Newsletter of the
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
Volume 15, Number 10 --- 15 October 2013
Article submission: email@example.com Deadline next issue 13 November 2013
Secretariat Email: firstname.lastname@example.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
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17th International Environment Forum
Friday 4 October 2013
Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime, Castelldefels, Spain
1. Opening of the General Assembly
The General Assembly was opened by IEF president Arthur Dahl at 18:10 on 4 October 2013, who welcomed the members and visitors present.
2. Introduction of members present
Members present were Arthur Dahl, Susie Howard, Wendi Momen, Farzin Rahmani, Michael Richards, Sarah Richards, Victoria Thoresen and Andreas Vatsellas. Jason Maude stopped by to vote but could not remain because of other duties. Five visitors were also present.
3. Election of officers of the General Assembly
Arthur Dahl agreed to serve as present and Sarah Richards as secretary. Two tellers were designated from among the visitors present.
4. Approval of the agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
5. Presentation, consultation and approval of the annual report
The president presented the Annual Report 2012-2013, and members consulted on a number of parts of the report before approving the report as presented.
6. Election of the Governing Board
The election was held with nine members voting in person and 5 by email. The members elected to the Governing Board for 2013-2014 were: Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Peter Adriance, Victoria Thoresen, Emily Firth, Duncan Hanks, and Wendi Momen.
7. Consultation on activities and priorities for the coming year
Most of the consultation revolved around ways to engage members. Suggestions included to link with mobile networking, although this could involve dealing with a large number of questions; and writing to members to increase connections and to explain what IEF has to offer. Offering internships could help to carry out the work of the Forum. It will be important for the future of IEF that the work of the Forum be distributed more widely. Members were advised of the possible locations of future conferences, such as Apia, Samoa or Oxford, England, in 2014, Paris, France, at UNESCO in partnership with PERL in 2015, and Latin America in combination with the dedication of the House of Worship in Chile in 2016.
8. Other business
There was no other business.
9. Closing of the General Assembly
After the president thanked all those present for their participation, the General Assembly was closed at 19:20.
IEF 17th Annual Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 3-6 October 2013
The 17th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum was a joint event with ebbf, our partner Baha'i-inspired organization for values in business. About 140 participants from 22 countries across the world - from Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, North America, Australia and the Middle East, met at a beautiful hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona on 3-6 October 2013. 14 IEF members from around Europe attended the conference, while regular postings on the Internet allowed other members to follow the conference at a distance.
The theme of the conference was "Co-creating Sustainable Wealth: how can we combine ecology and economy?". The conference explored positive solutions for transforming the economy and building a more sustainable society by empowering individuals, communities and corporations and other institutions. See the programme at http://www.makeitmeaningful.org/#!program.
The conference was recorded through http://ebbf.org/blog/, including blog posts and tweets, a link to the presentation for the keynote of that slot (on ebbf's Slideshare channel), and a link to images of that time-period (on ebbf's Facebook page). The IEF report on the conference follows below.
The need and thirst for new business models that are connected with the evolving needs of society has never been stronger. The question that the conference tried to answer was: How can we jointly create a business model that has a dynamic coherence between ecological and economic priorities, is ethically sound, and which creates wealth that is sustainable? We explored how to shift our lives towards not just sustainable actions but a sustainable attitude in everything we do, and how we can start the transition to a business model that embeds a sustainable attitude at its core.
The conference uncovered some of the underlying principles that can help us co-create this sustainable wealth. It explored some of the innovative initiatives that are arising in local communities which are leading the way in developing new business models when economic or political systems fail. It discussed new services and products that are addressing the balance of ecology and economy and new ways of producing them. It considered innovations in the energy market: how not only new sources of energy but new financial models for sustainable energy are arising. It looked at other ways in which, as we reach the planetary limits of available material resources, we can prepare and develop the often untapped abundance of human resources and innovation. It investigated new lean management processes that are helping individuals and organizations transition more effectively towards sustainable wealth. Through workshops it considered some practical ways to transition to a new business model that produces sustainable wealth and brings hope to society.
As in every IEF and ebbf event there were thought provoking ideas, meaningful conversations, and inspiration to give us the courage and methods to implement new meaningful models of work in our workplaces. IEF members Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl were among the featured speakers.
THURSDAY 3 October 2013
What do we mean by 'sustainable wealth'? What does sustainable wealth look like both at the macroeconomic level and in our own working lives? No one is too sure. The business and world of work people in ebbf know what wealth is. The IEF people know what sustainability is. But sustainable wealth?
What is sustainable wealth?
Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environment Forum and a member of the board of ebbf, former Deputy Assistant Executive Director of UNEP working for 40 years in the field of sustainable development, kicked off the event presenting "What is sustainable wealth?" He showed how to go beyond standard definitions and ask new questions about what we can co-create. Sustainability is a dynamic process that touches everything we do. As we acknowledge the failure of traditional economics and accept that the economy is also a dynamic and evolving complex system threatened by unsustainability, we can integrate new concepts of wealth and new social purposes into our business models and our individual lives.
He made some simple but profound observations. Ecology - the sustainable part of sustainable wealth - is, he said, a dynamic process. The economy - the wealth part of the sustainable wealth - is also a dynamic process. Ecology is a complex planetary system; economics is a complex human system. Ecology is threatened by the economy; the economy is threatened by unsustainability.
Sustainability is a characteristic of dynamic systems that continue to function, perform essential processes, maintain dynamic balance and can change to adapt to changing conditions. Anything can be sustained: any system, organism, business, government, the human species, the biosphere, civilization, the economy. Different systems are sustained over different time frames: 100 years or more for an individual, Homo sapiens 200,000 years, planet Earth another billion years.
He made a distinction between individual and collective wealth and noted that war, revolution and violence are the destruction of wealth. He examined what most people mean by wealth: money, or material wealth. The purpose of life for many people is to become rich. But does wealth equal happiness? What is happiness?
Some people, he said, see material wealth as morally suspect, and there are, he admitted, religious texts that say that wealth can be a barrier between the individual and God, or can prevent a person from attaining his or her highest self. But, he went on, there are different sorts of wealth. For example, if you consider wealth as capital, then it is a means to invest and is an essential economic component along with labour. It empowers development and provides savings for the future.
And what is the purpose of the economy if not to generate material wealth? Dahl answered by quoting a statement of the Baha'i International Community:
The ultimate function of economic systems should be to equip the peoples and institutions of the world with the means to achieve the real purpose of development: that is, the cultivation of the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness.
He talked about poverty - the absence of wealth, where people are unable to meet basic needs, feed or educate their children, or are homeless - and how the extremes of wealth and poverty destabilize society at all levels. He gave some examples of unsustainable wealth: fossil fuels; derivatives in financial markets; debt, growth and interest; the biggest multinationals who are beyond regulation.
Dahl drew on Eric Beinhocker's The Origin of Wealth to describe the elements of a successful business, one that has the right social architecture and culture, values and trust. Perhaps most fascinating was Dahl's description of different kinds of wealth. Knowledge, he said, is the true wealth. He examined social wealth: for the individual this might be the family, the community, social relationships, dignity, belonging to a group. For the collective it would include institutions of governance, laws, a system of justice. For the economy this would be businesses, structures of the economic system, banks and a financial system.
Intellectual wealth includes knowledge and the main knowledge systems of science and religion, arts, crafts and technologies. Interestingly, intellectual wealth increases the more it is shared. The accumulation of knowledge is the real wealth of a civilization.
He went on to consider spiritual wealth: 'You can't take it with you' as the saying about wealth goes, but maybe real wealth for the individual is what you can take with you: love, spiritual qualities, service to others.
Dahl ended his keynote with this thought set out by the Baha'i International Community:
...the pathway to sustainability will be one of empowerment, collaboration and continual processes of questioning, learning and action in all regions of the world.... As the sweeping tides of consumerism, unfettered consumption, extreme poverty and marginalization recede, they will reveal the human capacities for justice, reciprocity and happiness.
Download his presentation as pdf (166kb).
FRIDAY 4 October 2013
What are the underlying principles that can help us co-create sustainable wealth?
Victoria Thoresen, IEF board member, director of PERL (The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living), Associate Professor of Education at Hedmark University College, Norway, and a leading international expert on education for sustainable development, gave the first keynote of the second day of the ebbf/IEF conference, asking, "How can work on sustainable consumption and production empower individuals, organizations (including businesses) and institutions to co-create sustainable wealth in responsible ways?"
Thoresen reviewed the history of wealth, which she defined as an abundance of valuable resources: property, produce and people. She noted the changes in our economic system over time. For example, she said, when her mother passed away recently, she found a large number of family papers revealing that her American grandmother grew up in a home that kept slaves. She was shocked! She reflected that while slavery is today considered outside the economic system, slaves were an integral part of the economic system of the American south. How else to plant and pick the cotton, till the soil, keep the masters in luxury? They were an accepted part of the economic system and no one could think how to manage without them - it was the way the economic system worked at the time. But it was unsustainable, so it was challenged and a new economic system, without slaves, was developed and accepted.
We are in a similar situation today. The present economic system is also based on unsustainable assumptions and characteristics. So it too is being challenged and is changing. For example, today everything is about competition - the idea that 'I can beat you'. The whole society is based on this. But, Thoresen said, while we continue to measure the 'real' world in terms of monetary wealth, there is a revived interest in redefining 'wealth' in terms other than purely material/monetary ones. Our daily choices of the products we buy, she said, influence the physical and social environment, but these choices are now unsustainable. So, she asked, is this a shift in understanding and action that we must begin or is it already happening?
There are some controversial ideas about the how a new economic model might look. For instance, Tim Jackson has suggested that we need prosperity without growth, that we have to redefine prosperity and develop ways in which people can flourish with justice (Prosperity Without Growth, 2009).
Thoresen outlined the ways the economic system is changing from different perspectives: the human perspective, the technical perspective and systems perspective. But, significantly a values-based/spiritual perspective is also emerging.
The human perspective envelopes the concept that people are the real wealth of nations. Thoresen cited the Human Development Index, which provides indicators of social empowerment, security and economic growth and focuses on both human and social capital. Another example is the Millennium Development Goals, which are to realised by 2015 and the post MDGs, which are still under discussion. But the MDGs are still stuck in the old model of the economy. The development world itself does not know how to reach its goals - they think business will save them - but it will not be business as usual, but a new kind of business based on a different set of values.
