IEF Annual Report 2013-2014

Report Year
2013-2014

International Environment Forum Annual Report
October 2013 to July 2014


The 18th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from October 2013 to July 2014 between its annual conferences. The report will be presented at the 18th General Assembly of the IEF in Toronto, Canada, on 9 August 2014.

17th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM

The 17th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) was held in partnership with the ebbf (Ethical Business Building the Future, previously known as the European Business Baha’i Forum) from 3-6 October 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Around 140 participants from 22 countries across the world - from Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, North America, Australia and the Middle East, participated in the conference. 14 IEF members from around Europe attended in person, 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. IEF members Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl were among the featured speakers. The full conference report and IEF presentations are available on the IEF website at http://iefworld.org/conf17

17th IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The 17th IEF General Assembly was held during the annual conference in Barcelona, where it elected the Governing Board, consulted on progress as described in the IEF Annual Report 2012-13 and made recommendations for future activities. The consultation revolved around ways to engage members, to build connections and increase sharing of work of the Forum among members in the future. The General Assembly and electronic voting elected the Governing Board for 2013-2014: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Peter Adriance (USA), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Emily Firth (Australia), Duncan Hanks (Canada), and Wendi Momen (UK).

The 17th General Assembly full report is available on the IEF website at http://iefworld.org/genass17.

IEF GOVERNING BOARD

The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Emily Firth as General Secretary. The Board held 3 electronic meetings during the year and has consulted on a variety of topics related to international and national events and dialogue on developments related to climate change and sustainability. The Board has reviewed and approved 19 new membership applications during the year, and is delighted to see the growing expertise and experience of the IEF membership community in now over 60 countries. One of the current areas of focus for the Board is to determine ways to encourage greater participation and sharing of information among members to ensure that opportunities for building new knowledge are maximized within the Forum. This will in turn essentially help build the capacity of our members to contribute to professional and community activities. The Board welcomes feedback and suggestions from members on this to maintain the IEF’s valuable contribution to the important public discourse on the environment and sustainability at global, national and local levels.

18th IEF ANNUAL CONFERENCE - 7-10 August 2014

The 18th IEF Annual Conference will be held jointly with the 2014 Conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies - North America (ABS) in Toronto, Canada around the theme: ‘Scholarship and the Life of Society’. This is the second time the IEF has partnered with the ABS for its annual conference. The first joint conference, held in August 2009 in Washington D.C. with the theme ‘Environments’, attracted nearly a thousand participants from 20 countries.

The focus of the IEF contribution will be on how reflection on environmental limits, climate change and sustainability from a spiritual and ethical perspective can contribute to more sustainable lifestyles and communities. The conference offers an excellent opportunity to explore ways in which we can put our concerns into action at the international, national and local levels.

IEF contributions to the conference include:
1. Participation by Dr Arthur Dahl, President of the IEF, on the plenary panel on the challenges presented to the natural sciences by emerging social and environmental concerns.
2. IEF breakout session on ‘Contributing to sustainability discourse and action’ – panel discussion led by IEF members Dr Arthur Dahl, Peter Adriance and Christine Muller. Topics include a review of how Baha’i principles are introduced into United Nations dialogues and conferences, approaches to sustainable development issues and climate change in the American Baha’i community, and examples of the Wilmette Institute course on Climate Change showing how a deeper understanding of the scientific and spiritual dimensions of the issue stimulates changes in individual behavior and activities at the community level.
3. Presentation by Dr Arthur Dahl on ‘Addressing sustainability challenges: a framework for material and spiritual transformation’.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO POST-2015 CONSULTATION ON SUSTAINABILITY

In the continuing United Nations work on the post-2015 development agenda and follow-up to Rio+20, the IEF provided detailed comments to the NGO Major Group coordinators on the focus areas being considered for Sustainable Development Goals, described in more detail at http://iefworld.org/node/670.

