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Scenarios

Seven scenarios were developed for Sustainability Outlook 2030 – a “business as usual” scenario and six alternative scenarios. Three workshops were dedicated to this process. The scenario building process was led by Prof. Shlomo Hasson.

 

The first stage consisted of a diagnosis of current development using the various indicators previously identified. At this stage, the team outlined a systematic mapping of the variables, identified the links between them, and constructed a mental map showing the links. The team asked: What are the factors that shape the environment and human wellbeing, as well as their resilience? 

The second stage has followed the ‘deductive’ scenario building methodology which  included: 

    1. identifying driving forces using an impact matrix to identify variables of high influence;
    2. creating a matrix of scenarios that forms a framework for generating several scenarios and selecting the scenarios to be developed;
    3.  drafting the scenarios;
    4.  assessing the significance of the scenarios.

‘Business As Usual’ scenario

Dominance of the market

The “business as usual” scenario indicates that population growth, improved quality of life, and changes in patterns of consumption will continue to have a salient influence on the environment in years to come. This will be reflected in the continued expansion of built-up areas, reduction of open areas in the center of the country, a transition from public transportation to private transportation, increased air pollution in the major cities as well as increased pollution of the water and the land, and the emergence of environmental risks. Global environmental developments, and particularly the drought in Sudan and Chad, will affect Israel through the migration of refugees who cross the southern border of the country

Government handling of environmental challenges

Government handling of environmental challenges will be partial and fragmented, primarily in the form of reacting to problems as they arise. The reasons for this are varied. The Arab-Israeli conflict will continue to play a central role in determining government priorities. The government will continue to adopt the neoliberal ideology that grants priority to the market and economic growth. 

The bureaucratic planning bodies will not develop an integrated planning perspective. The business sector will be split between businesses that talk about environmental and social responsibility but do little in this regard and businesses that accompany their economic activity with an environmental and social agenda. In the overall balance of power, the former has the upper hand, and they – together with the politicians who prioritize security and the market over the environment – will continue to have the upper hand.

The general public reaction

The general public will react through local conflicts with no ability to consolidate a broad-based united front on environmental and social issues. The result will be minor improvements to the current situation, with no actual breakthrough on environmental issues. The average person will continue to complain, but the ability to translate dissatisfaction into effective action leading to substantive change will remain low.

The spatial consequence

The spatial consequence will be the creation of highly concentrated urban centers located in the center of the country, alongside increased crowding, congestion, and pollution. Development will expand without restraint, leading to damage to and fragmentation of ecosystems. As a result dependence on imported provisions will increase, and severe degradation of ecosystem control mechanisms will occur that are essential for resilience in the face of extreme events such as fires, floods, and an outbreak of disease. Spatial polarization between the center and the periphery will intensify and exacerbate the socio-economic gap. All these developments will fuel internal social conflicts, lowering resistance to environmental and social crises, and will, therefore, cast doubt on the continuation of the “business as usual” scenario.

‘Regulated market’ scenario

Core economic objective: turn Israel into a global economic center

This scenario includes an Israeli- Palestinian political arrangement that could shift from being an interim arrangement to a permanent solution. Under these circumstances, the government could devote most of its efforts to economic growth and environmental improvement. Towards this end, the government would become involved in the market to promote competitiveness, raise education levels, and following that, human wellbeing levels, and act to improve public health and the environment.

In practical terms the government moderates the concentration of the economy by dismantling the ruling pyramids and provides public goods and services that the market fails to provide, including affordable housing, quality education, efficient healthcare, and development of a healthy environment for the wellbeing of all residents.

Growth and sustainability without social inclusion

This policy is implemented through a bureaucratic-institutional mechanism that operates based on a comprehensive and integrative perspective, combining growth and sustainability, but is not attentive to the issue of social inclusion. Improving the market and increasing competitiveness leads to enhanced business activity, initiatives, and innovation. There is a greater appreciation of the fact that maintaining environmental standards and leading-edge technologies improves the competitiveness of firms in the international arena. The reinforcement of regulatory mechanisms that improve the market and ensure a better environment does not extend to the social sector. Social and economic gaps remain, and the polarization between the center and peripheries increases. The result is a powerful economy with improvements in the environmental sector but a society that is fragmented and polarized.

