The Ministry of Environmental Protection is responsible for the formulation of a nationwide, integrated, and inclusive policy for the protection of the environment.
The ministry was established in December 1988 by Govt. Decision No. 5. This proved a landmark in Israel's environmental development and in the government's determination to tackle environmental issues.
In June 2006, in Decision No. 193, Israel's Cabinet approved a request by Environmental Minister Gideon Ezra to change the ministry's name to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Ezra explained, "The change in name better reflects our current perception of the ministry's aims. The environment in Israel needs protection and we do this day by day, hour by hour."
Before the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, responsibility for the environment was divided among several ministries in Israel. Within a year of that conference, the government established the Environmental Protection Service as a first step in the creation of a comprehensive and modern environmental administration in Israel. Fifteen years later, the Ministry of the Environment was established. Its name was changed to the Ministry of Environmental Protection in 2006.
The ministry operates on three levels: national, regional, and local.
At the national level, the ministry is responsible for developing an integrated and comprehensive governmental policy, as well as strategies, standards, and priorities for environmental protection. To this end, the ministry has professional divisions and departments that deal with a myriad of environmental issues, as well as with its administrative mechanisms and public relations.
The ministry employs some 600 workers. It is divided into six main divisions that each include professional departments. In addition, the ministry operates six district offices throughout the country.
The ministry's six districts are divided into the same geographical division as that of the Interior Ministry: Central, Judea & Samaria, Jerusalem, Northern, Tel Aviv, and Southern.
Each district operates according to its own specific environmental needs. The districts' responsibilities include:
- implementation of national policy
- involvement in planning processes
- teaching municipalities about their environmental responsibilities
- supervision and enforcement of environmental laws in municipalities
- formulating requirements and environmental conditions for the acquisition of business licenses
- supervision and direction of environmental units
- initiating and promoting environmental projects in districts
The ministry lends support to 52 environmental units and towns associations that have been established in municipalities throughout the country. Altogether, these units provide services to 85% of the country's population. They are responsible for bringing to fruition, on a local level, the national environmental policy. They also constitute an advisory body for local authorities on environmental issues.
Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs