International Environment Forum - A Bahá'í inspired organization for environment and sustainability http://iefworld.org/index.php/rss.xml en Leaves - January IEF newsletter is available http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/255 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Leaves - January IEF newsletter is available</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">15. January 2018 - 21:59</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Read on line: <a href="/newslt103"><strong><em>Leaves</em></strong> 20(1) January 2018</a> light text version with fewer illustrations.<br /> Download as a <a href="/fl/IEF_Leaves180115.pdf">pdf version</a> [0.68 mb].</p> <table background="/gr/BLEAF1.JPG" style="background-color: rgb(0, 153, 0); width: 100%; height: 55px; text-align: left; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 19:59:00 +0000 admin 255 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/255#comments On-line Course: Bahá'í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/903 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">On-line Course: Bahá&#039;í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">5. January 2018 - 13:04</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Wilmette Institute On-line Course</p> <h2>Bahá'í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food<br /> 20 January to 9 March 2018</h2> <p>Faculty: Paul Hanley, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Kim Naqvi, Gary Reusché, Neil Whatley, Robert White</p> <p>Baha'u'llah described agriculture as a "a vital and important matter" that was foremost among the principles "conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas 90, 89). Yet current agricultural policy often prioritizes yield and profit over health, sustainability, and sociocultural features of rural communities, while the poor struggle to even feed themselves, and climate change makes farming increasingly unpredictable. These and other factors threaten food security. In Baha’i Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, we will examine the teachings of the Baha’i Faith on agriculture, food, and rural development; relate these teachings to contemporary public discourse on these issues; and suggest ways in which agricultural activities can be incorporated into core activities, community-building, and emerging social action.</p> <p>$75 base price; Required textbook (not included in course fee): <i>The Spirit of Agriculture</i>, Paul Hanley (ed.), George Ronald, 2005. This book must be purchased, either online or as an electronic book.</p> <p>For more information or to register, go to <a href="http://www.cvent.com/events/bah-perspectives-on-agriculture-and-food/event-summary-1aaa0e38f3e4419e9f2bf3997ab79f00.aspx">http://www.cvent.com/events/bah-perspectives-on-agriculture-and-food/ev…</a></p> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 05 Jan 2018 11:04:52 +0000 admin 903 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/903#comments The Climate Change Debate: a Bahá'í Perspective http://iefworld.org/index.php/UHJcc2017 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Climate Change Debate: a Bahá&#039;í Perspective</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">31. December 2017 - 23:02</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Climate change</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/88" hreflang="en">Baha&#039;i</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The Climate Change Debate: a Bahá'í Perspective</h2> <p>Excerpts from a letter of the<br /> Universal House of Justice<br /> 29 November 2017</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p><i>In response to a letter expressing concern about the extreme politization of the climate change debate in certain countries, the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá'í Faith, has provided the following reply giving the Bahá'í perspective. It not only addresses the issue of climate change itself but, more broadly, clarifies certain ideas about the way in which Bahá’ís are to understand and contribute to the betterment of the world.</i></p> <hr /> <p>Your letter reflects thoughtful concern about the practical limits of scientific knowledge, its implications for public policy, and its possible misrepresentation in an argument warning about catastrophic anthropogenic climate change that you feel is extreme, political, and unjustified by the facts. Although you do not mention it, you are surely aware that your measured skepticism is largely overshadowed in the public debate by another extreme perspective, promoted by political and vested interests, that goes as far as denying climate change and attempting to dismiss or contend with relevant scientific findings. Specific concerns about possible extremes on one side of the debate, therefore, must be addressed without appearing to advocate the other extreme. On the matter of climate change and other vital issues with profound implications for the common good, Bahá’ís have to avoid being drawn into the all too common tendencies evident in contemporary discourse to delineate sharp dichotomies, become ensnared in contests for power, and engage in intractable debate that obstructs the search for viable solutions to the world’s problems. Humanity would be best and most effectively served by setting aside partisan disputation, pursuing united action that is informed by the best available scientific evidence and grounded in spiritual principles, and thoughtfully revising action in the light of experience. The incessant focus on generating and magnifying points of difference rather than building upon points of agreement leads to exaggeration that fuels anger and confusion, thereby diminishing the will and capacity to act on matters of vital concern.</p> <p>One of the most pressing problems of humanity in the current century is how a growing, rapidly developing, and not yet united global population can, in a just manner, live in harmony with the planet and its finite resources. Certain biological realities present themselves when an organism negatively affects or exceeds the capacity of its ecosystem. The limited availability and inequitable distribution of resources profoundly impact social relations within and between nations in many ways, even to the point of precipitating upheaval and war. And particular arrangements of human affairs can have devastating consequences for the environment. The question of the impact of climate change, and to what extent it is man-made and its effects can be ameliorated, is today a major aspect of this larger problem. The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh directly and indirectly touches on a range of such concerns in a manner that speaks to a harmony between society and the natural world. It is essential, therefore, that Bahá’ís contribute to thought and action regarding such matters.</p> <p>Among the Bahá’í teachings are those concerning the importance of science. “Great indeed is the claim of scientists … on the peoples of the world,” Bahá’u’lláh observed. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the “sciences of today are bridges to reality” and repeatedly emphasized that “religion must be in conformity with science and reason.” Significantly, on an occasion when a scientific question was asked of Shoghi Effendi, he responded in a letter written on his behalf that “we are a religion and not qualified to pass on scientific matters.” And in reply to scientific issues raised on a number of occasions, he consistently advised Bahá’ís that such matters would need to be investigated by scientists.</p> <p>Scientific inquiry into the question of human contributions to global warming has gradually unfolded over a century of investigation and, more recently, with intense scrutiny. While there will naturally be differences of view among individual scientists, there does exist at present a striking degree of agreement among experts in relevant fields about the cause and impact of climate change. Sound scientific results, obtained through the employment of sound scientific methods, produce knowledge that can be acted upon; ultimately, the outcomes of action must stand the test of further scientific inquiry and the objective facts of the physical world. In the spectrum of issues under discussion—which includes the extent of human contribution, projections of the possible future consequences, and alternatives for response— some aspects are, of course, less supported than others by scientific findings and hence subject to additional critical analysis.