Public Participation in Environmental Decision Making Processes in Israel and the Role of NGO's in Shaping the Socio-Environmental Agenda
Environmental Justice New Horizon Institute for Shared Society Ramat Hasharon, Israel
Public Participation in decision making process in Israel, especially on environmental issues, considered to be far behind the western European countries. The obligation in Israel of including the public in planning procedures, in theory, is based on a government resolution (May 2003) on adopting sustainable development policies and on guidelines for planning in different ministries, whereas, in practice, it is not observed.
The article will review different case studies which reflecting the dichotomous situation in Israel. On one hand, achieving real progress in recent years in representing the public environmental interest in the municipality level, while on the other hand, on national level, reveals chaos concerns public participation in environmental procedures.
Furthermore, since 2006 preparation of Strategic Plans for the peripheral regions were assigned to a private association. In other words, we are witnessing a process of 'privatized planning' that is not obligated to include public participation, and the interests it represents might be opposed to those of "the public good", or at least parts of the public.
The other case study to be presented is the work of the environmental NGO's in Israel, in this field of the participation of the public, in Committees for the Environment in local municipalities authorities, by virtue of the amendment to the Local Authorities Law compelling the establishment of such committees in every local authority in Israel (2005).
The article will indicate that while it is still early to evaluate the present situation as a revolution in the planning field, such initiative in addition to continuous progress in the work of grassroots groups and organizations active in neighborhoods and different localities, are might considered as 'turning point' in the involvement of civil society in shaping the environmental-social agenda in Israel.
The article will analyze the growing role of social and environmental NGO's in shaping the active involvement of the public in environmental decision making processes, which have crucial influence on level of the individual citizens and its quality of life, and on achieving environmental democracy and sustainability of the society on national level in long term.