FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
13th December 2000
Orlando, Florida, USA
The fourth General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held at Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando, Florida on the 13th of December 2000, from 7-10 p.m., and was opened by the President of the IEF, Dr. Arthur Dahl. After the formal opening, those present introduced themselves.
Present at the Assembly were 14 voting members from Canada, Ecuador, South Africa, Switzerland, Swaziland, Sweden, USA, and several observers. The agenda for the meeting and instructions for voting had been sent to the 60 voting members (5th of November to 3 without access to email, and 5th of December to 57 with access to email). They were all invited to send contributions to the consultation in addition to voting for the new Board.
2. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The President invited the participants to consider the election of officers for the General Assembly, and suggested the option of having the officers of the Board serve in this capacity in view of the small group present. The Assembly accepted this proposal and Arthur Dahl served as chairman and Sylvia Karlsson as secretary of the Assembly.
The chairman presented a draft agenda which was approved by the Assembly.
4. ANNUAL REPORT
The General Secretary presented the annual report on behalf of the Governing Board (see Annual Report 1999-2000).
5. ADOPTION OF STATUTES
The President gave the background for the draft statutes that the Board had presented to the Assembly, the guidance on administrative structure that has come from the Baha'i World Centre at different times, and the consultative process that has taken place on various drafts of the statutes over the past years. He also outlined the major points in the statutes. A broad consultation followed.
There was consultation on why the IEF is outside the Baha'i administrative structure and the implications this has.
A question was raised on why the list of addresses of non-voting members (Associates) is not to be published. This lead to a consultation on the changes suggested in the statutes, to switch from having two categories of members, to only have "members" and "associates" and what the differences between the two categories would be. The associates category provided an option for those who did not wish to appear in the directory or be voted for. Some associates are in countries where they cannot correspond openly.
A question was raised whether the IEF could publish position papers on things like genetic engineering, elucidating the Baha'i position on these issues. This lead to a clarifying consultation on the special character of the organization. It is not representing the Baha'i Faith, but rather, is an organization that only seeks to promote and apply the Baha'i teachings. In this context, such issues as genetic engineering could be considered by the editorial group and the board for if doing so is deemed appropriate and necessary and if we have the capacity to do so.
A proposal was raised that it could be beneficial for the general membership, specially the newer members, to have access to a summary of the background on the formation and structure of the IEF, specifically the flow of advice that has come from the Baha'i institutions. This proposal was approved and submitted for consideration and action by the incoming Board.
As every session during the 4th annual IEF conference had a contribution from the arts, so also did the General Assembly where all members joined in a unity song, accompanied by cello and guitar.
6. ELECTION OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
The Assembly appointed the following tellers for the election of the new five member Board: John Palmer and Roxanne Lalonde.
For the election, the members not present at the Assembly had received a list of voting members as of November 2000. During the 4th Annual Conference of the IEF, 7 membership applications were submitted, and one non-voting member wished to change status to voting member. As a majority of the Board was present, they met and approved the applications and these were added to the list of eligible voting members. The following names were added: Andrea Atkinson, Ruth Allen, Samuel DuBois, Yolanda DuBois, Christiana Lawson, Robert McLaughlin, Keith Schlesinger, and Roxanne Lalonde The final list of voting members is found in Annex 2.
After a prayer, the tellers collected the votes from the members present and then proceeded to the computer for the electronic conference and there opened the votes that had been sent in by members not present in Orlando.
Report of the tellers: 19 ballots had been cast, 14 from members present and 5 via email. Two ballots were invalid. The following four persons received the highest numbers of votes and were elected for the Board:
Arthur Dahl (Switzerland)
Sylvia Karlsson (Sweden)
Irma Allen (Swaziland)
Peter Adriance (USA)
For the fifth member of the Board there was a tie between Maxwell Ayamba (UK) and Roxanne Lalonde (Canada). An election to break the tie took place among the members present at the Assembly. Roxanne Lalonde was elected as the fifth member.
7. FIVE YEAR PLAN
The outgoing Board had submitted a draft five year plan to the Assembly, prepared at the suggestion of the 3rd General Assembly. Irma Allen presented the plan by reading the vision and summarising the rationale, structure and contents of the plan. The plan was amply consulted upon, with the following comments raised.
