OECD Environmental Performance Reviews

1990-0090 (online)
1990-0104 (print)
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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews provide independent assessments of countries’ progress towards their environmental policy objectives. Reviews promote peer learning, enhance government accountability, and provide targeted recommendations aimed at improving environmental performance, individually and collectively. They are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data, and evidence-based analysis. Each cycle of Environmental Performance Reviews covers all OECD countries and selected partner economies.

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OECD Environmental Performance Reviews: Israel 2011

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08 Nov 2011
9789264117563 (PDF) ;9789264117556(print)

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This 2011 review of Israel's environmental conditions and policies evaluates progress in sustainable development, improving natural resource management, integrating environmental and economic policies, and strengthening international co-operation. This report is the first OECD review of Israel’s environmental policy performance.

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  • Foreword
    This report is the first OECD Environmental Performance Review of Israel. It aims to provide support to the country’s environmental progress. Indeed, in parallel with its accession to the OECD, successfully completed in 2010, Israel has moved rapidly to strengthen its environmental policies in line with the standards expected of OECD members. Despite fast economic and population growth, Israel has managed to reduce emissions of major air pollutants, moderate the energy and carbon intensities of its economy, further reduce freshwater abstractions, and extend the number of protected natural areas. However, other pressures on the environment have intensified, including greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation and habitat degradation.
  • Preface
    This report is the first OECD Environmental Performance Review of Israel. It examines progress made in the decade since 2000. Progress in achieving domestic objectives and international commitments provides the basis for assessing the country’s environmental performance. Such objectives and commitments may be broad aims, qualitative goals or quantitative targets. A distinction is made between intentions, actions and results. The assessment of environmental performance is also placed within the context of Israel’s historical environmental record, current state of the environment, physical endowment in natural resources, economic conditions and demographic trends.
  • General notes
  • Executive summary
    Israel is relatively small, densely populated and water-scarce. The fast pace of its economic and population growth in the 2000s has intensified what were already significant pressures on the environment. Until comparatively recently, environment was not a major policy priority. However, in the last few years the government has promoted a more proactive approach to the development of environmental policy and has sought to develop synergies with economic policies. Since 2003, government ministries have been required to prepare sustainable development strategies. This has helped to raise environmental awareness in line ministries, and to foster analysis of how potentially negative environmental impacts of sectoral policies could be mitigated. However, the quality of ministerial strategies has been mixed and implementation has often been slow. Israel should develop a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development and green growth. It should also enhance the use of economic assessment tools to better integrate economic and environmental decision making.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Sustainable Development

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    • Towards green growth
      In the first decade of the 2000s, Israel experienced strong economic and demographic growth. While it has managed to reduce some of the pressures on the environment, the country still faces a number of pressing and unique environmental challenges. This chapter examines Israel’s framework for sustainable development and green growth. It analyses how Israel has used its public investment and taxation policies to pursue environmental objectives, including by removing fiscal incentives that can encourage environmentally harmful activities. The emergence of an internationally competitive, export-driven "clean-tech" industry is examined in relation to the overall innovation context and the policy framework for eco-innovation. This includes an assessment of eco-innovation performance as measured by environmentally related R&D and patenting activity. The chapter also identifies successful policies, as well as the obstacles to be overcome to fully harness the growth, employment and environmental benefits from the "clean-tech" sector.
    • Environmental management
      In the last few years the government has promoted a more proactive approach to the development of environmental policy. This chapter examines Israel’s environmental governance, which has traditionally been characterised by a fragmented legislative framework, highly centralised management responsibilities and extensive land use planning. It reviews progress made in ensuring the coherence of environmental legislation and regulations and in involving local authorities in implementing environmental policies. It analyses the drivers of the improved level of compliance with environmental standards, as well as the effectiveness of Israel’s permitting and liability systems. Progress in promoting environmental democracy, through open access to information, improved public participation in the decision-making process and education, is also discussed.
    • International co-operation
      The scope of Israel’s international and regional environmental co-operation considerably expanded during the review period, despite some geopolitical constraints. Israel is a party to most major global environmental conventions and has entered into various bilateral and regional environmental agreements, including on the protection of the marine environment, biodiversity conservation, water management, desertification, and trade in environmentally sensitive goods. As a new OECD member, it has moved rapidly to adjust to the Organisation’s requirements and to the standards expected of its members. This chapter discusses Israel’s progress in engaging in multilateral and bilateral co-operation and in fulfilling its international commitments, as well as the extent to which Israel’s domestic policies have benefited from adherence to international environmental agreements and associated guidelines. The environmental dimensions of its official development assistance programme are also addressed.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Selected Issues

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    • Water
      Water scarcity is a major concern in Israel, a country subject to arid and semi-arid climatic conditions. Water consumption exceeds the natural rate of replenishment and pollution loads intensify pressure on water resources. To respond to these challenges, Israel has implemented an advanced water pricing policy and has encouraged innovation in water-related technologies. As the water crisis has deepened, following several consecutive years of drought, more emphasis has been placed on increasing supply through an extensive programme of seawater desalination. This chapter assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of such components of Israel’s water policy, as well as of water quality management.
    • Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
      Israel’s biodiversity, while exceptionally rich, is subject to serious pressures from a range of sources. Although a relatively large share of the total area is protected, natural reserves and parks do not adequately represent the country’s diversity of habitats. Relatively large shares of fauna and flora species are threatened. This chapter reviews Israel’s biodiversity policy and institutional framework, along with the priorities, principles and actions outlined in the National Biodiversity Strategy. It discusses the policy mix for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, including the increasing, albeit still limited, use of economic instruments. The degree of biodiversity mainstreaming into other sectors such as agriculture, fishery and forestry is also addressed.
    • Climate change and air quality
      Rapid demographic and economic growth, and the resulting increase in energy and transport demands, are the main factors underlying an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While emissions of air pollutants have declined, air pollution hotspots remain at industrial sites and in major urban areas. The adoption of the Clean Air Law and of a national plan for reducing GHG emissions by 20% by 2020 represent major steps towards addressing these challenges. This chapter reviews these policy initiatives, the institutional framework and the mechanisms in place to monitor implementation. The energy and transport sectors are the major sources of emissions of GHG and air pollutants. The chapter assesses the policy measures implemented in these sectors, including those to promote renewables, energy efficiency and transport modes other than road transport. The opportunity of introducing economy-wide policy instruments such as a carbon tax is also discussed.
    • Waste management
      Population growth, rising standards of living, and rapid industrial development are the major drivers of increasing waste generation. While Israel has largely succeeded in curtailing illegal dumping and in closing unregulated dumps, which were major problems in the 1990s, the vast majority of waste is still disposed in landfills. Israel has responded to these challenges by adopting waste management plans and legislation in line with good international practices. This chapter takes stock of such policy initiatives, including those that aim to reduce waste generation, encourage recovery and recycling, and ensure safe disposal of municipal and hazardous waste. It discusses the environmental and economic implications of recently implemented measures such as Extended Producer Responsibility systems and a landfill levy, as well as of the lack of explicit waste collection charges. The challenge of remediating contaminated land is also examined.
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