Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 13, Number 10 --- 15 November 2011
15 November 2011
Article submission: email@example.com Deadline next issue 13 December 2011
Secretariat Email: firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com.
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.
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM 15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Individual, Community, and Institutions
10 and 11 December 2011
The "Wonderwall" is a facility which will provide a useful opportunity to network your ideas and projects during the up-coming IEF conference in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Please note the guidelines, and respond at your discretion.
If you are unable to attend the conference, or if you are unable to have personal contact at the conference with everyone you would like, the Wonderwall will be a good means to publicize your work, and to maintain or exchange contact information.
The "Wonderwall" is a facility available at the IEF conference in Hobart enabling presenters, participants, and like-minded organisations to publicise their activities, projects and expertise by way of posters to be displayed on a pinable display screen as per the following guidelines:
Appropriate language and imagery
Graphically engaging work is encouraged
Does not contravene commercial copyright issues
Includes contact details of the organisation (personal e-mail details are optional, but details should not compromise personal privacy).
1 poster per organisation/programme (up to 4 may be provided as a set, but space may constrain the display of more than one)
Posters will be displayed at the discretion of the organisers
An over-supply of posters for the space available will be managed on a display rotation basis at the discretion of the organisers
Posters will be discarded at the end of the conference (if desired, authors may retrieve remaining posters prior to disposal)
A4, A3 portrait and/or landscape format to facilitate efficient tiling.
Colour is preferable, but at the presenter‘s discretion
Provide a simple written abstract with the title, key information and contact details so this can be collated with the proceedings
At your discretion, provide posters in both A4 and A3 sizes to enable organisers to ensure the wall is reasonably populated (posters may be provided on arrival/registration)
At your discretion, provide PDF copy electronically 3 days before the conference so these can be adopted as a record of the proceedings
While retaining copyright, authors grant organisers the right to reproduce posters for conference proceedings and similar non-commercial purposes as may arise
The wall itself may be reproduced photographically as a resource so presentation appeal is important.
Two PDF examples of posters to provide a guideline: Little Green House and Pretty Home Aquaculture.
IMPORTANT - Change of dates for Rio+20 and the IEF 16th Annual Conference
The Brazilian government just announced in early November that the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+20) will be delayed by two weeks, with the conference itself on 20-22 June 2012 and the third Preparatory Committee on 13-15 June. The arrangements for NGO participation have not yet been announced, which is delaying planning for the IEF annual conference, which will consist of events during 13-22 June in Rio de Janeiro. IEF is already a partner in the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which will organize a workshop during the conference period, and we are in consultation with the EBBF, the Baha'i International Community, and other potential partners about further activities. It would be very helpful to know of all IEF members planning to be in Rio de Janeiro next June who might be able to contribute to our activities. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IEF submission to Rio+20 Bureau
The Bureau of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) invited governments, international organizations and civil society to submit proposals for the conference outcome, from which the secretariat and the bureau will compile a "zero draft" as the basis for intergovernmental negotiations starting early next year. All the proposals received by the 1 November deadline have been compiled on a user-friendly web site (http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=115) where they can be searched by key words.
The IEF submitted some proposals which can be viewed at http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=510&nr=166&menu… and on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/iefuncsd1.
The IEF was also represented on the UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance, which made a submission at http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=510&nr=148&menu….
The contribution from the Baha'i International Community is at http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=510&nr=117&menu….
Report on Symposium on Ethics of Environmental Health
Prague, 24 – 27 August 2011
At the end of August 2011, IEF member Friedo Zoelzer of the Faculty of Health and Social Studies, South Bohemia University, Czech Republic, organized a Symposium on Ethics of Environmental Health in Prague (announced in Leaves, May 2011). The meeting brought together 30 people from 15 countries from a broad range of backgrounds, including radiation protection, toxicology, epidemiology, philosophy of technology, etc. The full program and presentations are available at http://www.seeh2011.org.
According to the WHO Regional Office for Europe, "Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health and disease that are determined by factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing and controlling factors in the environment that can potentially affect health. It includes both the direct pathological effects of chemicals, radiation and some biological agents, and the effects (often indirect) on health and wellbeing of the broad physical, psychological, social and aesthetic environment."
In this context, as in many others, certain questions cannot be solved on the basis of science alone, important as it may be. These are ethical questions, questions of right and wrong, questions of what we should do and what we should not do. For instance, one may think of questions like the following: Which kind of environmental health problems should at all be investigated? Which facts are reason enough to spend money on research? Which groups of stakeholders should be listened to? How should the results of such research be communicated to the people at risk from environmental factors? How can different kinds of environmental risks be compared? What about justice if risks and burdens are not equitably distributed? What costs are justified to reduce risks, and who should pay? Which level of certainty do we need before we take protective measures against environmental health risks?