Related to the purpose of the IEF to advise governments, NGOs etc., it was noted that at this stage some individual members are in a position to give such advice. If these members had access to a number of case studies where good policies have been adopted they could be used as a basis for spreading such initiatives. For example, Canada is developing standards for control of dioxins and furans for a number of sectors, in advance of the U.S.A. If such information was available in concise form, other countries could draw from that expertise. It would mean disseminating information to governments that do not have the resources. In comment, it was mentioned that the capacity of the IEF to give advice will only develop slowly over a long period. It all depends on when there is a critical mass of professional members that can contribute.
A suggestion was made that there should be a place for people to describe their current projects, so that they can network with others who are interested in the same field. There could be occasional profiles in the newsletter, where members could describe their current projects, what they wish help with etc. There could also be a heading for "ongoing activities". Members could give and ask for guidance, and give examples of pilot projects.
It was noted that there are certain areas where there are not many materials around, and for which we may have expertise in the IEF. For example, environmental assessments are popular in Africa, but there is nothing for the small entrepreneurs. To develop this would fill a need and may be one way to help and advise.
Another area mentioned was global warming, what other countries are doing with regard to reducing the release of the responsible air pollutants. In response to this it was noted that we have to be careful not to duplicate other efforts. The question to consider is what the comparative advantage of the IEF is for the areas we might enter.
The former General Secretary brought to the attention of the Assembly that the preceding week, one member had offered to make an Excel sheet with all the members, indicating in key words their special interests, which would give an overview of the common and different interests of members. It was suggested that a form be sent out to ask members to indicate which areas of expertise they would like to have listed.
It was brought up that care should be taken that members do not do things in the name of the IEF without the approval of the Board.
Regarding issuing publications, it was raised that we need to know what type of publications we want, e.g., publications assembled by individuals or with the IEF as the publisher. In comment it was mentioned that this is an issue where we can be very flexible.
One member noted that as the IEF may have perhaps 5000 members in a few years, the five year plan seemed very limited. If we cannot raise funds, it will only be a nice 'tea party' and we cannot carry out the plan. If we do not have the vision for that, we cannot influence anything. We could easily get more members, the word is not out yet. In response to this it was noted that we were explicitly told not to create national chapters. We need to find our niche within the instructions from the Baha'i World Centre. We shall need to be flexible and adapt to future situations. If we stay simple now, we can be readily prepared to adapt as the situation arises. The changes are so fast in the world and we will be changing our niche as we grow.
Another comment was that the administrative set-up of the IEF is an exciting innovative approach which is really in line with global electronic networking. The key thing is that its success will depend on the initiative of the individual members. If they do not invest time and effort to advance the Forum, it is not even going to be a good tea party. But it can be an excellent way to take individual initiatives in the Baha'i Faith and it could become increasingly proactive.
One concern was raised that in some areas very few people have access to the Internet, so it is worrying how IEF can reach them. In response it was noted that most environmental professionals have at least email. If you are isolated in a country, it is encouraging to know that there are other people around interested in these issues, who can give you advice and to whom you can address questions. Members of the IEF with email could serve as resources in their community, passing on information to others who do not have access. By relying primarily on electronic communication, at least we reach some. In the next few years many more will have access to the Internet.
In conclusion it was agreed that the Board should use the five year plan as an evolving working document. A summary version could be included in the Newsletter.
8. VENUE FOR THE 5TH ANNUAL IEF CONFERENCE
There was consultation on the possible venue for the next IEF conference, to be held in the second half of 2001.
One member suggested having it close to London as it is easily accessible for people from both sides of the Atlantic. It was mentioned that last year a member from the Czech Republic had suggested having the conference in Prague. Other suggestions were Landegg (although this is a bit expensive), Maxwell School, Nur University, Panchgani, Hongkong, Singapore or Macao. There seemed to be some preference for Central Europe. These suggestions were submitted to the Board.
For the conference in two years, it was suggested that it could be held just preceding the Rio+10 World Summit on Sustainable Development to take place in South Africa. One suggestion was that the conference could include an environmental field trip.