The technical perspective takes in natural assets such as the land, forests, minerals; human assets, including education and skills; and physical (manufactured) assets. Thoresen pointed out the sustainability assessment indicators, such as living conditions, social inclusion, ecological footprints, and CO2 impact; as well as resource efficiency, including water, soil, air, forests, biodiversity and so on.
Thoresen asked participants whether any of them used international standards in their businesses and a number of hands went up. She highlighted particularly International Standard ISO26000 on Social Responsibility (which she helped to design), which covers issues of particular interest to ebbf members: organizational ethics, ethical consumerism, stakeholder involvement, accountability and transparency.
The systems perspective of wealth is well-being in relation to systems. She referred to The World Happiness Report and Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index, which measures the population's general level of well-being. Western audiences did not recognize many of the indicators in the GNH Index, as they refer to spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation and fasting which are not well understood or practised in the West. Thus western analysts adapted the index to bring in 'psychological' indicators, rather than spiritual ones. Yet it is the values-based/spiritual perspective that is now emerging as an important way of understanding how the economy will change. This perspective embraces social justice, including wealth distribution, equity, collective trusteeship, generosity. It is about imbuing material actions with a sense of spiritual purpose. True wealth, Thoresen said, is the acquisition of spiritual qualities.
She listed the basic principles for the co-creation of sustainable wealth, providing a value base for co-creation of sustainable wealth:
- Connectivity and cohesion: empathy as a source of global cohesion, collective identification, a quest for universal belonging, a composite of concern, compassion and commitment
- Transference and transmutation
- Adaptation: collective social learning based on consultation, where you are open to new ideas
- Finiteness: moderation and sharing as means of managing resources
Thoresen told the story of her father, who worked in a factory making chicken pot pies. His sole task, day after day, was to put the chicken into the pies. He was totally bored with his job. Then one day he was allowed to do other tasks and his enthusiasm for the job increased. It is now well documented that to increase the welfare, productivity and happiness of workers, their tasks need to be diversified.
Accumulating true wealth involves:
- Stimulating a transformation of both our inner life and external conditions.
- Becoming more fully human and achieving a dynamic coherence between material and non-material requirements of life.
- Cooperating: Developing trust and compassion and inspiring the capacity for service
- Learning flexibility: Recognizing that our understanding changes and grows; what we once thought was right may not always be so.
- Fostering a vibrant community life in neighbourhoods and villages, characterized by such a keen sense of purpose.
Thoresen's talk stimulated a lot of discussion around the question of values, making changes in a business environment and what true wealth actually is. You can view the slides from her talk here.
What new services, products and business models are successfully balancing ecological and economical priorities?
Arash Aazami, Founder/CEO of BAS Energie, gave an interactive presentation titled "Rethinking Energy" that opened our minds to new business models in response to the climate and energy crisis. BAS, an energy company of the future whose focus is on energy services rather than energy supply, shows how companies should be designed to last, based on business models that serve both economy and ecology. He led us through the - sometimes radical - decisions he had to make before his company became a serious alternative to energy supply companies.
Parallel learnshops during Friday
1. How can work on sustainable consumption and production empower individuals, organizations (including businesses) and institutions to co-create sustainable wealth in responsible ways?
Victoria Thoresen examined the values the international community has committed itself to and looked at new approaches to product development and consumer choice-making within the realms of food, fashion, transport, housing, entertainment and personal growth. Participants reflected on how sustainable, responsible consumption and production can be conducive to increased wealth rather than merely being a negative process of reduction and denial. They reviewed evidence that, with the help of flexibility, creativity and determination, the work on sustainable production and consumption can contribute to increased well-being and personal, as well as communal, development.
2. Finding the soul, unlocking capacities for positive contributions. A strong organization is a community of like-minded people who love to work together based on the same principles. Based on these shared principles they take actions and they communicate. Sjoerd Luteyn led this workshop giving an introduction into how to find and define these principles in each participant's organization, identifying specifically those principles everyone shares, and starting to use these consistently in a dynamic world. Justice is the driving force for all actions and truth the driving force for all communication. What follows this is trust - the organization becomes a living, trustworthy community that contributes to a just, prosperous and sustainable civilization.
3. Helping you create your 'dream enterprise'. Jahan Tavangar and Monique Blokzyl shared their experience and offered key steps and processes to set up a dream enterprise, the kind of company that will make a positive impact in society.
4. Courage to Face the Unknown: Using Music to Find New Harmonies in Teams. Dorothy Marcic drew on her combined skills as a business school professor and producer of musicals to show the participants in this learnshop how to live in a world of increasing complexity with more enigmatic problems surfacing with greater frequency. As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." Today's world needs new types of thinking, the opportunity to work with both LEFT and RIGHT brains. In order to unlock unused parts of the brain, she engaged participants in the collaborative creation of a musical, based on the idea of "shared incompetence," which has many applications in today's unpredictable business world. Each group wrote a 10-minute musical about some management/organizational issue which they performed Saturday night. This gave them a new appreciation for using aesthetics in decision-making and how music and the arts can bring new perspectives to old problems.
5. Now it's your turn to start with designing your own sustainable business. Arash Aazami, Founder/CEO of BAS, musician and lecturer provided examples, tools and ideas that show how to create sustainable wealth for you and those around you, serving both economy and ecology.
