to ensure that the recipient is committed to all aspects related to an environmental management system, having a positive affect the quality of the environment. In July 2008 there was an inspection for receiving accreditation. (For more information, see: http://www.iso14000-iso14001-environmental-management.com)
b. Two courses on the quality of the environment were given to employees of the Dimona Local Authority. Each course consisted of 12 meetings with a total of 60 employees participating. The course was accredited for in-service training by professional associations.
c. A request was submitted to and approved by the Ministry of Environmental Defense, to establish an Environmental Unit in the Municipality was approved.
d. An environmentally sustainable strategic plan, which was prepared by the Local Council according to the requirements of the Ministry of Environmental Defense, was approved and is being implemented.
e. The Committee for Environmental Quality is under way, implementing decisions made by the Local Council.
f. An overall city plan was prepared for comprehensive treatment of waste, a plan according to which a system for recycling has been set up all over the city.
g. The City participates in the competition for Sustainable Development in Transportation for Local Councils.
h. The "Green Areas" have been enlarged and their number has been increased.
i. Dimona was awarded the Shield of Honor, for being one of the ten "Green Cities" in Israel according to a survey conducted by the Israeli magazine "Green Gardens".
Plans for 2008-2009
a. Water Treatment Plant for Sewage began to operate in November 2008.
b. Construction has begun to construct the infrastructure for an environmentally friendly district in Dimona, designed by Architect Mati Kones.
c. Courses: Opening an additional course on Environmental Quality, level A, for municipal employees, as well one for level B. Course includes topics on recycling, poisonous substances, economic use of water, and environmental quality for school janitors and maintenance employees.
d. Continuing program for maintaining ESO 14001 standards' requirements and improvement of functioning of Municipal Environmental Management.
e. Continuing promotion of environmental education in the schools.
f. Construction of reservoir for water from the water Treatment Plant, water which will be used in irrigating city parks and gardens - planning stage.
g. Replacing existing garbage dumps to underground concealed cans.
h. Building a recycling plant and garbage dump for the municipality.
2. Education in Schools and Preschools
Goal: To develop a group of students and teachers who are aware of the environmental issues, feel a responsibility for maintaining a sustainable environment, and are willing to take positive action for promoting environmental activism.
Activities already implemented and continuing in 2008-2009:
a. Curriculum on the Quality of the Environment and Environmental Issues has been constructed and implemented in schools for many grade levels for all preschools and elementary schools in Dimona (43 preschools and 8 elementary schools), with the assistance of an M.A. graduate in curriculum development, an M.A. graduate in geology, an agronomist, specialist in gardening, who is on call for assistance, instruction, and guidance.
General Process: Construction of a Holistic Curriculum encompassing most of the learning subjects, meetings with the school staff, and separate meetings with the staff of various grade levels.
b. Developing and cultivating the outside gardens and yards of the schools, focusing on a supportive environmental learning atmosphere. The program is in cooperation and conjunction with the Local Council, including the participation in landscaping planning by professional consultation with an environmental, agronomist planner for plants appropriate to the desert climate and employment of a regular gardener.
Continual assistance in gardening includes continual improvement of outside areas, watering system, and regular care of the garden.
c. Participation in the City Committee for Excursions – assistance in building an excursion program for elementary schools in Dimona, with emphasis on the environment and in coordination with the environmental program.
d. Future plans: Wall paintings at the Appleman School as part of the Joint Improvement Project for the schools and the municipality.
Goal: To construct a curriculum for environmental education for preschoolers and develop an infrastructure for educating young children in environmental awareness and responsibility.
Activities already implemented:
a. On-going assistance in 5 preschools – Shezif, Afarsek, Sinai, Narkis, Tzalon.
b. Purchase of 43 pedagogical programs "Green Gardens" for the use of all preschools in Dimona with on-going training and guidance for the preschool teachers.
School and preschool activities planned for 2008-2009:
a. Establishment of a city ecological park in conjunction with the Yitzhak Sadeh School and the Municipality of Dimona.
b. Course for coordination of environmental education for representatives of elementary schools in Dimona.
c. Continuing activity in the school and preschool yards with the professional assistance of the agronomist for plants suitable to desert climate and a gardener with regular on-going care.
d. Shaded areas (awnings) for 4 schools.
e. Meetings with junior high school and high school principals and grade level coordinators in order to include junior high schools and high schools in the program.
f. Environment activity Program for 12 at-risk students at the Zinman High School.
g. Program for environmental activity for students at the "Menachem Begin" High School and for residents of the Hachmei Israel District, in the afternoons.