There was consultation of the possibility for the IEF to contribute to the Rabbani Trust conference next year in some way, as participation this year was considered very beneficial. This could be in the form of a mini-seminar on the environment, etc. This was the first year agriculture was on the major agenda of the Rabbani Trust's conference, and agriculture and the environment might become as integral as the arts in the coming years. The Rabbani Trust is very open to recommendations, but they may ask the IEF to provide facilitators. Volunteers interested to work on the IEF presence at the 2001 Rabbani Trust conference were invited to make themselves known to the Board. Andrea Atkinson, Lena Hakim and Roxanne Lalonde all expressed an interest to assist. They could compile a short proposal which the Board could consider and submit to the Rabbani Trust.
Finally, there was a proposal for next year's conference to ask for donations to hire a professional secretary to take notes of the sessions for the electronic participants and to video film the conference.
As there were no further matters to discuss, the chairman closed the meeting with thanks to all those participating.
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
13 DECEMBER 2000
Peter Adriance, U.S.A.
Dale Allen, Swaziland
Irma Acosta Allen, Swaziland
Ruth Allen, U.S.A
Martino Alvaro, France
Andrea Atkinson, U.S.A.
Maxwell A. Ayamba, England
Laurent Bernad, U.S.A.
Aaron Arthur Blomeley, Taiwan
Vicky Bohlig, U.S.A.
Lloyd D. S. Brown, U.S.A.
Diana Cartwright Howden, Canada
Cecil E Cook, South Africa
Arthur Lyon Dahl, Switzerland
Thomas S Dierolf, Indonesia
Samuel DuBois, Ecuador
Yolanda DuBois, Ecuador
Ken R Dunsworth, Canada
Amanda Felipe, United Kingdom
Richard W. Fisher, Bolivia
Heather Megan Fuller, U.S.A.
Jose Luis Gadea Miguel, Paraguay
Javier Gonzales Iwanciw, Bolivia
Les Gornall, Northern Ireland
Mark M. Griffin, U.S.A.
Richard Nabil Hainsworth, Russia
Lena Hakim, U.S.A.
Eva Hildorsson, Sweden
Tom Hodges, U.S.A.
Anton ten Houten, New Zealand
Susan R. Howard, United Kingdom
Nigel Jollands, New Zealand
Ruhiyyih Joshi, Belgium
Janne Mikael Karimaki, Finland
Sylvia Karlsson, Sweden
Dwight Kimsey, U.S.A.
Roxanne Lalonde, Canada
Harold F. Lane, Scotland
Christiana Lawson, U.S.A.
Tomas Linsel, Slovakia
Bernard Lo Cascio, France
Paul Maloney, Canada
Kaykhosrov Manuchehri, United Kingdom
Nancy McIntyre, U.S.A.
Robert McLaughlin, U.S.A.
Molly McMackin, United Kingdom
Fabiana Méndez Raya, Bolivia
Winnona (Winnie) J. Merritt, U.S.A.
Keith A. Metzner, U.S.A.
Bettina A. Moser, U. S. A.
Jean Marie Moutoir, France
Carlos Alberto Musfeldt, Argentina
Tahereh Nadarajah (Djafari), Mongolia
James Nicholls, United Kingdom
Paul Ojermark, Sweden
Jan Quik, Suriname
Terry N. Randolph, Philippines
Hamid Rastegar, U.S.A.
Michael Richards, United Kingdom
Melinda Salazar, U.S.A.
Keith Schlesinger, U.S.A.
Marjorie Barbara Schreuder, The Netherlands
Jimmy Seow, Australia
Richard Scott Sherwood, Czech Republic
Lawrence Staudt, Rep. of Ireland
Jan Stenis, Sweden
Ebenezer Tabot-Tabot. Denmark
Victoria W. Thoresen, Norway
FIVE-YEAR PLAN FOR THE
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
FROM DECEMBER 2000
Adopted as an evolving working document by the General Assembly
13th December 2000
(Based on the Ridvan 2000 message from the Universal House of Justice)
Our vision is to build the International Environment Forum into a recognized Baha'i-inspired agency, as an organization of civil society using the new methods of communications, whose members are learning how to apply the Divine teachings to working with those around them, and whose scholarly activity reinforces the intellectual foundations of the Baha'i Faith's work. The Forum will focus on social and economic development and external affairs, producing papers and events examining contemporary problems of environment and sustainable development in the light of the Baha'i principles, and making links to the spiritual dimensions of the changes occurring in the world. It will work to build a dynamic relationship with the United Nations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and create recognition of the imperative need for an adequate system to deal with global issues. It will participate in interfaith dialogue on environment, and disseminate information about the Baha'i teachings relevant to environment and sustainable development to various publics, including children and junior youth.