6. What are the Principles for a sustainable attitude? In this learnshop, Arthur Dahl discussed a number of principles about material wealth and about sustainability that provide the foundations for a sustainable attitude as it is expressed in our individual lives and in our professional activities, enterprises and institutions. Rethinking the concept and place of wealth in a sustainable economy is part of this. It considered the relevance of values such as justice, moderation, reciprocity and balance and their expression in our work and economic activities, and as guides to living and working in socially just and environmentally responsible ways. The texts studied can be downloaded as a presentation (pdf 99kb) or doc (27 kb).
7. Driving to Results - tools for building unity and collaboration around change. Elizabeth Sobhani Walker of Lotus Consulting led an interactive workshop sharing a framework for addressing change in a way that builds greater alignment, unity and results. Using a client example she illustrated the collaboration between a leading real-estate company, an education-based nonprofit and the various levels of Chinese government to infuse the local education system with a new way of teaching focusing on character development. Participants had the opportunity to apply this change management framework to their own challenges, and to define some of the key steps to create greater unity and manage the change process.
8. Taking ebbf meaningful conversations to your community: how to use ebbf's action labs. Stephanie Hughes Akkaoui introduced the ebbf action lab process, an effective way to start meaningful conversations in local communities, leading to a cycle of action and reflection. Participants learned how to create their own local learning communities, stepping into action and contributing to a prosperous, just and sustainable civilization, one conversation, one action, one community at a time. More information about ebbf action labs is on the dedicated ebbf webpage: http://ebbf.org/contribute/action-lab.
SATURDAY 5 October 2013
How can we start the transition to a new business model that embeds a 'sustainable attitude' at its core?
Farzam Kamalabadi - President & Chairman of the Board, Future Trends Group, offered a view on how China is approaching a 'sustainable attitude' an intriguing view of one of the most challenging world environments where the push for growth and the desire to balance sustainability are most strident. He asserted that China will become a major contributor to the advancing world civilization.
He became involved with China more than 30 years ago and has been living there since 1987. He has a profound love for and understanding of the people and the culture and has become one of the premier calligraphers in the country. His Green Soul movement, inspired by the idea that 'the earth has no problem, the problem is people and people have no problem, they need to rediscover their soul', has attracted thousands of people across the country.
Farzam Kamalabadi outlined the history and political structure of China and looked particularly at its spiritual history, which is at least 20,000 years old. There is now a revived interest in this spiritual soul of China among people who for so many years have not had an opportunity to learn about it and express it. For example, in 1983, there were 70-90 million Buddhists in China but now there are 200-300 million; there were 30 million Christians but now there are some 100-200 million; while in 1983 there were about 30 million Muslims and now there are 50 million plus.
China is moving, Kalamabadi said, from being an introverted country to an extroverted one for the first time in 35 years; it is moving from being from the imitator and follower of concepts, ideas and inventions to being a contributor and a leader.
It now has the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the emerging world civilization. The question is whether its path will be a militant one, which grabs resources, or one where it is a leader of ideas and peace, contributing its unique characteristics to that world civilization.
Kalamabadi firmly believes that China is on the cusp of what he says is the world's third most significant revolution. The first, he said, was the European renaissance, the second the discovery and development of the Americas. This third, he asserted, will be more far-reaching, more important than either of these two - it will be a peaceful, spiritual revolution.
He looked at how this is coming about, outlining the future trends based on what has already taken place. Most significantly has been the change from a state ideology of the universal class struggle to a new ideology of the harmonious society, a process that took place from about 1990 to 2005. Chinese leaders support the concept of 'China's peaceful rise', based on the reinstatement and adoption of China's ancient spiritual heritage. The historical name of China is 'the continent of God', that is, 'the Divine Land'. This was its name 8000 years ago. Kalamabadi realized that China has always been inspired by higher, more noble values than the materialistic direction of its recent past and this concept has been embraced quickly.
One example of this renewal of China's new direction as a country of peace and profound spirituality has been its decision to give every country a 'Statue of Peace'. Just as France gave the United States a Statue of Liberty to represent one of its most important values, China's Statues of Peace are a symbol of its own value of world peace and harmony. The most recent statue was unveiled in Haifa, Israel, at a municipal ceremony, that exemplified China's new mission - to serve the world of humanity.
What Innovative Collaborative Initiatives are co-creating sustainable wealth?
Roxann Stafford of Second Muse, after their recent visit to the White House to finalise their Global Day of Civic Hacking allowing the US Government, Google, NASA and civil society to co-create new solutions presented their view on the new era of collaboration and how it will help to co-create sustainable wealth.
Parallel learnshops during Saturday
1. Green Soul Movement, China's Positive Influence and Impact to the World. Farzam Kamalabadi shared insights on the path towards a balance of sustainability and profit from the new enterprises that are unfolding in China and what we can learn from China's own "green soul movement"?
2. From leadership to inspired individuals - what is new in the way we create change and develop sustainable wealth? Mika Korhonen explained that leadership is not a position or a role, it is a synonym for action. The notion of leadership will not exist in the future and it is time to start thinking beyond that definition, placing ourselves instead in this new role of inspired individuals. The learnshop explored why and how creating change in society/culture/work place is different now from a decade a go, and the role of individuals in driving the change and showing what are we "expected" to do.