In terms of physical space, development would be directed towards existing centers, and restrictions would be placed on expansion into open areas. Various parts of the country would be connected by a network of roads and railways. Crowding in the center of the country would increase, but open spaces in the periphery would be preserved. In social-environmental terms, the gap between the center and outlying areas would intensify. Economic development and environmental protection would occur in the central areas, while the outlying areas would be left behind and would mainly be focused on problems of subsistence. The bottom line is that a strong and growing economy would exist alongside a fragmented society, and the capacity for resilience in light of environmental and social crises would, therefore, be of an intermediate level.

‘Unregulated market’ scenario

The only prevailing ideology is the neoliberal ideology – every man for himself

The scenario of an unregulated market portrays a state of deregulation in three aspects:

  1. Lack of regulation for increased competitiveness
  2. Lack of regulation in the provision of public goods and services that the market fails to provide, such as housing, education, healthcare, and protection of the environment
  3. Lack of any regulation of a socio-ideological nature that targets defined groups and places for special intervention.

The only prevailing ideology is the neoliberal ideology, and the salient claim is that capital is determinative and that any intervention in the form of restrictions or regulations will chase business and capital out of the country.

Economy flounders, unable to prosper

Without controls on a free and competitive market, the concentration of financial and business intensifies, ruling pyramids grow stronger, and the economy flounders, unable to prosper. The lack of competitiveness leads to rising prices of goods and services and harms the environment.

A small number of wealthy individuals take control of environmental resources

Land, natural gas, and the resources of the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean Sea coast, and the Sea of Galilee. This takeover allows them to raise the prices of resources, resulting in the exclusion of groups without access and compromising the wellbeing of significant portions of the population. The concentration of the economy also makes it possible to raise the prices of products and services, to control the media, and to reinforce the links between wealth and government. The bureaucratic-institutional systemic inconsistent, lacking any comprehensive, integrated visionary capability.

Most power becomes concentrated in the Ministry of Finance, which continues to do little in all matters of regulation of the economy and society. The prevailing belief is that large companies and businesses are a necessary condition for integration in globalization processes. Planning bodies and environmental bodies are weak and suffer from budgetary and manpower problems.

Social and environmental unrest

At the onset of the process, economic growth continues, but gaps grow wider and wider. The young and the middle class, in particular, are negatively affected. In contrast to preceding generations, young people, including those with education and professional training, find it difficult to afford the skyrocketing housing prices. They become very involved in environmental issues. The government remains apathetic, does not take measures to alleviate existing hardships, and enables the wealthy to grow wealthier through privatization of government lands. Privatization of lands does not resolve the housing crisis. Following these developments, social and environmental unrest increases. Young people take to the streets, forming multi-colored coalitions of greens, reds, young people from the center of the country, and young people from the periphery. The economic, environmental, and land-related protests incite the country and drive it towards structural economic-political change.

The results include the creation of a major urban concentration increasingly concentrated in the center of the country; worsening socio-economic gaps; increasing pollution of the air, land, and water; severe damage to ecosystems, including supply systems, cultural support systems, and monitoring systems; and reduced resilience in light of environmental risks. The social consequence is an intensifying confrontation in light of social gaps and damage to the environment.

‘Regulated fortress state’ scenario

A new model of government intervention

The historical background for this scenario is characterized by a worsening geopolitical situation combined with boycott, lack of financial investments, and sanctions. In contrast to the Un-regulated scenario, however, the mechanisms driving this scenario are entirely different. The security-based seclusion and political crisis lead to the adoption of a new model of government intervention that takes its inspiration from the model of Singapore. This model is based on a strong, centralized leadership, technocratic meritocracy, and social solidarity.

Israel can primarily rely only on itself

The ruling elite prioritizes the security issue, innovation, and investment in technology. Towards this end, the government promotes innovation in the production sectors, encourages investment in technology, and develops mechanisms for inclusion and regulation in the social and environmental areas. Strong institutions are established for these purposes, effective mechanisms are implemented to prevent social polarization, and improved environmental regulation is enacted. Because Israel can primarily rely only on itself, special emphasis is placed on the preservation and efficient exploitation of resources. The government adopts a policy of population distribution to the periphery as well as the preservation of open areas based on security considerations. Under this scenario, there is initially a significant decline in economic growth because of Israel’s isolation on the international level. Organization of educated meritocracy, however, to recruit the public to develop human capital and use local resources succeeds in reducing the extent of the damage and even leads to moderate growth.

