MK Dov Khenin to Participate in Habitat III Conference in Quito

Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) will participate in the upcoming week-long UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador beginning next Monday, October 17. Khenin is currently a member of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, and he also heads the Knesset’s Joint Committee on Environment and Health. Additionally, he is the chairman, of the Social-Environmental Lobby, the largest lobby in the Israeli parliament. Khenin also chairs the Housing Lobby and the Lobby for Promoting Green Energy.

MK Khenin is also a supporter of broader ecological legislation. In 2012, he proposed setting up an “environmental court” for Israel. He envisioned a court that would watch over the country’s natural resources, as well as safeguard wildlife and ecosystems. Recognizing the lack of authority of municipalities over traffic regulations, Khenin acted in 2008 to pass legislation that would have communities create their own policies. This legislation, aimed at allowing a more direct and local solution to automotive pollution problems, allows for effective public transportation changes to be implemented on smaller scales. Khenin has also battled against industrial pollution in Haifa. In 2014, he headed a subcommittee calling for stricter environmental standards to be imposed on Haifa’s oil refineries located adjacent to it’s the city’s port. The panel demonstrated the link between pollution from the refineries to an increased risk of cancer among residents of the area


Among the environmental protection and health laws initiated by MK Khenin:

  • The Polluter Pays Law General legislation that updates and amends all the environmental laws in Israel. The law contains advanced mechanisms for the economic punishment of polluters, including both administrative and criminal penalties. It increases the punishment meted out to bodies that pollute without a pollution permit and also establishes a collection mechanism for bodies that pollute within the framework of the law. This mechanism is intended to encourage factories to switch to cleaner technologies.
  • Clean Air Law – This law was approved in the first reading by the 16th Knesset, and was reformulated in the 17th Knesset with the active involvement of MK Khenin. Comprehensive in nature, the law fully regulates, for the first time in Israel, the issue of the discharge of pollutants into the air, tightening the scrutiny of polluting industries.
  • Environmental Enforcement Law – Confers broad search and investigative powers on inspectors of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and for the first time subjects the different security bodies to civil enforcement.
  • Environmental Enforcement Law Powers of Local Authority Inspectors Empowers local authorities to enforce environmental laws, thereby simultaneously achieving two important goals – the one, environmental (increasing enforcement of environmental laws); the other, social (transferring fines collected from environmental polluters directly to the coffers of the local authorities whose residents are the main victims of pollution).
  • Law to Reduce Air Pollution from Transportation (Amendment 84 to the Traffic Ordinance) This law creates a clear division of power between the government and the local authorities, putting an end to an untenable situation in which either side could paralyze initiatives of the other. The amendment obligates local authorities to act to reduce air pollution caused by transportation in every instance of high pollution.
  • Environmental Transparency Law – Duty to Report the Discharge of Pollutants This law obliges transparency over the discharge of pollutants into the environment, imposes on factories detailed reporting duties, sets up a register of discharged pollutants and mandates the publication of the data to the public. Experience has shown that environmental reporting duties change the behavior of polluting factories and that environmental transparency is a major democratic tool for mobilizing the public to act against pollution and pollutants. Evasion of reporting will be a criminal offense and will also result in significant administrative-financial penalties.
  • Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings – Establishes a comprehensive mechanism for reducing energy use in the public sector. Among other measures, every public institution must follow a defined plan for the reduction of energy consumption. The law also lists a series of energy-saving measures, including the installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, replacement of electricity-guzzling equipment and implementation of a procedure for the economic use of electric equipment.
  • Duty to Install Water-Saving Devices in Public Buildings Mandates the installation of water-saving devices, including flow regulators (“chaschamim“), in all public buildings.
  • Law for the Protection of the Gulf of Eilat Coastal Environment The law for the first time extends the scope of the Coastal Environment Protection Law, which applies to the Mediterranean coast, to include the coast of the Gulf of Eilat.
  • Kinneret Protection Law – The law extends the scope of the Coastal Environment Protection Law to include the shores of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), and establishes an authority (the Kinneret Conurbation) that is responsible for protecting the Kinneret and its shores.
  • National Land-Mine Action Authority Law – Establishes an authority responsible for clearing hundreds of minefields that are scattered throughout Israel.
  • Prohibition of Driving on Beaches Establishes clear prohibitions and definitions with respect to driving on beaches, clarifies the penalties for violations of the law, and creates effective and modern enforcement mechanisms to deal with this phenomenon.
  • New Deposit Law Assigns direct responsibility to manufacturers, based on the principle of “the polluter pays.”.
  • Municipal Tax Exemption for Field Schools Law Serves as a means for aiding environmental education institutions.
  • Electronic Waste Recycling The law, which is predicated on the principle of “the polluter pays,” provides for extended producer responsibility for the treatment and reduction of electronic waste that can cause soil and groundwater contamination, and makes arrangements for the collection and recycling of purchased appliances

The Objective of Habitat III

The objective of Habitat III –the third conference in line with the bi-decennial cycle (1976, 1996 and 2016) – is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess accomplishments to date, address poverty and identify and address new and emerging urban challenges for the establishment of the “New Urban Agenda.”

Since 2009, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities. Today, urban areas are a living combination of history, civilization, diversity and culture. Urbanization has been a force that has changed almost everything: ways of thinking and acting, ways of using space, lifestyles, social and economic relations, and consumption and production patterns. Cities, as economic and productive innovation spaces, provide opportunities for improving access to resources and services, as well as options in the social, legal, economic, cultural and environmental fields. Urbanization has ushered in economic growth, development and prosperity for many. However, cities are also spaces where multidimensional poverty, environmental degradation, and vulnerability to disasters and the impact of climate change are present. Today, more than 2/3 of the global population lives in cities with greater levels of inequality than 20 years ago.

On September 2015, Tel Aviv hosted the first of 7 thematic meetings leading up to the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (UN Habitat III). Held every 20 years, this is the third conference of its kind, aimed at reinvigorating global commitment to sustainable urbanization. Chosen as the Smartest City in the World in 2014, Tel Aviv was selected as the host for a thematic meeting on smart civic engagement as a beacon of civic participation and technological innovation.