3. ebbf accompaniment - helping and learning by co-creating an ebbf project that will serve the global ebbf audience. Daniel Truran led this group in becoming protagonists to co-create an ebbf online interactive course to bring together the learning, insights and experiences of the diverse and innovative ebbf membership.
4. How can we learn from and apply Second Muse's ability to co-create prosperity by applying the art and science of collaboration to solve complex problems? Roxann Stafford and Ruha Reyhani of SecondMuse, an innovation and collaboration agency, showed how they co-create prosperity by applying the art and science of collaboration to solve complex problems. Using the example of the lost generation in Spain, the learnshop demonstrated how to learn from this evolutionary process which is not only attracting some of the global key players but most importantly helping them to effectively collaborate and co-create solutions that help bring about prosperity.
5. ebbf accompaniment - how can we create effective partnerships with like-minded organisations? Mahmud Samandari shared his experience to show participants how to connect and partner with other like-minded organisations, by fostering ties and sharing experiences that bring about mutually beneficial collaboration.
6. Structuring companies for Responsibility: from Shareholder to Citizen. In answer to the question "What is a Company for?", IEF member Graham Boyd explored the answer, using the recent re-structuring of his own company, LTSGlobal, as a starting point. The group discussed how the assumptions typically used in defining company structures and processes are today hindering getting truly sustainable businesses, where the company does what it is there for. He explained that the structures we use today were right the past, led to good, sustainable business practices in the past, and still have some validity in today's world. However, the world is a very different place today, with global challenges never seen before. Enabling us to address these is a global sense of humanity never seen before; global businesses at a scale never seen before; and a range of human capacity never seen before. The learnshop discussed how to update what a company is for, doing for companies what was done for countries a century or more ago. Examples were: decoupling the right to own from the right to engage in governance; changing from structures centred on Shareholders to structures based on Citizens. This would restore what a company is for: to be an excellent tool to organise large numbers of people to deliver what society needs to thrive; and for the employees to thrive better together than they can individually.
How can we empower individuals to co-create new sustainable models in their workplaces?
Dorothy Marcic, after celebrating the 3rd anniversary of her off-Broadway musical "Sista", this best selling author of new management models offered us a meaningful evening musical co-creation by the particpipants in her workshops.
SUNDAY 6 October
What do I now feel inspired and comfortable to achieve in my workplace to co-create sustainable wealth, with the new concepts and connections made during the event?
Elizabeth Walker Sobhani, director at Lotus Consulting came from China to speak on "From Concept to Reality - Creating Shared Value". She explained the Creating Shared Value model, the implementation challenges and lessons learned for developing shared value opportunities. She defined shared value as the combination of wealth creation and the well-being and prosperity of society. Her talk explored the spectrum of activities from corporate philanthropy to the latest innovations around creating shared value as a means of generating business and social impact. These include:
1. re-conceiving products and services, for new markets or with lower costs;
2. redefining the value chain, including the sustainable use of natural resources;
3. strengthening local clusters, including local suppliers, infrastructure and employees.
Business definition has to start at the top, with a vision and mission including a social mission. The business culture needs to include values such as empathy, service, creativity, trust and humility. She provided practical lessons learned while mobilizing these concepts: it takes time, you need a clear social purpose, there should be change champions and a learning culture, measure progress and communicate the social impact and the profit. Benefits come with scale. She encouraged partnerships between civil society organizations and businesses. She concluded with the role we can play in creating shared value in our own businesses.
The IEF Annual General Assembly was held on Friday 4 October at 18:00 at the Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime in Barcelona, where it elected the Governing Board, consulted on progress as described in the IEF Annual Report 2012-2013 and made recommendations for future activities. See the Report of the General Assembly.
PERL MEDIA COMPETITION LAUNCHED
PERL is proud to announce that the PERL media competition for 2013 is launched as of today! It's time! Be informed and take action. Moving towards more responsible lifestyles.
Students and filmmakers worldwide are invited to create videos, photos and magazine/press articles. Please participate with your students and feel free to share this information with your colleagues and anyone else who might be interested.
Follow the link below to download information on how to participate:
Sacha de Raaf, M.Sc. Psychology, Executive Secretary
PERL (The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living)
Hedmark University College, LUNA, Hamar, Norway, Tel: +4762517728, http://www.perlprojects.org
Papers on values and environmental governance by Lance Robinson
Robinson, Lance W., and Kwame Ampadu Sasu. 2013. The Role of Values in a Community-Based Conservation Initiative in Northern Ghana. Environmental Values, v. 22: 647-664. http://www.roboroz.ca/articles/RobinsonAndSasu2013.pdf
In this paper we demonstrate the importance of non-economic values to community-based conservation by presenting findings from research into Kunlog Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) in northern Ghana. One of the central motivations for creating the CREMA was to reinforce a traditional taboo on bushbuck, and while some respondents mentioned the possibility of eventually attracting tourists, the primary desire behind the CREMA is to protect bushbuck and other wildlife for future generations. Several respondents emphasised wanting children and grandchildren to be able to grow up seeing the wildlife. Material benefits should not be the sole focus of those involved in promoting and legislating frameworks for community-based conservation – frameworks such as Ghana’s CREMA policy. Government frameworks for the creation, registration and regulation of conservation initiatives should be flexible and able to accommodate diverse community-based conservation initiatives driven from a variety of mixes of motivations, including motivations deriving from non-material values.
