pollution - Baz Ratner - August 31 2010
Haifa Bay Photo by Baz Ratner
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Israel Chemicals, which has caused major environmental hazards in the country, is one of the founding funders of the School of Sustainability at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. The school, which will focus on the importance of environmentally conscious business development and entrepreneurship, will receive its first students in the fall, and has been accredited to offer a bachelor's degree in sustainability studies.

The formal name of the school will be the School of Sustainability Founded by Israel Corp., ICL [Israel Chemicals Ltd.] and ORL [Oil Refineries Ltd.]. The school is being set up at a cost of NIS 7.5 million. All three of the founding companies are owned by the Ofer family; the two patriarchs of the family, brothers Yuli and Sammy Ofer, both died last year.

The donor corporations will not be involved in academic content at the school, where the faculty will include a number of leading experts in the environmental field in Israel. The school's dean will be Prof. Mordechai Shechter, one of the founders of the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Management at the University of Haifa. Among the faculty members is a former director general of the Environmental Protection Ministry, Uri Marinov.

The school's approach will be similar to that at similar academic departments at American universities, with their emphasis on sustainable development, long-term national planning of water and energy resources and other environmental programs. The founding companies at the Interdisciplinary Center's School of Sustainability are involved in the production of basic materials such as fuel, fertilizer and flame retardants and in large measure their operations are based on non-renewable resources such as oil and phosphates. The companies' operations are responsible for pollution, including the emission of air pollutants and damage to the landscape.

The Interdisciplinary Center said financial support to academic institutions from corporations and businesses is accepted practice among the world's leading universities. "We view the School of Sustainability as a center of international importance," IDC said, adding that the school would play an important role in how environmental challenges are dealt with in Israel.

"The Israel Corporation, Israel Chemicals and Oil Refineries are proud to assist in the establishment of the first academic school of sustainability in the country," the Israel Corporation said in a statement. This step is part of a series of steps taken by Israel Corporation affiliates to enhance knowledge on environmental issues and improving relations between academia and industry, the company added.

One of the heads of the Knesset environmental-social lobby, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), said: "I am in favor of companies adopting a sustainability agenda but it has to start first with them in their own activities."

Read this article in Hebrew