One of the most important qualities of the Israel Green Movement is that it draws together leaders and grassroots activists of Israel’s environmental community (along with leaders in the academic, business and cultural community) in an effort to change the priorities of Israeli government policy. These activists have proven experience in affecting change in Israel. The IGM leadership personifies this experience.
Alon Tal, along with Eran Ben Yemini, is the founder of the Israel Green Movement. Alon has had a phenomenally positive impact on the environmental movement in Israel since his arrival in the 1980s as a new immigrant from the United States. After completing his army service, Alon earned a degree in law at Hebrew University and then a Ph.D. in Public Health from Harvard. Returning to Israel, Alon began to teach environmental law in numerous academic institutions. Identifying a hole in the Israeli environmental movement, he established the Israel Union for Environmental Defense – an organization that uses law and policy to improve environmental condition in Israel, and today arguably one of the most important of environmental organizations.
Alon then concentrated his efforts in the south, establishing the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies – a teaching and research institute bringing together Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, North Americans and Europeans for a one-year intensive environmental studies program with a regional, Middle East focus. Hundreds of Arava Institute alumni are now in key positions in governments, NGOs, academic institutions and otherwise doing good for the world. (Full disclosure: I am a faculty member at the Arava Institute!). Today, Alon is a professor of environmental policy at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. In recognition of his past acheivements, he was awarded the 2005 Charles Bronfman Prize and this year was one of twelve recipients of Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection lifetime achievement awards.
We are proud to have Alon Tal leading this new effort and are confident that, like his past projects, it will bring about positive environmental-social change in Israel.