3. Activities in the community:
Purpose: Increase environmental-social awareness among the residents and other parties in the community active in city affairs, assimilating principles of sustainable development. Involvement and participation of the community in improving their surroundings and environment, and forming neighborhoods focused on environmental quality.
Activities already implemented:
a. Support for projects in the Kovshei Eilat neighborhood – increasing awareness of children at the afternoon Child Care Center Shoshanim and improving the appearance of the neighborhood. Inaugurating environmental program for activating various clubs at the child care center - environmental statues, cleaning the areas around the club houses, recycling, etc.
b. "Woman to Woman" Club (a club exclusively for women) –Environmental Awareness Course for residents. The course consisted of 10 meetings, with 50 participants. Assistance and Improvement of Gardening, including an herb garden and constructing a pergola for activities. The course ended with the women growing their own herbs.
c. Course on Environmental Awareness at the local Community Center for "Middle of the Road" (middle-aged) residents, consisting of 10 meetings and 3 excursions with 120 participants.
d. Nitzchon District – establishment of operational committee composed of residents of the neighborhood, which organized an environmental survey of hazards in the community. Two meetings were held to organize the committee and a meeting took place with a representative of the Housing Ministry and Neighborhood Renewal for dealing with the hazards indicated by the survey.
Painting electrical boxes and improving the appearance of the neighborhood in conjunction with the Youth Center "Ya'adim", the Association for Communal Buildings (apartment buildings, condominiums, etc.) and a group of volunteers from France.
e. Course "Gardening in the Desert Climate" for Pensioners, in conjunction with the Department of Welfare, Dimona Local Council. The course consisted of 12 meetings, 2 excursions and on-hands activity to improve the appearance of the Senior's Clubhouse. Ten pensioners participated in the course and afterwards this group was incorporated into the Gardening Company under contract to the Municipality.
f. Environmental activities for At-risk Youth – locating at-risk youngsters, and forming a group to plan and implement environmental activities (excursions in the Negev, bicycle trips, empowerment, etc.).
g. Course on the environment for company employees of Dead Sea Periclase Ltd., by SDN workers with the College of Management, Dimona.
h. Production of a video film "Three-Year Summary of Activity in Dimona Sustainable Development Project".
i. In conjunction with the Youth Center "Ya'adim", a group of residents from 18 to 35 years of age was recruited to act as a local core group which will lead environmental activities and projects involving sustainable development.
Activities planned for 2008-2009:
a. Hochmei Israel Neighborhood – Assistance in changing the neighborhood into a ecological area (Establishment of an operational committee, environmental survey, recycling, renewal and repairs, gardening, awnings for shade, activities in the neighborhood Community Center with the Menachem Begin Elementary School, as a "Community School".
b. Activities with volunteers from the Aye'elim University Student Group and pre-army volunteers for the community. The Group assists in the instruction of environmental topics in schools and neighborhoods, and also helps with gardening in different parts of the city.
c. Continuation of activity on the environmental project with Youth At-Risk – broadening participation of youngsters, advocating the sustainable use of the environment, contributing to the community and organizing activities relevant to the environmental awareness, in conjunction with the Municipality and in cooperation with the Shoresh Fund.
d. Dialogue with the Katan Clothing Factory in order to decrease the emission of particles and painting the facilities.
e. Public Forums (CAPs) with Periclase Factory at Rotem Plateau and the Nuclear Power Plant - to be formed.
f. Joint activities with youth groups in Dimona – Young guides for the various youth organizations - Maccabi Youth, Scouts, Group of High School Students (Work-Study Program), girls working through the National Service (work assisting in a hospital, educational institution, etc., instead of compulsory military service).
g. Courses in environmental quality for employees at the Magnesium Plant, given by SDN employees with the College of Management.
h. Recruitment of 20 activists as a nucleus for environmental-community activities in the various neighborhoods.
i. Extension of courses given at the Community Center – A workshop of 5 meetings for those who completed the first course.
Achievements of the Program:
a. Increased environmental and social awareness among municipal employees, residents, educators and all community and municipal employees in Dimona.
b. SDN involvement in varied activities and aspects of the community and the educational system, along the principles and applications of sustainable development.
c. Requests to the SDN for taking an active part as a professional consultant and participant in environmental and community activities for sustainable development.
d. Participation of funding organizations interested in being involved in the project. (hands-on participation).
e. Promoting change in environmental attitudes and perceptions among management of the Municipality and institutions within Dimona.
*Public Forums for Environmental Responsibility in the Negev
Today nine forums meet regularly between environmental activists and the industrial plants, including Bromide Compounds, Machteshim Beer-Sheva, Machteshim Ramat Hovav, Teva Tek, Environmental Services Company and Ecosol, Ramat Hovav Industrial Council, Dead Sea Works, Hadas Park, Chemagis Ramat Hovav and the surrounding communities. We maintain a dialogue with full transparency, focusing on environmental responsibility. These are the only forums of their kind, where the public together with industry build mutual trust and work in cooperation for the betterment of the environment, to find solutions to environmental problems - among them the reduction of pollution levels - by discussion and by opening up to the public at large and most importantly by encouraging the companies to invest in the use of the most advanced technological solutions in the world.
The meetings deal with subjects related to environmental quality. Each forum opens with a report concerning progress made by the company in solving environmental problems, such as sewage, quality of the air, odors and the effect of the company on the surrounding areas. The forums operate with complete transparency; all questions are answered fully. The forums include tours and meetings in the plants in order to get an impression and understand their operation and activities. Likewise experts are invited to forum meetings when their input is necessary concerning topics related to the functioning of the plant.
Currently negotiations are taking place for inclusion of three more forums, among them the factories near Haifa and the Power Station in Hadera. Discussions with the Jordanian Dead Sea Works are also in progress.
Up to now about 300 meetings have taken place with the participation of over 250 citizens and about 40 company representatives. Each forum meets on the average once every 1½ -2 months and on the average 6-7 meetings per year.
This model began in the Negev, initiated by SDN together with Bromide Compounds and the Association of Industries in July 2003. Then during the coming years, the rest of the companies and the Local Industrial Council of Ramat Hovav joined. We see in these forums an important stage in solving the environmental problems and in building trust between the industries and the general public in the Negev.
This process of discussion and transparency comprise a different way for the public to cope with environmental problems and provides an interesting basis for research. Many students from the various universities in Israel, as well as outside Israel, are studying and doing research on this process.
Much effort has been and is being invested by SDN and the industry in the Negev, in order to build a system of mutual trust between the community and the industry. Undoubtedly this process is unique to Israel. The mutual belief is that only discussion and cooperation can build a viable future for the Negev. It is important that this dialogue and transparency between industry and the community continues. Only companies which have a high level of environmental awareness and who appreciate the importance of the environment and the mutual benefit to all of such efforts are capable of opening up to the community within which they live and will be maintain honesty and transparency.
Without a doubt this is the way that industry as a whole must act. We are proud to have started the change, which is a landmark in community-industry relations. However, we have a long way to go, in which other environmental organizations need to join forces and the community as a whole needs to accept environmental responsibility. We hope that many others will follow in our footsteps.
During unannounced visits by the Israeli Ministry for the Protection of the Environment, to the factories at Ramat Hovav who are participating in our program, not one environmental defect or hazard was found. This improvement has taken place since the forums have started in the last five years. These achievements had not been accomplished in all the 20 years since the Ramat Hovav Industrial Park was established.
Unfortunately there are those who have changed the struggle to a goal in itself, rather than a means for real solutions to environmental problems. They feel that discussion, partnership and transparency are not their "cup of tea" and think little of this process; in fact many environmentalists are quite antagonistic to the program looking on collaboration with the companies are a "cop out". However, after 300 meetings and participation of 250 volunteers from the residents of the Negev, among them well-known environmental experts, where all questions are raised and all are involved in solving the problem, the data indicates that the process has had successful results. The results can be measured on site.
In order to increase participation, we plan to expand courses for the general public increasing exposure and awareness to environmental problems, so as to provide more volunteers for the forums and to further the education of those who are already participating.
*Environmental-Community Responsibility within the Bedouin
The topic of environmental quality is the real common denominator for the existence of all residents in the Negev. The goal of this project is to awaken within the Bedouin Community the desire and the need to act and to improve their self-image and their perceptions themselves so that they all can live in a suitable environment.
The emphasis in on cooperative activities, along with empowerment and exposure to environmental topics through dialogue, training residents, Municipal employees, pensioners, children and youth, together with those at-risk.
