INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
16 August 1999 - 13 December 2000
This annual report was presented at the 4th IEF General Assembly in Orlando, Florida, USA on 13 December 2000.
THIRD ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The 3rd annual conference of the IEF was organised jointly with the Bahá'í Agency for Social and Economic Development (BASED-UK). The title was "Practical Applications of Spiritual Principles: A Conference on Social and Economic Development and the Environment". This Bahá'í Development and Environment Summit, in the beautiful rural setting of Sidcot, England, brought together 44 participants from 13 countries on 5 continents, as well as Internet connection with an additional 70 "electronic" conference participants in 29 countries, for a total of 114 participants from 38 countries, including 8 in Africa and as far away as Nepal, China and Niue Island. The conference received a number of inputs from electronic participants. The papers and report from the conference are available on the IEF web site.
The Third General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held on the 17th of August with 13 voting members present and another 29 that could take part via email. 17 votes were cast for the new board. The governing board elected for 1999/2000 (with the officers elected by the board at its first meeting) consisted of: Peter Adriance (USA); Irma Allen (Swaziland); Maxwell Ayamba (United Kingdom); Arthur Dahl (Switzerland - President); Sylvia Karlsson (Sweden - General Secretary).
Meetings: Since the board members reside in countries far apart, all board meetings have been conducted electronically via e-mail. The board has had the following formal meetings: 7-17 October 1999, 13 Dec 1999-14 January 2000, 22 April-8 May, 2 June-2 July, 13 August-3 September, 19 November-3 December. Meeting participation: Peter Adriance (6 of 6); Irma Allen (6 of 6); Maxwell Ayamba (6 of 6); Arthur Dahl (6 of 6); Sylvia Karlsson (6 of 6).
Most of the Board's work has concentrated on the development of the statutes, the five year plan and the planning of the 4th annual conference. The board has kept the Office of Social and Economic Development in Haifa, and the Baha'i International Community's Office of the Environment in New York, regularly informed of its plans and activities through copies of the minutes of all board meetings.
The statutes for the International Environment Forum prepared at the first General Assembly required extensive revision in the light of guidance received from the Baha'i World Centre. At the 3rd general assembly, draft revised statutes for the IEF were extensively discussed and one member (Richard Hainsworth) offered to rewrite them considering the suggestions that came up. The board has then further worked on them and agreed on the changes to present a final version at the 4th General Assembly for adoption.
It was decided not to pursue formal legal status in any country at this time, but to remain a "virtual" organization able to operate flexibly around the world as a network of individuals working to common goals. This allows the membership to concentrate on substantive activities rather than administration, but it also means that the Forum does not collect or manage funds or hold assets. Its success depends entirely on the initiative and dedication of its members and the time they are willing to contribute to its activities.
In August 1999 there were 53 members: 37 voting members and 16 non-voting members. In November 2000 there are 80 IEF members in total, 59 voting members and 21 non-voting members. The members represent a large number of countries and continents. There is thus a steady growth in the IEF membership. The Office of Public Information in Haifa has asked for the confirmation of the IEF address, for possible inclusion in next year's issue of the Baha'i World.
Around 200 letters have been received (the large majority e-mails) and over 100 outgoing letters have been sent (many of them to multiple recipients). This excludes the correspondence on the 4th IEF conference and correspondence among members of the editorial board, etc.
LEAVES is only distributed to members but everyone can access it on the IEF web site. One issue was sent in October 1999 and one in April 2000. Plans were made to also issue a more frequent and shorter news flash, with shorter news items that are more urgent to get out, such as conference announcements.
IEF WEB SITE
The web site of the IEF is hosted by the Baha'i Computer and Communication Association (BCCA) at www.bcca.org/ief/. During the year the site has been further developed and expanded with additional links and resources. The contents include the announcement and programme for the 4th conference, information on the IEF, the newsletter LEAVES, a directory of members, reports and papers from previous conferences, relevant statements of the Baha'i International Community, resource materials and papers by members, selections from the writings, and links to other relevant web sites. Part of the site is in French, but the plan to translate parts into Spanish has not yet been realised.
The editorial group was continued by the board with the same membership as the previous year: Peter Adriance (USA), Charles Boyle (Australia), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Nigel Jollands (New Zealand) and Roxanne Lalonde (Canada). The group has reviewed one paper submitted during the year, but further work, such as to systematically collect papers from IEF conferences and solicit others to compile into publications, is only at the planning stage.
WORKING GROUP ON EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
A working group on education materials was formed the previous year and continued in the same constellation: Irma Allen (Swaziland), Eva Hildorsson (Sweden), Tomas Linsel (Slovakia), Molly McMakin (UK), Tahereh Nadarajah (Mongolia) and Jan Quik (Suriname). A workshop to identify more closely the target groups and needs in this area was held at the 3rd IEF conference but little has been achieved after this.
CONTACT WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
One of the major objectives of the International Environment Forum is to interact with other non-governmental organizations and so be able to share ideas, etc. When word was received of an electronic conference on globalization sponsored by the World Bank, members were encouraged to participate on an individual basis. Otherwise, nothing has been done by the board in this regard since the last conference, as it was felt that it was essential that our administrative status should be clarified before we reach out for contacts on a broader basis. With the adoption of the statutes, future progress in this area should now be possible.
PLANNING FOR THE FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
The board named an organizing committee for the conference headed by Peter Adriance. The 4th conference has required more extensive work than earlier as the organization had to be co-ordinated with the Rabbani Trust and the big Orlando conference on socio economic development for the Americas. The IEF is also contributing to the main conference. Calls for papers were made to the IEF members, around 30 proposals came in, and a selection of about 10 was made, as that was all that could fit within the programme. Information on the conference was sent out to many mailing lists and through the Rabbani Trust brochure. As has now become the established tradition there is also an electronic version of the conference. This has spread information on the organization and the membership.
During the 15 months since the 3rd IEF conference, the membership has markedly increased and several documents that will form the groundwork for the future work of the organization have been elaborated by the board. The board feels that an urgent need is for the next board to benefit from all the offers of members on the IEF membership questionnaires to assist with various tasks, and to find a structure to delegate things even further outside the board. For example, it may not be necessary to have a board member as coordinator of the working groups, or the secretary doing the newsletter. The number of members should now allow more dynamic working groups and for each member to find his/her talents used for the organization. A significant new step in the development of the organization is the 4th annual conference which for the first time is taking place in the Western Hemisphere, leading to greater expansion in the membership and interest in the IEF in the Americas.
Last updated 4 December 2004