Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 21, Number 3 --- 15 March 2019
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue 13 April 2019
Secretariat Email: email@example.com Christine Muller, General Secretary
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters
This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on environment, climate change and sustainability. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share the Leaves newsletter and IEF membership information with family, friends and associates, and encourage interested persons to consider becoming a member of the IEF.
IEF 23rd Conference in New Zealand in April
Planetary Health and Sustainable Development
Auckland and Rotorua, New Zealand
5-14 April 2019
Below is the latest programme for the IEF 23rd Annual Conference in New Zealand, which will consist of five interrelated events around the general theme of Planetary Health and Sustainable Development.
5 April 2019, Seminar at Auckland University of Technology
Theme: Inner Climate Change: The transformative power of spiritual worldviews for sustainability
1-5 PM, AUT City Campus, WF Building, WF610
RSVP to email@example.com, as space is limited
Organised by IEF member Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership, Auckland University of Technology
Linking spirituality to the Sustainable Development Goals
Arthur Dahl, President, International Environment Forum, retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of UN Environment, and organizer of SPREP
Working with different spiritual worldviews in co-hosting the World Conference on Health Promotion in NZ
Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and Vice President, South West Pacific Region, International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE)
Kaitiakitanga: more than sustainability
Amber Nicholson, Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology, PhD student at Auckland University
a Maori perspective
Sustainability and Mindfulness
Shaun Bowler, Principal Sustainability Advisor, Enviro-mark
Activism and self-care
Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership, Auckland University of Technology
For detailed programme and map, see: https://www.aut.ac.nz/events/inner-climate-change-the-transformative-po…
Friday evening 5 April: International Environment Forum Annual General Assembly
7:00 p.m. at a location near Auckland University of Technology after the above programme
(open to everyone) IEF members will receive instructions to participate by Zoom
7-11 April 2019, 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion
Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand
Theme: Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the framework for the sub-themes of the conference
IEF is a co-sponsor of Sub Plenary 16:
Wellbeing for everyone in a challenging world: community and spiritual health promotion perspectives
with the Planetary Wellbeing Network (PWN) and the Spiritual Health Promotion Group (SHP)
Wednesday, 10 April 1:45-3:15 PM
Prof. John Raeburn, Auckland University of Technology and PWN
Dr. Tess Liew, PWN
Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand
Dr. Richard Egan, University of Otago, NZ
Dr. Arthur Dahl, President, International Environment Forum
Arthur Dahl is also presenting a paper:
New approaches to governance for the Sustainable Development Goals
Parallel 13a: Multisectoral governance at different scales
Tuesday, 9 April, 3:45-5:15 PM
Energy Events Centre - Unison Arena
12 April 2019 Talk and Workshop, Browns Bay Baha'i Hall
Global Governance, Climate Change and Solutions
with Arthur Dahl, Friday 12 April, 7-10 pm
Baha'i Hall, 712 Beach Road, Browns Bay, Auckland
14 April 2019 Seminar at Auckland Bahá'í Centre
One World, One People, One Health
A seminar on planetary health and sustainable development
Auckland Bahá'í Centre, 129 Taniwha St, Glen Innes, Auckland 1072
Sunday 14 April 2019, 1:30-5pm
Dr Arthur Dahl, President, International Environment Forum
Topic: Drawing on recent guidance from the Baha’i World Centre for socially- and environmentally-coherent action
Sione Tu’itahi, Executive Director, Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand
Topic: : Learnings from co-hosting a world conference on planetary wellbeing and sustainable development
The wellbeing of the planet is one of the most significant issues for humanity today. Dr Dahl and Mr Tu’itahi are Baha’is who work in the field of health promotion and sustainable development. They are speakers in a subplenary at the 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion, to held in Rotorua on April 7-11, 2019. Mr Tu’itahi is the co-chair of the world conference which is to be held for the first time in New Zealand. More on the conference: http://www.iuhpe2019.com/en-gb/iuhpe-home
For registration or further information for the 14 April event, contact Sylvia Aston or Sione Tu’itahi, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Video Contribution to the Conference
IEF member Dr. Mojgan Sami from the University of California prepared an excellent short video clip on planetary health promotion as a contribution to our conference. The link is https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UI9ncd5pjoqzfVuLhZ4yCweTMgsVmNj8/view.
