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    As part of the knowledge base construction for Sustainability Outlook 2030, twelve indicators were selected to show the implications of current trends of driving forces and how they affect the state of environmental resources. Trends were analyzed and examined by comparison of three points in time: Yesterday (1990), Today (2010), and the Tomorrow (2030) – to give a perspective of past, present and future trends. Indicators of social and economic trends were selected to show the interconnections and interrelationships between social, economic and environmental variables. 

    Along with the emphasis given environmental issues and sustainability, a few indicators of wellbeing were chosen, representing social and economic trends. These were briefly analyzed and summarized. The selection of indicators and most of the data are based on OECD data.

    The indicators were analyzed by Dr. Amir Eidelman and Ms. Yael Yavin.

    Read the Executive Summary:

    Israel Sustainability Outlook 2030

    Driving Forces 

    • GDP and GINI index
    • Disposable income per capita
    • Energy consumption
    • Water consumption
    • Car ownership and distance travelled
    • Urban waste

    Read Further

    State of the Environment

    • Emissions of sulfur oxides
    • Emissions of nitrogen oxides
    • Particulates
    • Greenhouse gas emissions
    • Groundwater salinity
    • Built-up areas and open areas

    Read Further

    Wellbeing indicators

    • Life expectancy at birth
    • Long working day
    • Social relationships
    • Social support
    • Life satisfaction
    • Secondary education
    • Reading literacy

    Read Further

    Driving Forces

    Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per Capita and Gini Index

    GDP increased, social gaps increased, and environmental inequality became more severe

    This indicator expresses a population’s economic wellbeing and buying power while highlighting social inequality

    Between the years 1995 and 2009, GDP per capita in Israel increased by 23%, from approximately 76,000 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) per capita to approximately 94,000 NIS per capita. It is important to note that the rise in GDP corresponded with a rise in consumption and increased demands on the environment, an expansion of built-up areas, increased energy and water consumption, increased motorization, and an increase in distances traveled. Simultaneously the Gini Index of income inequality also rose during these years by approximately 16%, from 0.3365 to 0.3982. Compared to OECD states, Israel ranks second (after Mexico) with approximately 20% of the population below the poverty line. This population lacks purchasing power, and its household consumption is minimal and solely for subsistence. Israel ranks third on the OECD scale of countries with the greatest social inequality (2005 data).

     It may be concluded that the increase in GDP corresponds with an increase in the social gaps within Israeli society, and pressures on the environment, therefore, come primarily from those with higher incomes, a relatively small sector with ever-increasing economic means, which consumes environmental resources at a disproportionate rate compared to other sectors of the population.

    Disposable income per capita

    In Israel, there is a 25-fold discrepancy in the per capita disposable income between the lowest decile and the highest decile

    An indicator of the ability or inability of households, by income deciles, to purchase goods and services other than food

    The discrepancy concentrates on the purchasing power and impacts of consumption within a small sector of the population. Given that a high disposable income enables consumption and imposes pressures on the environment, corrective government policy should include measures designed to modify the consumption patterns of the upper and lower deciles alike.

    Per capita, disposable income is the portion of income that remains after deducting the expenditure on food and dividing by the number of individuals in the household. In 2008 the average monthly per capita disposable income in the lowest decile was less than 400 NIS (roughly 50% of total income) compared to 10,000 NIS per capita for the highest decile (roughly 90% of total income). The gap between per capita disposable incomes of the highest and lowest deciles is widening over time. The deficit among those in the lower deciles creates a snowball effect, preventing the pursuit of an education or a reasonable lifestyle, entrenching and increasing the gaps and transmitting them to the next generation. The gaps are expected to increase through 2030, with a slight improvement of the lowest decile’s disposable income after food expenditure reaching 550 NIS, while this figure is expected to reach 18,000 NIS for the highest decile.

    Energy Consumption

    Comparison with OECD countries indicates a relatively lower level of energy consumption in Israel and a relatively slight trend of energy efficiency per unit GDP

    An indicator of the extent of energy used to fuel the economy’s means of production, primarily the consumption of oil and its byproducts and electricity

    Overall energy consumption in Israel nearly doubled between the years 1990 and 2008, increasing by an average of 4% annually. Energy consumption per capita rose during these years by 27%, at an average of approximately 1.5% per year. In contrast, energy consumption per unit GDP declined slightly during the years 1995-2008, apparently because of improved efficiency of the means of production within the economy. Energy supply per capita is lower in Israel than in most OECD countries. The increase in energy supply per capita in Israel that was recorded over time (29% between 1990 and 2008) is similar to the trends recorded in other Mediterranean countries but higher than the figures typical for western countries (such as Great Britain or Germany), some of which even recorded a decrease in energy supply per capita.