Such questions often come up in the context of radiation protection, which is why the symposium was organized as a satellite meeting of the International Congress of Radiation Research, held in Warsaw, Poland, at the beginning of September 2011. The symposium drew radiation specialists and colleagues from neighbouring fields working on questions as far apart as "Philosophical Approaches to Environmental Health Ethics", "Nuclear Power Production and Waste Management", "The Fukushima Disaster", "Health problems from toxic substances in the Amazon rain forest", "Reporting results from biomonitoring in Canada", "Conflict resolution in Emergency Medical Care", "Ethics in Environmental Health Education" and "A cross-cultural approach to ethics of environmental health". The program also included a less scientific presentation about "The right to being surrounded by beauty" given by the former president of the Czech Chamber of Architects (a Bahá'í), a guided tour through Prague‘s old town, and a dinner cruise on the Vltava. There was general agreement among the participants that "Ethics of Environmental Health" is a topic which requires more attention, that it was very useful to look at this topic from different perspectives and for this to bring together people from different backgrounds, that the discussions were extremely stimulating for further research, and that this kind of meetings should be held regularly every two to three years.
PERL Workshop, Paris, 12-13 October 2011
IEF is a partner in the Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL), which organized a workshop at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the topic "Working Together to Advance Responsible Living". IEF board member and PERL coordinator Victoria Thoresen was one of the organizers, and Arthur Dahl also participated for IEF. The workshop made recommendations on the future directions for PERL and its worldwide network. The next major event will be the PERL International Conference in Berlin, 19-20 March 2012.
Seventh ECPD International Conference
Milocer, Montenegro, 21-22 October 2011
The IEF was again represented by its president at the 7th International Conference on Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans, in Milocer, Montenegro, on 21-22 October 2011. The conference with 180 participants was organized by the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD) of the University for Peace established by the United Nations. Over 40 papers were presented on this year's theme "New Balkans and European Union Enlargement". Arthur Dahl gave a paper on "European Union and Global Sustainability: Issues for Rio 2012", available on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/ddahl11c. A highlight of the conference was the launching by H.E. Mr. Yasushi Akashi, former UN Under Secretary-General, of a book on his experiences as Special Representative for the Former Yugoslavia during the height of the crisis.
World Science Forum
Budapest, 16-19 November 2011
The IEF has again been invited to participate in the World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with UNESCO and ICSU, in Budapest on 16-19 November. Arthur Dahl will be representing IEF, and will also give a public lecture on "Environmental Governance and its Ethical Challenges" at the Central European University.
Canadian Bahá'ís join Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change
Ottawa, 27 October 2011 — The Bahá‘í Community of Canada has joined dozens of other faith communities and leaders in calling for new approaches to address the challenge of climate change. This initiative is among the first to bring together such a large and diverse number of religious leaders to speak with one voice to an issue of social concern.
Released on October 25th, the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change says, "The growing crisis of climate change needs to be met by solutions that draw upon the moral and spiritual resources of the world‘s religious traditions."
The declaration calls for "a cultural transformation that brings the values of sustainability to the forefront of public consciousness – and into more responsible practices." Religious leaders said, "We cannot wait for others to act but instead must lead by example."
From Sunday October 23 to Monday October 24, faith leaders, politicians and members of the public gathered in Ottawa to engage in a panel discussion and national dialogue on climate change. Responding to the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, participants discussed climate change as a symptom of a spiritual crisis, the values necessary for a sustainable economy, the challenge of climate justice, and the policy goals to be adopted by leaders in advance of the upcoming climate change negotiations in South Africa.
Speaking on a panel of religious leaders, Susanne Tamas, Director of Government Relations for the Bahá‘í Community of Canada, asked participants to view climate change as the outward sign of an imbalance between our spiritual and material ecosystems.
"Underlying a culture of consumerism are concepts concerning human nature, justice, and power that are at odds with the teachings of the world‘s religions," she said. "Religion can help to reframe our understanding of the nature of the challenge of climate change and the approaches and methods we use to address it."
A Bahá‘í youth, Alicia Cundall, also spoke on a panel that explored what faith communities are doing to promote climate justice. She said that climate justice must involve bringing excluded voices – such as those of children and youth, especially those from countries most affected by climate change – into the policy discourse, a goal she pursued as an organizing partner of the youth caucus at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development from 2008-2010.
These events were organized by The Commission on Justice and Peace of The Canadian Council of Churches through a collaborative interfaith committee on climate.
