Faith communities, including IEF governing board member and Representative for Sustainable Development of the U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs Peter Adriance, testified recently before the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the moral implications of carbon pollution causing climate change. Peter's write-up on the testimony, "Faith Communities Stress Moral Dimension of Carbon Pollution at EPA", has just be published in the Huffington Post and can be read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-adriance/faith-communities-stress-_….
The Global Environmental Policy Programme (GEPP) at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, which IEF President Arthur Dahl has helped to design, organizes policy briefings as well as a summer training programme. GEPP has now issued a two-page brief on "Beyond the Limits: Implementing a Resilient Future" summarizing its 28 November 2013 event with Ian Johnson, Secretary-General of the Club of Rome, and Per Olssen of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. This can be downloaded here.
The Club of Rome and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation have launched a project on "ValuesQuest: the search for values which will make a world of difference" (see http://www.clubofrome.org/?p=5821). After addressing the root causes of world problems for over 40 years at a broad systemic, holistic and long-term level, the Club of Rome has recognized that values are the main drivers behind societal instruments like economy, education and governance, and that present values are guiding the course of society in the wrong direction.
Symposium on Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People
The Centre for Social Pediatrics, Cantonal Hospital of Winterthur, Switzerland, in collaboration with the Club of Rome, organized a scientific Symposium on Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People on 5-6 December 2013. The Centre, as part of of its daily work with children, young people and parents, as well as in discourse with experts, frequently focuses on the question of values and ideals, and how these are communicated. What are the reference points for adolescents? What are their wishes and aspirations? Who are their role models; what are their guiding principles? In childhood, it is usually the parents that communicate purpose and values. But when dealing with the challenges of our globalized world, adults also sometimes experience insecurity, asking “What it’s all about?” – material independence, happiness, love, faith, knowledge…? Can faith – a spiritual foundation – help children, young people and adults find fulfilment and contentment?
The symposium was of particular interest because it provided a scientific perspective on many of the issues being addressed by the International Environment Forum, although the focus of most speakers was Europe rather than the whole world. The multidisciplinary perspectives from sociologists, psychiatrists, theologians, educators, and even a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, highlighted some key issues about religion and spirituality in the modern world and the challenges ahead. The decline of interest in the environment among young people noted by some speakers is of particular concern. The following paragraphs provide a synthesis of the main points. A full report and list of speakers is at http://iefworld.org/node/656.
PERL (the Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living) is running a media competition for students and film-makers. The link below will lead you to PERL’s website where you will find all the information needed to participate:
United Nations reports for the post-2015 agenda
Following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), or Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, and with the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the international community has launched a vast debate on the priorities and directions for a Post-2015 Agenda. This debate bridges the aim by the development community to reduce poverty, and the concerns of the environmental community to stay within planetary boundaries and achieve sustainability. There is a need to extend the Millennium Development Goals and to create Sustainable Development Goals as agreed at Rio+20 while merging the two processes.
In support of this debate, and using the Internet to reach more widely in consulting the public and civil society organizations, many different processes have been set in motion within the UN system and as submissions for consideration by the UN. It is hard to keep up with all the different processes, but the list of reports below as of October 2013 may help those who want to follow the main lines of the debate.
Asia-Europe Seminar on Human Rights and the Environment
At a time when many question the effectiveness of international processes, it is refreshing to discover a major intergovernmental dialogue without a formal structure. The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is a forum to promote dialogue and cooperation among 49 states, the ASEAN Secretariat and the European Commission on all issues of common interest to Asia and Europe. Summit meetings of Heads of State and Government are held every two years, with other meetings at ministerial level, and informal seminars and projects cover fields such as economy, environment, public health, arts and culture, education, human rights and governance, and intercommunal dialogue. The only formal structure is the Asia-Europe Foundation (http://www.asef.org/) which helps to implement specific projects.
ASEM Seminar on Human Rights and the Environment
Ninth ECPD International Conference
Belgrade, Serbia, 11-12 October 2013
The European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD), affiliated with the University for Peace established by the United Nations, celebrated the 30th anniversary of its creation by the UN General Assembly in 1983 at its Ninth ECPD International Conference in the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, on 11-12 October 2013. The IEF has been a partner of ECPD for a number of years and IEF President Arthur Dahl sits on its Academic Council. The 190 participants included many diplomats and professors from across the Western Balkans and around the world.
ECPD Conference - Belgrade City Hall
The 17th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum was a joint event with ebbf, our partner Baha'i-inspired organization for values in business. About 140 participants from 22 countries across the world - from Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, North America, Australia and the Middle East, met at a beautiful hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona on 3-6 October 2013. 14 IEF members from around Europe attended the conference, while regular postings on the Internet allowed other members to follow the conference at a distance.
The theme of the conference was "Co-creating Sustainable Wealth: how can we combine ecology and economy?". The conference explored positive solutions for transforming the economy and building a more sustainable society by empowering individuals, communities and corporations and other institutions. See the programme at http://www.makeitmeaningful.org/#!program.
The conference was recorded through http://ebbf.org/blog/, including blog posts and tweets, a link to the presentation for the keynote of that slot (on ebbf's Slideshare channel), and a link to images of that time-period (on ebbf's Facebook page). The IEF report on the conference follows below.