    The trend of decreasing energy efficiency per GDP (12% between 1995 and 2008) is more moderate than that for some of the western countries (some of the OECD countries even indicate a trend of absolute decoupling and a substantive decrease in energy efficiency alongside an increase in GDP). This indicates a potential for improved energy efficiency that has yet to be realized in Israel. The apparent changes likely to occur in Israel’s fuel mix – primarily the anticipated increase in the use of natural gas instead of more polluting fuels – are expected to improve Israel’s energy scenario and have a positive effect on the environment. Assuming “business as usual” through 2030, per capita electricity consumption would be expected to increase by 74%.

    Water Consumption

    Household water consumption in Israel is close to the average for OECD countries, but differences in consumption exist among the social clusters and between the center and periphery of the country 

     An indicator of pressures on sources of water supply 

    Consumption of fresh water in Israel as a percentage of all water consumption decreased from 92% in 1990 to approximately 75% in 2008. This was a result of the increase in use of wastewater for agricultural purposes and the desalination of water for drinking, initiated in 2007. The expected increase in desalination of water will require greater attention to the environmental impacts of desalination. During the first decade of the 21st century, the trend of increased overall household water consumption continued, but household water consumption per capita decreased and stabilized at an average of approximately 105 cubic meters per individual annually. Household water consumption per unit GDP indicates a trend of relative decoupling – water consumption is increasing but at a relatively slower rate than the increase in GDP. An examination of water consumption per capita by social cluster reveals that water consumption in the tenth cluster is five to six times higher than consumption in the first cluster, and three to four times higher than the national average. Similarly, differences exist in water consumption between communities in the periphery and communities in the center of the country: in 2008 water consumption in established centrally located communities increased by approximately 40% more than that for peripheral communities.

    Water losses in municipal pipelines reflect the differences within the population: water loss results from faulty maintenance of pipes and from illegal water supply where the relevant authorities are weaker. Household water consumption per capita in Israel is not high compared to OECD countries and is in fact slightly lower than the OECD average. The outlook for 2030, according to the Water Authority’s master plan, indicates the continuation of current trends: an increase of approximately 40% in household water consumption and a decrease of approximately 6% in household water consumption per capita.

    Transportation – Extent of Motorization and Distances Travelled

    The level of motorization in Israel is lower than that of OECD countries. Nonetheless, an increase in distances traveled is expected, which would add to pressures on the environment

     Indicators of demands on the environment resulting from transportation and increased use of fuels

    The number of motor vehicles in Israel has grown significantly in the past two decades. The number of private motor vehicles increased by 160%, and distance traveled by 186%, compared to an increase of 69% in the size of the population. The percentage of “company cars” – from the total number of private motor vehicles – reached approximately 13% as of the close of 2009. Two-thirds of these belonged to leasing companies. In 2006 the percentage of company cares reached 60% of the new vehicles purchased, compared to 30% in the mid-1990s. This figure decreased by a few percentage points during the past three years. The level of motorization in the highest socio-economic cluster reaches 463 private motor vehicles per 1,000 individuals – five times the figure for the lowest socio-economic cluster, which has only 73 private motor vehicles per 1,000 individuals. Both the level of motorization and the distances traveled in Israel are lower than those of western countries. Similarly, the proportion of distances traveled by private motor vehicles out of the total amount of distances traveled by vehicles in Israel is low in comparison with OECD states. At the same time, the increase in distances traveled in Israel since the 1990s was among the highest of OECD countries – 114% during 1990-2004. The extent of distances traveled and the increase in this figure means that Israel, a small and crowded country, faces a serious environmental problem. The outlook for 2030, assuming “business as usual,” predicts that the average level of motorization will reach approximately 350 motor vehicles per 1,000 residents, an increase of approximately 35% relative to 2009. The increase in distances traveled and in distances traveled per individual is expected to increase by approximately 60-65%. Under this scenario a significant increase can be expected in transportation-related indicators, which would require expanding existing roads and constructing new ones, resulting in increased fuel consumption and resulting air pollution.

    Urban Waste

    Waste production per capita in Israel is high relative to OECD countries, particularly among the high socio-economic clusters and in localities in the center of the country

    An indicator of the quantity of waste generated daily both by households and by commerce and industry

    Since 2002, when changes were made in the process for the collection and disposal of municipal waste, there has been an average increase of 2% annually in the volume of urban waste in Israel. During this period the production of urban waste per capita also increased by an average of 1% annually and a total of 4% during the years 2002-2009. During this period there has been a 9% decrease, however, in the amount of waste per unit GDP, indicating relative decoupling. The amount of waste per capita in the tenth socio-economic cluster is six times higher than the average amount per capita in Israel. The rate of waste production in centrally based localities is 70% higher than in peripheral localities, and waste production in Jewish localities is higher than waste production in localities whose residents are not Jewish.

    During the years 2004-2008, the proportion of waste recycled reached 12% of the total amount of waste. The division of waste components (organic material, industrial waste, garden waste) is not known. The amount of waste per capita in Israel is high relative to other OECD countries. In most of these countries per capita income is higher than in Israel, as is private consumer expenditure per capita. At the same time, the amount of waste per capita in other countries is lower than in Israel. This suggests that waste generation can be limited and waste volume per capita can be reduced in Israel – a goal that could be achieved by reducing the amount of waste while increasing the rate of recycling and curbing the volume of landfilled waste. According to the outlook for 2030, the amount of waste will increase by a relatively low rate of 1.7% following current trends, while the waste per unit GDP will decrease by a rate of approximately 38%.

    State of the Environment

    Emissions of Sulfur Oxides (SOx)

    Significant reduction of emissions; emissions per capita and unit GDP still high relative to OECD countries


    An indicator of the air pollution caused by emissions from refineries, power plants, and industrial activity

    The years 2000-2008 were marked by an average annual decrease of approximately 7% in SOx emissions and a total decrease of approximately 46% in these emissions. The primary source of sulfur oxide emissions is electricity production. The reduction in emissions resulted from the adoption of various measures, foremost among them the use of fuels with low sulfur content, as well as the use of natural gas, among other measures. Continued use of natural gas rather than coal will significantly reduce these emissions. Similar trends are apparent for all indicators: total emissions, emissions per capita and GDP, and emissions per GDP per capita (annual decrease of 8%-10%).

    The highest concentrates of sulfur dioxide (SO2) were measured near the large power plants and refineries in Haifa, Hadera, and Ashdod although the concentrations do not exceed the maximum permitted values by Israeli standards. The rate of SOx emissions in Israel is low relative to OECD countries, but emissions per capita and per GDP are high relative to other countries. A comparison of the reductions that began in Israel during the first decade of the 21st century indicates that Israel significantly reduced its air pollution relative to the trends apparent in other countries.

    Emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)

    A reduction in NOx emissions has occurred, but there are high concentrations along urban transportation routes in the center of the country; trends are similar to trends in developed countries

    An indicator of the extent of air pollution resulting from the burning of fuels by both stationary sources and motor vehicles

    During the first decade of the 21st century, there was a reduction of approximately 12.5% in nitrogen oxide emissions and a reduction of approximately 25% in nitrogen oxide emissions per capita. Similarly, there was a decrease of 4.6% in the annual average of nitrogen oxide emissions per unit GDP. This decrease resulted primarily from a reduction in motor vehicle emissions, but throughout the years, high concentrations of nitrogen oxides were still reported by air-quality monitoring stations located in the metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, primarily near major traffic routes. Emissions per capita in Israel are slightly lower than the average recorded for OECD countries. Israel also registered a decrease in emissions per capita during the first decade of the 21st century, as recorded in most of the countries. However, emissions of nitrogen oxides per unit GDP in Israel are higher than the average for OECD countries. At the same time, it should be noted that the trend in Israel indicates a decrease in this measure as well, similar to the trend indicated in the developed countries of the OECD.

    Detection of particulates in the air (PM2.5; PM10)

    There has been a significant reduction in these emissions, but within cities, high concentrations of particulates were recorded relative to OECD countries and, in particular, concentrations of fine respiratory particles

    An indicator of air pollution by particulates resulting from fuel use in industry and transportation

    The respiratory particles PM10 result from dust storms (natural source) and the burning of fuels in power plants and industry (anthropogenic source). The indicator focused solely on PM10 emissions from the burning of fuels. Since the mid-1990s Israel has shown a general trend of reduction in emissions and during the first decade of the 21st century registered a reduction of approximately 44% in emissions from all sources: electricity production (the primary source) and the other sectors of industry, motor vehicles, and other sources. The background concentrations of PM10 in Israel are high because of the country’s proximity to sub-tropic desert areas and the dust storms that occur therein. Concentrations that exceed the standard were recorded on 21 days out of the year, accounting for 6% of the time, including dust storm days. Testing for PM2.5 concentrations began during the first decade of the 21st century and indicates a deviation from the annual target standard throughout the entire country and for all the years that measurements were taken. In a transnational comparison of PM10 concentrations in urban areas, Israel ranks relatively high yet registers a downward trend of 42%, which is more than any other OECD country registered during the first decade of the 21st century.

