Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 10, Number 1 --- April 2008
...be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire"
FROM THE EDITOR
Again it has been more than a year since the last issue of LEAVES reached you (except for the dozens of your addresses that bounce, please remember to send new email addresses to the IEF Secretariat!). But the Board still has hope that volunteers will arise to take on this vital task of creating a dynamic communication forum among the IEF members and the wider community. If you like to write (and write emails) please contact us.
The issue of LEAVES at hand contains a lot of exciting reports from past events where IEF members have contributed. But first and foremost it contains the first pre-announcement of the next annual IEF conference. Read and book the dates, it will be an exciting event, this time on European soil. The Board hopes to see many of you there, in person or via internet! There is also information on an electronic conference which has just started (so rush if you want to join) on environmental and climate justice, as well as some new resources ‘out there’ on the internet and the announcement from the UN that we are now in the year of ‘Planet Earth’.
UPCOMING IEF EVENTS
CONFERENCE IN DE POORT, THE NETHERLANDS
The next IEF conference will take place from 18 September (evening) - 21 September (around noon) in the De Poort Conference centre in the Netherlands (see http://www.depoort.org/read/english/)
For the first time it will be organised in partnership with the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF) and will thus provide an exciting meeting point for IEF members and the wide membership of EBBF. The title of the conference will be “Growth or Sustainability? Defining, Measuring and Achieving Prosperity.” A joint organising team between IEF and EBBF is now working intensively on the planning. The full announcement will be posted on the IEF website and circulated to members as soon as it is ready. Please note that there is limited capacity at de Poort and EBBF which organises its annual conferences there every year usually fills the place on its own. Early registration as soon as the announcement is circulated is therefore highly advisable. Please mark the dates! You can pre-register by sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IEF GROUP ON FACEBOOK
The IEF Facebook group has been created to open another electronic medium, or venue, for IEF members. Here they can exchange information, post items - content and news in an interactive and simple manner. While the main IEF website (http://www.bcca.org/ief/home.htm) remains the official web presence, this group, it is hoped, will allow more frequent exchanges and interactions with other groups on the Internet. While this is for IEF members only, in due time we should see further activities and content being posted and shared - such as postings on the wall, articles, media content and even holding events and such like. We are hoping to approach as many of the existing IEF membership to join our IEF Facebook page, and to further share or contribute relevant news and activities. We therefore would like to extend a warm welcome to all the members who have not yet joined and look forward to hearing from you. For those who are not part of the facebook social network you need to create a facebook account, for information see www.facebook.com
(admin) on behalf of IEF facebook admin team
PAST IEF EVENTS
11th ANNUAL IEF CONFERENCE IN CANADA
The 11th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum was co-organized by the Bahá'í Community of Canada, and held in the beautiful hall at Volunteer Place in Ottawa, Canada, on 12-14 October 2007. A hundred participants from 13 countries of North America, Europe and Africa attended the conference, and another 25 participants from 9 countries followed the parallel electronic conference
Faced with the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change and its impacts on global society, the conference allowed professionals concerned with the environment and sustainable development, students and the public to explore the human response to global environmental change, including the likely physical, emotional, mental, social and economic stresses on individuals and communities. Specifically, the conference explored moral capacities and better governance mechanisms that help people to build sustainable and resilient communities, and that draw on the experience of pluralist societies like Canada that have welcomed immigrants and 'environmental refugees' from all corners of the globe. Questions of lifestyle, choice and the very nature of 'community' were examined.
The first session on Scientific Realities of Climate Change was opened by Prof. John Stone of the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, followed by John Crump of UNEP/GRID-Arendal on ethics and adaptation, and a presentation on the Inuit perspective prepared by Robin Anawak. The second session on Ethical Challenges of Climate Change featured IEF President Arthur Dahl and theologian Heather Eaton. The following day, after a presentation of An Inconvenient Truth by Michael Gerbis, the discussion on Addressing the Ethical Implications of Climate Change: Local to Global Approaches was led by Ted Reeve of the United Church of Canada and Faith and the Common Good, Sylvia Karlsson of IEF, and Tahirih Naylor of the Baha’i International Community. A panel including Ottawa Town Counsellor Clive Doucet, Jessica Lax of the Otesha Project, and Peter Adriance of the Baha’i Community of the USA (and IEF) reflected on value-based approaches to environmental action. Followed by an interactive session with Gordon Naylor on the development of moral capabilities for sustainable action.
