Leaves 13(9) October 2011


Newsletter of the
Volume 13, Number 9 --- October 2011



15 October 2011
Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 13 November 2011
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

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 climate change action. 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 newsletter@ief.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.


Internship Opportunities with the Bahá’í International Community

The BIC has opportunities for internship available; please share this information with those whom you feel may be interested. As you learn of other internship/employment opportunities, please email information to newsletter@ief.org.

Disaster relief internship: Undergraduate or graduate intern to research policies and practices of community-based responses to natural disasters, including community-based relief and mitigation efforts. The research will inform the ongoing development of a conceptual framework for Bahá'í community responses to natural disasters and involvement in relief and mitigation efforts. Please contact Stephen Karnik, Chief Administrative Officer, at skarnik@bic.org, for further information.

Research internship: The Bahá'í International Community’s United Nations Office is looking for individuals to assist with research and writing associated with the Office’s work in areas of human rights, gender equality, social and sustainable development. Interns may be requested to assist with conducting background research, briefing staff on relevant meetings at the UN and in the NGO community, assisting Representatives in their work on NGO Committees, translating and editing documents, developing content for the Bahá'í International Community’s website and Interns’ Blog, as well as assisting with administrative tasks as needed. Please contact Dorothy Longo, Operations Officer, at dlongo@bic.org, for further information. An overview of the work of the Office as well as its interns can be seen at www.bic.org.


Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Individual, Community, and Institutions

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 10 and 11 December 2011
Conference web site: http://www.internationalenvironmentforumhobart.com.au/

Register now at: http://ief2011hobart.eventbrite.com
Registration fees of A$120 per person (includes all materials, lunches, morning and afternoon teas)
(8 -14 year olds A$30; children under 8 free)

In the news we are seeing more frequent reports of record droughts, heat waves, snowstorms, tropical storms, floods, bushfires, and famines. The vast majority of climate scientists worldwide agree that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and that this will very likely cause increased future extreme weather. In fact, many scientists think that recent weather extremes are already revealing the impacts of global warming.

Join us to take a deeper look at the ethics and science needed to cope with adverse climate change. Explore creative responses you, your community and your institutions can make to better preserve our planet, living the principle of the oneness of humankind to save our world.

One Healthy Planet, One People Living Ethically...Please!

At this important conference, you will hear from and engage with experts and scholars on climate change science and strategies to address this global challenge. You will also participate in interactive workshops to investigate the science and practical responses to climate change, learning what you can do now to make a difference.

Engage and discuss with expert panels on:
Bahá’í responses to climate change
Climate change and Australia’s future
Individual and community responses
Getting ―future ready
Role of faith communities
Potential solutions to climate change
Examples of successful international cooperation
Being engaged while avoiding partisan politics
Bahá’í international environmental perspectives

Participate in interactive workshops on:
Science of climate change
Bahá’í approaches to capacity building and responses to climate change
Refugees and food security
Reducing your carbon footprint
Contributing to the environmental strategy of the Australian Bahá’í Community
Education and career choices

Speakers Include:
Ms. Tessa Scrine, Member of the Bahá’í Continental Board of Counsellors
Dr. Natalie Mobini, Director of the Office of External Affairs of the Australian Bahá’í Community
Dr. Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environmental Forum
Dr. Arini Beaumaris, Member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia
Mr. Todd Houstein, Executive Officer of Sustainable Living Tasmania
Mr. Gareth Johnson, Co-Founder of Future Ready Pty Ltd
Mr. Peter Adriance, NGO Environmental Liaison for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the U.S.A.
Dr. Miriam Pepper, Secretary of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
Mr. Peter Boyer, Founder of Climate Tasmania and noted journalist

IEF Annual Conference Location is the Bahá’í Centre of Learning for Tasmania

1 Tasman Highway - Hobart - Tasmania – Australia, http://www.tasbcl.com.au

The Bahá’í Centre of Learning for Tasmania is an agency of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia. Its purpose is to promote educational and community activities to build capacity for achieving a peaceful and sustainable world community. The primary location of its activities is the Bahá’í Centre of Learning building, located at the gateway into the city of Hobart, in the state of Tasmania Australia. The Bahá’í Centre is used for the activities of the local and regional Bahá’í communities of Tasmania, and is also available for use by the wider community. Since opening in October 2009, the Centre has had thousands of visitors and has been the venue for the activities of scores of local community groups, governmental agencies and academic departments.

