And the Award Goes To . . .
On Earth Day – April 22nd – the SHATIL-coordinated Forum for Responsible Planning strode down the green carpet to accept the Green Globe – Israel's Environmental Oscars – award. The Green Globe is Israel's most prestigious environmental prize, and is awarded annually to individuals or organizations for outstanding environmental achievements and excellence.
The Forum was awarded the prize for saving Israel's environment from potential disaster by fostering cooperation between environmental and social justice organizations, and for their public activism, legal, political, and media efforts. The Forum's campaign resulted in significant amendments to the proposed reform of Israel's Planning and Building Law and lead to the delay of the damaging reform's legislation.
The proposed law would have privatized the planning process in ways that limit public input, increase the potential for environmental damage, and provide more clout to wealthy land developers.
"By bringing together such a diverse group, not only did the Forum present a united front that empowered activists to face a concerted government effort; it also created a collective agenda for change," said attorney Debbie Gild-Hayo, Director of Advocacy for NIF's flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and an active member of the Forum. "We were able to bring to light anti-social, environmentally harmful, and anti-democratic aspects of the government plan, presenting a collective agenda that appealed to many Israelis."
In the four years since its establishment, the Forum, a diverse coalition of more than 30 environmental and social organizations, has succeeded in blocking the legislation on numerous occasions, achieving its greatest success in March 2012 when it prevented a Knesset vote and effectively put an end to the proposed reform.
SHATIL played a critical role over the weeks leading to the 2012 Knesset vote, connecting activists to professional advocacy and media experts and coordinating an intensive campaign, which included public demonstrations, a high-profile conference, petitions to policy makers, an online campaign, and a media blitz. Thanks to these efforts a genuine public outcry emerged, leaving the government no choice but to abandon its plans.
The decision to grant the award to a group integrating environmental and social activists reaffirms SHATIL's core belief that environmental and social issues are intertwined and emphasizes our strategy of facilitating cooperation between diverse groups and agendas.
Despite the Forum's success, the struggle is far from over. A new government plan -- potentially as disastrous as the original reform -- has emerged, highlighting the importance of continued action by a united front promoting a social, democratic, and environmentally friendly planning policies. SHATIL will be at the forefront of this struggle both in its role as the Forum's coordinator and as part of its many other environmental programs.