After an evening of music, skits by the Otesha Project, and an awards ceremony, the final day of the conference looked at inspirational examples of taking action, with presentations on living lightly by David Chernushenko and on the Consumer Citizenship Network by Victoria Thoresen. Workshops then allowed everyone to create action plans that address spiritual values in their own individual and community activities.
Participants left the conference with a better understanding of the social, environmental and economic implications of climate change, the spiritual principles and ethical considerations that should shape and guide strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and the role of faith communities in responding to the challenges presented by climate change. They understood the relationship of their personal behaviour to this global challenge, and were prepared to modify their life-styles and actions, and to educate others to respond more effectively to climate change. The full conference report, video recordings and presentations of the principal speakers, photographs, and the materials for the electronic conference are all available on the IEF web site at http://www.bcca.org/ief/conf11.htm and at the Canadian conference web site: http://tyne.ca/ief2007/.
IN INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS
FIFTEENTH MEETING OF THE UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The 15th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development took place May 2007 at the UN Headquarters in New York, with thematic coverage of energy, air pollution, industrial development and climate change. The IEF again had strong representation at the CSD, including Peter Adriance, Beth Bowen, Arthur Dahl, Mark Griffin, and Paula Posas. The Baha'i International Community (BIC) helped with accreditation and we collaborated closely on BIC and IEF activities. On Monday 30 April there was a side-event with the theme "The Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change" organized by the Baha'i International Community with the Permanent Missions of Tuvalu and of the Marshall Islands, and co-sponsored by the UN Office of High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing States and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS); the UNEP Interfaith Partnership for the Environment; Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State University; International Environment Forum; and the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development. The event, held in the UN Building, filled the room with over 90 people, Dr. Arthur Dahl of IEF was one of the speakers. The event was covered in full page articles in the two CSD newsletters, Outreach Issues for Tuesday, May 1, page 6 (download pdf from http://www.anped.org/index.php?part=112) and ENB on the side (http://www.iisd.ca/csd/csd15/enbots/pdf/enbots0511e.pdf) and video recordings of all the speakers were posted on YouTube
The IEF members continued their strong engagement with the Science and Technology Major Group and the Education Caucus and networked widely with participants.
IEF REPRESENTATION IN BALI CLIMATE MEETING
IEF member Dr. Elisabeth Bowen attended the UN climate meeting in Bali in December 2007 (the one which reached the headlines all over the world as countries were negotiation how to start negotiating for what happens after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, see http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php). Dr. Bowen spoke at a side-event on 5 December entitled Climate for Change: Global Responsibilities and Local Realities Policy Roundtable organised by the Education Caucus and co-sponsored by the Government of Indonesia, Stakeholders Forum for a Sustainable Future, and UN-OHRLLS. She reported it as a success with excellent participation from UN agencies including UNICEF and the UN University, from governmental delegates including Australia and Nepal, from major NGOs including Sierra Club and from youth, including the International Forestry Students Association. Dr. Emil Salim, advisor to the President of Indonesia said that 'Local wisdom is not able to cope with the unpredictability of the rice season due to the effects of climate change. No education prepares our community on how to cope with future change, yet. How can we inform the farmers who used frog noises and the flight patterns of birds and the songs of frogs for the timing of rice planting? We must expand environmental education locally and globally'. The theme of learning communities at the heart of well-prepared societies' efforts to meet the challenge of climate change was echoed by all the speakers. Dr. Bowen stressed the humanitarian, moral and ethical dimensions of our interconnectedness, gender equality and universal access to education. "Universal education, including environmental literacy, contributes to well-informed individuals being more capable of supporting democratic processes and of adapting constructively to unpredictable climate change."
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE
The 4th International Conference on Environment Education held at Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad, India, ended on November 28, 2007. The five day conference was attended by 1500 participants from 97 countries. Since the First International Conference was held in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1977, conferences have been held every ten years, in Moscow in 1987 and in Thessanoliki, Greece in 1997. The conference was held in the context of UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005- 2014). Three IEF members were present.
