Creating a Resilient Israel in a Warming World

The Middle East is warming at twice the global average, making the State of Israel, our prosperity and safety extremely vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change.

Approximately 65% of Israelis live in densely populated cities along the Mediterranean coast. As evidenced in extreme storms in 2020, expected to become the new normal, these cities are susceptible to flooding due to poorly planned and managed river drainage basins. They are also vulnerable to sea level rise.

This year, extreme weather has already claimed the deaths of 8 Israelis and caused hundreds of millions of shekels worth of damage to civilian and military infrastructure.

All this is happening - and we are not prepared!

Why SPNI needs to take a leadership role?

Over the last decade SPNI has built up internal expertise and capacity to create sector wide change proven by recent successful campaigns that have revolutionized the management of Israel’s marine environment, fishing industry and open spaces management.

With the Israeli Government yet to face the challenge of climate change in a strategic, professional and serious matter SPNI must step up and act as a bridge between civil society, philanthropy and government to lead a professional process to prepare Israel for a warming world.

In the summer of 2018 Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection published a report - “Israel’s Preparations for Adaptation to Climate Change: Recommendations for a National Strategy and Action Plan (2017)” that was adopted as part of a Government Resolution. However, the means for implementing this government resolution, including for municipal risk assessment, have not yet been provided.

Climate change, one of the critical issues of our time, has remained a niche issue dealt with by one, small department in Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Regional and urban/local planning does not take into account any potential impacts of climate change. Nor do any of Israel’s National Master Plans.

We know this as SPNI, Israel’s largest and oldest environmental non-profit, is an active participant in all national planning processes and represents the public in national, regional and local planning committees.

Our Plan

SPNI’s plan for climate change is inspired by the Global Commission on Adaptation report “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience” this action is based upon four pillars: Building Understanding, Planning, Finance and Education and Public Engagement.

Building Understanding

SPNI plans to commission research to identify how Israeli ecosystems have already been impacted by climate change, what the future needs of these ecosystems are, and what is their contribution to carbon sequestration. This research will enable SPNI to present policy recommendations to preserve ecosystems and taxonomic groups and will be presented to relevant policy makers.

Planning for a Warming World

SPNI plans to conduct a comparative study of practices of experiences in other cities in the world, particularly from the “C40 Cities” group on how cities can adapt to climate changes. SPNI will use this to deliver a series of workshops for decision makers and professionals in planning and administration to build much needed, professional skills and expertise among the government and civil sector. We also plan to work with Mazra’a Municipality, a small, coastal Arab town to trial several applications of how Israeli cities can adapt to climate change.

Finance and Economic Modelling

SPNI plans to commission a report on the economic impact of nature based solutions as a primary method to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Israel. This includes a comparative analysis between affordable, nature based and engineering solutions. This report will be a crucial tool for influencing government policy.

Education and public engagement

SPNI plans to conduct comparative research of other successful international campaigns to create behavioural changes around climate change. Using these we will create a mass media campaign for the general public. We will also develop pedagogic materials that expose educators and students, in a structured and gradual way, to the climate crisis, its effects, and ways to deal with it in personal behaviour and actions.

What you can do to help

SPNI’s resources are already stretched to the limit. We need to form strategic partnerships with philanthropists who share our vision and can help us build the capacity needed to implement this plan and ensure Israel is able to build the resilience necessary to survive and thrive in a world where climate change is a reality.

Contact our resource development team at international@spni.org.il to find out how you can become involved.

Updated: 2/4/2020