INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
17 December 2005 – 16 September 2006
This annual report summarizes the activities and events of IEF during 2005-2006. It was presented at the 10th General Assembly of IEF at Balliol College, Oxford, UK, on 16 September 2006.
NINTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The 9th Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) took the form of a seminar entitled "Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): The Spiritual Dimension" which was held on 14-15 December 2005 in Orlando, Florida, USA. This seminar was a pre-cursor to the 2005 Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development (SED) from 15-18 December 2005. In support of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-14), this seminar fostered a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension of sustainable development and explored the challenges and opportunities presented by the Decade. Building upon the 2004 seminar on ESD, this year's session drew deeply upon the Creative Word and sought to identify the unique contributions that Bahá'u'lláh's teachings offer the field of ESD. The seminar provided an environment in which representatives of Bahá'í development efforts could share information and experiences, advance their collective understanding of the spiritual and theoretical foundations that characterize a distinctly Bahá'í approach to ESD, and consider how to implement education for sustainable development in their communities. The Bahá'í International Community's magazine One Country published an article about the conference. There were 55 participants from 10 countries.
ELECTRONIC (E-MAIL) CONFERENCE
An electronic (e-mail) conference involving 15 participants from 7 countries took place from 19 November to 4 December 2005 prior to the Conference in Orlando for those who were unable to travel to the conference. It discussed two themes: success stories of environmentally-sustainable development; and the role of education in addressing the next themes of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development: energy, industrial development, air pollution, and climate change. Some of the success stories were shared with the main conference.
9TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The 9th General Assembly of the IEF was held the day after the 9th Annual Conference Orlando, Florida, USA on 16 December 2005. The General Assembly was attended by 7 members: Peter Adriance (USA), Dale Allen (Swaziland), Irma Allen (Swaziland), Ruth Allen (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Mark Griffin (USA) and Owrang Kashef (USA) and 6 visitors. The Assembly selected as officers of the General Assembly: Arthur Dahl as chair and Irma Allen as secretary. The chairman presented the Annual Report, opened for consultation and then the Assembly approved the report. Two tellers were appointed for the election of the Governing Board. There were 14 votes cast, including 7 via e-mail. The elected Board members are: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Peter Adriance (USA), Sylvia Karlsson (Sweden), Irma Allen (Swaziland), Roxanne Lalonde (Swaziland), Gail Lash (USA), Charles Boyle (Australia).There was consultation on the implementation of the IEF Five Year Plan and suggestions for the next plan, activities and priorities for the coming year and the Assembly agreed that a major focus would continue to be the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
The Board has had three electronic meetings during the year: 5 January - 25 February, 17 April - 8 May, 26 August - 1 September. Board members have participated as follows: Peter Adriance (3); Irma Allen (3), Charles Boyle (3), Arthur Dahl (3), Sylvia Karlsson (3), Roxanne Laldone (2), Gail Lash (2). This year a number of Board members were active in activities such as teaching in the Wilmette Institute course, taking part in the CSD, and the CCN conference. The Board devoted considerable time to the planning of the 10th annual conference in close collaboration with BASED-UK. The consultation in electronic meetings has been limited and meetings substantially prolonged due to heavy travel and work schedules of several members. The Board has decided to explore more effective mechanisms for consultation such as Skype.
Incoming emails have numbered over 50 during the administrative period, outgoing over 100. This does not include correspondence on specific issues such as planning the conference (over 550) and the internal emails among the Board members (around 100).
FOURTEENTH MEETING OF THE UN COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (CSD-14)
The 14th session of the Commission of Sustainable Development took place 1-12 May 2006 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Seven IEF members were active in CSD-14 which provided thematic coverage of energy, air pollution, industrial development and climate change. Arthur Dahl and Mark Griffin were the IEF representatives accredited through the Bahá'í International Community (BIC), while Peter Adriance represented the Bahá'í International Community itself. Sylvia Karlsson was in the Finnish delegation, and Beth Bowen represented the International Association of Physicians for the Environment. Halldor Thorgeirsson, as Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, was an expert panellist in one of the main commission sessions, and Minu Hemmati was in the IUCN delegation. The IEF prepared and distributed two statements on "Ethics and the Energy Challenge" and "Air Pollution - A Broader Perspective". IEF member William Lemmon had provided valuable input to the drafting of the latter statement. IEF also assisted in the drafting of an article on "Summoning the Will for Sustainable Development" by Peter Adriance for BIC in the daily newsletter Outreach 2015 published by Stakeholder Forum. Sylvia Karlsson gave a talk on "Short-term Sacrifices for Long-term Gains - How Do We Change the Time Horizon of Governments?" for the Earth Values Caucus, from which she prepared an article for Outreach 2015 published on the opening day of the ministerial segment. IEF was active in supporting the Science and Technology Major Group and Education Caucus activities, with both of whom we are closely associated. A policy brief on indicators of sustainability that Arthur Dahl had drafted for SCOPE was distributed by UNESCO to all the delegations.
Mark Griffin continued to serve as issue monitor for water issues. Efforts to identify issue monitors for other issues were not pursued actively due to lack of resources.