Participating towns (since 2007): Hura, Kesifa, Tel Sheva.
a. Determining local policy operating with community, economic, and environmental considerations capable of implementation. This policy is based on cooperation and involvement of the community in the spheres of education, society, planning, and employment, incorporating natural and cultural resources.
b. Promoting awareness of environmental issues as part of daily activities, instilling the topic in the educational system and within the community.
c. Coping with the existing environmental dangers and hazards within the community and their surrounding areas, in order to provide residents with a healthy, esthetic and friendly environment.
d. Establishing a long-range strategic plan with emphasis on logical, intelligent use of natural resources.
5-Year Plan, starting from the middle of 2007:
a. Environmental Survey to map the problems and the areas requiring attention, and preparation of a working plan to solve the problems. (done)
b. Consolidating an integrated staff for preparing a strategic plan for a period of five years in each town, covering several aspects of environmental improvement. (existing)
c. Instruction by the companies participating in the project for obtaining the Standards Association Stamp for Environmental Management – ISO-14001 – in process.
d. Survey of requirements in schools before beginning the subject as a structured program in the curriculum – done.
e. Regular meetings with the steering committee including the Mayor and those responsible for education, community and infrastructure/improvement of the city's facade - implemented.
f. Meeting with residents who have public and community positions in local councils or those who are willing to volunteer in the project - implemented.
g. Meeting with each school principal separately in order to adjust the program to the specific requirements of the school to ensure involvement in improving the school playgrounds - implemented.
h. Program for training teachers – existing program under in-service training and individual school supervision.
i. Courses for municipal employees and community workers – in process of planning.
j. Activity for Women's Empowerment with emphasis on environmental issues – implemented.
k. University students implement group activities for children and teenagers in exchange they receive a scholarship – in process of planning.
l. Environment activities at community centers as group activities for children, teenagers and adults – implemented.
m. Establishment of active neighborhood committees and common community activities, such as clean-up, renovations, community gardens, playgrounds for children, etc. – implemented.
2. Education: Survey of School Requirements – done.
a. Joint environment committee with other external parties (Ministry of Education, Ministry for the Protection of the Environment) – implemented.
b. Inclusion of environmental issues in the school curriculum – implemented.
c. Instructing teaching staff in the schools fitting the program to the needs of the school curriculum and to sustainable development. This approach ensures that "the school as a whole will determine for itself the learning level and the subjects that will be used" - implemented.
d. Increasing awareness among educators by in-service training for environmental coordinators and for school staff. The training will include aspects of environmental education, standards and recommendations for activities specifically for environmental learning centers, with the aim to create in each city/town an educational staff which will promote the subject giving them the tools necessary. Creation of such a staff will allow organizing various events around the environment easily and they can also organize the process of certification as a "Green School" – implemented.
e. Environment Week: All educational institutions will participate, study and organize activities focusing on the environment. This will include the entire community, along with parents. During this week activities will be organized, activities to improve the neighborhood around the school, as well as the school yard. (in planning this activity the Parent's Committee and the Student's Council will have to be consulted.) – to be planned.
f. Incorporation into other subjects - health, community studies, safety (for example, road safety), etc. – has been implemented. We have proposed that "promoting Environmental Standards" be used as "the subject of the week".
g. establishment of easily accessible Information Center for the Environment, with adjacent Interdisciplinary Learning Centers, according to the city topic of the week, for example conservation week, etc.; information on environmental issues, according to the curriculum topics, documentation of school activities for creation of a catalogue for subjects and community programs - planning stage.
h. Assistance to schools for improving yards and wall paintings – ongoing.
3. Community Projects
These projects include a wide variety of facets, including public and private areas, all segments of a varied population, and the well-to-do and the less advantaged, as well as the various ethnic groups. Thus, it is necessary to combine this activity with the social aspects of the community and also municipal welfare activities, emphasizing the relationship between Natural Environment and the Urban Community.
a. Course for the residents (men and women separately) in order to train environmental activists within the community.
Community development creates partnership in neighborhood planning and design, in cooperation with directors of local council services, development of local leadership, encouragement of resident involvement, enhancing coping ability of the population who have special needs, encouragement and development of grassroots leadership, improvement of services for residents, participation of residents in contact with associations and coordination between the organizations, assistance to residents to overcome bureaucracy. Development of Volunteers among residents – implemented.
b. Courses in Quality of the Environment for community activists – implemented
Target population: community activists among the residents of the city/town, employees of the municipality and other organizations.
a. Increasing environmental awareness amongst residents of the town/city, and instilling "tools" for environmental activity within the community.
b. Create a nucleus of community workers.
c. Empowerment and involvement of the residents.
