Israeli Population, Environment & Society Forum Goals
The State of Israel is a rare phenomenon in the demographic landscape of the early 21st century, due to an unusual combination: high population density, a high birthrate –typical of Third World countries, and an economy and consumption levels typical of a First World country. Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s population has grown tenfold in less than seven decades. Israel is currently the country with the highest population growth rate in the developed countries of the Western World, and the second largest population density. The ‘effective’ Israeli population density is even higher because more than half of the country’s area is covered with desert and/or being utilized for military and security purposes. With the current growth rate, the population of Israel is expected to further multiply itself until mid-century, with the number of residents per unit area becoming one of the densest in the whole world.
The rapid increase in population size and density has far-reaching implications for all aspects of life in Israel, now and in the near and distant future. It affects all sectors of society. But Israel has never conducted a meaningful and honest discussion about the dramatic implications of population growth on living conditions in the country, on our future and our children’s future. Population receives little if any attention in Israel’s public discourse and is not considered transparently and openly with the public. The outrageous disregard of the subject within Israel’s government, the private sector, and even civil society is problematic and will surely do little to reduce the negative effects of rapid demographic growth. The Israel Forum for Population, Environment, and Society was established to bridge this gap, to understand and quantify the implications of population growth on the State of Israel, to encourage discussion and to propose and to lead changes in public policy that are urgently required to address the rapid increase in population.
We see the following goals as the basis for the forum:
1.The Forum will conduct free, thoughtful and uninhibited discussions and research about the rapid growth of Israel’s population, and its implications for the country’s social, security, environmental and economic future. The Forum will raise the subject, still considered by many to be taboo, bringing it to the top of the public agenda, and create widespread awareness to Israel’s demographic challenges among the public.
2.The Forum will gather broad and comprehensive knowledge of the processes taking place in Israeli society that is derived from or related to the demographic change, in all aspects of life. With the help of the best experts in Israel and abroad, the Forum shall forecast emerging social and environmental trends and their future implications, as a function of different scenarios of population growth, for the coming decades. The Forum will serve as a knowledge center to all concerned, and an active disseminator of knowledge to governmental bodies and civil society. It will encourage research activities by various groups regarding demographic changes and their impacts on society.
3.Based on the knowledge accumulated, the Forum will alert the public and decision-makers in Israel about the problems and dangers to the country’s future as a result of continued geometric increase in population, if actions are not taken to mitigate it.
4.The Forum will urge government institutions, decision-makers, and non-parliamentary organizations, to take significant, not necessarily popular steps, to bring demographic stability to Israel. These steps may not be popular initially. But they are critical to ensuring long prospects for economic prosperity, social welfare, environmental sustainability, and personal security for all inhabitants of the country, along with the quality of life typical of the world’s most developed and advanced countries.