The four-page Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action for Climate Change can be downloaded in English at http://www.bahainews.ca/en/node/686 and in French. Reports on related side events can be downloaded at the web site of the Canadian Council of Churches: http://www.councilofchurches.ca
U.S. National Spiritual Assembly endorses Climate Ethics Statement
(Washington, D.C.) -- A representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha‘is of the United States recently endorsed a "Statement of Our Nation‘s Moral Obligation to Address Climate Change." Drafted by a steering committee of the national Climate Ethics Campaign, the statement acknowledges climate change as a "real, dangerous, and rapidly worsening problem with deep moral implications." The statement highlights the obligations and responsibilities, "to prevent suffering and protect human life...to honor principles of justice and equity, [and]...to honor and protect the processes that make life possible." It also encourages every citizen to prepare for the consequences of climate change while insisting that government adopt policies to reduce emissions and provide resources to build capacity for adaptation to climate change by those most impacted, worldwide. Additional endorsements are sought in the U.S. -- At press time for the IEF newsletter, the statement had been signed by more than 650 current or former elected officials, CEO‘s or senior executives of private business or non-profit organizations, and individuals. The campaign is actively seeking one thousand endorsements by November 30th, when it will officially release and circulate the statement on Capitol Hill. The statement can be read below or downloaded here (http://climateethicscampaign.org/statement/) and endorsed here (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NationalClimateEthicsCampaign).
STATEMENT OF OUR NATION'S MORAL OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE
We, the undersigned current and former elected officials and representatives from the business, labor, youth, financial, academic, mental health, physical health, conservation, racial justice, civil rights, development organizations, and faith communities of the United States, recognize that climate change is a real, dangerous, and rapidly worsening problem with deep moral implications.
Although reducing carbon pollution will have costs, it will also produce incalculable benefits. Our response must therefore be driven not solely by near-term economic or national self-interest. We must also acknowledge and act on our long-standing moral obligation to protect current and future generations from suffering and death, to honor principles of justice and equity, and to protect the great Earth systems on which the well-being of all life, including ours, depends.
We call on every citizen to act on these moral principles without delay. Individually, and collectively as a nation, we must rapidly reduce carbon pollution by significant levels, prepare for the consequences of an already warming planet, and insist on public policies that support these goals and create a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The risks of inaction are exceedingly high. The benefits of acting on these moral principles are even greater.
The Moral Obligation to Prevent Suffering and Protect Human Life
The most fundamental of our guiding moral principles is that it is wrong to unjustifiably cause human suffering or death. Climate change-related impacts are already harming and killing people here and abroad. Unless carbon pollution is rapidly reduced, the resulting natural disasters, floods, diseases, illnesses, water and food shortages, and environmental degradation, along with associated rising violence and social breakdown, will injure or kill millions more every year.
Climate change-induced suffering from food shortages and the dramatic spread of disease and illness will be especially significant. Millions of people worldwide will be affected. Suffering will also result from the job losses and disruptions to families and communities caused by the billions of dollars in direct and indirect annual costs of climate impacts, as well as from the escalating market volatility, supply chain disruptions, and other impacts businesses will experience.
Over the past century, the U.S. has been the world‘s largest overall contributor to climate change, generating about 30 percent of the total energy-related CO2 emissions that are destabilizing the climate. Today, we continue to produce far more emissions on an annual basis than any other nation except China. Even if the costs are high, we must avert one of the worst violations of human rights the world has ever seen by acknowledging our contribution to the climate crisis and significantly reducing our emissions.
The shift to a low carbon economy can create millions of good jobs that support healthy families and communities. This requires a "just transition" that spreads the investments in solutions and the benefits of new approaches equitably, enables whole industries to make the changes needed, provides adequate resources for workers and communities adversely affected by the shift and ensures that all Americans have a democratic voice in their workplaces and their communities in how those decisions are made.
The Moral Responsibility to Honor Principles of Justice and Equity
Those who suffer the most from climate change are not the same people who now benefit greatly from the overuse of fossil fuels and other natural resources. As a matter of justice and equity, we have a moral obligation to reduce our carbon pollution in order to prevent suffering and death among people who have contributed little to climate change but who are, at least initially, most impacted: those living in the Arctic; people in less developed, hotter regions of the world; low-income and working-class communities; communities of color; women as well as children in the U.S.; and future generations everywhere.
In addition, even as we reduce our emissions we must do our part to ensure that vulnerable populations and nations have the financial and technological capacity to prepare for and adapt to the consequences of a warming planet and grow clean energy economies.
