Safeguarding the environment is a top priority for SHATIL. In Israel's peripheral regions, where there is a dearth of environmental awareness and action, SHATIL's efforts are leading to exciting developments.
Attending a newly-established forum of environmental activists in the Galilee, Adiel, a young activist who recently moved from Jerusalem, was enthused. "The environment was always one of my main concerns," he says, "and having just moved to the North, I feel that I must get to know the local activists, the specific problems we're dealing with…. This forum is the perfect venue for me. I'm meeting others who share my passion and commitment and I'm also gaining new knowledge and skills from SHATIL."
And Adiel did meet committed activists in the forum, among them a number of graduates of SHATIL’s Eastern Galilee Environmental Leadership Training who are campaigning to preserve a local stream. The activists are facing off against two national mineral water companies who are siphoning off this natural resource, thereby degrading the quality of the water and creating potential health hazards. SHATIL is helping them advocate vis-à-vis the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority and in raising public awareness via the media.
A Petition against the Siphoning
During the forum's meeting, Adiel learned of another outgrowth of our environmental leadership trainings, spearheaded by local activists and course participants who designed an urban compost initiative in Kiryat Shmona as their final project. Sensing the potential of this initiative, SHATIL’s northern staff helped the activists raise funds and form effective working relations with the municipality. And today, a pilot program of the compost initiative is taking place in one of the town's neighborhoods, where local college students volunteer to carry it out.
In the South, too, SHATIL is nurturing the talents of local residents to work for a safe, clean environment. Noa is a resident of the southern Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon and a leading member of Green Agenda for Mitzpe Ramon, a grassroots environmental group. "It is thanks to SHATIL's initiative that we even considered writing a green agenda for our town," she says, recalling a SHATIL field worker's offer to convene a community meeting to explore opportunities for influencing environmental policy in light of the 2008 local elections. As a result of Green Agenda's vision and SHATIL guidance, the peripheral town of Mitzpe Ramon now has a joint local government/public steering committee charged with environmental issues such as sustainable development, industry accountability and preservation of green spaces.
"I have the desire, but there is little that I can do by myself," says Adiel. "By bringing us together and giving us access both to each other and to professional guidance and information, SHATIL is enabling us to truly make a difference."