IEF Annual Report 2004-2005

Report Year
2004-2005
ANNUAL REPORT
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
17 October 2004 – 16 December 2005

 

This annual report summarizes the activities and events of the IEF during 2004-2005. It was presented at the 9th General Assembly of IEF in Orlando, Florida, USA on 16 December 2005.

EIGHTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The 8th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 15-17 October 2004 with about 50 participants, most of whom were not IEF members.  It was co-sponsored by the UNESCO Center for Women and Peace in the Balkan Countries, the Hellenic Ministry of Public Education and Religions, Directorate of Secondary Education / Western Thessaloniki, Office of Environment Education, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Environmental Education Center Eleftherio-Kordelio. The conference focused on the role of the individual in achieving sustainability through changing lifestyles and speakers from Greece, Germany, Norway, Spain and Switzerland spoke on themes such as “Leading the transition to sustainability: Global Challenges and individual action”, “Cultivating elements of social sustainability”, “The Economic dimension of sustainable lifestyles", "Environmental dimensions of sustainability", “Local-global life-style links”, “The role of education in teaching sustainability" and “Engaging in the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in Greece, Europe and the World.” The parallel electronic conference had 33 participants from 17 countries from Africa, Australia, Central America, Eastern Europe, North America, the Pacific Islands, South America and Western Europe, all sharing a joint interest in the subject of cultivating sustainable lifestyles, due either to their chosen profession, their studies, or their aim to lead a sustainable life.

8TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The 8th General Assembly was held on 17 October 2004 in Thessaloniki, Greece. In the election for the new Board, 14 votes were cast, of which 10 came via email. The following members were elected (with the results of the election of officers within the Board listed): Arthur Dahl (President, Switzerland), Peter Adriance (USA), Sylvia Karlsson (General Secretary, Sweden), Irma Allen (Swaziland), Roxanne Lalonde (Zambia), Gail Lash (Recording Secretary, USA), and Charles Boyle (Australia). The consultation covered the development of educational materials, possible alternative venues for the next annual conference, how to activate a system of national focal points for the IEF who could spread information on the IEF in each respective country and the need to develop the newsletter. The General Assembly decided to encourage the Board to apply for membership in the Consumer Citizenship Network.

GOVERNING BOARD
The Board has had four electronic meetings during the year in which all members participated. This year the Board took several actions to support the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, following up on the conference theme from the 8th Conference in Thessaloniki. It kept adding resources to a website devoted to the decade, developed a distance learning course on the theme together with the Wilmette Institute (see below), applied for membership in the Consumer Citizenship Network, mentored a number of young students who want to take up careers in support of sustainable development and planned the 9th conference with a related theme.

CORRESPONDENCE
Incoming emails have numbered over 215 during the administrative period, outgoing over 200. This does not include correspondence on specific issues and the internal emails among the Board members (around 350).

WILMETTE INSTITUTE COURSE
The Wilmette Institute Course on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind (by distance learning over the Internet) started on 15 October 2005 with over 50 enrolments, and will run until 15 January 2006. The course is co-sponsored by IEF and the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF), and all six faculty are IEF members. IEF members were given a rebate on the fee. This is our first venture into distance learning, but it seems to respond to a real need. The course is already stimulating students to undertake activities on education for sustainable development in their communities.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED NATIONS
The Major Groups Program in the UN Division for Sustainable Development maintains a database of organizations active in the CSD process, for which IEF provided an updated profile in 2005. However, the application for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) which IEF submitted in June 2004, had to be withdrawn in early 2005 for political reasons. The Board will explore other ways to continue to attend the Commission on Sustainable Development and to participate in other UN-related activities until conditions allow us to resubmit our application.