The Moral Obligation to Honor and Protect the Processes that Make Life Possible
Because we have a moral obligation to protect human life and prevent suffering and injustice, and because Earth's gifts have intrinsic value, we have a responsibility to protect the ecosystems and organisms that provide the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the materials we use to sustain life and prosperity, and the natural beauty that lifts our spirits.
Whether we believe that the Earth and its great abundance is a product of natural processes or, as millions of people nationwide believe, that the Earth is the gift of the Creator, or both, our obligations are fundamentally the same--we must be good stewards of what we have inherited. Humanity is not in command of creation, but merely part of it. To disrupt the climate that is the cornerstone of all life on Earth and to squander the extraordinary abundance of life, richness, and beauty of the planet is morally wrong.
We Already Have the Know-How and Tools
The people of our great nation have the spirit, knowledge, and tools required to reduce climate change. The greatest obstacle is lack of human will. History is watching us. Our legacy will be determined by what we do now and in the next few years.
We call on everyone in the U.S. to act on their moral principles now by rapidly and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their homes, places of work and government.
We call on every citizen to actively prepare for the consequences of climate change.
Moreover, we urge every citizen to insist that their government adopt policies to foster emission reductions and prepare for climate change, and to provide sufficient resources to build the capacity of the most impacted people worldwide to do the same.
This is not just about avoiding harm. Acting on our moral principles will foster the growth of a sustainable economy that creates millions of good jobs in clean energy fields, supports healthy families, and builds vibrant communities. That, itself, makes this imperative.
The need for action is urgent, the possibilities enormous. Please join us in heeding this call.
“Environmental Stewardship and Justice”
The theme at three U.S. Bahá'í Permanent Schools
Since late July, courses have been held on themes of environmental stewardship and justice at three permanent Bahá'í schools in the U.S. Programs at Green Acre and Bosch Bahá'í schools targeted Junior Youth while the session at Louhelen was geared toward adult participants. The sessions built on programs initiated in 2010.
According to Peter Adriance (an IEF governing board member and NGO liaison for the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly), participants drew inspiration from the Bahá'í Writings (the "Book of Revelation"), direct, close-up immersion in nature (the "Book of Creation") and material on current issues such as climate change, consumption of resources, and poverty. Many went home inspired to take action in their communities.
Three other IEF members -- Ariane Bertand, Lloyd ―Dingo‖ Brown, and Karryn Olson-Ramanujan – also played a prominent role in developing and facilitating the sessions, which were inspired in part by the National Spiritual Assembly's ongoing commitment to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001416/141629e.pdf and the Bahá'í International Community‘s commitment to a seven year plan of action on climate change at https://iefworld.org/bicccap.html.
For a report on the Green Acre session see: ―5-day academy ignites Jr. Youth on environment & justice‖ at http://www.bahai.us/2011/08/09/5-day-academy-ignites-jr-youth-on-enviro…
Positions available at Fudan University, Shanghai, China
The following positions are available immediately (start date is flexible) for Professor/Associate
Professor with three-plus years of focused work on research (hardly any teaching, unless you want it…).
Values (i.e. possibly underlying behaviour change)
Applied Participatory Theory
Education for Sustainable Development
Organisational Change (Management//Transformational Learning)
Indicators for Sustainable Development
Environmental Impact Assessment
Sustainable Urban Design (Environmental Emphasis)
The salary is generous for China (about 130,000; 170,000RMB per year), and subsidised and convenient simple accommodation is provided for those who want it (about 24,000 RMB per year; 2-bed appt). Roughly speaking, an Associate Professor should have 10+ publications, and a full Professor 20+. They will be able (usually) to have a new dedicated postgraduate student each year; each lasts three years (some PhD, some Masters).
Specialist towards Applied Participatory Theory
To formalise and develop the social participation aspects of work in the Dept, i.e. any projects involving the public or non-academic stakeholders.
To teach an interdisciplinary undergraduate and postgraduate course.
- A solid grasp of the theoretical literature and current issues on participatory processes and practices, particularly at the project, community and organizational level.
- Solid field experience of participatory methods and research, such as PRA, co-design, participatory action research, etc. and/or personal experience of participatory initiatives at the community, project or organizational level, such as participatory democracy methods, user participation in services, participatory evaluation and organizational learning methods.
- The ability to extract theoretical insights from field experience and translate it into publishable writing, and vice versa.
Specialist towards "Values"
To work on underlying attitudes of the public and the consequences for behaviour change. (An important new area worldwide; may need more than one staff member)
To teach an interdisciplinary undergraduate and postgraduate course.