The conference participants came to the consensus that through education we can learn to prevent and resolve conflicts, respect cultural diversity, create a caring society and live in peace. We can learn from indigenous and traditional patterns of living that respect and honour the Earth and its life- support systems and we can adapt this wisdom to our fast changing world. We can make individual, community, national and even global choices with due consideration for the collective good. Individuals including youth, civil society, governments, businesses, funding partners and other institutions can appreciate that their daily actions can shape a viable future of which all can be proud.
The Conference had 30 working sessions and eight special sessions. All the working groups came up with their own recommendations which were then fused to form final declaration of the conference: http://www.tbilisiplus30.org/Recommendations%202007.html. The conference was well organized and provided ample opportunities for exchange of experiences, materials and ideas. Conference documents and presentations are available on the conference website http://www.tbilisiplus30.org/index.htm.
ACTIVITIES IN OUR NETWORKS
ORLANDO SEMINAR ON SPIRITUALLY BASED INDICATORS
From the 18-20 December 2007 the Preconference Seminar at the Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development was held in Orlando, Florida. For the past two years the seminar has concentrated on the development of indicators for social and economic programs that would complement the booklet “Valuing Spirituality in Development” produced by the Bahá’í International Community. The 2007 seminar had the title “Creating a Conceptual Framework for The Application of Spiritually-Based-Indicators in Development” and had invited experienced practitioners, including a number of IEF members, to consider more carefully how to view the spiritual problem at the heart of a social and economic problem, identify goals to ameliorate the problem and then identify the indicators which would measure progress towards achievement of those goals. The motivation for this endeavour lies in the fact that indicators currently in use in development and societies at large are generally based on a set of goals and targets that the majority in a sector agree are a) desirable and b) attainable (e.g. Percentages of girls in school over a particular time period; percentages of individuals having access to clean water over a specific time period). They have been culled from a large list and winnowed down to a very few indicators that describe a desired future that donors and governments alike agree is optimal, given current circumstances. They are not necessarily the desired indicators of the people themselves however. The result of this and the previous year’s seminar has been a rich tapestry of thoughts, ideas and learning yet also showed that it is much more complex than expected and that time and effort is still needed before such indicators are ready for public consumption.
Extracts from the draft seminar report by Mona Grieser
New IEF member Greg Dahl was invited to give a keynote address on 10 May at the 2007 annual conference of the Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN) in which IEF is a member, held in Sofia, Bulgaria. The theme of the conference was “Building Bridges”, encouraging stakeholder involvement and transdisciplinary cooperation in consumer education. Over 100 CCN members from all over Europe attended. Greg spoke about “Globalization: Transforming Our World.” Drawing on his recently-published book, “One World, One People: How Globalization is Shaping Our Future.”
CCN continues to bring together expertise in the fields of citizenship-, environmental- and consumer education to further develop research and good practice for teaching and accessing consumer citizenship education. The Network consists at the moment of 111 institutions in 30 European countries and 11 associated partners in 8 countries outside of Europe. Among the achievements of CCN during the past year are:
• contributing to the harmonizing of courses in higher education in Europe through the development of courses and modules dealing with consumer citizenship. Extensive preparations for a Joint Masters have also been made.
• creating new interdisciplinary approaches to teaching sustainable development in general and responsible, sustainable consumption in particular. A series of “hands-on” teacher training seminars have been held in Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland and Iceland. The Consumer Citizenship Learning and teaching Guidelines have been translated into Portuguese, Latvian, Italian, Bulgarian and Norwegian.
• attempting innovation and reform through the initiation of projects such as the LOLA (Looking for Likely Alternatives) project. (www.sustainable-everyday.net/lolaprocess/ http://www.sustainable-everyday.net/lolaprocess/)
• increasing cooperation with institutions of higher education outside of Europe, particularly in Japan, Kenya and India.
• assisting the UN Marrakech Task Force in the preparation of a core curriculum for education for sustainable consumption.
