IEF Annual Report 2002-2003

Report Year
2002-2003

ANNUAL REPORT
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM

31 August 2002 - 16 December 2003

This Annual Report of the IEF summarizes the events and activities of 2002-2003. It was presented at the 7th General Assembly of IEF in Orlando, Florida, USA on 17 December 2003.

SIXTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM

“Making Globalization Sustainable and Just - Through Science, Values and Education” 19 August - 4 September 2003, Johannesburg, South Africa. The Johannesburg Summit represented a major step forward for the International Environment Forum. While the governments of the world struggled to negotiate a political declaration and action plan for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) ten years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro; while thousands of civil society organizations debated the issues and tried to push governments into doing more to further sustainable development; the International Environment Forum held its 6th Annual Conference as a series of parallel events with different partners and at different venues to reach the widest possible public. The IEF was officially accredited to the Summit by the United Nations as a scientific and technological organization, already an accomplishment for a virtual organization with no material means or legal status. One tenth of the IEF membership gathered in Johannesburg from as far away as Mongolia, New Zealand and Indonesia to participate in the various activities, including all the members of the IEF governing board (official WSSD delegates were Arthur Dahl, Ineke Gijsbers, John Homan, Sylvia Karlsson, Roxanne Lalonde, Gail Lash, Keith Metzner, Michael Richards, Lars Rogers, David Willis, and Steve Worth). Partnerships with the Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future and the European Bahá'í Business Forum reinforced certain activities. The Bahá'í-inspired organizations like IEF and EBBF also supported the efforts of the Bahá'í International Community and several national Bahá'í communities to draw the attention of the Summit to the importance of the spiritual and ethical dimensions of sustainable development.

The conference built on the conclusions from the 5th IEF conference, where the complementary roles of knowledge, values and education for sustainable development were explored. During the three weeks immediately preceding the conference (1-18 August), an e-mail forum on the same topics as the seminars was organized for those who could not come to Johannesburg. The various IEF events opened a dialogue with the broader civil society, and particularly the scientific and technical community, on these three essential components of decision-making. They explored the apparent dichotomies that emerge in an increasingly interwoven world: specific vs. universal, circumscribed vs. all-inclusive, long-term vs. short term, material vs. spiritual, etc. In this dialogue, "globalization" was approached in its many facets - cultural, spiritual, material, scientific, economic and social - to explore how individuals and societies can foster a process of globalizing the world in a sustainable and just way.

The IEF also shared a booth at the Global Peoples' Forum with the European Bahá'í Business Forum (EBBF). Hundreds of copies of the IEF brochure and programme and IEF position papers on the different topics were distributed both from the booth and at various events and document distribution points.

The activities in Johannesburg involved financial commitments and the Board asked members for earmarked contributions for this purpose. A financial report is included below in Appendix 1. The Board decided that the small outstanding balance of funds remaining after Johannesburg should be used for publishing a brochure on IEF in the coming year.

6TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The 6th General Assembly took place 31 August 2002 at the Bahá'í Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. There were 18 Members attending from 13 countries and three visitors. In the election for the new Board, 18 votes were cast, two of which came via email. The following members were elected (with the results of the election of officers within the Board): Arthur Dahl (President, Switzerland), Sylvia Karlsson (General Secretary, Germany), Peter Adriance (USA), Irma Allen (Swaziland) and Roxanne Lalonde (Zambia). The consultations covered themes like mentoring, how to encourage tree planting in communities, and how to engage members more in networking and other activities. The full report of the meeting is posted on the IEF web site.

GOVERNING BOARD

The Board has had the following meetings over email: 13 October – 23 December 2002, 23 February – March, 17 June – 20 July, 11 – 31 August, 21 October – 30 November 2003. Meeting participation: Peter Adriance (5 of 5); Irma Allen (5 of 5); Arthur Dahl (5 of 5); Sylvia Karlsson (5 of 5), Roxanne Lalonde (5 of 5).

Activities: The first months after the WSSD, there was a rather low level of activity as there was a need for all to catch up with everything in their lives that had been put aside around the WSSD planning. There were also quite a lot of IEF administrative items to catch up on. Some follow-up work after the WSSD included report writing and filling in questionnaires (see below). Then there has been the usual planning for the next annual conference and keeping in contact with members and working groups.

CORRESPONDENCE

Over 230 emails came in during the administrative period, with over 180 outgoing. This does not include the internal emails among the Board members (around 300).