- A solid grasp of the theoretical literature and current issues on human values, particularly in the social and behavioural sciences.
- A solid grasp of current approaches and methods, and policy contexts and frameworks, in human values measurement.
- Demonstrable conceptual expertise and practical experience in large scale, statistically rigorous quantitative methodologies including statistical methods, CFA.
- Demonstrable conceptual expertise and practical experience in qualitative methodologies.
- Possibly some specialism in modelling and large-scale quantitative and qualitative methods of social sciences.
Specialist on Education for Sustainable Development
To assist the university to educate staff and students and later schools in Shanghai on the practical details of what SD is and how it can be embedded in every subject in the university and area of school work.
To arrange several courses at general undergraduate level; probably develop new teaching materials for Shanghai universities, schools – hopefully for international distribution) (May need two staff)
- A solid grasp of the theoretical literature and current issues in ESD in a cross-cultural perspective
- A solid grasp of key international policy contexts and frameworks for ESD, and good acquaintance with at least one national policy context and associated frameworks
- Field experience in the practice of ESD: success at delivery to learners
- Good professional networks in the ESD community
- Publications in the field of ESD
Other areas of interest:
Organisational Change (Management/Transformational Learning)
Indicators for Sustainable Development
Environmental Impact Assessment
Sustainable Urban design
My group has recently finished work on the ESDinds EU project (http://www.ESDinds.eu) which successfully investigated and developed a values-based indicator framework for use by CSOs and NGOs, as well as businesses. The framework is named WeValue and has a life and website of its own; the Case Studies online are a good way to understand how it works (http://www.wevalue.org/peopleandprojects/casestudies.php). The work showed that not only can values-based indicators be developed, the process of using our framework causes significant transformational learning and mission focus for the groups involved. Thus, work in SD Indicators has produced significant knock-on knowledge in several fields (values, behaviour change, organisational management, evaluation, environmental education, SD Indicators, societal well being) and we need more researchers to take that work forward.
Please contact Marie Harder, Professor, Fudan University, (Professor, University of Brighton - 25%) at M.K.Harder@brighton.ac.uk
Taoists take up natural role for ecology
By Li Yao (China Daily) Updated 2011-10-26
HENGSHAN, Hunan - "Taoism is the other faith I would embrace if I was not a Christian," said Martin Palmer, whose love of Taoist deity, the temples, the peace, and the sacred mountains dates back years. Palmer, the globetrotting secretary-general of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, began working 16 years ago with the Chinese Taoist Association (CTA), starting with protecting the ecology of sacred mountains.
A successful pilot program on Huashan Mountain in Northwest China's Shaanxi province later convinced the provincial government to give Taoists the authority to manage the mountain, with 10 percent of the ticket revenue at the scenic site to be used for financial support.
Palmer said the Taoists assume their natural role of guardians of ecological balance and do not seek to become masters or controllers of it, only to be part of it.
In 2000, the CTA banned the use of endangered animals such as rhinos and tigers in traditional Chinese medicine.
Another idea that took root was the Three Sticks Movement, which promotes burning only three sticks of incense to reduce pollution caused by burning incense, candles, paper and fireworks on Taoist sites, Palmer said. Many Buddhist temples such as the Lama Temple in Beijing followed the movement.
It sends the simple message that three sticks are enough - one for heaven, one for earth and one for yourself - and contrasts with consumerism and greed in temples where people offer many incense sticks to the gods and expect more sympathetic ears for their prayers, Palmer said.
Victoria Finlay, Palmer's wife and colleague in environmental activism, recalled a monk from South China's Guangdong province saying at a conference in 2008 that he noticed one day birds were returning as a result of their Three Sticks Movement. "The curtain of smoke around temples was removed. And we do want more birds to come back," Finlay said.
China has achieved economic prosperity that few would have imagined 20 years ago, but Palmer raised the question whether the country still has compassion and the understanding about how to keep a balance between human needs and the rest of the universe.
Palmer said Taoist wisdom has much to offer not only on issues about sustainability, but also about how to keep people compassionate as well as competitive.
Forum ClosesA Taoist declaration stressing harmony and sustainable development brought the three-day International Taoist Forum to a close on Tuesday at Hengshan Mountain, Hunan province. Zhang Jiyu, vice-president of the Chinese Taoist Association, read the Nanyue Declaration at the closing ceremony, expressing the vision of a contemporary Taoist community promoting a balanced lifestyle and harmonious co-existence between humans and nature, to help reduce poverty, social inequality and conflicts, and environmental degradation. Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said the forum achieved its aim of discovering Taoism's significance in contemporary society and its vision for future development.
Updated 15 November 2011