</p> <p>A phenomenon as complex as climate change cannot be reduced to simple propositions or simplistic policy prescriptions. Even when there is agreement on some underlying facts, there may be a diversity of views about what to do in response to those facts, and the problem is compounded when uncertainty exists or when basic facts are contested for partisan reasons. But while there may indeed be a localized and highly charged political component to the public discussion, more remarkable is the fact that at a time when nations have difficulty reaching agreement on many important issues, the governments of nearly every country on earth have reached political consensus on a joint framework, in the Paris accord, to respond to climate change in a manner that is anticipated to evolve over time as experience accumulates. More than a century ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá referred to “unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed.” The recently adopted international agreement on climate change, irrespective of any shortcomings and limitations it may have, offers another noteworthy demonstration of that development anticipated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The agreement represents a starting point for constructive thought and action that can be refined or revised on the basis of experience and new findings over time.</p> <p>While as a fundamental principle Bahá’ís do not engage in partisan political affairs, this should not be interpreted in a manner that prevents the friends from full and active participation in the search for solutions to the pressing problems facing humanity. Given that the question of climate change gives rise to social, economic, and environmental concerns across the world, interested Bahá’ís and Bahá’í institutions and agencies have naturally addressed it, whether at local, regional, national, or international levels. However, this does not mean that conclusions about scientific findings on climate change associated with such initiatives should be construed or presented as matters of religious conviction or obligation. Different Bahá’ís will, given their range of backgrounds, understand ideas about science and climate change in different ways and feel impelled to act differently, and there is no obligation for them to have uniformity of thought in such matters. Whenever Bahá’ís do participate in activities associated with this topic in the wider society, they can help to contribute to a constructive process by elevating the discourse above partisan concerns and self-interest to strive to achieve unity of thought and action. A range of Bahá’í concepts can inform these efforts; the <a href="/uhj_econ">letter of the House of Justice dated 1 March 2017</a>, for example, addresses moral questions of consumption and excessive materialism that are associated with the exploitation and degradation of the environment. At the start, there are no doubt many uncontroversial areas of overlap where the effort to address the question of anthropogenic climate change corresponds with widely accepted approaches to improving the environment. Areas for collaboration with others could broaden as experience and learning unfolds.</p> <p>In those parts of the world where discussions surrounding anthropogenic climate change have indeed fallen prey to an almost intractable divide, Bahá’ís must be sensitive to the danger of this divisive partisan approach taking root in the community. This may well mean that some individuals or agencies have to consider to what extent their views about action required on climate change reflect a posture that is too extreme, whether in exaggerating the problem or minimizing it. Concepts and principles associated with Bahá’í consultation inform how the friends should interact among themselves and how they participate in social discourses and social action. Consultation provides a means by which common understanding can be reached and a collective course of action defined. It involves a free, respectful, dignified, and fairminded effort on the part of a group of people to exchange views, seek truth, and attempt to reach consensus. An initial difference of opinion is the starting point for examining an issue in order to reach greater understanding and consensus; it should not become a cause of rancor, aversion, or estrangement. By acting in unity, a conclusion about a particular course of action may be tested and revised as necessary through a process of learning. Otherwise, as ‘Abdu’l- Bahá explains, “stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden.”</p> <p>Also relevant to such participation is greater appreciation and application of Bahá’u’lláh’s insights on moderation. “In all matters moderation is desirable,” He states. “If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil.” This call for moderation includes in particular the manner of speech if a just conclusion is to be achieved. “Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation,” Bahá’u’lláh writes. “One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison,” He explains. “It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station.” By moderation, Bahá’u’lláh is in no way referring to mere compromise, the dilution of truth, or a hypocritical or utopian consensus. The moderation He calls for demands an end to destructive excesses that have plagued humanity and fomented ceaseless contention and turmoil. Moderation in deliberation and action stands in contrast to the arbitrary imposition of views through power or insistence upon ideological aims, both of which obstruct the search for truth and sow the seeds of continuing injustice. A moderate perspective is a practical and principled standpoint from which one can recognize and adopt valid and insightful ideas whatever their source, without prejudice. “Whoso cleaveth to justice, can, under no circumstances, transgress the limits of moderation,” Bahá’u’lláh states. “He discerneth the truth in all things, through the guidance of Him Who is the All-Seeing.”</p> <p>The House of Justice trusts that, in pursuing the many facets of their work of community building, social action, and involvement in the discourses of society, individuals, communities, and institutions will continually grow in their capacity to make a distinctive and effective contribution to addressing the multitudinous problems afflicting society and the planet, including those associated with climate change.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 31 December 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sun, 31 Dec 2017 21:02:33 +0000 admin 902 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/UHJcc2017#comments UN Environment and Faith-Based Organizations http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/900 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">UN Environment and Faith-Based Organizations</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">6. December 2017 - 23:56</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/110" hreflang="en">UNEP</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/69" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">UN Environment and Faith-Based Organizations</h2> <p>Report by Arthur Dahl</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>As part of a United Nations-wide effort to strengthen its relationship with religions, led by a UN Task Force on Religion and Development, UN Environment (formerly UNEP) is developing a <b>Strategy for Engaging with Faith-Based Organizations</b>. To help it finalize the strategy, UN Environment organized a <b>Consultation meeting on Engaging with Faith-Based Organizations</b> in Nairobi, Kenya, on 30 November 2017, among the events around the 3rd UN Environment Assembly. Participants represented Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Bahá’í, Judaism, Hinduism, Spirituality and interfaith organizations, and global, national and local perspectives. The International Environment Forum (IEF) was invited to represent the Bahá’í Faith, with Arthur Dahl as the IEF participant.</p> <p><img alt="UN Office in Nairobi" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_16.jpg" />&nbsp;<img alt="UN Office in Nairobi" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_19.jpg" /><br /> <small>UN Office in Nairobi</small></p> <p>The purpose of the meeting was to agree on the Strategy objectives and activities; identify top priority environmental issues of mutual focus; map global, regional and local environmental Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs); identify existing Knowledge management tools and networks; share existing experience and involvement; identify faith-based investment entities; and make commitments of specific support. Each organization replied to a detailed questionnaire on these topics, and also made a short presentation during the meeting.</p> <p>The UN Environment Strategy for Engaging with Faith-Based Organizations aims to inspire, empower and engage with Faith-based Organizations to innovatively deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 at all levels. The strategy has three major goals:<br /> 1: Strengthen Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations’ Leadership for Policy Impact<br /> 2: Green Faith-Based organization’s assets and transform Financing the SDGs<br /> 3: Science-Faith-Based Evidence<br /> It includes detailed lists of outputs and corresponding activities for each goal. It is intended that the initiative should be directly linked to the Office of the Executive Director in the Division of Policy and Programming, with an advisory committee representing major faith-based organizations and religions to provide guidance and direction.