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Israel’s contribution of emissions is globally marginal, but it is committed to international treaties; emissions per capita in Israel are high relative to OECD countries and are expected to increase

    An indicator of the extent of greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic sources that contribute to global warming

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased in Israel during the years 2000-2009 by approximately 11% and by an annual average of approximately 1.3%. CO2 emissions per capita decreased by approximately 5% overall and by approximately 0.6% on an annual average. Emissions per unit GDP decreased during this period by approximately 18% and by an annual average of approximately 2.1%. These data reveal a trend of relative decoupling, indicating a trend of increasing emissions but a decrease in the rate of emissions per unit GDP (and per capita). CO2 emissions in Israel from the burning of fuels during 2007 amounted to approximately 0.5% of the total sum of emissions by OECD countries. Israel’s influence, if any, on CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is marginal. Nonetheless, it is bound by the international conventions that it has signed regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and efforts to reduce emissions also help improve the air quality in Israel. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita and unit GDP in Israel are high relative to OECD countries. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics forecasts regarding climate change, assuming “business as usual,” Israel can expect an increase of up to 100% in greenhouse gas emissions during the years 2005 to 2030. According to this forecast, a 40% increase in greenhouse gas emissions per capita can be expected.

    Groundwater salinity

    The concentration of salinity in the coastal aquifer may exceed  the target standard for drinking water, but measures for the reduction of salinity are being adopted

    An indicator of the quality of the water in aquifers and the extent of pressures on the environment

    Salinity in the coastal aquifer is particularly high in the south-eastern portions. According to emergent trends, in another 15 years, the salinity in certain parts of the aquifer could cross the 250 mg/liter mark and turn the potable water sources into water sources that are appropriate solely for agricultural and industrial purposes. Measures are being adopted in Israel today aimed at reducing the salinity of natural water sources. The master plan policy paper for the water industry details the actions needed to improve the quality of water in the long and short terms.

    Built-up areas and open areas

    By 2030, over 80% of the population increase will reside in densely populated urban areas, with the expansion of development of approximately 84,000 dunams, while approximately 12% of the population increase will reside in rural areas.  Loss of open areas on a scale comparable to that for urban areas (approximately 78,000 dunams).

    An indicator of the loss of open areas to development

    In 2007 the built-up area of Israel covered 1.3 million dunams, approximately 6% of the total area of the country, and it is expected to reach 1.5 dunams in 2030 (6.9%).

    In 2007 housing density in urban areas was 10.9 persons per dunam, more than double the national average, compared to the relatively low housing density of 2.7 persons per dunam in the rural regional councils. According to current trends, in 2030 the housing density in cities will reach 17.7 persons per dunam in the built-up municipal areas and 3.9 persons in the rural regional council areas. The local municipal councils (small urban centers) are experiencing the opposite effect, and the density in these areas is expected to decrease from 6.5 persons per dunam today to 6 persons per dunam in 2030.

    Efficiency of land use is significant not only in terms of the loss of open space but also concerning modes of transportation given that low housing density does not enable the operation of efficient public transportation.

    Although on a national scale the loss of additional open space to development through 2030 will be relatively low (1.1%), the change will be strongly felt in the districts of Tel Aviv (11.2%) and the Center (6.8%)

    In 2009 approximately 43% of the country’s population resided in the districts of Tel Aviv and the Center and, according to this trend, even when the size of the population increases, the division between the center and the periphery will remain the same in 2030. The country will be more crowded, with 450 persons per square kilometer, compared to 329 in 2009, but the geographical distribution by districts is more significant than the national population density: in 2030 the density in the Tel Aviv district will reach 8,488 persons per square kilometer, and in the Central district this figure will reach 2,452.

    An examination of housing density by built up surface (sealing) reveals that Jerusalem is experiencing increasing density, from 10.6 persons per dunam in 2007 to 14.8 persons per dunam in 2030; the Tel Aviv district will reach 13.1 persons per dunam, and the Center will reach 10.6 persons per dunam. The density in other districts in 2030 will reach 7-8 persons per dunam in built-up areas.