IEF member Prof. Rafael Amaral Shayani from the Universidade de Brasília highlights the importance of spirituality for the health of the global environment in his video "The role of spirituality in creating new social and environmental sustainability mindsets: The need of a new energy paradigm": https://youtu.be/GQmEQFyycCY
Members Corner – Your Active Participation is Welcome!
Call for Introductory Videos
All IEF members are invited and encouraged to prepare 2-3 minute videos on their activities and how they apply Baha'i principles. By sharing your experiences and thoughts, you will allow others to get to know you and your areas of expertise. You will contribute to the mission of the International Environment Forum to facilitate collaboration among its members. Please, send your videos to email@example.com.
Call for Involvement with Biodiversity Project
Are you interested in biodiversity? The IEF Board is inviting all interested IEF members to participate in a new IEF project on biodiversity. The loss of biodiversity is a huge issue and is increasingly gaining importance as a topic of public discourse. The IEF board decided to collect Baha'i perspectives on nature, biodiversity, and the spiritual dimensions of diversity in nature, which can then be used as a resource by Baha'is and Baha'i institutions. The compilation will include quotations, questions, and topics that need to be addressed, ranging from agriculture and forests to sustainable use and food security, the roles of indigenous peoples and rural women, as well as company agendas on the relation of business and nature. If you are interested in participating, please, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE COUNCIL
The International Science Council, that coordinates the Science and Technology major group for UN processes, issued a call for inputs to the S&T position paper to be submitted to the UN High Level Political Forum in July. Last year, the IEF submitted text and they used much of it, so it seemed important to make proposals again on the HLPF themes, even if we cannot participate in the HLPF this year. Arthur Dahl submitted the following text on behalf of IEF:
Science and Technology and the HLPF Theme: Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality
Knowledge, and particularly scientific knowledge, should be available to everyone on the basis of ability, and with new information technologies, the previous physical barriers to the distribution of knowledge have largely disappeared. Unfortunately new barriers have taken their place, including intellectual property rights regimes that privatize scientific data, reports and papers for profit. A new divide has formed between those that can afford access to science and those for whom it is beyond their means. Equity and inclusiveness require that alternatives be found to ensure that everyone everywhere has free access to the scientific knowledge that can empower them to achieve sustainability.
Science and Technology & Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Research is needed on alternative economic systems that are environmentally sustainable, socially just, create meaningful employment for all, and eliminate poverty. Profitability should just be one measure of economic sustainability among others, not an end in itself. Economic, social and environmental capital should be given equal weight and acknowledged as interdependent. Science and Technology & Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries. Systems science should be drawn on to model the properties and control mechanisms that increase or reduce inequalities among the entities of a system, whether economic or social. Homeostatic processes could then be introduced to prevent our societies from going to the destabilizing extremes of inequality observed today. Design criteria could be developed for corrective mechanisms to be included to support the fundamental transformation in processes and institutions called for in the 2030 Agenda.
Science and Technology & Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
The Talanoa Dialogue as used last year by the UNFCCC to raise ambition through positive stories shared among stakeholders was an innovative example of new approaches to international diplomacy that should be replicated more widely. https://iefworld.org/Talanoa3
Science and Technology & Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Global governance through the UN system needs significant reform to make it effective, accountable and inclusive. Significantly strengthened scientific advisory processes should be incorporated in such reforms, along with technology assessment mechanisms to anticipate potential risks from new technologies ranging from geoengineering and nanomaterials to artificial intelligence. https://iefworld.org/governanceWG
Wilmette Institute Online Interfaith Course on Climate Change
1 April - 26 May 2019
This course on Climate Change provides a basic understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change, discusses its ethical challenges, and relates them to the spiritual teachings of the world’s religions, particularly those of the Baha’i Faith. The course is open to people of all, or no, religious backgrounds.
In past courses, discussions among the participants have always been interesting and lively. The participants who have registered for this course so far come from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, New Zealand, 12 different states of the US, and Switzerland.