Robinson, Lance W., Nathan Bennett, Leslie A. King, and Grant Murray. 2012. “We Want Our Children to Grow Up to See These Animals”: Values and Protected Areas Governance in Canada, Ghana and Tanzania. Human Ecology, v. 40: 571-581 http://www.roboroz.ca/articles/RobinsonEtal2012-ValuesAndPAGovernance.p…
Environmental governance research has paid insufficient attention to scholarship on values even though environmental values is a well-studied field. This paper begins to unpack the relationship between values and governance with a particular focus on protected areas governance and in light of ideas such as the distinction between held values and assigned values. We report on research from four case studies in Canada, Ghana and Tanzania, each of which investigated the values, interests and objectives of people in a rural community and ways in which these are reflected, or not, in governance arrangements for an adjacent protected area. Despite very diverse contexts, two held values that were encountered in each of the four case studies could be described as responsibility toward future generations and respect for and appreciation of nature. The existence of what may be universal values does not negate the importance of culture and place: similar held values are translated, through the particular circumstances of different individuals, communities and cultures, into a diversity of assigned values, interests and positions. The attention that governance processes have given to local people’s fundamental held values in three of the cases, and the ignoring of such values in the fourth, have had important implications for the relationship between community members and the adjacent protected area. We argue that systems for governance would do well to explicitly engage with values by supporting local articulation of values and by facilitating dialogue and deliberation amongst diverse stakeholders around their values.
World Bank, IMF Leaders Make Economic Case for Climate Action
9 October 2013
In their first joint public appearance to discuss climate change, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Tuesday their institutions will offer the financial support and technical knowledge needed to put emerging economies on a green growth path.
“Don’t assume that tackling climate costs will make all your costs go up and that there are no good options,” Kim said at a panel discussion that marked the opening of the World Bank Group’s week of Annual Meetings in Washington. “The innovations that are happening in other parts of the world are not always apparent to ministers of finance. We would be very happy to play the role of bringing those options to the table and letting them see that they can create a better world for their grandchildren, but that it makes economic sense as well.”
IMF: Fuel subsidies and “right pricing” go a long way
Lagarde pointed to a just-released study by the IMF showing that national subsidies for gasoline and other fossil fuel subsidies now top $485 billion annually. By removing such subsidies, financially pressed countries would generate a significant new revenue stream needed for services such as health and education, while at the same time addressing climate change, the report found.
The IMF can also help country finance ministers get the pricing right as they look to carbon taxes and other fiscal instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Lagarde said.
Thinking locally was an idea that resonated with panelists from India, Philippines, Peru and Zambia—all of whom stressed that no one size fits all when it comes to tackling climate change. Countries need to tailor climate solutions to their own circumstances and some are already doing so, spurred on by increasingly violent weather episodes that threaten lives and prospects for economic growth.
International Conference in Bangkok Examines Ways to Calculate the
Value of Nature for National Accounting Purposes
The value of natural capital such as forests is not captured in GDP
Bangkok, October 10 - Statisticians, economists, ecologists and policy makers across Asia met in Bangkok to look at ways to calculate the value of natural resources that could reshape the way country success is measured.
The conference included technical discussions on "green accounting" systems and how to put value on "natural capital" - the earth's lands, waters and their biodiversity.
During the meeting, experts at the event discussed steps to establish comprehensive wealth accounting methodologies that go beyond current Systems of National Accounts that have been used since 1950. These systems, which produce numbers such as Gross Domestic Product, rarely value assets such as clean air, water or fertile soil, and often lead to decisions that promote their degradation. "Green accounting" approaches, on the other hand, could help prevent further depletion of the planet's natural resources. "Traditional measures of productivity such as GDP have not served us well," said Gordon Johnson, Team Leader for the Environment team of the United Nations Development Programme in Asia and the Pacific. "It is time to ask the question, 'what is nature worth?' It is no longer enough to merely ask, 'how much money are we making?"
Nature's services have value. For example, plants counteract climate change by capturing carbon dioxide, forests reduce the risks of floods and mangroves protect coasts from erosion.
While Asian countries have enormous range of biodiversity and natural wealth, the real value of their 'natural capital' is not taken into consideration by traditional government accounting systems.
Some countries further afield are pioneering natural capital accounting systems such as Systems of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA). In Asia Pacific, drought-prone Australia has established natural capital accounts for water, energy, minerals, land, and environmental protection expenditure, and both Mexico and the United Kingdom have also adopted of natural capital accounting.
"The now internationally agreed SEEA Central framework and proposed Experimental Ecosystem Accounts have the potential to bring countries back on track to a more sustainable trajectory for development," said Priya Shyamsundar, Executive Director for the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics.
"Contemporary economic models give a misleading picture of the foundations of economic systems. They therefore point in the wrong direction to glimpse the economic possibilities of the future," said Sir Partha Dasgupta, Emeritus Professor at Cambridge University who has devoted his life to measuring the real wealth of nations. "Our world is heading toward a population of nine billion, with everyone aspiring to the lifestyle of a resident of a high-middle-income country. But environmental requirements of that scenario on a sustainable basis would require more than two Earths," he added.