• preparing its fifth international conference entitled, "Assessing information as a consumer citizen" to be held in Tallinn, Estonia on 5-6 May 2008, and at which IEF members Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson and Victoria W. Thoresen will make presentations.
GREEN ACRE INTERFAITH WEEKEND ON SUSTAINABILITY
An interfaith sustainability conference in southern Maine and New Hampshire was held in collaboration with the U.S. Partnership, September 22-23, 2007 at Green Acre Baha’i School in Eliot. The event, entitled, “Better Together: Fostering Interfaith Collaboration for Sustainability” focused on opportunities for collaboration among faith communities in the Piscataqua (Greater Portsmouth) Region. Participants had opportunities to share personal and faith-based sustainability initiatives and attend workshops on such topics as: Reducing Carbon Emissions and Becoming a Green Sanctuary; Fostering Habits of Mind for Sustainability with Youth (given by IEF member Melinda Salazar); and Envisioning a Sustainable Future. For more details see http://www.uspartnership.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87&Itemid=84#events .
IEF MEMBER INVITED TO SEMINAR ON THE ETHICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
I was recently invited (with all expenses covered!) by Canada's former Minister of Environment, David Anderson, to participate in a 'think tank' event on the Ethics of Climate Change. The event had about 12 participants and included a current politician, a science writer, and a number of academics. Conversation was wide-ranging, from discussions on assumptions of how we define "growth", the equitable distribution of carbon credits between countries and our responsibility to future generations. I was invited as Mr. Anderson has come to believe that it is essential to engage religion in the issue, as the climate crisis is essentially a moral issue. Baha'i principles such as a more spiritual approach to the meaning of development and the "oneness of humanity" were warmly welcomed (indeed that idea won "best big idea of the weekend"!), and a number of participants found the economic Law of Huququllah intriguing. A paper summarizing the conversation and ideas will be produced from the weekend.
ENVIRONMENTAL & CLIMATE JUSTICE E-CONFERENCE
The EcoRes Forum takes place from 11-24 April 2008 on the theme "Environmental (In)Justice: Sources, Symptoms, and Solutions", and is the second in a series of online dialogues focusing on the ethical, political and socio-cultural aspects of climate change. The purpose of this dialogue is to raise awareness among participants about environmental and climate justice: what these concepts mean, underlying causes and symptoms of EJ/CJ injustice, how this injustice may be rectified, and related elements ranging from national immigration policy and international contraction and convergence proposals to xenophobia and racism.
Joining the Forum panel of experts will be Drs. Julian Agyeman (USA), Patrick Bond (South Africa), Robert D. Bullard (USA), Michael Dorsey (USA), and Shirley Thompson (Canada), internationally known and respected leaders in their fields. Additional panelists are being announced throughout March. Registration is required for participation, with materials accessible as read-only for non-registrants. For more information or to register for the April event, visit the EcoRes Forum at http://www.eco-res.org.
EARTH CHARTER GLOBAL DIALOGUE ON ETHICS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Your are all invited to join the Earth Charter Global Dialoque on Ethics and Climate Change, at http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/climate/ . This is a global open forum that will be enhanced by the participation of IEF members.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2008 HOSTED BY NEW ZEALAND
Extracts from a UNEP Press release, 20 January 2008: New Zealand, one of the first countries to pledge a carbon-neutral future, will be the main host of World Environment Day 2008, The focus of the global 2008 celebrations hosted in New Zealand will be on the solutions and the opportunities for countries, companies and communities to "Kick the Habit" and de-carbonize their economies and life-styles. The focus will also be put on the role of forests in countering rises in greenhouse gases. An estimated 20 per cent of emissions contributing to climate change globally are a result of deforestation.
UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF PLANET EARTH
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the year 2008 to be UN International Year of Planet Earth. The Year's activities will span the three years 2007-2009. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been designated to organize activities during the Year, in collaboration with UNEP and other relevant United Nations bodies, the International Union of Geological Sciences and other Earth sciences societies and groups throughout the world. Internet: http://www.yearofplanetearth.org/ .