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The consultation</h3> <p>The meeting was opened by Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, after which Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, Principal Advisor to UN Environment on Strategic Engagement with Faith-Based Organizations, summarized the proposed strategy, and Alexander Juras, who heads the Major Groups and Stakeholders Unit, described synergies between these groups and UN Environment.</p> <p><img alt="Iyad Abumoghli" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_12.jpg" />&nbsp;<img alt="FBO representative" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_2.jpg" /><br /> <small>Dr. Iyad Abumoghli; FBO participants in the consultation</small></p> <p>The head of the <b>UN Task Force on Religion and Development</b>, Dr. Azza Karam, made a presentation by video link on the experience of the Task Force. The Task Force began functioning informally in 2007, and was formalized as part of the UN Development Group in 2010. Its members represent 17 UN system entities involved in development, peace and security, and human rights. Its objectives are to:<br /> - Seek information, scientific knowledge and secure sharing thereof around religion, religious groups and religious engagement (research, policy roundtables);<br /> - Build internal UN system capacities around religion, religious groups and religious engagement (strategic learning exchanges/trainings, database of interfaith networks);<br /> - Advocate/advise on religion, religious groups and religious engagement at intergovernmental gatherings (functional commissions, High Level Political Forum, UNGA);<br /> - Provide policy guidance/advice to UN management (World Humanitarian Summit);<br /> - Serve as a UN-portal for FBOs to access more information and knowledge and enhance partnerships with UN system entities (UN NGO committees, etc.).<br /> Some of its achievements include countering narratives of violent extremism, expanding and innovating in the way we do development, supporting environmental protection and stewardship (with UN Environment, Yale University Environmental Network and WWF), countering harmful human rights practices perpetuated in the name of religion, ensuring freedom of religion and belief and protection of religious minorities, defining decent work, and supporting informed religious knowledge for women’s empowerment and gender equality. The task force has acquired a lot of experience on what to do and not to do in dealing with faith-based organizations.</p> <p>Many of the organizations present shared their experiences on environmental stewardship, ranging from running international universities to national networks and local community activities. The IEF described the long involvement of the Bahá’í International Community with the United Nations, and its environmental engagement starting at the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and continuing with the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) and Rio+20 in 2012, with at least 36 statements on issues relevant to the environment and sustainability. It then explained the role of IEF as a Bahá’í-inspired professional organization for the environment and sustainability, accredited by the UN in the science and technology major group, maintaining web resources, designing interfaith courses, organizing annual conferences and side events at UN conferences, producing a monthly newsletter, and partnering in other networks. It also mentioned another Bahá’í-inspired organization, ebbf-Ethical Business Building the Future, that encourages sustainability in business and the workplace.</p> <p><img alt="FBO representatives" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_6.jpg" />&nbsp;<img alt="UN Office in Nairobi" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/Nairobi171130_14.jpg" /><br /> <small>FBO participants in the consultation; UN Office in Nairobi</small></p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Summary of reflections by Faith-Based Organizations</h3> <p>There was then an open consultation with FBOs on the UN Environment Strategy, looking for concrete suggestions on leadership, investment, and science, knowledge and communications, summarized as follows.</p> <p>The groups called for a forum or platform to exchange experience, and to post resources to, and UN Environment said it will open a page on its web site for this. There needs to be a network of networks to assemble existing resources and best practices. It could also include reports on faith-environment events; annual events and a calendar of future events could be listed. For materials in other languages, it would be helpful to have a title or summary in English. Many things are happening in FBOs, but they are not getting out, so there is a need to let the world know. It should become a community of practice to keep sharing.</p> <p>FBOs are well placed to explore the root causes of environmental problems, and to express the values that speak to the heart. The FBOs could help to move to transformational impacts, with a big message to impact from the global level. They could help to find win-win solutions. They need to discuss what they can do together to have lasting transformational impact, exploring core issues like human purpose. What makes humans human, and not just machines? They should inspire soul-searching; Who am I? Faith communities have another time-line, a long-term perspective, such as the First Nations in North America considering 7 generations. This will be an important contribution to UN Environment.</p> <p>It is important to include youth in faith dialogues, and to build on their use of technologies. This should include activities on the ground for practical applications. Everything today is expressed and valued in economic terms, and this is driving the world in unsustainable directions. Faith-based groups should advocate for alternatives.</p> <p>Pollution and food waste were proposed as specific areas of focus for global impact. Pollution is the theme of UNEA 3, so FBOs could support implementation of its outcomes. The theme of the next UNEA in 2019 has not yet been decided, but could become an area of focus. The UNEA should have resolutions including the ethical dimension.</p> <p>There was agreement that the initial focus could be on three priority environmental issues: pollution, water, and waste reduction and management. Water has an important symbolism in many religions that could be built on. These could be issues around which to build faith-based messages. What in scriptures would reinforce the messages of UNEA? FBOs could reflect on their work from a pollution perspective, and rephrase the issues in their own language, making them relevant to work at the local level. Sustainable consumption and production could be a more cross-cutting alternative, beyond just resource efficiency. It already is a UN Environment global programme. FBOs could contribute to the 10-year Framework of Programmes on SCP, and some already do.</p> <p>On the goal to Strengthen Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations’ Leadership for Policy Impact, it was noted that the Pope’s encyclical <i>Laudato Si’</i> came from the top. A global movement needs direction from the top so that the faithful will follow it. It would be good to reach the highest levels of leadership. An alternative view was to go from the local to the global, starting with letting local communities determine their own priorities, and building from there. Most of the strategy is addressed towards reducing poverty and this is essential, but FBOs also have important messages for the rich who are over-consuming and producing most environmental impacts. There is a rising middle class even in developing countries being drawn into the consumer society that needs to be reached.</p> <p>The present draft for the goal to green Faith-Based organization’s assets and transform financing the SDGs appeared too focused on finance, and should include a wider greening of FBO’s consumption, assets, buildings and lands.</p> <p>For the goal on Science-Faith-Based Evidence, there was a feeling that the concept of science in this goal should be refined. Science should include traditional knowledge, which is often less organized. We need more that just knowledge and science. A holistic view is needed to transform people, and to help them reconnect with nature. An alternative would be to use the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs - and look for ways they embody faith beliefs. It is important to avoid the conflicts of science and religion, and to recognize their complementarity.