STRATEGY (by purpose in the statutes)
Purpose: PROVIDE A FORUM
To provide a forum for those who carry out environment or sustainable development activities, or who have a special interest in these areas, and who are also familiar with the ethical and social principles in the Bahá'í Writings, to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the guidance enshrined in those Writings, to share experiences and learn from each other, and to explore the ways and means of implementing those principles in the practice of such activities.
Strategy: The annual conferences are the principal opportunity for such interactions, and they will continue to be held on a rotating basis at different locations, and whenever possible in collaboration with other organizations. The IEF web site will also continue to be expanded as a source of papers and materials contributing to this purpose.
Purpose: PROMOTE A DISCOURSE
To generate and promote a discourse on how the Bahá'í teachings can be applied to the environmental challenges facing the world.
Strategy: The themes and papers at the annual conferences aim to promote such a discourse. This effort will be expanded to generate a wider range of outputs and publications.
Purpose: TO INFLUENCE
To influence specific agencies, groups or individuals concerned with these issues.
Strategy: The principal means to implement this purpose is individual action by members, drawing on resources available through the Forum. The board will continue to explore opportunities to reach out to other groups or organizations on particular thematic issues, as it already has with the Earth Charter process.
Purpose: TO TAKE AND SUPPORT ACTION
To encourage or participate in projects and initiatives in accord with those principles, in collaboration with organizations and individuals who are active in areas of environment and sustainable development, while being sensitive to the capacity of projects to receive such help.
Strategy: The board will call for volunteers to make an inventory of environmental SED projects, with the encouragement and help of OSED.(ask them before the general assembly if we can do it) Other initiatives to develop include preparing materials on environmental actions that people can take in the North, such as for sustainable consumption, and compiling a source book of ideas for small projects where the Baha'i principles give added value, for publication through a Baha'i publishing trust. The board will encourage members to make use of the Earth Charter process in the two coming years as a basis to introduce the discussion on values and the environment at national level.
Purpose: TO ADVISE
To be available in an advisory capacity to governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and communities in promoting the sustainable use of resources and protecting the environment.
Strategy: This purpose will require further development of the Forum and a strengthened ability to harness the professional capacities of its members. In the short term, the board will not seek out such activities, but may consider opportunities that present themselves on an ad hoc basis.
Purpose: TO PROMOTE AWARENESS
To promote a greater awareness of environmental issues, and to stimulate environmental education amongst children, youth and adults, so that they can contribute more effectively to practical actions; To increase awareness within communities of the need for sustainable and environmentally sound development.
Strategy: The two standing working groups will be charged to develop materials for this purpose, with a range of relevant materials to be produced over the next 5 years.
Purpose: TO SUPPORT NETWORKING
To support networking among individuals and groups at the local, national, regional and international levels on issues of environment and sustainable development.
Strategy: The directory of members facilitates informal networking. As the membership grows, issue-based networks can be developed within the Forum.
Purpose: TO ADVISE YOUNG PEOPLE
To encourage and advise young people who plan to study or work in the fields of environment or sustainable development in the spirit of the Bahá'í teachings.
Strategy: Mentoring by experienced members of the Forum already occurs regularly. Over the next 5 years this will be placed on a more systematic and organized basis both electronically and at conferences and meetings.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
* These are specific milestones along the way toward achieving the Vision[still to be developed from the above]
LINES OF ACTION AND TIMETABLE
[6.2] To organize a yearly conference which shall also serve as the Annual General Assembly of the Forum.
- encourage members to suggest places for conferences alternatively on different continents, and consult on the issue at the General Assembly.
Responsibility: The IEF Board, or a subcommittee appointed by the Board, will be responsible for facilitating the event.
[6.3] To collaborate with associations and agencies in relevant fields of expertise, as well as development agencies.
- identify these bodies both locally and internationally and map out strategies to involve them in the IEF's outreach plans.
- compile a directory of these bodies so that we can network with them.