    Wellbeing Indicators

    Life expectancy at birth 

    Life expectancy in Israel is relatively high compared to the rest of the world and has been continuously rising for several years

    By years

    Life expectancy is the number of years a person is expected to live as of a certain age, taking into account the mortality rates during that period. Thus, life expectancy upon birth represents the average duration of life for a person in a specified geographical area. In Israel the average life expectancy upon birth relative to the general population was 81.6 years in 2009. Compared to OECD countries, Israel ranks high, taking fourth place after Japan, Switzerland, and Spain. The highest life expectancy was recorded in Japan, at 83.0 years. The average life expectancy for all OECD countries in 2009 was 79.3. Between the years 1990 and 2009 the average life expectancy in Israel rose by 6.4%, from 76.7 years to 81.6 years. The rate of growth is roughly linear and indicates an increase of one year of life on average for the population every four years. If this increased life expectancy continues as it did for the past 20 years, life expectancy in 2030 will reach approximately 86 years.

    Employees working long workdays

    Many employees in Israel work long hours, at the expense of free time and family life

    Rate of employees working over 50 hours/week

    Striking a balance between the amount of time spent working and free time is critical for human wellbeing. Israel is regularly characterized by a high proportion of employees who work many hours per day relative to OECD countries. During the years 1995 to 2003, men worked four times as many hours as women, but simultaneously the ratio of women increased and the ratio of men decreased within this category.

    The percentage of employees who worked over 50 hours per week in Israel is roughly identical in 1995 to the figure for 2007, measuring approximately 23%. Except for Turkey (40%) and Mexico (24%), for other OECD countries, the percentage of employees working long hours is much lower than in Israel, regularly averaging approximately 8-9% throughout the years. Drawing on current trends, it appears that Israel will continue to be characterized by a significant percentage of employees who work long hours daily in relation to most OECD countries.

    Social relationships

    In Israel the frequency of relationships with other people is high, and this characteristic remains steady over time

    Percentage of people having social or familial meetings at a frequency of at least once a week during the course of an average year

    The percentage of people who meet with friends or family at least once a week is significantly higher in Israel relative to OECD states in general. Between 2002 and 2006 approximately 84% of the population met with their friends at least once a week, and as of 2007 this figure rose to 86.5% for the years 2007-2009. The percentage of people having frequent family meetings rose from 70% in 2002 to 73% in 2009. The overall average for OECD countries is 60% for frequent meetings with friends and 67% for frequent meetings with family relatives.

    Life satisfaction

    Life satisfaction in Israel is high

    Personal assessment according to the Cantril Ladder

    Israel scores 7.4 on the Cantril Ladder (a subjective ranking from 1 to 10) for life satisfaction in 2010, while the OECD average for the same year was 6.7. The Scandinavian countries, Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, and Australia ranked highest, followed by Israel.

    Secondary Education

    Israel has a high percentage of the population with a secondary education on a regular basis

    Proportion of the population with at least a high school education

    Between the years 2002 and 2008, the proportion of Israel’s population with a secondary education remained nearly static, at 81%. Israel ranks relatively high among OECD countries, where the average is 71%. Compared to the static figure for Israel, most OECD countries registered a significant increase in the percentage of the population with secondary education in 2008 compared to 1997. In addition to Israel, three other countries stand out for the lack of an increase or decrease in the percentage of the population with a secondary education during these years: Denmark, Norway, and Estonia.

    Reading literacy

    The basic student competencies in Israel are low, especially in mathematics and science but also in reading

    PISA test scores for reading literacy

    Reading literacy is one of three competence fields evaluated in the international PISA test, the other two being science and mathematics. In 2000 Israel’s average score in reading literacy was 452, in 2006 it declined to 439, and in 2009 it rose significantly, to approximately 474, but was still low relative to the average among OECD countries, which was 493. The difference between Israel’s result and the OECD average is approximately half a standard deviation, meaning that Israel ranks lower than 34% of the participating countries.

    Alongside this increase, a smaller increase was recorded for Israel in 2009 for math literacy scores, at 447 compared to the average of 496, and for science literacy in Israel at 455 compared to the average of 501, ranking Israel very low in terms of its students’ competencies.

    Social Support

    Social support in Israel is average

    Percentage of people with family relatives or friends on whom they can rely in times of trouble

    During the first decade of the 21st century, there was an increase in the percentage of people in Israel who have a family relative or friend on whom they can rely. In 2002 this percentage measured 85.8% and it rose steadily (with a significant jump in 2007) to 89.8% in 2009. According to the OECD indicator for social support, the percentage of social support in Israel during 2009 measured 92.5%, slightly higher than the average for OECD countries, which was 91%. The highest level of social support exists in the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, and Australia, where the percentages exceed 95%.