</p> <p>FBOs were asked what they could offer to UN Environment, and to make concrete commitments, for example the use of their networks to share messages more widely, the availability of knowledge resources, and training of trainers to reach the grassroots of communities. One suggestion for the future would be for the UN to consider creating a Forum of Faith-Based Organizations comparable to the Forum of Indigenous Peoples, to formalize the dialogue between governments and FBOs in the UN framework.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 6 December 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 21:56:47 +0000 Arthur Dahl 900 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/900#comments The Imperatives of Sustainable Development: Needs, Justice, Limits (book review) http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/899 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Imperatives of Sustainable Development: Needs, Justice, Limits (book review)</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">6. December 2017 - 23:48</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"> The Imperatives of Sustainable Development: Needs, Justice, Limits</h2> <p>by Erling Holden, Kristin Lingered, David Banister, Valeria Jana Schwanitz and August Wierling. <br> London and New York: Earthscan from Routledge. 263 p. published in July 2017.<br> book review by Arthur Lyon Dahl</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <p>The debate about sustainable development has been going on for thirty years since the World Commission on Environment and Development chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland published “Our Common Future” in 1987. It has taken form in Agenda 21 (1992) and been redefined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015. While the International Environment Forum has long emphasized the ethical foundations of sustainable development, these have often been lost in the complexity of the issues involved.</p> <p>Here is an extremely important book that aims to restore the ethical heart of sustainable development and to make it operational with indicators and thresholds defining the sustainable development space that should be the goal of all countries. From a holistic perspective, it lays out a simplified and transparent reality to capture the essentials of sustainability in a form understandable by the general public. The first chapter defines the moral imperatives of sustainable development, followed by three theoretical chapters on needs, justice and limits. The central chapter gives a normative model of sustainable development, followed by more practical chapters on implementation, with facts and figures, an analytic narrative, how much as been lost in translation, especially in implementing sustainable development at the local level, and a final chapter on next steps.</p> <p>The book starts from three equally important moral imperatives: satisfying human needs, ensuring social justice, and respecting environmental limits. For each of these, it reviews available theoretical frameworks, and selects the one most fit for purpose: Sen’s capability approach for needs; Rawl’s two principles of justice for justice; and the planetary boundary approach for limits. From these, it derives six sustainability themes, two for each moral imperative. For each theme, it reviews the available indicators and data availability, and recommends those that would be the most workable at the present time. It then sets thresholds for each indicator that would define what is sustainable or unsustainable for each indicator. The themes are non-negotiable and cannot be substituted. All must be achieved together for sustainability.</p> <p>The six sustainability themes and their headline indicators are:<br> 1. eradicating extreme poverty (Poverty line)<br> 2. enhancing individual human capabilities (Human Development Index)<br> 3. ensuring rich participation in society (Participatory Democracy Index)<br> 4. ensuring fair distribution of resources (Gini Coefficient)<br> 5. mitigating climate change (Tons CO2 equivalent per capita)<br> 6. safeguarding biosphere integrity (Aichi biodiversity targets)</p> <p>The result is the definition of a sustainable development space which should be the goal of all countries and the planetary system. There is no single pathway to this space. Different countries face different challenges and must follow different pathways. Calculations show that no country today is in that space, and for many the trajectory for at least some themes is in the wrong direction, especially with the human population still increasing within a limited global environment, per capita consumption increasing, and people living longer so that lifetime impacts are increasing as well. We have a long way to go, while the negative consequences of our unsustainability are accelerating.</p> <p>The book concludes with four issues that will define sustainable development over the next 30 years: developing countries and urbanization, resource efficiency and technology, healthy people and healthy planet, and governance - engagement and participation.</p> <p>The approach is academic, with frequent references to the literature and step-by-step development of their argument, which can take some time to get through but produces a certain clarity of thought that is important for such a complex subject. My only question concerns their optimism that urbanization is part of the solution to sustainability, when communities at a more human scale closer to their resources while integrated through information technology may be socially and environmentally more desirable. There has unfortunately been some sloppy editing, including some repetition and two places where lines of text have been repeated or misplaced, but these are minor concerns relative to the importance of the message.</p> <p>Holden and his co-authors, motivated by a fundamental desire for justice, have provided an essential complement to the Sustainable Development Goals, to which they have been careful to link their approach. Integrating all those goals, targets and indicators is a major challenge. Here is an essential set of tools to provide general measures of our progress (or lack of progress) towards sustainability. For organizations like IEF, and all faith-based organizations as well as many civil society organizations for which ethics are important, this book provides an approach to sustainable development with values at the centre. We should be pushing for its integration into international, national and local efforts to guide the transition to sustainability that is so urgently needed.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" height="66"></p> <p><small>Last updated 6 December 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Blog tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/257" hreflang="en">Sustainability, Systems</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 21:48:30 +0000 Arthur Dahl 899 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/899#comments Spiritual Leaders Deliver Interfaith Climate Declaration at COP23 http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/897 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Spiritual Leaders Deliver Interfaith Climate Declaration at COP23</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">15. November 2017 - 13:57</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/203" hreflang="en">religions</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Climate change</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Spiritual Leaders Deliver Interfaith Climate Declaration at COP23<br /> By Bicycle</h2> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Personal Commitment and Invitation to UN Climate Conference:<br /> “Walk Gently on Earth”</h3> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p><b>Bonn, 10 November 2017</b>. Scores of religious leaders and people of diverse faiths and spiritualities on bicycles, some wearing traditional religious clothing, delivered a multi-faith statement to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP23), pledging to adopt sustainable behaviours themselves and calling on their followers and world leaders to do the same. The delivery also marked the launch of a new international, multi-faith sustainable lifestyles initiative.</p> <p>Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California was among faith leaders carrying the message to the UN meeting on bikes, symbolizing a commitment to sustainable transport. “By changing our own lifestyles, the lifestyles of our congregants, and the consumption habits of our congregations, we can help make good on our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” he says. “For us, it’s a way to state loudly and clearly: We’re still in.”