4. Neighborhood Committees of Action for Community Empowerment – implemented
In 2008 negotiations took place with the Municipality of Beer-Sheva and a program was presented to make the city developmentally sustainable. The municipality became involved in committees and forums, like Healthy Cities, and the Forum 15 to reduce gases causing global warming, etc.
a. An environmental survey was conducted in all districts of Beer-Sheva (See Appendix.), and according to the results an operative program was prepared with the Environmental Engineering Branch, and the Education and Welfare Departments of the Municipality.
b. Gimel District: the "Gema" Clubhouse was renovated and is used for environmental activities:
We organized intensive activities with seven preschools, instructing the preschool teachers, improving the playgrounds and painting pictures on the preschool walls. Joint environmental activities for preschoolers and Perach children. (Perach is a program whereby university students receive a scholarship by being a "big brother/sister" to a child who needs help.)
c. Rambam Street: the disagreement with the city continues; the city consents to increase public areas in the district and to solve the problem of public transportation. We assisted the District Committee in their fight against these environmental injustices.
d. Aleph District: We assisted the District Committee in improving the quality of the environment with the participation of the Teva-Tek Company. We proposed to Teva-Tek to renovate the clubhouse for teenagers and adults.
e. The subject of "the Green Garden" was presented to a group of 200 preschool teachers in Beer-Sheva.
f. Beer-Sheva decided on a program to participate in the network of Healthy Cities and the Forum – 15.
*The Committee for the environment of the Local Councils
Participation in Environmental Committees for the Negev, along with Omer, Beer-Sheva, Dimona, Lahavim, and reinforcing involvement in other Local Councils.
Improving and caring for the Agricultural Garden, development of activity center for the purpose of receiving visitors and groups.
Using the facilities already in existence and those constructed by SDN, an Activity Center is being prepared to receive children from all over Israel, for education and hands-on activities concerning the environment and agriculture, to be implemented soon.
Participation in General Meetings of the Council; observers on the Quality of Air and Sewage Committees.
*Kiriat for Instruction (BAHDIM City, site of new army base):
Involvement in the General Staff for planning, establishing Public Forum of residents associated with project construction.
Lecture series for Omer residents, 7 meetings with 20 participants each meeting. Orientation and preparation meetings were held with all the preschool teachers in Omer; the program "Green Gardens" was presented to them, including explanations and instruction by professionals in the field and involved in research.
Government Committee for dealing with the Bedouin Settlements in the Negev: Participation in committee discussions and involvement in summaries and recommendations.
*Med-to-Dead Sea Canal:
Proposed canal linking the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. Organizing and augmenting opposition to the canal. Planned continuation of opposition to construction of the canal by participation in meetings, conferences and tours.
a. Methodology in measuring quantity of poisonous waste in Israel: Research completed by the University of Haifa and continued research planned by doctoral students.
b. Professional Opinions concerning the Med-to-Dead Sea Canal: Research conducted by Na'aman Institute, Haifa Technion, with the participation of the Dead Sea Works, and Research and Development of the Mediterranean Arava. Planned continuation of research to investigate in depth the northern exchange.
*Negev Award for Quality of the Environment:
SDN decided to inaugurate the Negev Environment Award in honor of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Israel and the 10th anniversary of Sustainable Development of the Negev. The award will be given to the institution, group and person, leading the way with a unique environmental initiative in the Negev.
All those who think that they answer the description to receive the award or to recommend a candidate(s) are eligible to apply.
The award signifies significant work on the quality of the environment in the Negev, with preference for innovative and pioneering efforts.
Categories: (a) Institution/organization/local council, (b) Group, (c) Individual.
Applications can be received from academic institutions, industrial plants/factories, , companies, non-profit, volunteer organizations, Ministry for the Protection of the Environment, Israel Defense Forces, Police Dept., Home Front Command, education and social welfare, public representatives.
Judges include public personalities and those involved in community action for many years. The chairperson is the retired Judge Gilad Giladi. Other members are: Prof. Zeev Tzhor, president Sapir College; Ora Lavin, educator for many years and recipient of honors by the City of Beer-Sheva; Prof. Gad Potashnik, recently director of the IVF Unit, Soroka Medical Center; Tzvika Alush, journalist; Dr. Shlomo Yunis, senior director for 13 years in industry.
Nine recommendations have been received; award ceremony to be announced.
*Award for Life Work :
On the 16th of September 2008 Award for Life Work for the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel was awarded to 12 people who are activists in the area of Environment, among them Bilha Givon, director, Sustainable Development in the Negev.