WSSD FOLLOW-UP

The Board submitted all its materials related to IEF participation in WSSD (statements, brochure, programme etc.) to the IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development CD-Rom project, which aimed to collect all documents relevant to WSSD in one place (available at www.wssd-and-civil-society.org).
The CSD Secretariat invited all NGOs accredited to WSSD to fill in a questionnaire on two aspects of WSSD follow up: Participation of Major Groups and implementation of WSSD's Sustainable Development Partnerships. A reply on behalf of IEF was submitted on 10 December 2002 to the CSD secretariat. Later in the year a questionnaire was circulated from the UN High Level Panel on Civil Society, on the experience of NGOs in interacting with the UN etc. The Board filled in and submitted this questionnaire as well.

CSD 11

While the IEF is not accredited to attend the Commission on Sustainable Development, the UN permitted organizations accredited to WSSD to participate in CSD 11, which took place in April 2003. Thus, we could register one member, Beth Bowen, for the meeting. Unfortunately, there were mistakes in the registration process so Dr. Bowen never got her credentials, but she could attend some side meetings and meet many participants.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED NATIONS

In its discussion on how to build on the IEF engagement in the WSSD and further strengthen our interaction with international NGOs and the UN, the Board decided to explore the possibility of obtaining consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). There have been pushes in the UN system to create a fast-track process for organisations accredited to the WSSD to apply for ECOSOC accreditation so that they can participate fully in the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) meetings. It is still unclear whether the application process will be faster than normal, but they have urged all WSSD-accredited NGOs who wish to seek ECOSOC accreditation to send a letter of intent as soon as possible. The Board sent off such a letter on 1 December 2003.

ISSUE MONITORS

In view of the decision to apply for ECOSOC accreditation, which would allow IEF to be represented at meetings of the CSD, and to expand the IEF's ability to engage in relevant discourses and meetings at the global level, the Board decided to try to establish a system of "Issue Monitors" for some of the more pertinent issues which the CSD will discuss in the coming ten years. Issue Monitors would be IEF members who accept the task to follow the international discussions on his/her topic (biodiversity, water, climate etc.) and to alert IEF members of events and topics where IEF may be able to make a contribution. The Board is in the process of discussing details of how to set this in motion.

FORESTS AND TREE PLANTING

The Board decided to apply for accreditation to the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) and sought to establish an interest group among Members for this theme. Unfortunately, we learned that UNFF accreditation is only given to organizations with ECOSOC accreditation. The 6th General Assembly devoted extensive time to the issue of how the IEF could support tree planting. As a first small step, one Board Member has started to collect some material on successful tree-planting initiatives. The hope is that this could later be developed into a resource package for local socio-economic development projects.

ECOAGRICULTURE

One IEF member, Sylvia Karlsson, had participated in a working group on establishing an international partnership on Ecoagriculture at the Implementation Conference organized by the Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future, prior to the WSSD in Johannesburg.
The Board agreed to continue activity in this area and put an article in LEAVES asking for expressions of interest, and there were a couple of members interested. The Board also tried to send a representative to a meeting of the Partnership in Geneva in February, but because of lack of communication from the organizers, this did not work. Several efforts to re-establish contact with them have not worked.

INFORMATION/OUTREACH

The Bahá'í International Community Office of Public Information in Paris organized a very successful exhibition in the main lobby of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on 10-13 June 2003. The focus was on efforts by Bahá'ís and Bahá'í-inspired organizations to apply spiritual principles to practical problems. IEF was featured on one panel on "Environment and Development" that we helped to design, and a photograph from our joint seminar with the European Bahá'í Business Forum (EBBF) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development was featured on another panel. A beautiful brochure with the text of the exhibit was distributed, including the coordinates of IEF for those who wanted to know more. Arthur Dahl spoke as President of IEF on "Spiritual Dimensions of Sustainable Development" at a large public meeting at the Bahá'í Centre in Brussels during the exposition, attended by over 100 people.

The participation and activities of IEF at WSSD was featured in an article in the Bahá'í International Community magazine “One Country” (Vol.14/2, July-September 2002), in both its English and Russian versions and also in a local paper in the United Kingdom.

Four Members have been giving courses related to the themes of the IEF at Landegg International University. Several IEF Members have also given presentations in various communities on the WSSD and the IEF activities there, in places such as Landegg University (Switzerland); Luxembourg; Sofia, Bulgaria; Adana, Ismir and Ankara, Turkey; Antananarivo, Madagascar; Moscow, Russia; Västerås, Sweden, etc.

MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS

In August 2002, there were 116 members from 43 countries on all five continents and 26 Associates from 13 countries. In November 2003, there were 133 members from 46 countries and 25 Associates from 12 countries. This means an increase in Members during the year of 15 percent. Below is a list of countries with the number of IEF Members.
 

