Israel is a small country, characterized by rapid population and economic growth. Established in 1948, its population has increased nearly eight-fold to 6.5 million today - mainly as a result of large-scale immigration. From a sparsely populated country in its early years, Israel has been transformed into a densely populated and highly developed country. In the area north of Be'er Sheva, it is now one of the world's most densely populated countries.
These unique circumstances present decision-makers with major challenges. Yet today, more than ever, Israel is ready to meet the challenges, to overcome the difficulties, to embark on a new path toward sustainability.
In the first 25-year period following its independence, Israel accorded high priority to intensive development programs: new towns were built, modern agricultural programs were introduced, water sources were tapped and roads and airports were constructed. The rapid growth rate of population, industry and agriculture led to environmental degradation, which was further aggravated by the concentration of industrial and urban activities along the coastal strip, where two-thirds of the population reside.
Within a year of the Stockholm Conference, the Cabinet established the Environmental Protection Service (EPS) as Israel's first environmental government body. The birth of the EPS in 1973 was an important first step in the creation of a comprehensive and modern environmental administration in Israel. In December 1988, the government established the Ministry of the Environment. The decision reflected a positive change in the national determination to tackle environmental issues. In recent years, Israel has embarked on a new journey, taking its first steps on the path toward sustainable development - development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.