The design of the Centre harmonizes principles of aesthetics, functionality and environmental sustainability. The interior of the building evokes a sense of serenity and reflection, and its exterior a sense of simplicity and welcome. The two main meeting rooms are circular in shape, and each is adorned with a specially constructed dome ceiling. Seen from below, the 9 points of the crowning dome of the main auditorium converge towards its centre, expressing the concept of a single unifying connection. Contributing to the strength and beauty of the crown, they also reflect the aim of the Centre to bring people together regardless of differences in opinion, thoughts, beliefs, religion, race or creed. Branching off from this central area are several wings, providing multiple rooms for classes and meetings, a children’s learning area, a library/reading room, and rooms for administrative activities. The Centre also includes a professionally-run café.

The design of the Centre building incorporates a number of advanced features for environmental sustainability, including low carbon footprint, use of materials that are low-toxic, renewable and/or recyclable, and preservation of existing trees on the site. The building relies on natural processes of heat capture and release, rather than central heating and cooling equipment. For energy efficiency, lighting is provided by LED fixtures, double-glazed windows and air-tight design minimizes heat-loss, and the encompassing insulation, which lies 600mm deep in the roof and 200mm thick in the walls, is composed entirely of recycled newspaper and specialized ceramic. The dome covering the main auditorium is constructed of 18 equal leaves fitted in a circular design, and the skylight of the dome is fashioned with Nanogel, a state-of-the-art light-weight translucent insulating material used by the NASA space agency. The majority of the timber used in the construction came from either recycled or renewable sources. Materials such as stone, stainless steel, aluminum and timber, which had not been subjected to manufacturing or chemical processes and were as close to their natural state as possible, are widely incorporated in the design. A low-toxic structural glue imported from Germany represents this material’s first use in Australia. The interior surfaces are finished with natural paints sourced from organically grown plant based oils and mineral pigments, while fabric for the window seats is made of natural materials and dyes. For future water demands, runoff water is conserved in 50,000L-capacity storage tanks below the building. The orientation of the building was chosen in such a way that all of the trees on the original site have been preserved, with one of them being sheltered in an internal garden within the main foyer area.

The gardens of the Centre have been designed by a professional botanist from Hobart utilizing native plants. Located in the gardens is a Japanese Peace Pole, inscribed with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”


Workshop on Sustainable Development in Whitewater Wisconsin USA

Baha’is and people of other faiths gathered on a beautiful fall day at the Baha’i Country Retreat Center in Whitewater, WI to learn more about sustainable development. We consulted together to write personal plans about how to increase sustainability principles in our lives and our faith communities.

Part of the meeting was held in a hand-made Mongolian roundhouse called a ger whose environment encouraged sharing and support. We were the “grassroots” sitting right there on the grass. Participants’ ages ranged from 11 yrs. to over 60 yrs.; some lived in urban areas, some on farms; some were families with kids while others were college students or single retired persons; half of the group were male and half were female.

Although not everyone agreed on what were the most important ways to achieve energy efficiency or land/water conservation, we did achieve unity of purpose in diversity and became closer as a faith group by working together on our plans. We encouraged each other to look at the spiritual attitudes and behaviors we each needed to change or improve. At the end of the day each person left to start working actively on their plan. One couple went the next day to tour a local organic urban farm to learn principles of sustainable land and water usage which they hope to emulate at their home. Another rural family learned about the hazards of burning plastics when they burned their garbage and immediately stopped the practice. Another family learned ways to become better conservation educators of others around them. Learning and supporting each others’ efforts will continue through action, followed by regular reflection and consultation group meetings. Although when it gets cold this winter in Wisconsin, our group meetings will move from the ger to the barn. We hope to make these regular sustainable living meetings part of the culture in our faith community.