In the environmental sphere, environmental degradation is apparent in the early stages. In time, however, the privileges that had been granted in the past for use of private vehicles are reduced, use of public transportation increases, and investments in the infrastructure for public transportation increase, by creating employment opportunities for young unemployed people among other means. Protection of the environment receives a strong boost as a result of reliance on local natural gas sources, replenishment of water streams following increased desalination processes, and technological innovation. The decline in economic growth leads to reduced citizen consumption of energy, water, and goods. Similarly, there is greater vigilance in the protection of open areas because of security needs.

‘Unregulated fortress state’ scenario

A worsening of the geopolitical situation, combined with a neoliberal policy 

The basis of this scenario is a worsening of the geopolitical situation, including boycott and lack of financial investments, combined with a continuation of the neoliberal policy that believes in free-market activity and economic-political activity that continues to ignore the clear messages that the rest of the world is sending. Only gradually does it become clear that Israel is turning into a ‘pariah’ state. Sanctions, including limitations on import and export, and restrictions on the travel of high-level political representatives make politicians and economy and business leaders realize how naïve their faith in continued operation of the free market has been. Within the state, the government must adopt many policing and security measures. Following this, military and police mechanisms are intensified, especially those aimed at suppressing violence. Under these circumstances, social and economic issues are relegated to the sidelines.

The market crashes

Demand plummets. The market crashes. The economic growth that characterized Israel in the past reaches its limits and negative growth rates are recorded in Israel. Leading firms in the areas of technological innovation choose to leave Israel and those that remain focus on innovation in the security sector. Alongside all these developments a severe environmental crisis takes place – a massive earthquake strikes Israel. Continued environmental neglect combined with the earthquake causes severe damage to the environment and intensifies environmental risks. The bureaucratic-institutional system is not able to cope appropriately with the security challenges and the environmental crisis, and the government is powerless to address the increasing problems. Against this background social and environmental protests erupted, shaking the foundations of the ruling institutions. The protests included young Jews who were fed up with the current situation, some of whom chose to move abroad. The Arab public joined the protests, initiating a “Third Intifada.”

The overall picture that emerges from this scenario is of an undermining of the social resilience of Israeli society in the face of the economic, social, and environmental crises affecting Israel.

Deep mark on the environment in Israel

These developments left a deep mark on the environment in Israel. On the one hand, reliance on local natural resources increased. On the other hand, the environment suffered severe damage. Israel’s pumping of water from the western mountain aquifer while preventing the Palestinian Authority from doing the same exacerbated geopolitical friction. The prioritization of security matters resulted in the neglect of environmental considerations in planning, development, and infrastructure construction. Emphasis shifted from provision of services to production of goods. This resulted in increased consumption of energy, water, and natural resources. Similarly, there was an increase in the quantity of waste produced and the number of unregulated waste sites, particularly building wastes. Pollution increased in the cities, especially in the Haifa bay area. The development of open areas intensified, and environmental damage and risks increased, particularly in areas in which hazardous materials were in use. Despite these increasing dangers, no resources were allocated to address environmental risks. 

Communal mosaic’ scenario’

Three-fold goal: economic growth, social inclusion, and sustainability

The communal mosaic scenario is market-based, but one where the market operates according to rules that differ from those of the scenarios based on neoliberal ideology and market supremacy. The political system’s priorities are directed at a three-fold goal: economic growth, social inclusion, and sustainability. The guiding ideology is centered on society and stresses the importance of inclusion, sustainability, and equitable distribution of environmental costs and benefits. Bureaucratic-institutional mechanisms aim to actualize these priorities by providing institutional support to business initiatives and initiatives in the areas of education, culture, and community. The perspective that guides planning is inclusive and integrated. Structurally it operates in a top-down manner, but it supports developments that originate on the ground and it integrates them with guidelines that are established at the top. This is a system of ongoing dialogue that transcends institutional-social borders as well as top-down and bottom-up perspectives. This is an open system for planning and decision making based on organizations that operate at the ground level, socially-oriented businesses, networks of entrepreneurship, and new organizational and communal structures.