MAURITIUS INTERNATIONAL MEETING
The United Nations organized the Mauritius International Meeting on Small Island Developing States in Mauritius on 10-14 January 2005, The IEF President, Arthur Dahl, was able to attend as part of another delegation and so could also represent IEF. Since IEF participates in the CSD Education Caucus, the caucus designated him as their representative to the meeting and asked him to preside and speak at their parallel event "Engaging People in Sustainability: the Strategy" at the Civil Society Forum on 11 January, which IEF co-sponsored. Panel presentations were followed by a good discussion with the participants from Fiji, Guam, Madagascar, Mauritius, New Zealand, Samoa, UN/DESA and UNDP. A report on the event was circulated to the Education Caucus list-serve.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Mauritius participated with a large delegation in the Civil Society Villaj (forum) preceding the intergovernmental meeting. The IEF assisted by providing them with a statement on "Small Island Developing States in an Integrating World" which they printed and distributed widely. The head of the Baha'i delegation participated in a panel on the role of faith communities. They then organized a reception for participants at the Baha'i Institute after the conference, at which Dr. Dahl spoke. He also spent an evening with some of the young Baha'is to discuss the environment and Baha'i service.

COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 13
The 13th session of the Commission of Sustainable Development took place in April 2005 and was the last one which IEF could be attend as an observer on its WSSD accreditation. The IEF sent a delegation of four members to the meeting: Elisabeth Bowen, Arthur Dahl, Mark Griffin and Terry Robinson. The special themes of CSD 13 were human settlements, water and sanitation just as the previous year but this time there were negotiations among governments to produce new policy guidance.

The IEF delegation members followed a number of the intergovernmental deliberations. They attended meetings with the Science and Technology major group representatives. Our working relationship with the major group representatives is strong. Members of the delegation also participated in Education Caucus meetings and their side event on "Engaging People in Sustainability". IEF co-sponsored the Baha’i International Community’s and US Partnership for the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development’s side event on the "Role of Faith Communities in Education for Sustainable Development - Water, Sanitation, Human Settlements" in the UN building. IEF delegates participated in a networking session on "Engaging Faith Communities in the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development" and in several courses of the learning centre including "Science and Technology for Development", “How to Focus Integrated Water Resource Management on Poverty Reduction”, “Sustaining the Dessert Miracle: Water and Wastewater Management Under Adverse Conditions” and “UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development – Engaging Teacher Education Institutions.”

ISSUE MONITORS
Mark Griffin, continued to serve as issue monitor for water issues and attended CSD 13 in this role. Efforts to identify issue monitors for other issues continued.

INFORMATION/OUTREACH

THE CONSUMER CITIZENSHIP NETWORK
The IEF formally applied for and obtained membership in the Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN), a thematic network of 124 institutions from 29 countries funded by the European Union in cooperation with UNESCO, UNEP and international citizenship and consumer organizations. It is an interdisciplinary network of educators who have a common interest in consumer citizenship. IEF member Sylvia Karlsson attended a dinner of one if the meetings of the working group on sustainable development in Helsinki in October 2005 and initial consultations have been held among several IEF members on possible contributions for the 2006 conference of the network in Hamar, Norway. IEF member Victoria Thoresen is the coordinator of the CCN.

GENEVA ENVIRONMENT NETWORK
Since the IEF mailing address is in Geneva, Switzerland, the IEF was admitted to the Geneva Environment Network, comprising all the principal intergovernmental, nongovernmental and academic organizations in the Geneva area that are active on environmental issues. The network is sponsored by the Swiss government, coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme, and based at International Environment House in Geneva.

INTERNATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE
IEF was represented by its President, Arthur Dahl, at the International Sustainability Conference in Basel, Switzerland, on 12-14 October 2005, attended by some 200 academics and other specialists. Dr. Dahl presented a paper in a session on the practical implications of integrating sustainable development.