</p> <p>The COP23 Interfaith Climate Statement on Sustainable Lifestyle, entitled Walk Gently on Earth, represents a shared assertion by religious leaders globally that widespread sustainable behaviour change is required if global temperature rise is to meet the targets established by the Paris Climate Agreement.</p> <p>“Together we are coming to you with an invitation to embark on a journey towards compassionate simplicity for the sake of the climate, the human family and the community of life,” the statement says. The signatories pledged to reduce home energy use, adopt plant-based diets, and use cleaner modes of transportation, behaviours which scientists say make the greatest contribution to household greenhouse gas emissions in many countries.</p> <p>The statement marks the launch of a global Multi-Faith Sustainable Living Initiative, a campaign launched at a day-long symposium in Bonn November 9th. The livestreamed conference addressed the challenges and opportunities on how to best foster sustainable lifestyles. Partners in the Initiative include leading Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Interfaith and Unitarian organizations.</p> <p>Following events in Bonn, a community of multi-faith partners will work with spiritual leaders and people of faith worldwide to secure formal commitments to a sustainable lifestyle. “These commitments will accelerate a growing multi-faith sustainable living movement,” says Imam Saffet Catovic, Senior Advisor for GreenFaith, the organization coordinating the initiative. “The commitments will be announced at a global weekend of commitment in 2018 through thousands of grassroots events at spiritual and religious centers around the world,” he says.</p> <p>Groups partnering on the Multi-Faith Sustainable Living Initiative include the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, The Bhumi Project, CIDSE, Franciscan Action Network, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the Global Muslim Climate Network, GreenFaith, Hazon, Islamic Society of North America, One Earth Sangha, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Friends World Committee for Consultation (Quaker), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the World Council of Churches.</p> <hr /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h4 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">COP32 Inter-Faith Climate Statement</h4> <h2 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">“Walk on Earth Gently”</h2> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">A Multi-Faith invitation to Sustainable Lifestyles<br /> <small>November 2017</small></h3> </div> <p>To all members of the human family and to leaders gathered at COP23:</p> <p>We extend our warm greetings. We represent the world’s family of spiritualities, faiths and religions who share a profound gratitude for our precious planet.</p> <p>Earth is a blessing. She supports life and is the basis of all our economies. She conveys beauty and evokes our recognition of something greater than ourselves. She is our temple, our mosque, our sanctuary, our cathedral. Our home.</p> <p>Our actions now threaten the delicate balance of life on Earth, with climate change posing a most grave danger. Record numbers of severe storms, droughts, fires, and related catastrophes leave trauma and grief in their wake. Recent months have witnessed the tragedy of such occurrences in the Caribbean, the US, and India. We shudder over the enormity of this suffering and over what more lies ahead.</p> <p>For thousands of years, our traditions have taught us to care for Earth. This responsibility has become urgent in recent decades. Our misuse of Earth’s generosity, while improving conditions for many, is not improving them for all and is fraying the web of life. The most vulnerable among us, those least responsible for this global threat, suffer the impacts of a warming climate unfairly and unjustly.</p> <p>We have begun to respond, raising consciousness and starting to consume more sustainably. We have implored leaders to act. We have studied, prayed and petitioned, advocated, marched and mobilized. We have awakened to the urgent challenge and begun to change our ways.</p> <p>However, we are at a crossroads. The Paris Agreement affirmed limiting temperature rise to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to a far safer 1.5°C limit. Our friends from Fiji and small island states, understanding the stakes and underscoring the science, have told us “1.5 to stay alive.” Yet we are currently headed for warming of 3°C or more, perilously beyond this limit.</p> <p>This challenge is both dire and urgent. It calls for us to act.</p> <p>As religious and spiritual leaders, we are committing to make changes in our own lives, and to support the members of our communities in doing the same. Together, we come to you with an invitation to embark on a journey towards compassionate simplicity for the sake of the climate, the human family, and the community of life.</p> <p>For many of us, changes in three areas make the greatest impact: dramatically reducing emissions from our home energy use, adopting a plant-based diet and reducing food waste, and minimizing automobile and air travel. Because of the gravity of our situation, substantial and long-term changes in these areas are indispensable if we are to reach a 1.5°C future, particularly for those of us in communities whose carbon footprints exceed sustainable levels. We pledge our commitment to such change.</p> <p>Through this collective effort, we look forward to creating a global community of conscience and practice in which we learn to put belief into action in relation to our own lifestyles. Our spiritual and faith communities will give us hope and companions for this journey. We will share ideas, materials, and stories of struggle and success. Our practices of mindfulness, spiritual discipline and prayer will enable us to grow. These ancient teachings and practices, and our renewed commitments and willingness to strive, will help us build pathways towards a sustainable future.</p> <p>We wish to be clear that we understand that systemic change is required to solve this crisis. We will continue to advocate for the policies that are so urgently needed. However, we also believe that individual commitments and behaviors are as important in addressing climate change as they are in addressing poverty, racism, and other grave social ills. And we know that our spiritualities and traditions offer wisdom about finding happiness in a purposeful life, family and friendships, not in an overabundance of things. The world needs such wisdom; it is our privilege both to share and to seek to embody it.</p> <p>We invite you to join the many others willing to walk this path by adding your name to this document, and by preparing to make commitments in the three areas named above. The diverse groups coming together in this moment will reach out to invite you to become involved in a programme of support and action which will take shape over the coming year. Let us pray and hope we can come together in love for each other, those who suffer from climate change, future generations, and planet Earth.</p> <p>Let us commit to walk gently on Earth.</p> <hr /> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Quotes from religious and spiritual leaders on COP23 Interfaith Climate Statement</h3> <p>Addressing climate change by reducing our carbon footprint is a moral responsibility as Khualfa al-ard – caretakers, stewards, and guardians of the earth. We must care for all of creation. Reshaping our patterns of consumption and conservation not only help preserve the planet for us and our future generations, but also improve overall public health and economic prosperity, particularly for the vulnerable amongst us who are most severely impacted by climate change. <b>Dr. Azhar Azeez, President, Islamic Society of North America</b></p> <p>As Muslims we are enjoined to be the custodians of God on this earth. We must walk softly thereupon and do no harm. This ethic is desperately needed if we are to help avert a looming climate disaster. -- <b>Imam Zaid Shakir, Co-founder, Zaytuna College, Berkeley, CA</b></p> <p>God the creator has given us this world as our common home, together with all that are created and living here. We have to walk on the land and sail at the sea with care and deep respect for what is given. To love God and to love our neighbor means that we also love the creation of God. -- <b>Rev Dr. Olav Fykse-Tveit, General Secretary of World Council of Churches</b></p> <p>Keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius will take people of all faiths and all nations working together as quickly as possible. In Laudato Si' Pope Francis said, "All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation. " That is why Catholics, through the Global Catholic Climate Movement, have signed this interfaith statement committing to adopting a sustainable lifestyle. We stand with our brothers and sisters of all faiths to protect creation the poor and vulnerable. -- Bishop Allwyn D'Silva Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Bombay</p> <p>Climate change isn't a side issue for Catholics. It’s one of the most important things we can do to live out our faith. It's a way to protect the poor and care for the gifts God has given us. With sisters and brothers from all faith backgrounds standing beside us, we have good cause for hope. Climate solutions are within our grasp. -- <b>Tomas Insua, Executive Director, Global Catholic Climate Movement</b></p> <p>Evangelicals responding to the biblical call to care for creation want to know how they can live joyful, faith-consistent lives that care for God’s gift of creation. In addition to advocating for necessary large scale solutions to tackle climate change— which is the greatest creation care challenge of our generation, our individual lifestyle choices, when scaled up can make a big difference. -- <b>Dr. Chris Elisara, Director World Evangelical Creation Care Task Force.