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Indexes in indices: Israel is far from being a sustainable country

Not keeping up: a new Israeli study indicates that our country has fallen behind in meeting the UN's sustainable development goals. so what are we doing? According to the author of the study, it is impossible to wait for a legislative change - and the time has come for a change from below

By Amnon Director, Zveta - Science and Environment News Agency

Among the OECD countries, Israel is almost at the bottom of the list, in 34th place out of 38; And - did not achieve any of the 17 goals set until 2030. Illustration:
Among the OECD countries, Israel is almost at the bottom of the list, in 34th place out of 38; And - it did not achieve any of the 17 goals set until 2030. Illustration:

It has been 8 years since the UN General Assembly established 17 major international goals for sustainable development (SDGs), which have since dictated policies on a large scale around the globe. Now, a new Israeli study that has not yet been published, carefully reveals thatIsrael is lagging behind in achieving the goals - and turns on a serious warning light regarding our situation in the future.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly, which consists of the 193 countries that are members of the organization - including Israel - adopted the "Agenda 2030": an action plan that consists of goals that every country is required to achieve by 2030, with the aim of leading to sustainable global development - a situation in which human society can continue to exist and survive, for as long as possible.

The goals, Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs for short - include 17 super goals and 169 sub-goals in a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues: poverty eradication, zero hunger or food insecurity, good health and human well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, available energy and cleanliness, fair work and economic growth, industry, infrastructure and innovation, reducing inequality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, the climate crisis, the conservation of marine resources, life on earth, peace, justice and the strength of institutions and partnership to achieve the goals.

To understand where we are in terms of the SDGs, the new study looked at the data behind it Report which examined the progress of the world as of 2022 - and put together a snapshot of the weaknesses and strengths of our country, using the latest data and estimates. "The development goals are milestones brought together by the best researchers, scientists and professionals from around the world, with the aim of developing a strategy and being ready for international challenges such as the climate crisis and population growth - until 2030," explains Dr. Yosef Gottlieb, author of the study and head of the initiative accelerator Israel 2030 of the Green Jerusalem Fund. "There are countries that take this plan very seriously - so the SDGs have been incorporated into the planning and supervision of the government ministries for their work plans; Unfortunately, Israel is not among them.'

Head to the foxes

So where is Israel located? Let's start with the good news: in relation to our neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa - in the general index, Israel ranks first. The less good news: as we know, many of our neighbors are developing countries, so our leadership over them is not a particularly impressive victory.

And now for the bad news: among the OECD countries, Israel is almost at the bottom of the list, in 34th place out of 38; And - it didn't achieve any of the 17 goals set until 2030. "It's important to look at the big picture and what it says about us," explains Gottlieb. "In most indicators, Israel is at the bottom - and this situation indicates a country that is not sustainable and not even on its way there."

The study also shows that the State of Israel has extensive challenges in 35 percent of the sub-goals (for which data are available) - in the following areas: 55 percent of them are related to the interface between man and nature - for example, high average air pollution, another 21 percent are related to social justice and individual freedom - for example , gender wage gaps and high rates of incarceration, 16 percent of them in the area of ​​quality and standard of living - for example, poverty in the third age, and 8 percent relate to international cooperation - for example, high financial secrecy (a problematic situation, which encourages money laundering).

The change is upon us

The study points to another problematic phenomenon: Israel - a small country in its territory but with a high rate of natural reproduction - is exploiting more and more the green areas in its territory, as well as the scarce natural resources it possesses - for example, natural gas and the treasures of the Dead Sea. "The research provides us with a broad picture and an important understanding of the process that has been taking place in Israel for the past 30 years: we have adopted a model that is heavily influenced by the United States, and which encourages us to be a consumer society that perceives technology as the one that will save us from the crises," says Gottlieb.

According to the researcher, this situation may return to us like a boomerang: the deficiencies in the management of these environmental and ecological resources, together with social gaps that characterize our country, between rich and poor populations and between the center and the periphery - will limit society's ability to deal with global changes, such as the climate crisis and population growth. "If we want to have a better life in the future - we cannot continue with the current situation," explains Gottlieb.

He notes that according to another measure, theInternational Spillover which examines the negative effects of countries on other countries as part of the SDGs - Israel is in a particularly unflattering place: 147 out of 163. "In other words, in Israel we produce, consume and use the resources given to us in a way that harms not only us - but other countries as well," explains Gottlieb . For example, vehicles that are imported to us from abroad, in large quantities, harm the countries where they are produced due to air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions and more. "In a country like ours, with few natural resources and extensive desert areas - we must change the current consumerist and wasteful attitude and promote a new public order."

How do you do that? Among other things, on us להחליף our wasteful economy bכלכלה circular, to lead for rehabilitation and for the cultivation of natural resources, switch to renewable energy sources and more. And according to Gottlieb, you can't wait for the decision makers for that. "Unfortunately, it seems that these goals are very low on the priorities of our politicians - especially in the current government", he testifies, "and in light of this situation, it seems that the change depends on citizens who care about the situation, the social organizations and the private sector", he concludes.

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