JOB ADVERTISEMENT - UNITED KINGDOM
Fundraiser/General Secretary required for BASED-UK
The Bahá’í Agency for Social and Economic Development (BASED-UK), a UK registered charity (no. 1029888), channels funding to educational development projects, usually overseas. BASED-UK is now looking for a person to execute decisions of its Executive Committee, which typically include:
1) monitoring, regulating and evaluating project outputs
2) developing and preparing funding bids for new projects
3) keeping an overview of project budgets
4) liaising with formal bodies such as the UK Charity Commission, auditors etc.
5) developing affiliations with potential funding agencies
6) answering general queries and all related administration
The person will also become a member of BASED-UK’s Executive Committee. The position is half time. The general portfolio will take about one day per week and 1.5 days will be spent on an EU project on values-based sustainable development indicators. The position will be based at Brighton where the EU grant is held. The project portfolio might expand in the future. This position is funded for 2 years in the first instance and may be extendable.
Fluency in written English
Experience in fundraising and writing of funding bids
Internet and email proficiency
Spreadsheet and word processing skills
Experience of writing formal documents
Sensitivity to communicating with other cultures
Having another international language will be advantageous
Some involvement or experience with international development projects
Understanding and promotion of the Bahá’í perspective on development
Experience of updating websites
SALARY: £20,000 per annum pro rata
HOLIDAYS: 20 days per year (pro rata) plus Báhá’i Holy Days and public holidays.
Deadline for completed application forms: Friday 25 April.
Interviews 7 or 8 May in London.
Please request an application form by emailing email@example.com
Please email or phone BASED-UK on 01434 345391 in case of queries.
2005 IEF CONFERENCE REPORT NOW AVAILABLE
After long delays for various reasons, the full transcript of the 9th IEF Conference (ESD Seminar) in Orlando in 2005 is now posted on the web as the 9th IEF conference report at
http://www.bcca.org/ief/conf9.htm. The materials used for the spiritual reflection sessions have been put separately in the e-learning centre, under materials for use in groups, along a compilation from Dimity Podger on the theme ”Engaging People in Sustainability”.
ARTICLE ON FAITH AND DEVELOPMENT
An article on engaging faith-based organisations in development can be downloaded here: http://www.id21.org/society/s8cgc1g1.html
The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) (of USA) has launched the Earth Portal (www.EarthPortal.org). Earth Portal is provides science-based information about the environment built by a global community of environmental experts: educators, physical, life, and social scientists, scholars, and professionals who have joined together to communicate to the world. In contrast to information from anonymous sources with no quality control, the Earth Portal is created and governed by individuals and organizations who put their names behind their words and where attribution and expert-review for accuracy are fundamental. The Earth Portal includes:
• Encyclopedia of Earth (www.eoearth.org) has an initial 2,300 articles from over 700 experts from 46 countries, as well as such content partners as the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations Environment Programme.
• Earth News (www.earthportal.org/news) includes breaking news updates from many sources, with links from key words to Encyclopedia articles, enabling readers to learn about the science behind the headlines.
• Earth Forum (www.earthportal.org/forum) allows the public to engage in discussions with experts, ask questions and get answers, and to participate in community debates about issues that matter to them.
• Environment in Focus (www.earthportal.org/?page_id=70) provides an exploration of a major issue each week - energy, climate change, environmental economics and other topics - led by a prominent expert in the subject and involving articles, news, places, discussions, Q&A, interesting facts, and more.
Extracts from official announcement
International Environment Forum
c/o Dr. Arthur L. Dahl (President)
12B Chemin de Maisonneuve
CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva
Email: ief @ bcca.org [no spaces]
(goes to the General Secretary Sylvia Karlsson)
Updated 25 April 2008
PAST ISSUES OF LEAVES
Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1999
Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1999
Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2000
Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2001
Vol. 3, No. 2, June 2001
Vol. 3, No. 3, Sept 2001
Vol. 4, No. 1, February 2002
Vol. 4, No. 2, July 2002
Vol. 4, No. 3, December 2002
Vol. 5, No. 1, April 2003
Vol. 5, No. 2, October 2003
Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2004
Vol. 6, No. 2, August 2004
Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2005
Vol. 8, No. 1, April 2006
Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2007
Vol. 10, No. 1, April 2008