Redefining Israel’s Future: Opportunities To Progress A Green Economy Amidst the Ongoing War
War may be counterintuitive to greening processes and often results in negative environmental impact. However, the Histadrut sees the impact of the October 7 attack on the agriculture sector, the welfare services, and society in Israel as an opportunity to change the current course and promote social and environmental rehabilitation in Israel. Adam Blumenberg, Deputy Director of the Economics and Policy Division and Director of the Trade Union Division, believes that the devastating impact on our society presents a unique opportunity for change and progress.
In the past, public debates on economic policy in Israel were limited, with governmental decisions often excluding stakeholder input. The Histadrut and other major stakeholders would only be involved in discussions after decisions were made, leading to policies that didn’t address the grassroots needs of workers, especially those whose jobs were on the line. The lack of consideration for a just transition meant that the Histadrut had to oppose government initiatives to reduce pollution in the economy. Now, as the organization negotiates unpaid leave and welfare benefits for workers affected by the war, it is evident that there’s a critical need for a broader social debate on the future of workers’ rights, especially for those working in these industries.
The Histadrut not only seeks to advocate for workers’ immediate needs but is committed to fostering a comprehensive and long-term policy-based social dialogue. Collaborating with the Arlozorov Forum for two years, the Histadrut has been working on creating a social dialogue on workers’ rights and interests and on economic policy in relation to the needed changes in our economy. Arlozorov Forum develops up-to-date, advanced, and accessible information to the public on the state of the labor market, the economy, and social services. Amit Ben-Tzur, Managing Director of Arlozorov Forum, said: “Our research team focuses on understanding the needs of workers in the face of changing reality, needs that should be at the forefront of decision-makers at all stages of their work. We will continue working with the Histadrut to promote advanced social dialogue, which places workers’ rights at the heart of public discourse and policy – during the current crisis and in times of routine.”
Amidst the dire social and economic situation resulting from the ongoing war, the Histadrut sees an opportunity to promote participation in policy discussions. To give a concrete example, Adam suggests rethinking the agricultural sector’s future. With extensive impact on farmers in the war-affected borders and extended impact on farmers nationwide, the sector lost its foreign workforce, innovation, and research projects, and many facilities. “Our agriculture industry’s saddening situation makes us reconsider how we want to rehabilitate the sector. Are we going to rebuild it the way it was? Or will we adopt new technologies and initiatives to steer Israeli agriculture into an even greener, innovative, and progressive course? In the policy division of the Histadrut, it is not only our place to consider and promote this sort of discussion but also to consider the just transition and impact on workers.”
For Blumenberg, in addition to promoting public debate, the current political and social climate is also an opportunity for the Histadrut to integrate into existing post-war rehabilitation initiatives and champion a just transition. This involves creating community-based jobs, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, integrating the unemployed into green employment, motivating sustainable industry, and ensuring the integration of vulnerable populations into the workforce.
As the Histadrut and its affiliates navigate these challenges, it envisions a future where Israel’s economy is not just rebuilt but redefined on sustainable, inclusive, and progressive principles.
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