- NGO activities at Rio+10 in 2002 should be our first goal of outreach (check with BIC)
- network and co-ordinate with agencies, individuals, and various fora in the international scene.
Responsibility: IEF Board facilitates this, securing the assistance of IEF members
[6.4] To organize seminars and institutes on specialized subjects.
- network with various and agencies and NGOs to organize joint seminars and workshops.
- offer to organize seminars or sessions within other peoples' meetings,such as associations of Baha'i studies, summer schools or institutes, concentrating on the session content, with a few members contributing.
- organize a seminar on socioeconomic development in a northern context within 2 years, for example in collaboration with Landegg, covering the whole range from studying the messages from the House of Justice in detail to considering practical projects and hearing of those already in place.
- encourage small networks on special topics, with an enthusiastic volunteer at the core of each one.
- stimulate subgroups or discussions on particular topics where interested members could share experiences, quotations, etc. and leading to a brochure or compilation.
Responsibility: The Board (for the seminars) and individual IEF Members
[6.5] To encourage environmental research and scholarship.
- pursue this in collaboration with other Baha'i institutions such as ABS, Landegg Academy, Nur University etc.: to suggest a special issue on environment and sustainable development with the ABS in Canada/US within say 2-3 years time. The IEF could provide reviewers as well as encourage members to start writing papers, co-organize a SIG (special interest group) of the ABS in the UK together with BASED.
- professionals who belong to other institutions, movements and organizations can influence them through their individual approaches.
- hold a minimum of one Regional electronic IEF Forum per year (Africa, North America, South America),
- stimulate individuals to undertake research, such as by inviting people to prepare papers for our conferences, offering to publish good work on our web site, and offering prizes to young researchers (best paper awards) which could be largely symbolic but worth mentioning in their CVs.
- the editorial group could encourage good scholarship by careful review of papers submitted to it.
Responsibility: IEF Board, the editorial group and individual members.
[6.6] To prepare papers, materials and publications for children, youth and adults that convey and illustrate the Bahá'í perspective.
- aim to publish our first book by mid 2002 (for the Rio+10). Possible in cooperation with BIC-OE or one of the Bahai publishing trusts. Center it on values and environment (relating directly and indirectly to the Earth Charter), pick the best papers from the four first IEF conferences and set the authors at work to improve them according to the editorial groups/editors instructions. Commission additional papers to glue it together. The editor/s has to write introductory and/or closing chapter.
- publish a proper pamphlet on IEF, and on some basic themes.
- publish pamphlets, education materials, articles in simple language for Baha'i newsletters, articles promoting the World Environment Day etc.
- contact interested IEF members who have experience in various subject areas to provided their services. Identify an individual or a group of individuals who would be willing to co-ordinate this.
- distribute the materials provided to various target groups.
- aim to produce an environmental book for children or junior youth.
Responsibility: IEF Educational Materials Working Group
[6.7] To exchange information through periodical publications and by electronic media.
- produce four issues per year of the newsletter LEAVES, and "buds or sprouts" in between. The buds could be delegated outside the board (as well as the newsletter).
- develop a plan for the use of the web site in various additional ways to exchange information, hopefully with volunteers to take responsibility for some parts of it.
To facilitate a minimum of two electronic conferences per year on specially selected environmental topics and discuss these in relation to the Baha'i Writings.
Responsibility: IEF Board to follow this up. An individual IEF Member could be assigned the responsibility of contacting members for contributions and putting them in the Web site and others for organizing the electronic conferences.
[6.8] To maintain an annotated directory of the members of the Forum.
Responsibility: IEF Board
RESPONSIBILITIES [see above, in part]
The board should evaluate its progress against the plan every year in determining its annual work plan. At the end of 4 years the board should organize an in-depth evaluation of the plan and prepare a new draft plan for consultation and adoption at the next General Assembly.
- the board should try to have one physical meeting per year.
- develop a logo, letterheads, business cards, etc. to be ready in two years for the Rio+10.
- establish mechanisms to engage as many members as possible in the work, using each of their talents, improving the structure of working groups and delegation outside the board.
- develop a plan for attracting more members.
- develop a structure of individual IEF members as national focal points for information
Responsibility: IEF Board.
Last updated 4 December 2004