Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 12, Number 1 --- October 2010
October 15, 2010
Website: iefworld.org and http://www.bcca.org/ief/
Article submission: firstname.lastname@example.org Deadline next issue November 15, 2010
Secretariat Email: email@example.com General Secretary Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen
President Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Arthur Lyon Dahl Ph.D. Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
Please feel free to share the Leaves newsletter with friends whom you think may be interested.
"The Blessed Beauty saith: 'Ye are all the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch.' Thus hath He likened this world of being to a single tree, and all its peoples to the leaves thereof, and the blossoms and fruits. It is needful for the bough to blossom, and leaf and fruit to flourish, and upon the interconnection of all parts of the world-tree, dependeth the flourishing of leaf and blossom, and the sweetness of the fruit."
-Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 1-
FROM THE IEF BOARD
It is with a lot of appreciation which the Board of the IEF welcomes Cynthia Diessner as the new editor of LEAVES, the newsletter of the IEF. It has been a 2.5 years break in producing this newsletter because of the limitations of the IEF secretariat and the challenge to find volunteers who could take the lead for this. Cynthia has with much enthusiasm approached this task and will explore ways to develop the newsletter in coming issues. This issue is now going out to get the second announcement of our upcoming IEF conference out to you all and also to report on a few other exciting news items, including the opportunity to take part in a media contest and a call for papers for an exciting conference in Istanbul. We hope the information flow to and among the members will greatly improve with this new birth of our newsletter.
14th Annual CONFERENCE OF THE
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM (IEF)
Making the Invisible Visible:
An Emerging Community of Practice in
Indicators, Sustainability and Values
In partnership with the ESDinds Project
University of Brighton, United Kingdom 16-18 December 2010
There will, as usual, be an electronic conference in association with the main conference. Whether or not you are able to attend the conference in person, you can participate from your computer over e-mail. Registration information is available in the conference announcement. There is no fee for the electronic conference.
In our society only the visible counts. Only material and easily quantifiable values are measured, and when it comes to decision-making only what can be measured is appreciated, thereby strengthening a society that is based on market values and continuous economic growth, marginalizing environmental and social values. This is a significant challenge for those who consider real yet difficult to measure things such as the beauty of nature or intangible things like spiritual values to be essential aspects of life.
For the past two years an EU-funded research project on values-based indicators of education for sustainable development (ESDinds) has worked on how to make these invisible, ethical and spiritual values visible by, for example, developing indicators to measure trust, integrity, justice, empowerment, unity in diversity, and care and respect for the community of life in businesses and civil society organizations.
The 14th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum is being combined with the international scientific conference that presents results of the ESDinds project. The project has exciting results to share on the development of values-based indicators, tested in the field with civil society organizations and businesses, and, remotely, by 50 other organizations, some of whom will report at the conference. The conference seeks to bring together workers in the different but overlapping fields of indicators, sustainability and values, with the hope that a new "community of practice" will emerge from these interactions. A web site for this has just been launched at http://www.wevalue.org.
The Conference is organized around four overlapping themes:
Values -The relevance of values to the success of businesses, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other organizations, even when they are not themselves values-based, is becoming increasingly recognized, and a theme of the conference will be the usefulness of values-based indicators in that context.
Useful indicators for CSO projects -The development of useful indicators of any type for civil society (CSO) projects have always been problematic. At this conference speakers from CSOs, funders and researchers will give updates on challenges and emerging ideas.
Co-design and partnership in research -The importance of co-design and the involvement of Communities of Interest for the success and appropriateness of a research project will be explored.
Ethics and Sustainable Development
- Major advances have been made in developing indicators, but challenges
still exist at the project (or local) level, and in linking to ethical
Plenary speakers will include Bedrich Moldan (Czech Republic), Augusto Lopez-Claros (Spain) and Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), who are leading experts on various dimensions of indicators.
The IEF Annual General Assembly will be held on the evening of Friday 17 December, before dinner. Registration for the conference is now open at http://www.esdinds.eu/, and is free before 1 December 2010. If you are an IEF member please also send a note to email@example.com that you are coming. Information on accommodation and location is also provided in the web site. Brighton is easily reached from London Gatwick airport. Contributions of posters, short informal talks and formal talks relevant to the conference theme are welcome. Please see the invitation on the web site. The IEF is contributing some plenary speakers and will organize one or more parallel sessions during the conference. If you are interested in making a presentation to an IEF session, please send your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be an electronic version of the conference for IEF members as usual.