</b></p> <p>In the Hindu tradition we believe the world is one family. That world includes not only human beings but also all living beings, all of Mother Nature and Mother Earth. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each of us to live in a way that is sustainable for all beings with whom we share this planet, today and for all future generations. To abuse it, neglect it, or destroy it, is sacrilege. -- <b>Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, President Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance</b></p> <p>We cannot be bystanders when our planet is in such danger; we belong to this living web and are called to consciously engage. While that engagement needs to address the larger political and economic systems that can wreak such havoc, it also needs to include our daily relationships with each other and the earth. Can our daily choices in consuming and sharing our own resources reflect the truth that we are a part of this precious world and it needs our care? -- <b>Tara Brach, Buddhist author, teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC</b></p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 15 November 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 11:57:52 +0000 admin 897 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/897#comments European Center for Peace and Development http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/896 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">European Center for Peace and Development</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">4. November 2017 - 23:48</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">European Center for Peace and Development</h2> <p>International Round Table, 27 October 2017<br /> Global ECPD Youth Forum, 28 October 2017<br /> Belgrade City Hall, Serbia</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /><!--break--> <p>The European Center for Peace and Development, affiliated with the University for Peace established by the United Nations, has been working for over thirty years on reconciliation, religious tolerance and human security in Eastern Europe and most particularly the Western Balkans. Based in Belgrade, Serbia, with branches throughout the Western Balkans, it convenes meetings, encourages research, and offers advanced degrees on issues related to peace in the region. The International Environment Forum, through its president Arthur Dahl, has been supporting these efforts for the last decade.</p> <p>On 27 October 2017, ECPD held an International Round Table in Belgrade City Hall on ”Peace and Democratic Multilateralism”, chaired by H.E. Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor, former Director-General of UNESCO, President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, and President of the ECPD Council. Other opening speakers were Dr. Ouided Bouchamaoui, Nobel Peace Prize 2015, and H.E. Prof. Dr. Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria. Panels of distinguished speakers addressed “Global Institutions to Face Global Threats”, “Peace and Development: Integral, Endogenous, Sustainable and Human Development for a Dignified Life for All”, “UN Priorities in the New Era: Food, Water, Health, Environment and Education”, “The Agenda for Peace: The Declaration and the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace”, concluding with “Concrete Proposals for Peace and Non-Violence at the Worldwide Level”. Arthur Dahl was a rapporteur for the round table, chaired one session, and presented a paper on “UN Charter Revision as the Foundation for Peace” based on joint work with Augusto Lopez-Claros and Maja Groff.</p> <p><img alt="ECPD Round Table" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171027_1.jpg" /> .&nbsp;<img alt="keynote speakers" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171027_5.jpg" /></p> <p>The wide-ranging presentations raised many important issues for peace. There were diagnoses of the problems, such as fragmentation, identity politics, xenophobia and populism, growing inequality, the failure treat migration properly in Europe, and the possibility that the third world war has already started. There were also proposals for solutions and ways forward.</p> <p>The crises in the world show the importance of solidarity and dialogue as both an ideal and a requirement to address emergencies and to respond to globalisation with a new equilibrium. It is easier to declare war than to end a state of war, since there is little incentive to end warfare if you are not directly suffering from it, leading to a negative spiral with no answer.</p> <p>It is essential to modify the United Nations to become a federal democracy, more participative, with new structures to replace national sovereignty and egoism. Alternatives like the G7-G20 are divisive and have not been effective. we must either act now, or wait to be forced to act. Radical changes are needed to make the UN an effective structure for action with a new paradigm for governance. The UN needs to adapt itself to fight terrorism, and to attack the roots of the problems that lead to terrorism, bridging the gap between the West and the Islamic world. The UN General Assembly should become a more representative legislative body, and means of enforcement should be strengthened and made mandatory, including an International Court of Justice with binding jurisdiction over all states. One proposal was for two new security councils for the environment and for social-economic issues. The Sustainable Development Goals are a point of departure and an opportunity to strengthen the framework for multilateral development.</p> <p>With the progress in science and technology, a new civilization is not a utopia but a goal to be approached gradually. Research and education need to be emphasized. The focus should be on human beings and our global human purpose. A sense of global citizenship is stronger today in developing countries and among young people, and regressing in more industrialised countries. Our common sense of humanity needs to be strengthened to overcome an increasingly individualistic world. What we are lacking is visionary leadership.</p> <p>The proceedings will be published by ECPD.</p> <hr /> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Global ECPD Youth Forum</h3> <p>The next day, ECPD organized a Global Youth Forum with over 50 participants from many countries, on ”Youth Peace-builders for a Sustainable Future”, for which Arthur was a co-chair and moderator. Federico Mayor, Ouided Bouchamaoui and Erhard Busek again gave opening keynotes on the importance of youth for peace. The text of the Nobel Peace Laureate’s speech is given below.</p> <p><img alt="Ouided Bouchamaoui and Federico Mayor" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_6.jpg" /> . <img alt="Erhard Busek" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_17.jpg" /></p> <p>In the morning, presentations were given on “Peace and Education as Inseparable Aspects of Civilization”, and on “Unity in Diversity: Inclusion for a Sustainable Future”. One group called Youth United for Peace described their local efforts to heal the wounds caused by the fighting in the different cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other youth were supporting the rapprochement process in divided Cyprus. Another group of youth organized a dialogue caravan through Serbia. There was a strong emphasis on vulnerable groups, exclusion, and the involvement of women. Dr. Farhang Tahzib described capacity building through the Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme, with several participants present among the youth.