‘Evolving state’ scenario

A series of environmental disasters and low quality-of-life standards among various population group

The communal mosaic scenario is effectively “too little, too late.” A series of environmental disasters and low quality-of-life standards among various population groups have led to the conclusion that soft regulation, which is characteristic of the ecological modernization perspective, cannot deal with the crises that have developed. Years of cosmetic treatment for deep-seated problems and minimal enforcement, which obscured destructive trends, have left scars on the environmental and social landscape. The social divide deepened and led to a crisis of faith in the government and leadership.

The environmental and health crises that struck the country were especially hard on the more disenfranchised population groups, leading to social unrest and protests throughout the country. Following the wave of protests directed at the economic-political system and the neoliberal ideology on which it is founded, social and environmental political parties united to change the government. The deep crisis made it clear that there is a basic irreconcilable contradiction between market rule, corporate structures, and pursuit of profit, on the one hand, and redistribution, reduction of social gaps, and improvement of the environment, on the other hand. Against this background, there was demand for a substantive change of the operative capitalist system and its replacement with a different approach centered on the “evolutionary state,” which takes responsibility for the lives of its citizens in social and environmental matters.

In scenarios of the evolutionary state, the ruling ideology is not neoliberalism. The scenario is adopted following a series of social crises and environmental disasters. New social groupings and coalitions then emerge against the background of a polarized society and a devastated landscape. The scenario is primarily one of rehabilitation. It offers an alternate social-democratic-ecological model as opposed to the existing neoliberal model, and it is characterized by environmental and social commitment.

In this scenario, social gaps deepen and society reaches the threshold of rebellion. The groups negatively affected are not only minorities (ultra-Orthodox and Arabs) but also Jewish groups of the lower classes and some of the middle classes among the secular Jewish population. The crisis hits particularly hard in the outlying areas because of the lack of human capital able to handle challenges posed by the global world. Environmental disasters also become more frequent and affect health and wellbeing. Against this background, a government is composed in which a key role is filled by social and environmental political parties whose platform and ideology were substantively changed to deal with the environmental crises and their health-related consequences. Several Arab parties joined this government as well as sections of the Shas ultra-orthodox party that split off. The government formed supported nationalization of the large companies that had been privatized, took measures to increase regulation, and initiated rehabilitative measures in social and environmental areas. At the core of government, activities were the issues of redistribution of resources, social rehabilitation, caring for disenfranchised communities, and addressing environmental problems.

Old traditions that grant much relative power to the Ministry of Finance are preserved

The tasks of rehabilitation and reorganization are the purview of the bureaucratic-institutional system. Because of power struggles in the upper echelons, this system has not yet developed an integrative long-term perspective. To address that problem, a government body is formed in which central importance is ascribed to the issues of health, environment, and education. In practice, however, old traditions that grant much relative power to the Ministry of Finance are preserved. Therefore, the bureaucratic activities are characterized by fragmented actions that do not correspond with an inclusive, integrated perspective. This system is particularly successful in the following areas:

  • Improving the efficiency of the land-use system by reliance on existing available housing to fill vacancies and by encouraging mixed land use.
  • Improving the efficiency of public transportation by improving transport technology, increasing accessibility, and reducing prices. Because fuel prices are high, the use of public transportation increases, and the rate of motorization decreases. These measures lead to reduced air, water, and land pollution.
  • Progressive taxation, promotion of cooperative businesses, and support for businesses engaged in rehabilitation of natural and social capital.
  • Partial responsiveness to the problems of social housing. Initially, social housing will be located in the stronger localities to reinforce them and only gradually will it expand to the periphery.

The principal problem is in the area of growth. Political and bureaucratic reorganization leads to reduced economic growth at first. Only during the second decade does moderate growth begin to be observed. The positive aspects of the intervention are especially significant in the environmental and social areas. State intervention limited the spread of the built-up area in the center of the country. For the first time in many years, real measures were taken to develop the periphery. Open spaces were protected. Simultaneously, reliance on private motor vehicles decreased, and the use of public transportation increased. Areas damaged in the past because of land and air pollution were rehabilitated. The socio-economic gap and spatial polarization were reduced, and social unrest was replaced by economic attention to continued development and economic growth. All these developments aided in addressing the environmental crises that had formed and contributed to the formation of a society with a strong capacity for resilience in the face of environmental crises.