21st IEF International Conference

Submitted by admin on 13. January 2017 - 23:29
2017 April 14-17
de Poort, The Netherlands

IEF International Conference, de Poort, The Netherlands, 14-17 April 2017

For its 21st International Conference, the IEF Governing Board has decided to partner with the Justice Conference in de Poort, the Netherlands, on 14-17 April 2017, over the Easter weekend. The theme of the Justice Conference is "From Disintegration to Integration: navigating the forces of our time". The conference will start at 15:00 on Friday 14 April, and end at noon on Monday 17 April.

The IEF contribution to the programme will be the following workshop:

"Environmental Changes as forces for disintegration and integration"

Human pressures are causing extreme climate change and the sixth mass extinction, among other environmental catastrophes. These manifestations of disintegration in ecosystems and the entire earth system require compensating efforts of integration including global environmental governance. Nature demonstrates the complementarity of disintegration and integration. Similar processes operate in human society, and systems science helps to explain their relationship. Higher levels of human integration may depend on ethical values including from religion. Climate change provides an example of the need for innovation in integrating different societal dimensions such as science, education and governance. This workshops will explore a set of topics linked to this theme through presentations and interactive discussions.


Environmental Changes as forces for disintegration and integration
Laurent Mesbah
American University
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nature offers beautiful examples of disintegration and integration as organic processes, at the molecular, cellular, organism, species, population, community, and ecosystem level. All living processes are essentially organic and follow precise and beautifully regulated natural laws.

The son of the founder of the Baha'i Faith, a great thinker and wise man Abdu'l-Bahá, wrote: "Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever“.

If we look at the forest ecosystem for example we can see a disintegration of dying living organisms and materials such as leaves in the fall from which decomposers feed. Decomposers such as insects , fungi and bacteria, actually thrive on this abundant source of energy, and provide nutrients from which green plants will benefit, build material and store energy captured from the sun. Decomposers such as insects in turn become a source of food for example forest insectivore birds who in turn can also become a prey for other predators, connecting other organisms through the food chain and food web in the forest ecosystem. In this and all other ecosystems integration and disintegration are therefore very tightly connected and interdependent.

What can we say about human societies and these forces of integration and disintegration? What is the nature of human relationships with the natural environment ? We do have significant evidence to affirm that we elicit important negative impact on the natural environment. The impacts of humans on planet earth have become so profound that scientists call this time the Anthropocene era. The disintegrating processes which includes climate disruption, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and unsustainable use of natural resources constitute a real crisis and threat for humanity and for many forms of life. Human societies themselves are facing many crisis such as inequalities, financial, social, and all kind of injustices today are adding to each other and seem to be interconnected. Perhaps if we look at the root causes of these crises we could understand how these disintegrating forces can provide the driving forces needed to build more just and sustainable human societies in better harmony with its natural environment.

The Systems Science of Disintegration and Integration
Arthur Lyon Dahl
International Environment Forum
Geneva, Switzerland

Complex systems do not usually follow a smooth evolutionary curve towards greater integration and complexity, but experience what is called a punctuated equilibrium, with periods of stability interrupted by times of rapid change with bursts of creativity and reorganization. Dominant entities like the dinosaurs that have over-specialized and have lost the capacity to adapt die out, to be replaced by entities capable of rapid change and with new potentials for increased efficiency and integration (think early mammals). Human social systems seem to follow a similar pattern, and recent research suggests that higher levels of human organization can only be explained by the ethical principles of religion. The present time would call for learning communities accustomed to a culture of change and founded on strong spiritual principles.

Systems innovation for climate change
Joachim Monkelbaan
Transitions Hub of Climate KIC
Brussels, Belgium

The transitions necessary to respond to climate change require systems innovation. Innovation is usually perceived as technical rather than about social change but the systems perspective obviously shifts that perspective. Integration is important at the science-policy-practice interface and in education. Bahá'í principles can shed new light on these issues.

The promises and pitfalls of integration in governance
Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen
Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Integration emerges frequently in current discourses on governance. The increasing functional interdependencies between traditionally separate policy areas such as energy, agriculture, health etc. leads to calls for integration in policy and implementation. Concepts such as environmental policy integration and mainstreaming of the environment appear in development plans and policy papers of national and international organizations. The Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030 in which they are embedded are explicitly 'integrative’ and ‘indivisible’ among its 17 goals and 169 targets, many of which are synergistic while some are clearly antagonistic. This presentation will highlight some of the promises and pitfalls of governance to aim for such high degree of integration.


How can we draw on the lessons of nature to understand better the challenges of disintegration and integration in human society?
What is the role of ethics and values in integration?
Can a systems perspective help to give us hope in the better world that can emerge from this age of transition?
What innovations might help us to reinforce processes of integration?


Laurent Amine Mesbah
Born and grew up in France in a multicultural background, Laurent Mesbah did research and teaching in plant genetics at the Free University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he completed his PhD. In addition Dr Laurent Mesbah completed a certificate of advanced studies in Environmental Diplomacy at the University of Geneva and is member of the International Environment Forum since its foundation. Laurent has been living in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2000 with his family. He has been involved in education and youth empowerment as well as in managing, implementing and evaluating projects related to sustainable development with international organisations. Laurent teaches environmental sciences and value based leadership at the university and co-founded and leads Bloom Earth School in Sarajevo.

Arthur Dahl
Dr. Arthur Lyon Dahl is President of the International Environment Forum and a board member of ebbf - Ethical Business Building the Future. A scientist by training, he has 50 years' experience on sustainability, international environmental governance, development, indicators, and systems science. A retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of UNEP, he lived and worked many years in Africa and the Pacific Islands, and consults with the World Bank and UNEP. His recent work includes values-based education for sustainability. His books include: "Unless and Until: A Baha'i Focus on the Environment" and "The Eco Principle: Ecology and Economics in Symbiosis".

Joachim Monkelbaan
Joachim Monkelbaan, has recently been named manager of the Transitions Hub of Climate KIC in Brussels, Belgium. He has degrees in law and recently completed a Ph.D. at the University of Geneva looking at international governance for the transition to sustainability. He previously worked for IUCN, UNEP and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen
Sylvia works as Assistant Professor with the Public Administration and Policy Group of Wageningen University since 2011 and is also Adjunct Professor in Global Environmental Governance with the University of Helsinki, Finland. Sylvia’s in her research seeks to understand the key determinants of what makes global governance processes with environmental and social implications exert influence and build legitimacy where issues such as transparency, participation, accountability and equity are important. She has published on the domains of global energy governance, global climate change governance and global sustainable development governance – particularly the evolution and legitimacy of international norms. She is a senior research fellow of the international Earth System Governance Project, a board member of the IEF, CIVICUS and One World Trust.

Anyone wanting to attend the conference should make a reservation directly with the de Poort Conference Centre as soon as possible as space is limited: https://www.depoort.org/index.php?url=/content/en/course_detail_new.html¶ms=/course:14655.

The IEF Annual General Assembly will be organized during the conference as usual.

Justice Conference

Last updated 4 February 2017