WORLD SCIENCE FORUM, BUDAPEST
On 12-13 November IEF president Arthur Dahl attended on behalf of IEF the World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with UNESCO and the International Council of Science (ICSU). The first two days of the World Science Forum on the theme "Knowledge, Ethics and Responsibility" were held in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, with some 300 leading scientists in attendance. The Minister of Foreign Affairs presided at the opening session, which was addressed by the President of Hungary, the Director General of UNESCO and the President of ICSU. Speakers included two Nobel laureates, the EC Commissioner for Science, the President of the European Research Council, the President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian Minister for the Environment, and Brendan MacKey of the Earth Charter Initiative, who was a  speaker at an IEF event in Johannesburg in 2002. The final day's plenary was held in the Hungarian Parliament, with presentations by the Hungarian Prime Minister and Minister of Education. Since participation was by invitation only, the active involvement of the International Environment Forum through its President represented another step in the acceptance of the IEF by the scientific community as a viable partner.

Prior to the Forum Dr. Dahl was invited to the Central European University's Environmental Sciences and Policy Department to give a lecture on "Emerging Environmental Challenges", followed by a reception.

INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Mark M. Griffin attended the International Forum on Education for Sustainable Development, Beijing, China (October 28 - November 1) registered as IEF member and gave a presentation on the theme of “Adult Education from Sustainable Systems of Knowledge” co-authored with Terry Robinson.

LECTURES
The IEF President, Arthur Dahl, has been invited to lecture and give courses on themes relevant to the environment and sustainable development on a number of occasions, including at Baha'i summer schools in Cyprus, Sweden and Italy, in Monaco, at the University of Corsica (organized by IEF member Alvaro Martino), and at the University of Bari in southern Italy, cosponsored by the Faculties of Science and Education. The Rector of Bari University gave a long opening statement praising the Baha'i principles and presented Dr. Dahl with the medal of the University.

MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS
In November 2004 there were 150 members from 50 countries and 26 Associates from 12 countries. In November 2005 there were 162 members from 47 countries, 1 youth member (under 18) and 26 Associates from 12 countries. This means the number of members increased this year by 8 percent. Below you see a list of Members and where they come from.

Countries (members) Argentina (1) Australia (8)
Barbados, West Indies (2) Belgium (1) Bolivia (4)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (1) Cameroon (1) Canada (12)
Colombia (1) Czech Republic (3) Denmark (2)
East Timor (1) Ecuador (2) Fiji Islands (1)
Finland (2) France (3) Germany (4)
Ghana (1) Greece (1) Grenada (1)
Guyana (1) Hungary (1) India (3)
Israel (1) Malaysia (2) Namibia (1)
New Zealand (6) Norway (1) Papua New Guinea/Australia (1)
Poland (1) Portugal (1) Republic of Ireland (1)
Russian Federation (1) Slovakia (1) South Africa (4)
Spain (1) Suriname (1) Swaziland (2)
Sweden (3) Switzerland (4) Taiwan (1)
The Netherlands (1) Trinidad (1) U.S.A. (56)
United Kingdom (17) Vietnam (1) Zambia (1)

DATABASE
The database has again been handled during the year very efficiently by Judith Fienieg.

NEWSLETTER
LEAVES is only distributed to members and associates but everyone can access it on the IEF web site. There has been one issue during this activity year. Bettina Moser, IEF Member in Germany, has continued the responsibility for the newsletter.

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/. The website contents include the announcement and programme for the upcoming annual 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 Baha'i International Community, resource materials and papers by members, selections from the Baha'i Sacred Writings, and links to other relevant web sites. Part of the site is in French and Spanish. The website is managed by Arthur Dahl.

THE WORKING GROUPS
The working groups have not been activated this year.

CONCLUSIONS
The focus of IEF activities this year has been on outreach through participation in various conferences and partnering with other organizations. Following the highly successful 8th IEF Conference in Thessaloniki, the IEF was active at both United Nations events such as the Mauritius International Meeting and CSD-13, and at scientific events such as the World Science Forum and the International Sustainability Conference. The admission of the IEF to membership in the Consumer Citizenship Network and the Geneva Environment Network also represents significant recognition of the contribution IEF can make.

A second important expansion of the work of IEF has been in the area of education for sustainable development, including organizing the distance learning course through the Wilmette Institute, courses at Baha'i summer schools, and the preparation of the 9th IEF Conference in Florida on this topic in collaboration with other organizations.

 


Last updated 26 August 2006