Sir Dasgupta gave the keynote speech at the conference, with other notable attendees including Dr. Khamlien Pholsena, Vice-Minister of Lao PDR's Ministry of Investment and Planning.
Eighty delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, including academics and senior officials from statistics offices as well as planning and environment ministries attended the meeting.
The workshop is an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) in collaboration with the Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) of the United Nations Environment and Development Programmes (UNDP-UNEP), the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Core Environment Programme, the Economy and Environment Program for South East Asia (EEPSEA), the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE), the United Nations Statistics Department (UNSD) and World Bank.
Confucianism - powerful new force for a greener China
October 8, 2013: On Monday September 9th the International Confucian Ecological Alliance (ICEA) was launched in the historic city of Deng Feng in Henan Province, central China.
The launch took place in an ancient classroom within the Song Yang Academy, the oldest and most respected of Confucianism’s teaching centres at the foot of Mt Song, one of the most sacred mountains in China.
Following the ceremony the core members of the ICEA went on to lay plans for the group to move forward, beginning with an eight-year plan of environmental development within China.
The ICEA is drawing up an ambitious and far-reaching plan of environmental action for the next eight years
which will include:
• Working through their temples and academies to educate people on the Confucian approach to environmental issues
• Working with the Chinese Government’s Culture and Propaganda Ministry to deliver 100 lectures on the subject
• Creating a Confucian Ecological Village as a model of good environmental practice
• Working in the Hia Dian district of Beijing – an area that has a population of 3 million people and houses the famous Summer Palace – to develop it as a Confucian Ecological Town
• Bring together the protection of historic sites with modern green approaches by adapting the ARCproduced Green Pilgrimage Handbook to become a Green Cultural Ecology Handbook. This will then be made available to the over 2000 towns in China that are over 2000 years old.
• Carry out an environmental audit of 500 Confucian temples, some 200 of which are already thought to be significant environmental sites as habitats for indigenous plants and animals
• Develop, by 2015, a worldwide network of 500 Confucian centres that will serve as models of a simpler way of life, treading more gently on the Earth
• Targeting the annual Confucian festival of Qing Ming, when 300 million people are thought to travel to pay respect to their ancestors, to tackle the resulting waste, littering and the environmental impact of burnt offerings
• Similarly addressing the environmental impact for Deng Feng, a major Confucian destination that receives 8 million visitors a year.
• At the end of September 2014 a major environmental conference will be held in the People’s Hall in Beijing to mark the 2565th anniversary of the birth of Confucius.
This resurgence of activity marks the return of Confucianism as a major spiritual, moral and social force in China and beyond, a revival that is one of the most extraordinary aspects of China’s recent history. Confucianism was almost completely eradicated in the Cultural Revolution and it has until recently been seen with deep suspicion by reformers. The need for a moral basis in contemporary Chinese society has, however, led to its re-emergence.
In his opening speech to the conference Professor Tu Weiming (ICEA President and Professor at Peking and Harvard Universities) referred to Confucianism’s role as a social force, describing it as ‘spiritual humanism’. He also said that tackling China’s growing ecological problems is an absolute necessity if Confucianism is to be of any lasting significance.
Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) welcomed the development of ARC’s partnership with the ICEA: “We’ve worked for many years with the Chinese Daoists who represent the folk traditions and rural perspective in Chinese society. It is exciting now to work with Confucianism as well – a philosophy that is right at the heart of Chinese society, especially in the urban and political worlds.
“This conference, and the launch of ICEA, perhaps marks the single most powerful force helping to reform the social and political structures of modern China and the ambitious programme being developed by the ICEA is a sign of their confidence, heritage and vision.”
ICEA is a new consortium of major Confucian organisations within the People’s Republic of China formed to take Confucian environmental action forward within the country.
Estimates of the numbers of Confucianists worldwide vary from six million (people who follow Confucianism to the exclusion of other beliefs) to 350 million (people following Chinese traditional religion, a combination of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and local traditions)
ARC is a worldwide NGO based in the UK, founded by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, that supports the engagement of religions in engaging with the care of the environment in accordance with their teachings and traditions. It was set up in 1996 and currently has major programmes running in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
New book brings inspiring stories of faith eco action from Africa
October 10, 2013: ‘As women we were helpless before this project’. Ugandan farmer Margret Setumba is thrilled. The money she earns by selling the fruit and vegetables she has grown helps to pay her children’s school fees – and those of her orphaned grandchildren. But the initiative, run by the inspirational Muslim environmental champion Hajjat Sebyala has even deeper consequences: it empowers women.
Another member of her flourishing movement, Madina Tebasoka, who is also educating her children thanks to her new income earned from small-scale farming, speaks for many when she says: ‘As women we were helpless before this project.’
The 32 women members of the initiative are now able to generate income though activities including running tree nurseries, raising chicks and selling eggs, fruit and vegetables. Earning much-needed cash leads to independence and empowerment and that – hand-in-hand with preserving the environment – is what the dynamic Muslim eco champion Hajjat sees as her mission in life.
‘Our people are not sensitised to environmental issues,’ she says. ‘They have cut down all the trees in Gomba and our hills are bare…. They are not aware of the use of trees in preserving the environment. Now all our people are asking for seedlings… in the next few years we should see a better and greener Gomba.’