Early Results from the ESDinds project
While there is still a further testing phase to be completed, it is already clear that the ESDinds project has succeeded in developing indicators to measure trust, integrity, justice, empowerment, unity in diversity, and care and respect for the community of life in businesses and civil society organizations. It has found processes to help organizations crystallize their understanding of their values, identify general indicators that express those values, define specific indicators or proxy measures that represent the implementation of those values, and measure those indicators quantitatively or qualitatively. This can be done in ways that are internally consistent, and has already produced useful results in evaluating the impact of projects which have values-based elements. The methodology has already been used successfully with an Earth Charter project for indigenous school children in Mexico, a Red Cross project for former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, a Mexican university, the Lush cosmetics company in Italy and a small Peoples Theater in Germany, and will soon be tested in China, with a financial services company in Luxembourg, and opened to trials by 50-80 other civil society organizations. By December there should be a considerable body of practical experience on values-based indicators to discuss. More details on the ESDinds project can be found at http://www.brighton.ac.uk/sdecu/research/esdinds.
The United Nations
Environment Programme has announced the creation of a
Civil Society Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance
that includes International Environment Forum President Dr.
Fifteen core members with significant expertise in international environmental governance have been selected to comprise the Advisory Group, out of over 90 who responded to the call for applications. Each of the nine UN major groups and each of the six world regions are represented. Alternates have also been selected and will step in to represent their respective region or major group if the full member cannot be present. They will collaborate closely with the core members of the Advisory Group and be engaged in deliberations.
Members of the Advisory Group include nationals and residents of 21 countries, and, among others, a former minister for environment and energy of Costa Rica, a Champion of the Earth laureate, a retired US Ambassador and former Deputy Director General of the ILO, a retired DuPont manager, former UN officials, professors, students and many with outstanding experience of grassroots campaigning and successful practical achievements on the ground. For the full list of members and more information, visit the IEG Advisory Group page on the Global Environmental Governance website at http://www.environmentalgovernance.org/internationl-environmental-governance-reform/civil-society/globalcivil- society-advisory-group-on-international-environmental-governance/
The Advisory Group will work closely with a larger group of 100 individuals to collect, compile and communicate ideas to the environment ministers deliberating on reform of the international environmental institutions.
Reform of the current system of international environmental governance is high on the political agenda. In 2009, governments set up a consultative process to discuss possible reform options. In February 2010, they agreed “to seek relevant inputs from civil society groups from each region in the process of further strengthening international environmental governance.” (UNEP Governing Council Decision SS.XI/1)
Following up on this decision and civil society requests, in October 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme created a Civil Society Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance. The purpose of the Advisory Group is to utilize the significant knowledge and expertise of civil society to inject new ideas in the ministerial discussions, provide a link with experts and stakeholders across sectors and around the world, and advance both thought and action in international environmental governance. The Advisory Group will serve as the principal body through which input from major groups and stakeholders will be channeled into the intergovernmental process. It will also provide systematic input to the processes in the run up to and following the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, where environmental and sustainability governance will be a main agenda item.
Climate Change and Human Rights
The IEF participated in the 2010 Social Forum of the UN Human Rights Council on the subject of climate change and human rights. The Social Forum is organized each year to facilitate a dialogue with civil society on an important issue for human rights.
In preparation for the Social Forum, the Interfaith Forum on Climate Change and Environment in Geneva, which includes the International Environment Forum, organized a one-day training for Social Forum participants on 1 October 2010 at the Ecumenical Center, Geneva, on “Human Rights? An approach to respond to the challenges of climate change”, co-sponsored by IEF, the Catholic International Centre of Geneva, WaterLex, and the World Council of Churches. Fourteen experts, including IEF President Arthur Dahl, discussed the challenges of climate change for people, the international legal framework protecting the victims of climate change, the political role of states, and expectations vis-à-vis the governments: perspectives of civil society. An NGO declaration was drafted calling on the Human Rights Council to name a special rapporteur on human rights and climate change (see appendix 1).