Louhelen Bahá'í School
Environmental Stewardship and Justice

with Peter Adriance, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, and Lloyd "Dingo" Brown

During this special weekend session we will explore themes of environmental stewardship and justice and increase our capacity and sense of commitment to act for the wellbeing of humanity and the Earth. Through study of the Bahá'í Writings and involvement in creative and interactive learning exercises -- both indoors and out – we will gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world, our place in it and impact on it. We will return home armed with ideas and enthusiasm for integrating environmental stewardship into the rhythm of life in our community.

Friday, Nov 4 through Sunday, Nov 6, 2011
Louhelen Baha’I School, 3208 South State Road, Davison MI 48423


Green Pilgrimage Network launch in Assisi end October 2011


October 6, 2011: The first global network aimed at greening pilgrimage – the largest movement of people worldwide – will be launched in the presence of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT, at the Sacred Land celebration in Assisi, Italy, from October 31 to November 2, 2011. The event is organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in association with WWF.

The Green Pilgrimage Network will help the faiths make their holy cities and sacred sites as environmentally sustainable as possible according to their own theologies and understanding. Pilgrimage is the world’s biggest travel event, with millions of people becoming pilgrims every year, whether for a few hours, days or even weeks. The largest human gathering in recorded history was the Maha Kumbh Mela, a festival held every 144 years in Prayag, Allahabad, India, which in 2001 attracted more than 60 million Hindus.

Ten faith traditions have nominated pilgrim cities or sacred sites to become founding members of the Green Pilgrimage Network, ranging as far afield as Louguan in the People's Republic of China for Daoists to St Albans in the UK for Anglicans and Amritsar for the Sikhs. The city authorities of Jerusalem, a major pilgrimage destination for three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – will join the network to green the city for all pilgrims.

Also launched at Sacred Land will be the first Green Hajj Guide aimed at the two million Muslim pilgrims who visit Mecca (Makkah) in Saudi Arabia each year for the Hajj, the biggest annual pilgrimage in the world. Sacred Land will also celebrate 25 years of faith action on the environment since the first Assisi gathering in 1986 when Prince Philip invited faith leaders to consider how their beliefs, practices and teachings could help protect the environment.

That 1986 event, held to celebrate WWF International's 25th anniversary, led to the first statements on the environment by leaders of five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism) and launched hundreds of thousands of faith-run environmental projects around the world. So many, in fact, that in 2009 the scale of faith action on the environment was described as “potentially the biggest civil society movement on climate change in history”. ARC Secretary-General Martin Palmer, who organised the first Assisi event for Prince Philip, said: “Today, thanks to that first Assisi event, every major religion takes ecology seriously and is involved in environmental projects, and the world's religions are increasingly recognised as playing a pivotal role in protecting the natural world.”

Martin Palmer added: “The Green Pilgrimage Network will ask the faithful to live, during the most intense of religious experience, in a faith-consistent way. To travel to a holy place in such a way as to treat the whole world as sacred is to be a true pilgrim.”

This year, as it celebrates its Golden Jubilee, WWF will also join ARC and the religious leaders at Assisi, along with representatives from major bodies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and USAID. Also present will be ICLEI, an international association of local governments on sustainable development, which is supporting the Green Pilgrimage Network.


Rio+20 - United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 4-6 June 2012


The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

The Conference will focus on two themes:
(a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and
(b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Rio+20 Issues Briefs
The UNCSD Secretariat together with its partners has prepared a series of Rio+20Issues Briefs. The purpose of the Rio+20 Issues Briefs is to provide a channel for policymakers and other interested stakeholders to discuss and review issues relevant to the objective and themes of the conference, including a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, as well as the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication
Sustainable development emphasizes a holistic, equitable and far-sighted approach to decision-making at all levels. It emphasizes not just strong economic performance but intragenerational and intergenerational equity. It rests on integration and a balanced consideration of social, economic and environmental goals and objectives in both public and private decision-making.

The concept of green economy focuses primarily on the intersection between environment and economy. This recalls the 1992 Rio Conference: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

Publications & Reports (available from the Rio+20 web site)
Secretary-General's Report on Objectives and Themes of the United Nations Conference
Sustainable Development in India: Stocktaking in the run up to Rio+20
Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication
Transition to a Green Economy: Benefits, Challenges and Risks from a Sustainable Development Perspective

Updated 18 October 2011