• 17 SEP 15
    • 0

    NGOs work to advance coastal planning from within and without

    NGOs in Israel help advance improvements in coastal planning norms through a variety of strategies and methods, as described by Andrea Monge in the Mare Nostrum Project’s Second Report, Existing Knowledge on Legal-Institutional Frameworks for Coastline Management: The International, EU and National Levels, published earlier this year.

    “NGOs have played an important role in coastal management strategies in Israel. They have enabled change through the use of different mechanisms, such as education and awareness raising, public protest, media events, legal challenges, legislation drafting, planning consultation, and coalition formation,” Monge said.

    “These activities have contributed to outstanding successes in protecting Israel’s coasts from development and safeguarding public access to the beach,“ she added, noting that NGOs were instrumental in achieving passage of the 2004 Law for the Protection of the Coastal Environment, stopping construction of illegal seaside housing projects misleadingly called vacation resort apartments, advocating for sustainable development in planning committees at various levels of government, and assisting grassroots efforts by local communities to preserve nearby beaches.

    Israel's Mediterranean Coast

    Monge summarized examples of four primary approaches by Israeli NGOs to influence coastal planning: involvement in developing public policy, such as the 2004 Law for Protection of the Coastal Environment; legal action through the courts, as in the struggle against vacation resort apartments; direct involvement in government spatial planning mechanisms, as seen in the case of planning for the northern coast of Tel Aviv; and spearheading local campaigns, as was done to prevent development on Palmachim Beach.

    Several of the cases detailed involved combinations of these approaches. For instance, while the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) participated directly in the City of Tel Aviv’s work to prepare a plan for its northern coast, a grassroots organization – the Forum for Urban Nature and Environmental Quality in Tel Aviv-Yafo eventually formed to exert external pressure against development of the area.

    At Palmachim Beach, in addition to the formation of a large coalition of NGOs assisting the grassroots campaign to increase public awareness and exert pressure on decision makers, one NGO involved – the Israel Union for Environmental Defense – took the case to court and secured a key ruling to halt construction and respect a 100-meter coastal setback.

    To bring together NGOs to collaborate and exchange ideas towards coastal conservation in the Mediterranean, Mare Nostrum Project partner SPNI and Open Channels earlier this year created the Mare Nostrum Network. Monge serves as the network’s coordinator at SPNI.

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