</p> <p><img alt="Farhang Tahzib and participants" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_37.jpg" /> . <img alt="Jaleh reporting on the group exercise" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_65.jpg" /></p> <p>The afternoon was occupied with workshops on “Conflict Prevention and Interfaith Dialogue”, “Building Peace Online: How the Internet and Social Media can be Utilised for Advocacy and Peace”, and “Essential Skills for Today’s Sustainable Development Challenges”. There was an interesting report on research in Catalonia on youth use of the Internet for religion, with 65% of the youth considering themselves believers, and the creation of online communities but not yet much interreligious dialogue. Youth were drawing on the messages of Jesus, Luther, Abraham, Baha’u’llah and Muhammad in the search for trust, knowledge, a desire to help, good timing, and the power of persuasion.</p> <p><img alt="working groups" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_45.jpg" /> . <img alt="working groups" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_47.jpg" /></p> <p>The participants in the Youth Forum went away stimulated, encouraged and motivated to work even harder for peace and sustainability.</p> <hr /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Opening Speech<br /> by Dr. Ouided Bouchamaoui</h3> <p>Nobel Peace Prize 2015, and President, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA)<br /> 5th Global ECPD Youth Forum, Belgrade City Hall, 28 October 2017</p> <p><img alt="Ouided Bouchamaoui" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/gr/ECPD171028_15.jpg" /></p> </div> <p>Never before in the history of mankind have the subjects of education and peace been so acutely and seriously felt. We are constantly reminded of their importance by the daily tragedies occurring in the four corners of the planet.</p> <p>Tragedies caused by under-development, poverty, exclusion, unemployment, ignorance, social tensions, conflicts, wars and terrorism are all daily reminders of the prominence of the issues related to education and peace and of the extent to which they are intertwined.</p> <p>In our daily struggle against all of those problems we can only brandish peace as a weapon. We do it by promoting education, sport, culture, and all values underlying “living together” such as tolerance, accepting others no matter how different they are in nationality, race, faith, or skin color.</p> <p>We have to stand united against atrocity, ignorance, decadence, fear, intimidation, and all those who want to spread terror.</p> <p>It is through propagating knowledge and upholding the universal values of coming together, tolerance and freedom, through investing in art and culture, and through providing equal chances and fair access to wealth that freedom-loving countries can forever consecrate peace as a daily practice and stand steadfast in the face of all types of extremists.</p> <p>By being anchored in the values of tolerance and openness, The European Center for Peace and Development creates opportunities for people to come together internationally and engage in actions which consecrate these values.</p> <p>Today, Mankind is facing a serious challenge: create a world with stronger bonds of solidarity. It must be a world full of justice and equality, where sharing and mutual respect are daily practices, and where the wellbeing of each individual comes from his or her contribution to the general prosperity.</p> <p>Because of the violent transformations happening in our world, and because ignorance, intolerance, exclusion, and underdevelopment are feeding conflicts and violence, we have to more than ever respond with education for peace, human rights, democracy, tolerance and mutual understanding between cultures; in other words, we have to educate future citizens of this world about the principles of “living together”, about respecting each other and transcending all of our differences, be they in culture, religion, origin, or other. We need to create bonds of friendship beyond our frontiers; we need to be curious about other ways of life. History teaches us that whenever cultures came into contact with each other for peaceful exchanges of ideas and knowledge, the entire humanity progressed. It is then our duty to keep that flame burning.</p> <p>Educating youth on how to become citizens must also be done in a global perspective. In other words, we need to find ways to prepare youth and allow them to take part in the decision process of issues crucial to the future of all peoples. In an increasingly interconnected world where the actions of each one of us can have far away consequences, there is no longer room for policies of isolationism, exclusion, and closure. Our destiny is to live together; so why not have future generations develop right now their understanding of the concept of “living together” and the competencies needed for that?</p> <p>Our modest experience in the National Dialogue in Tunisia has taught us that whenever there is a will to do it, living together is possible. Thanks to dialogue, to listening to what the other has to say, and to a common desire to accept our differences, we were able with our social partners to extricate our country from its political crisis. It is obvious that experiencing intercultural learning as applied here can only strengthen the values of dialogue and openness.</p> <p>I thank you once again for this opportunity to participate in this important Forum, which, given the quality of the participants, will be a new milestone in the promotion of Peace education for our Youth.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 1 November 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 21:48:26 +0000 admin 896 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/896#comments In Search of a Better World (book review) http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/895 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">In Search of a Better World (book review)</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">4. November 2017 - 21:03</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">In Search of a Better World (book review)</h2> <p>by Arthur Lyon Dahl</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>One of the most unsustainable aspects of the modern world is the continuing presence of massive violations of human rights, which our technological sophistication only make more visible, numbing our human sensibility. In "<i>In Search of a Better World: A Human RIghts Odyssey</i>" (Canada: House of Anansi Press, 2017), based on the 2017 Massey Lectures, <b>Payam Akhavan</b> has written a most remarkable and moving autobiography, which immediately reached number one for non-fiction on the Canadian best-seller list upon its publication in September. You cannot help but be profoundly touched on reading it.</p> <p>The author, himself a religious refugee as a child from the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran, went on to become a distinguished human rights lawyer, UN investigator of genocide in Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda and Timor-Leste, UN Prosecutor at The Hague, a member of the International Court of Arbitration, and now Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has met both the victims and perpetrators of genocide, and delves deeply into the causes and effects of mass hatred and violence from the perspective of one who has been there and seen it. This is a deeply human book, sharing moments of compassion and revulsion, of tenderness and understanding, while acknowledging that the depths of human suffering can never be fully shared, and admiring the strength of the human spirit to rise above even the most unimaginable horrors.</p> <p>He begins with the knowledge of suffering, both his own and that of his family and fellow Baha'is in Iran. This started him on a pursuit of global justice, leading to a doctorate from Harvard Law School. He traces the evolution of international law holding leaders individually accountable for their acts, from the Nuremberg trials after World War II, to the creation of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where he was one of the first UN prosecutors, and a similar tribunal for Rwanda, leading to the establishment of the International Criminal Court. His work took him into the field, to Sarajevo in the midst of its murderous siege and to the opposing Bosnian Serb Republic, to the Rwanda of a massacred million, to visit mass graves and interview victims, leading finally to justice as a redemption for our shared humanity.</p> <p>A major theme is the selectiveness of our will to intervene, taking action when it is in some geopolitical or economic interest, or leaving millions to a violent fate when no one outside seems to care, until it is too late. I was myself on a UN committee with the role to anticipate humanitarian crises and to pre-position aid for a humanitarian response. We failed to anticipate the scale of the Rwandan genocide and the role of extremist radio to incite mass murder. Akhavan dissects how that whole process unfolded, with the UN simply withdrawing since the big powers did not want to get involved. His analysis is important, as it shows the importance of early intervention to prevent the spread of hatred and violence before genocide can get under way.