Inspiring New Book
This is just one of the stories that feature in a new book, Many Heavens One Earth in Action: Stories of African Faith Commitments. It was written and produced by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) to highlight some of the inspiring initiatives carried out by Christian, Muslim and Hindu groups in sub- Saharan Africa to protect the living planet. It is the first time stories of African faith action on the environment have been gathered together in this way.
These initiatives have arisen from the long-term action plans on the environment launched by 27 faith groups at a Celebration organised by ARC in Nairobi, Kenya, in September last year.
Speaking at the Celebration, Dr Ali Mohamed, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kenya, described the launch of the long-term plans as: ‘A new awakening that will help shape beliefs, behaviour and actions for a greener and better Africa.’ And UNEP Director and Regional Representative for Africa, Mounkaila Goumandakoye hailed it as ‘potentially transformative’.
The book also highlights many other remarkable stories of commitment and dedication from energetic adults, enthused children and inspiring religious leaders.
The faiths have pledged to plant 43 million trees in the next seven years (and thousands of people are farming sustainably using the principles of Farming God’s Way. Farming God’s Way is also the inspiration for a new initiative, Farming in Allah’s Way, which is currently being developed by ARC in response to requests from Muslim faith partners. Like Farming God’s Way, this is a faith-based approach to conservation farming – a form of climate smart agriculture that both restores degraded land and increases crop yield - and gives farmers hope for the future. It aims to transform agriculture for Muslim and Christian farmers, with an increase in crop yield by 3, 5 or even 10 times.
‘Farming will be transformed’
As Augustine Muema Musyimi of the Methodist Church in Kenya says: ‘I think this will mean that farming will be transformed across Kenya, that many people will learn to farm in a way that glorifies the Lord and our produce will increase and, more than that, that we will conserve our land and it will be richer rather than more spent.’
Many Heavens, One Earth in Action’s stories of women-led tree nurseries, dry-season gardening, the planting of new community woodlots, making charcoal briquettes from agricultural waste, building biogas digesters in Ethiopian monasteries and convents, and school projects involving gardening, bee-keeping and water conservation all make thought-provoking reading.
In the book, eco-schools champion Tom Barasa Wafula says: ‘If you have a good idea, don’t wait for funding. Do what you believe and then you’ll attract funding because you have a good project to show…so, begin small, finish big.
A little faith moves mountains
The water and hygiene projects being carried out in faith-based schools are achieving more than putting food on plates – they are saving lives.
Teacher Newton Mwatoa, of Star Of The Sea Girls’ School in Mombasa, Kenya, says: ‘Before, we had very few water points and the girls would push one another and fall down, but now we have more, where they girls can go in a queue and wash their hands very well. It has really reduced the problems of accidents and it has also reduced problems of diarrhoea.’
The headmaster of Irianini Primary School in Meru, Kenya agrees. He says: ‘Due to hygiene, the health of the students as improved tremendously. We have reduced the rate of sickness by 90 per cent.’
Hindu project wins awards
Another project is an award winner. The Hindu Religious and Service Centre started its first treeplanting project in conjunction with the Hindu Council of Kenya in 2005. The project’s target was to increase Kenya’s forest cover from three per cent to 10 per cent. The survival rate of most tree projects is 20-25 per cent, so the project aimed for 80 per cent. Dr Minesh Shah of the Hindu Council says: ‘To date we have planted 61,200 trees with a survival rate of close to 90 per cent.’
In recognition of the magnificent effort, the joint organisation received a Total Eco-Challenge Award in 2007 and again in 2012. After receiving the 2012 award, Dr Shah said: ‘We were probably the only faith-based organisation to win this award and it was humbling to stand along with the big corporates who are planting up to one million trees a year. I am happy to say that the Hindu-Christian partnership in tree-planting in all our projects is doing so well.’
The book also has details of a unique toolkit drawn up for use in primary schools. The Faith-based Education for Sustainable Development Teacher’s Toolkit outlines the faith teachings of Christianity, Hinduism and Islam in caring for the environment alongside teaching young people life-changing practical skills such as rainwater harvesting or setting up small businesses such as bee keeping.
Background to the book
The book arose from a project funded by the World Bank through its TerrAfrica partnership, with additional funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, to engage the faiths in sustainable land and water management. The result was the development of long-term plans by 27 Christian, Muslim and Hindu groups.
Between them, the 27 faith groups reach out to around 184 million people in 11 countries in sub- Saharan Africa. Their long-term plans are the result of extensive consultation with their members over the last two years, from their grassroots to their most senior hierarchy, as well as a re-examination of what the holy books in each tradition say about the need to protect the environment as a religious responsibility.
The long-term plans establish caring for creation as an integral part of the lives of faithful people and have resulted in many new and innovative projects. The book captures some of the new projects, and the good practice they demonstrate, with the hope that it can inspire others.
ARC Deputy Secretary General and Africa Programme Manager Alison Hilliard says: ‘These inspiring stories are testament to the vision and dedication of our faith partners. Millions of people are working hard to improve preserve the environment. At the same time, they are improving their health and the lives of their families and friends.
‘This is an exciting time for our partners in sub- Saharan Africa and we are building strong partnerships with established groups, NGOs and governments. Soon there will be many more exciting stories of faith in action.’
Updated 20 October 2013