WILMETTE INSTITUTE COURSE
The Wilmette Institute Course on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind (by distance learning over the Internet) with over 50 enrolments ran 15 October 2005 -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, Peter Adriance, Arthur Dahl, Daniel Truran, Melinda Salazar, Carole Flood, and Karryn Olson-Ramanujan. IEF members were given a rebate on the fee. Preparations have now started for a second offering of the course.
THE CONSUMER CITIZENSHIP NETWORK
Since 2005, the IEF has been a member of 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. In May 2006, the IEF organized a plenary symposium on "Fostering Commitment and Consistency" at the Third CCN Conference in Hamar, Norway (the proposal for the symposium had been submitted in December 2005 to the conference call and it was accepted). Arthur Dahl spoke on "Scientific Foundations for Commitment and Consistency", Wendi Momen spoke on "Values Underlying Commitment and Consistency", and Sylvia Karlsson concluded with "Institutionalizing Sustainable Consumption". This was followed by a lively panel discussion with the 130 participants. Sylvia Karlsson also gave the conference an update on the Commission on Sustainable Development 2006 Session, and the IEF prepared a poster display on the US Partnership for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development to share experience across the Atlantic.
UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA
Beginning in 2006, the IEF has become a co-sponsor of a course at the University of Geneva, the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development. There is no financial obligation in this sponsorship but the support consists of the IEF President representing IEF on the Scientific Committee of the programme and his teaching modules which include the ethical and spiritual dimensions of sustainability.
GENEVA ENVIRONMENT NETWORK
IEF was admitted to the Geneva Environment Network in 2005, it is a network comprising all the principal intergovernmental, nongovernmental and academic organizations in the Geneva area that are active on environmental issues. The IEF President has attended several of their seminars during the year and contributed to the preparation of one of them.
The close collaboration between IEF and the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF) continued during the year. EBBF held a meeting in Acuto, Italy, 11-14 May 2006 including the development of scenarios of the future inspired by Baha'i values, which Arthur Dahl helped to develop. They now have a complete section on sustainable development in the knowledge centre part of their web site which links to IEF.
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 March as part of ongoing AIESEC-EBBF collaboration he participated with two other EBBF members in a European conference of AIESEC (the student organization) in the Czech Republic to train 150 newly-elected national officers. He gave a keynote at their Sustainability Day and gave a workshop on moral leadership. He was also a keynote speaker at national AIESEC conferences in the Italy, United Kingdom and Switzerland.
In November 2005 there were 162 members from 47 countries, 1 youth member (under 18) and 26 Associates from 12 countries. By 16 August 2006 there were 171 members from 47 countries and 26 Associates from 11 countries. The number of members thus increased this year by 5 percent. Below is a list of membership by country.
The database has again been handled during the year very efficiently by Judith Fienieg.
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, in April. Bettina Moser, IEF Member in Germany has been helping with the newsletter but had major technical difficulties during the year. A call for volunteers to help among members resulted in an offer from Priya Mehta who will now help with this as well.
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. During this year the site has been significantly upgraded with many new materials and adding a IEF e-learning centre, with a do-it-yourself course on sustainability, materials for use in group discussions and study circles, case studies, educational materials and the IEF Sustapedia, an encyclopaedia of sustainability. The website is managed by Arthur Dahl.
THE WORKING GROUPS
The working groups (e.g. the editorial group, the group on education materials) have not been active this year.
The year has provided numerous opportunities for outreach both in big meetings, such as the CSD and the CCN conference, but also for many smaller initiatives linking IEF members and their expertise with other organizations, both Baha'i inspired and otherwise. The preparations for the 10th anniversary conference brings the IEF closer to one of the priorities of our activities, to raise awareness of the need for individuals and communities in the developed countries to see their role and responsibility for the welfare of the planet as a whole. While we still have many countries to add if our membership is going to be truly global, the membership competence in a diversity of environment related fields is a resource that is yet to be tapped fully. The Board has been limited by the lack of volunteers in its planning and expansion of activities.
|Countries (members)||Australia (8)||Barbados, West Indies (2)|
|Belgium (1)||Bolivia (4)||Bosnia and Herzegovina (1)|
|Cameroon (1)||Canada (11)||China (1)|
|Colombia (2)||Czech Republic (3)||Denmark (2)|
|East Timor (1)||Ecuador (2)||Fiji Islands (1)|
|Finland (2)||France (2)||Germany (4)|
|Ghana (1)||Greece (1)||Grenada (1)|
|Guyana (1)||Hungary (1)||India (3)|
|Israel (1)||Italy (1)||Malaysia (2)|
|Namibia (1)||New Zealand (6)||Norway (1)|
|Papua New Guinea (1)||Poland (1)||Portugal (1)|
|Republic of Ireland (1)||Russian Federation (1)||Slovakia (1)|
|South Africa (4)||Spain (1)||Suriname (1)|
|Swaziland (3)||Sweden (3)||Switzerland (5)|
|Taiwan (1)||The Netherlands (1)||Trinidad (1)|
|U.S.A: (58)||United Kingdom (17)||Vietnam (1)|