Countries (members) Argentina (1) Australia (6)
Belgium (1) Bolivia (4) Bosnia and Herzegovina (2)
Canada (8) Colombia (1) Czech Republic (2)
Denmark (2) Ecuador (2) Fiji Islands (1)
Finland (1) France (3) Germany (2)
Ghana (1) Greece (1) Guyana, S. America (1)
Hungary (1) Iceland (1) India (1)
Indonesia (1) Italy (1) Kosovo (1)
Malaysia (1) Mongolia (1) New Zealand (6)
Norway (1) Panama (1) Papua New Guinea (1)
Poland (1) Portugal (1) Republic of Ireland (1)
Russia (1) Slovakia (1) South Africa (4)
Spain (1) Suriname (1) Swaziland (2)
Sweden (4) Switzerland (2) Taiwan (1)
The Netherlands (1) Trinidad (1) U.S.A: (43)
United Kingdom (12) Zambia (1)  

DATABASE

The membership database has been handled during the year very efficiently by Judith Fienieg and has served to be a very useful tool specifically when the Board is looking for members with specific interests/expertise for some tasks. We still lose contact with a few members every year when they do not send us their new email addresses.

NEWSLETTER

LEAVES is only distributed to members and associates, but everyone can access it on the IEF website. There have been two issues during this activity year. Bettina Moser, IEF Member in Germany, has during the year taken over as editor for the newsletter and is doing an excellent job. She is also planning to develop it further in the future.

IEF WEB SITE

The web site of the IEF is hosted by the Bahá'í Computer and Communication Association (BCCA) at <www.bcca.org/ief/>. The website contents include the announcement and programme for the 6th conference, previous conference reports, information on the IEF, the newsletter LEAVES, a directory of members, reports and papers from previous conferences, relevant statements of the Bahá'í International Community, resource materials and papers by members, selections from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings, and links to other relevant web sites. Part of the site is in French and Spanish; the latest issue of the Newsletter has been translated into Spanish thanks to IEF Member Jose Maldonado from Honduras. The Board wishes to improve the layout for the website, but has not had the time to set this process in motion yet. The next immediate step will be to enable the download of documents in Word and PDF formats, in addition to the present html version.

EDITORIAL GROUP

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 (Zambia). The group is in the process of reviewing a number of draft chapters for the planned IEF publication. The publication is progressing rather slowly and authors for some chapters are still missing.

WORKING GROUP ON EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS

The members have been: Jan Quik, Tomas Linsel, Lloyd Brown, Irma Allen, Molly Azami, Steve Worth, Aaron Blomeley (co-ordinator), Fabiana Mendez. They consulted extensively during the first part of the year on formats and content for education materials for children, but it has been difficult to find the modality for starting the joint writing for very varied cultural and ecological contexts, so the work has halted.

CONCLUSIONS

This year has been in many aspects the “year after”, not only because of the need to recuperate somewhat after the amount of work connected with the WSSD the previous year but also because the participation in the UN process has set the Board on another pace in preparing for our stronger engagement in future such processes. It involves the need to monitor international processes, respond to requests for input and questionnaires from them and get formal accreditation to UN meetings. These activities, as with all the others on the IEF agenda, will be successful only to the degree that we find ways to engage many Members in the work and utilize the very rich spectrum of expertise the membership provides. The Board is still very much struggling to be able to delegate and thus set in motion many projects and processes with Members' help. It was with this in mind that it decided to propose to the General Assembly to increase the number of Board Members from five to seven.

 


Appendix 1

FINANCIAL REPORT OF IEF PARTICIPATION IN THE WSSD, AUG-SEP 2002
 

Verification number Expense Amount in USD
1.  DMC for room rental Univ. Witwaatersrand R 987 + $ 20 bank charges 98.70 + 20 = 118.70
2. JOWSCO for room rental Science Forum + $20 bank charges 228 + 20= 248
3. IUCN for room rental 100
4. Printing of IEF business cards R 313.50 = 31.35
5. Materials for the booth 20
6. Printing costs 547.20 R 54.70
7. Printing costs 1500.75 R 150.75
8. Printing costs 263.34 R 26.30
    Subtotal 749.80 
9-14 Mobil phone expenses, head of IEF delegation 49+275+275+110+110+110= 929 R 92.90 
    TOTAL 842.70 USD

These expenses are still only a margin of the costs of the IEF activities at WSSD. For example, EBBF contributed the cost of the booth and the IEF members paid their own travel and expenses for the entire stay at WSSD. Without these signficant personal sacrifices the IEF could not have had the high profile presence it had.

The exchange rate for Rand to USD used was 1:10 and from English Pound to Rand: 1:15.6

Income (donations from individual IEF members):
$ 518.05
£300 = 4680 R = 468 USD
$ 50
TOTAL INCOME: $ 1036.05

This gives a surplus of 1036.05 – 842.7 = $ 193.35
This money is held by the General Secretary for the moment.

Bonn, 20 July 2003

Sylvia Karlsson
General Secretary


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Last updated 4 December 2004