</p> <p>He is understandably critical of academia and the ivory tower that dissects human suffering and calamity from a distance, and well as the halls of diplomacy at the United Nations, with high words and hand-wringing followed by cowardice and inaction. He shows again and again how cynical politicians in pursuit of national interests are always ready to sacrifice the poor for power and profit. The book exposes the revolting underbelly of Western "civilization" and the superficiality of materialistic consumer society where unimaginable horrors elsewhere appear briefly in the media and then vanish, until finally they spill over into terrorism at home.</p> <p>In one chapter, he shows how geopolitical rivalry leading to the war in Afghanistan planted the seeds of terrorist movements that eventually reached out to Western capitals and the destruction of the twin towers in New York, where his family narrowly escaped death. More recently, Syria has been a tragic victim of the same self-interest and paralysis. He explores rape as an instrument of war, the exploitation of child soldiers, and other modern human rights abuses, where evil has been cultivated for selfish benefit. This contrasts with the emerging spirit of human rights and the positive signs of a growing awareness of the oneness of humankind and our higher human purpose.</p> <p>Despite the repeated stories of abuse, violence and horror, this is ultimately a hopeful book, showing the power of the human spirit to overcome the unimaginable, how suffering can lead to a blossoming of higher human qualities. Akhavan's story itself is one of a dogged search for truth and justice, and the small steps that can gradually lead to the necessary changes in society to respond to the depths of depravity in which we still too often find ourselves. Those of us who have not seen such evil at close range can take this book as a lesson that we too must act to make the world a better place.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 4 November 2017</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sat, 04 Nov 2017 19:03:33 +0000 Arthur Dahl 895 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/895#comments Bicentenary of Baha'u'llah http://iefworld.org/index.php/Bahaullah <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Bicentenary of Baha&#039;u&#039;llah</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">30. September 2017 - 18:46</span> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/95" hreflang="en">Baha&#039;i Faith</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The Bicentenary of Bahá'u'lláh</h2> <p>1817-2017</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The International Environment Forum (IEF) has always described itself as a Bahá'í-inspired professional organization for the environment and sustainability, and its membership is largely composed of scientists, academics, experts and educators working in relevant fields. What then does it mean to be Bahá'í-inspired? The IEF draws on the ethical and spiritual principles of the world’s religions, in particular the Bahá’í Faith, as a complement to scientific knowledge in addressing the challenges of environmental management and sustainable development. A scientific understanding, by itself, is usually not sufficient to change human behaviour. Motivating change, either in individual lifestyles and consumption patterns, or collectively in communities, enterprises and government, requires a commitment to moral principles or values and some vision of social improvement that science, by itself, does not provide. It is this interface between ethics and science that the IEF addresses.</p> <p>The principles of the oneness of humankind; unity in diversity; moderation; the fundamental reality of increasing levels of cooperation, complexity, and reciprocity throughout the planet; and the vital importance of ecological balance; that are at the heart of IEF, come from the teachings of <b>Bahá'u'lláh</b> (1817-1892) the bicentenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year on 22 October 2017. Bahá'u'lláh (a title meaning the Glory of God) was born in Teheran, Persia, in 1817, and died a prisoner in Akka, Palestine, in 1892. He not only renewed the moral principles that are the foundation of all religions, but provided the social teachings necessary for building a world civilization whose coming He anticipated, hence His relevance to the environment and sustainability.</p> <p>Bahá'u'lláh loved nature. He said that “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.</span>”</p> <p>He taught the harmony of science and religion as complementary domains of knowledge and experience. “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world.... In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man.</span>” Long before the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, He called for an integrated approach drawing on both science and religion, which need to be in balance for society to advance: “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Regard ye the world as a man's body, which is afflicted with divers ailments, and the recovery of which dependeth upon the harmonizing of all its component elements.</span>”</p> <p>He warned of the dangers of the excesses of material civilization: “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.</span>”</p> <p>He called for simplicity in lifestyle: “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Take from this world only to the measure of your needs, and forego that which exceedeth them. Observe equity in all your judgements, and transgress not the bounds of justice, nor be of them that stray from its path.</span>”</p> <p>He emphasized justice as the central principle of social organization: “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice.... By its aid thou shalt see with thy own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour.</span>”</p> <p>While he did not propose a specific economic system, He said that everyone should have an occupation, so society must give everyone the opportunity to work for both its material and spiritual benefits. “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">It is incumbent upon each one of you to engage in some occupation - such as a craft, a trade or the like.... Waste not your hours in idleness and sloth, but occupy yourselves with what will profit you and others.</span>” Extremes of wealth and poverty should be eliminated. “<span style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(0, 0, 153);">Man's merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches.</span>” Following these teachings, it is clear that now is the time to abandon outworn ideologies and economic systems that no longer meet the needs of society, and to experiment with new approaches, starting at the community level.</p> <p>Bahá'u'lláh can be seen as a precursor of the environmental movement and an early exponent of sustainability. The lessons being learned in Baha’i communities as they try to put His teachings into practice can also serve as examples for possible ways forward towards sustainability. For more information on Bahá'u'lláh and the Baha’i Faith, resources and links are provided <a href="/bahai.htm">here</a> and at <a href="http://www.bahai.org">http://www.bahai.org</a>. For more about the bicentenary celebration, go to <a href="http://bicentenary.bahai.org">http://bicentenary.bahai.org</a>.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 30 September 2017</small></p> </div> </div> Sat, 30 Sep 2017 15:46:57 +0000 admin 892 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/Bahaullah#comments How Should Bahá’ís Talk about Climate Change? http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/889 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">How Should Bahá’ís Talk about Climate Change?</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/index.php/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">3. August 2017 - 23:30</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Climate change</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>For Baha'is among our members who are interested in discussing climate change without becoming involved in partisan political disputes, IEF member Christine Muller has just published an article for the Wilmette Institute newsletter on "How Should Bahá’ís Talk about Climate Change? Applying Recent Institutional Guidance". The link to the article is <a href="http://wilmetteinstitute.org/how-should-bahais-talk-about-climate-change/">http://wilmetteinstitute.org/how-should-bahais-talk-about-climate-change/</a>. While it refers specifically to the United States where climate change is particularly the subject of partisan conflicts, the principles are relevant in many other situations.</p> <p> </p></div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 20:30:38 +0000 admin 889 at http://iefworld.org http://iefworld.org/index.php/node/889#comments