All the faculty are IEF members: Christine Muller, Arthur Dahl, and Laurent Mesbah, who invite other IEF members and the wider community to join the course.
For more information and to register, go here: http://www.cvent.com/events/climate-change/event-summary-7e8c80bee96f42…
Faith Climate Action Week, 5 – 14 April, 2019
Each year, the US organization Interfaith Power & Light organizes Faith Climate Action Week around Earth Day. Religious leaders are asked to preach or talk about climate change, and faith communities are encouraged to take some meaningful climate actions. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States has sent a letter to the American Baha'i community each year to encourage Baha'i participation in this interfaith effort.
This year's letter, dated 8 March 2019, starts with stating that “climate effects resulting from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions will persist in the environment for centuries. The letter then refers to the 29 Nov. 2017 message of the Universal House of Justice for guidance in our participation in public discourse on the subject. The letter then continues:
“Those friends with a deeper interest in both discourse and action related to climate change may wish to participate in the Wilmette Institute’s climate change course, which provides a basic orientation to the issue, especially as it relates to spiritual teachings, and will next be offered from April 1 to May 26. You may also want to consider participating, either as individuals or jointly with your community, in Faith Climate Action Week, an initiative of the Interfaith Power and Light organization. ... Faith Climate Action Week … seeks to make people of faith more aware of their duty to be responsible stewards of God’s creation, and provides resources to inform discussion, host movie screenings, and join a nationwide prayer campaign.”
Global Environment Outlook – GEO-6: Healthy Planet, Healthy People
UN Environment, March 2019
Human health in dire straits if urgent actions are not made to protect the environment
Addressing climate change is a top priority
Air pollution and biodiversity loss are also major crises
The path to sustainability
Addressing climate change will require radical changes in lifestyles: new report by international consortium of research institutesIf the world is to keep climate change at manageable levels before the middle of the century, changes in lifestyles are not only inevitable, but would need to be radical, and start immediately. Considering current consumption levels, citizens in many developed countries would have to cut their lifestyle carbon footprints by about 80-90% or more, and some in developing countries by about 30-80% within the next 30 years. This is one of the key messages coming from the report “1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and options for reducing lifestyle carbon footprints,” launched on 25 February 2019 by a group of experts from an international consortium of research and policy institutes including the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Aalto University, D-mat, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and the KR Foundation. The report analyses the carbon footprints of household lifestyles and how changes can contribute to meeting the ambitious 1.5-degree aspirational target envisaged by the Paris Agreement on climate change. The report demonstrates that changes in consumption patterns and dominant lifestyles are a critical and integral part of the solutions package for addressing climate change. It analyses scientific emission scenarios and case studies from Finland, Japan, China, Brazil, and India, and proposes long-term targets for individuals’ lifestyle carbon footprints by 2030-2050, as well as low-carbon options that citizens and society can adopt.
Costa Rica Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Push For Zero Emissions by 2050
Costa Rica’s president has launched an economy-wide plan to decarbonize the country by 2050, saying the Central American nation aims to show other nations what is possible to address climate change. Costa Rica’s environment minister, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, said that if the plan is achieved, his grandchildren in 2035 will have the same carbon footprint as his grandparents did in the 1940s – and by 2050 his grandchildren will have none at all. “Not only are we going to reduce that footprint but we are going to bring many benefits with it”, Rodríguez said.
But Jairo Quirós, an electrical energy researcher at the University of Costa Rica, warned the plan would be challenging, and “should be viewed with some caution”.
Under the roadmap launched Sunday, Costa Rica by 2050 would achieve “zero net emissions”, meaning it would produce no more emissions than it can offset through things such as maintaining and expanding its extensive forests. Such emission cuts – which many countries are expected to try to achieve in the second half of the century – are key to holding increases in global temperature to well under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The Costa Rica plan aims to allow the country to continue growing economically while cutting greenhouse gases. The country’s economy grew at 3 percent last year, according to World Bank data.
Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican former U.N. climate chief, called the goal “unprecedented” in international politics. Only the government of the tiny Marshall Islands also has laid out a detailed plan to achieve that goal, but “they still do not have the whole plan articulated sector by sector”, Figueres said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
President Carlos Alvarado noted that while Costa Rica represents only a tiny share of the world’s climate-changing emissions, the experiments tried in the plan could be a model for other nations. “We can be that example… we have to inspire people,” he said at the plan’s launch, noting the country was “doing what’s right”.
But Quirós, of the University of Costa Rica, warned the plan will take hard work to achieve. Some goals, he said, such as ensuring all buses and taxis run on electricity by 2050, may be difficult, not least because the changes will be expensive. “Although one tends to see that (electric bus) prices are falling over time, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding that,” he said.
Transport today creates about 40 percent of Costa Rica’s climate-changing emissions, making it the main source of them, according to the National Meteorological Institute. To cut transport emissions, the plan aims to modernize public transport, including through the creation of an electric train line. The new line would connect 15 of the 31 neighborhoods in the San Jose metropolitan area and carry about 250,000 of the area’s 1 million people each day, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Railways. Construction on the lines is expected to start in 2022, according to the institute.
“A modern and efficient public transport system has a much greater impact on achieving decarbonisation than just electrifying our vehicle fleet,” said Claudia Dobles, the president’s wife and coordinator of the transport chapter of the plan. Dobles, an architect and urban planner, has been coordinating many of the country’s public transport efficiency initiatives, including the electric train project and a reorganization of bus routes.
Under Costa Rica’s decarbonization plan, the number of cars circulating in urban areas would be cut by half by 2040, the environment minister said. By 2035, 70 percent of the country’s buses would be electric and 25 percent of its cars, Rodríguez added.
Juan Ignacio Del Valle, director of operations for hydrogen-powered transport company Ad Astra Rocket Company, said the plan still needs work on some issues, such as cargo transport. Technological innovation will be needed to achieve some of the goals, he said. Ad Astra has been testing hydrogen fuel cell buses in Costa Rica for about eight years – a fuel switch that is “vaguely” contemplated in the new plan, Del Valle said. Hydrogen transport will need more research, but it could prove the most efficient option in areas where electric vehicles fall short, including carrying cargo and for other heavy transport, he said.
Revenue from fuel taxes
For Costa Rica, the potential political battles around decarbonizing its economy are less than in many other countries because it does not have a fossil fuel extraction industry, Rodriguez said. But dependence on oil revenue could still cause roadblocks for the switch. Fuel taxes, vehicle import taxes and driving taxes, for instance, account for about 12 percent of government revenue, the minister said. To phase out fossil fuels without slashing government income, the government will need to push for “green tax reform” to find new revenue sources, he said – something that could take time, as it would need legislative approval.
Under the decarbonization plan, the country’s state-owned petroleum distributor would change course and begin research on alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and biofuels, and look at helping fossil fuel workers move to clean energy jobs.
The plan also calls for further expanding forests – though at the moment most of the money to pay for that comes from taxes on fossil fuels, Rodríguez admitted. The country already has one of the region’s strongest reputations for forest protection. “In the 1960s and 70s, Costa Rica had the highest per capita deforestation rate in the world. We have managed not only to stop deforestation but to double forest coverage” as the economy grew, Rodríguez said. Forests that covered 25 percent of the country in the 1980s covered more than 50 percent of it by 2013, according to data from the State of the Nation report, assembled by the country’s public universities. Over that period, the country’s GDP grew from $4 billion in 1983 to $57 billion in 2013. Costa Rica has already carried out some of the needed decarbonization work, officials said. Last year, 98 percent of the country’s electricity came from renewable sources, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, the state-owned company in charge of electricity generation and distribution.
Quirós, the University of Costa Rica researcher, said the country’s plan, while “a little utopic” was clearly “a step in the right direction”. “It’s good to be ambitious,” he said. Figueres said she believed the the country faced a “hard task” achieving its ambitious aims, but predicted it would “lead to a transformation like no other we’ve seen in decades”.
By Sebastian Rodriguez, editing by Laurie Goering.
Updated 17 March 2019