The Social Forum at the Palais des Nations on 4-6 October 2010 also included expert presentations on the adverse effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, including the right to life and economic, social and cultural rights, as well as human rights concerns of specific vulnerable groups, in particular indigenous communities, women, children and internally displaced persons. Measures and actions at the national, regional and international levels were reviewed, as well as the way forward through a rights-based approach to climate change, the green economy and technology transfer. There was ample time for open debate with all participants. The IEF presented its reflections on the human rights challenges of persons permanently displaced by climate change, and the need to prepare receiving communities to respond positively to such immigrants, building unity in diversity while respecting human rights and helping migrants to maintain their cultures, social ties and values (see appendix 2). The World Bank expert responded that this was a neglected issue that deserved more attention, and it was mentioned by the chairperson in her final summary. The NGO declaration was also presented to the Social Forum, endorsed by over 30 NGOs, and included in the recommendations of the forum.
The Social Forum showed that a human rights approach gives the challenges of climate change a human face, particularly of the women, children and other vulnerable groups that will be most affected. It was also clear that the Bahá'í approach to building communities able to take charge of their own development is an answer to many of the human challenges arising from climate change, as it is to many other social problems facing society.
For additional information. see the OHCHR news release at
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/2010SFClimatechangeaHR.aspx which refers to the NGO declaration. All the formal presentations of the Social Forum are available on line at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/poverty/presentations2010.htm.
Appendix 1 - NGO Declaration on “Climate Change
& Human Rights”
(IEF helped to draft and co-sponsored)
The below listed organizations,
Reminding the participants of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 3rd Social Forum that, if the international scientific community is still debating the timeline, the reality of climate change and its already visible consequences on the livelihood of populations are beyond discussion;
Acknowledging the negative effects on vulnerable populations, especially indigenous peoples, women and children, and the poor;
Concerned about the adverse impact of climate change on access to water, food, housing and eventually life and therefore on the of human rights of local populations to water, food, housing and life;
Concerned about the effects of climate change on the very survival of some cultures and nations, and on the situation of statelessness and internally displaced peoples;
Recalling in this context Article 27 of the 1966 International covenant on civil and political rights, the 1961 United Nations Convention on Statelessness and the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement;
Recalling the 2008 Human Rights Council Res.7/23, which recognizes that climate change is a global problem and that it requires a global solution;
Recalling the 2009 Human Rights Council Res. 10/4, which stresses that climate change-related impacts have a range of implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights including, inter alia, the right to life, the right to adequate food, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to adequate housing, the right to self-determination and human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and recalling that in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence;
Recalling the 2008 Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights (A/HRC/10/61);
Recommend to the Social Forum:
·To identify, with concrete examples and testimonies, the impacts of climate change on the lives and human rights of individuals and peoples;
·To request the Human Rights Council to continue to hold an annual discussion to the track the rapidly evolving impacts of climate change on human rights;
·To recommend to the Human Rights Council the establishment of a new special procedure with an independent expert. The mandate of the “Independent Expert on the Impact of Climate Change on the enjoyment of Human Rights” should in particular entail:
-- A study on the responsibilities of States in the area of climate change adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and funding, both at national and international levels, derived from their respective international human rights law commitments. The study should in particular research on the reality of climate displaced peoples, and suggest steps for the management of internally and internationally displaced persons as a result of climate change;
-- A close coordination and collaboration with the Human Rights Council Special Procedures and subsidiary bodies, in particular the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the right to food, the SR on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the Right to nondiscrimination in this context, the SR on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the Independent Expert (IE) on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, the IE on the question of human rights and extreme Poverty and other related relevant Special Procedures mandates.
-- A close coordination and collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as other relevant United Nations specialized agencies and programs, in particular UNEP, UNHABITAT and UNWOMEN, in order to facilitate exchange of information in the area of human rights and climate change.
This declaration has been finalized and adopted by the participants of the conference “Human Rights? An approach to respond to the challenge of Climate Change”, which took place on Friday 1st October 2010 at the WCC in Geneva.
The following organizations endorse this declaration:
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN)
ANPED – Northern Alliance for Sustainability
Australian Climate Justice Program
Both ENDS - Netherlands
Capacity Global – United Kingdom
Center for Law Information - Indonesia
Civil Society Biofuels Forum - Zambia
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
FIAN - International
Freshwater Action Network – Central America (FANCA)
Friends of the Earth - Togo
Indonesia Law Report (ILR) - Indonesia
International Catholic Center of Geneva
International Council of Women
International Environment Forum
International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)
Just Strategies - Business for a Better Planet
Lutheran World Federation
Mines, Minerals & People - India
Samata - India
Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries
Stand up for your rights – Netherlands
UNESCO - Etxea
Vzw ’t Uilekot Herzele - Netherlands
Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) - Germany
World Council of Churches
Appendix 2 - IEF statement to Human Rights Council
Social Forum on "Climate Change
and Human Rights”
Geneva, 6 October 2010
Madame Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Environment Forum, a Baha'i-inspired organization for environment and sustainability, has been exploring the ethical dimensions of climate change for several years, and offers the following reflections to the Social Forum.
