Fighting For Climate Justice

31 March 2022

Shatil continues to be a leader in helping social change organizations develop work to address the climate emergency. In January of this year, we shared news of a joint initiative of Shatil and NIF grantee Heschel Center for Sustainability to promote climate change activism through a social change lens. Thirty activists came together to develop innovative strategies for promoting a just transition to a low carbon economy that considers the needs and rights of everyone in Israel. On March 7, double the number of activists—sixty—attended the first session of Shatil’s new project “Just Transition 2: Building Strategic Impact.” A joint project of Shatil, the Heschel Center for Sustainability and the Adva Center, this NIF-supported work focuses on addressing the effects of extreme climate change and shaping government policies toward its mitigation.

Until recently, Israel’s response to climate change has been to invest in new technologies, economic resilience, and incentives for private sector involvement. The need for plans to mitigate the impact of climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy for economically vulnerable populations has barely entered the political discourse. In 2021, however, following the Glasgow United Nations Climate Change Conference, President Isaac Herzog established the Israel Climate Change Forum, led by former MK Dov Khenin, together with representatives from the government and Knesset, academia, local authorities, and business and industrial sectors. The Climate Change Forum requested help from Shatil in doing what it does best – fostering collaborations among social change organizations to create tangible and sustainable policy change.

“When speaking of the climate crisis, we are actually speaking of a socio-economic crisis that is destroying the planet,” said Shatil Associate Director Carlos Sztyglic. “We are not focusing on something foreign to the work of social change organizations, but helping them to understand where this crisis impacts their missions.”

“Civil society organizations have a very important role to play in setting the climate change agenda,” said Ella Yedaya, Shatil Director of National Projects, who is coordinating this project. “They have intimate knowledge of the lived struggles of the different population groups they work with.”

Over the coming four sessions, project participants will zero in on the most critical topics where they can have an impact, working collaboratively to produce policy papers, identify their target audiences, and plot out effective advocacy strategies.

The work of these organizations is also receiving a leg-up from the Israel Climate Forum; the policy papers they develop will be the basis for government advocacy led by Dov Khenin and the Climate Forum. “Everyone involved recognizes that there is a window of opportunity right now that shouldn’t be squandered,” Yedaya said.

The present government is proving receptive to issues of climate justice, but it rests on a fragile coalition. Shatil and its partners will be working to submit at least three project papers to relevant government ministries as soon as possible — likely over the course of this summer.