The predicted scale of human climate change impacts in coming decades is unprecedented in our historical experience, with estimates of 100 million to 500 million displaced persons. The Social Forum has focused legitimately on the tragedy and loss of human rights for those affected, particularly the most vulnerable.
But we also need to consider the physical, financial, social and ethical challenges that such massive movements of populations represent for the communities, regions and countries receiving these displaced persons. As Mr. Boncour noted on the first day of the Social Forum, migration may be the best, or only, form of adaptation for many. Regardless of any future reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels are expected to rise between 80 cm and 2 meters in this century, and 100 million people live less than 1 meter above sea level. They will have no possibility to go back to their homes and communities.
A human rights educational approach is essential to overcoming the resistance of receiving populations and to ensure respect for the human rights of these migrants. People must realize that we are all responsible for causing climate change, and we all have a responsibility of solidarity and compassion for those impacted by our behaviour.
The space and resources to receive displaced populations on this scale are not evenly distributed around the world. Climate change will make some regions less habitable and others more so. How do we organize the movement of permanently displaced people to the places and countries best able to resettle them and to return to them their full human rights? We need international institutions able to manage significant migrations beyond national boundaries, lowering immigration barriers just as the World Trade Organization has lowered barriers to global trade. The free movement of people is the missing dimension of globalization. This is politically challenging, but the alternative is human suffering and loss of rights on a massive scale.
A positive human rights approach raises the following questions:
- How do we replace the fear of immigrants with an appreciation for the human qualities, resources, skills and values that they bring?
- How do we build strong communities with unity in diversity between displaced and receiving populations?
- How do we help migrants to maintain their cultures, social ties and values when displaced permanently, and how do we balance this appreciation of cultural diversity with assimilation into the host country or community?
- Can we organize the movement of whole communities, and not just individuals or families?
- How do we fund the cost of resettlement, providing housing, economic opportunities, social services and infrastructure, perhaps under international adaptation mechanisms? Such costs should not necessarily fall only on the receiving country or community.
Responding to these questions will require educational campaigns, community consultation, the involvement of civil society and faith-based groups, and ethical and human rights approaches encouraged by governments, that are strong enough to overcome the inevitable political resistance and controversy. The science says we have no choice.
Environmental Stewardship and Justice
Friday, October 22 – Sunday, October 24, 2010
With Peter Adriance, Jordan Glist, Jessica Gaines, Daniel James, Ariana Bertrand, and Lloyd Brown
$154.00 per person includes two nights lodging and all meals.
One weekend with two great sessions: one for Adults and Youth and
another for Junior Youth
Explore your role in the world, reflect on the impact that you can have on the environment, and discover your capacity to be a positive force in your community.
Engage in creative and interactive learning exercises – both indoors and out – gaining a deeper appreciation for the natural world, our place in it and our impact on it and others. Register on the Louhelen Website above.
MORAL AND ETHICAL DIMENSIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
I have been working on behalf of the Baha'i Community of Canada with a multi-faith group planning a series of activities exploring the moral and ethical dimensions of climate change. I have made mention of IEF throughout this process, often referring to our IEF conference in 2007. I have also been able to introduce to the process several of our speakers from that conference. For details see http://ucalgary.ca/oikos/Retreat/Ottawa/Program. The week long series of events is on the theme Environmental Decline and Climate Change as Moral Issues. We are planning a series of activities over a one week period, each designed for different audiences (faith based communities, general public, media, Parliamentarians). There is a two day Retreat and several evening Roundtables that will offer leaders in various religious groups to dialogue and build relationships for responding to climate change and environmental decline as people of faith.
Baha'i participation will include:
The steering committee has agreed to try and maintain a focus
throughout the week of activities around the
notion of faith communities building spiritual capacity for
sustianable change, and not reducing the efforts of
faith-based communities to merely supporting political action
as the only means for transformation.
In addition to the aforementioned activities, we will likely
support a multi-faith initiative to visit members of
Parliament (federal) at breakfast and/or lunch events, and a
morning prayer breakfast on Parliament Hill
Updated 20 October 2010
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