OTHER IEF PARTNERSHIPS AND INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)

The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) is an important partner of the IEF with an international network of over 150 partners around the world including universities, educational organizations and international agencies. PERL is coordinated by IEF board member Prof. Victoria Thoresen.

In November 2013, the IEF was invited by the PERL secretariat to join a proposal to establish a UNITWIN Programme on Education about Sustainable Lifestyles (2014-2020). This UNESCO programme is designed to build the capacities of higher education and research institutions through the exchange of knowledge and sharing, in a spirit of international solidarity in partnership with NGOs, foundations and public and private sector organizations.

IEF members Arthur Dahl, Victoria Thoresen, Ismael Valesco and Onno Vinkhuyzen participated in a successful meeting of PERL workgroups in Sligo, Ireland, on 2-4 April 2014, with 10% Baha'is among the 60 participants. The latest versions of the toolkits for values-based learning in secondary schools are being hosted, at least temporarily, on the IEF web site at http://iefworld.org/node/665.

A proposal by the IEF to combine its 19th annual conference with PERL at its next international conference on 10-11 March 2015 has been welcomed by the PERL steering group. IEF’s proposed contributions include a workshop on values-based indicators and a poster exhibit on IEF, with the possibility of hosting a panel on ‘ethical transformation and education for service at the individual, community and institutional levels’. The conference will be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

ebbf

Our partnership with ebbf, the Baha'i-inspired forum for ethics in business, continues in support of its core value of sustainable development. The ebbf has recently changed its name to Ethical Business Building the Future (formerly European Business Baha’i Forum). IEF President Arthur Dahl, and board member Wendi Momen are on the ebbf Governing Board, and several other members are active in both organizations.

Forum on Religion and Ecology

An overview of the Baha’i approach to ecology and environmental restoration was added to major religions section of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale in May 2014. The forum provides an excellent online platform to promote dialogue between world religions and various disciplines such as science, economics, education and public policy, to reach solutions to global and local environmental problems. IEF members Arthur Dahl and Peter Adriance provided the text and material for the site drawing largely on content from the IEF web site.

Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPaC)

In June 2014, IEF President Arthur Dahl participated in the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SPaC) meeting at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. The theme of the conference was ‘Global Transitions to Sustainable Production and Consumption’ and attracted prominent academics and experts with about one hundred participants from around the world. With a focus on the values dimension, Arthur Dahl presented a paper on ‘The Ethics of Hope: Values as Positive Drivers for a Sustainable Future’, took part in a panel discussion on ‘Human Values and the Future of Sustainable Consumption and Production’, and chaired a session on sustainable lifestyles. Links to his presentation and a report on the meeting are available on the IEF website at http://iefworld.org/node/680.

Club of Rome and Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC)

The Club of Rome and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation have launched a project on "ValuesQuest: the search for values which will make a world of difference" (see http://www.clubofrome.org/?p=5821). IEF President Arthur Dahl participated in one of the first activities organized through this collaboration in Winterthur, Switzerland, a scientific Symposium on “Meaning, Values and Spirituality in the Development of Children and Young People” on 5-6 December 2013. A full report of the symposium is at http://iefworld.org/node/657 .

IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES

The IEF continues to co-sponsor the University of Geneva Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development, which is offered each year from October to June. Arthur Dahl is a member of the scientific committee and teaches in three modules. From October 2015 the course will be reorganized into a shorter 10 unit course focused on systems thinking and the ethical dimension, in complement to other more specialized courses now being offered.

The IEF-initiated on-line course at the Wilmette Institute (USA) on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind was given in September-December 2013 and has been scheduled again for 15 September-15 November 2015. The Wilmette Institute on-line course on Climate Change led by Christine Muller based on the IEF interfaith course on scientific and spiritual dimensions of climate change has been so successful that it is now offered twice a year in March-May 2014, September-November 2014, and March-May 2015. IEF members serve as faculty for both courses.

IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS

European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD)

The IEF is a partner of the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD) and IEF President Arthur Dahl sits on its Academic Council. In October 2013, the 9th ECPD International Conference was held in Belgrade, Serbia celebrating the 30th anniversary of its creation by the UN General Assembly (http://iefworld.org/node/651). The 190 participants included many diplomats and professors from across the Western Balkans and around the world.

ASEM Seminar on Human Rights and Environment

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is a forum to promote dialogue and cooperation among Asian and European states on all issues of common interest. The 13th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21-23 October 2013 focused on Human Rights and the Environment. It brought together over a hundred experts from governments and civil society from across the two regions. IEF President Arthur Dahl was one of the invited experts, contributing especially on climate change, migration and human rights, based on earlier IEF contributions to the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum on Climate Change and Human Rights, and to Rio+20. See the report at http://iefworld.org/node/652.

Testimony at US EPA

Faith communities, including IEF governing board member and Representative for Sustainable Development of the US Baha’i Office of Public Affairs, Peter Adriance, testified before the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the moral implications of carbon pollution causing climate change.

PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS

Arthur Dahl’s opening keynote on What is Sustainable Wealth? at the 17th IEF International Conference in Barcelona in October 2013 is on the IEF web site at http://iefworld.org/ddahl13d. His paper on New Balkans Sustainability and the Post-2105 Development Agenda presented at the Ninth ECPD International Conference in Belgrade, Serbia, in October 2013 can also be read at http://iefworld.org/ddahl13e.

In February 2014, IEF board member Peter Adriance, who is the Representative for Sustainable Development of the Baha'is of the United States, published a piece in the Huffington Post on ‘Faith Communities Stress Moral Dimension of Carbon Pollution at EPA’. The article can be read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-adriance/faith-communities-stress-_….

Also in February, Arthur Dahl gave the opening keynote on Holistic Justice: Coherence and Service in our Economic Life at the European Baha'i Conference on Justice, de Poort Conference Centre, The Netherlands. His paper on Healing Our Relationship with Nature was presented in different versions at the Triglav Circle, 14-15 June 2014 (see report at http://iefworld.org/node/684) and the International Peace Seminar in Walenstadt, Switzerland, 2-6 July 2014.

On 14 March, Huffington Post published a piece by Peter Adriance on "The Faith-Climate Connection", available here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-adriance/the-faithclimate-connecti_….

Onno Vinkhuyzen and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen had their paper "The role of moral leadership for sustainable production and consumption" published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, 15 January 2014, Volume 63, pages 102–113  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.06.045. It is not available on this site for copyright reasons; write Onno Vinkhuyzen for a copy (onno @ ebbf.org).

IEF NEWSLETTER AND WEBSITE

IEF web site

The IEF web site (http://iefworld.org) continues to report on IEF events and statements, provides an on-line version of LEAVES, the IEF newsletter, and includes blogs, book reviews and papers by IEF members.

LEAVES newsletter

With thanks to the ever-reliable newsletter team (IEF members Cynthia Diessner, Sarah Richards and Susie Howard) the LEAVES newsletter is prepared and distributed every month. The newsletter shares both news of IEF activities and other significant events of interest to IEF members, and contributions from members are always welcome.

CONCLUSIONS

While the international membership of IEF has continued to grow, it still faces the challenge of responding to its members needs and accompanying them more effectively as they apply spiritual principles to the growing risks to sustainability. Information technologies are evolving, and it is not easy for a virtual organization like IEF to continue to engage its members effectively. Despite these difficulties, the IEF has been able to draw on the experience of its members to continue to contribute to the international and scientific dialogues on environment and sustainability, as this report illustrates. At a time when the economic, social and environmental problems of the world seem overwhelming, it is important to show reasons for hope, and particularly to inspire the young generations that will inherit this world to acquire the values, knowledge and talents they will need to find solutions to the challenges ahead. We invite all the membership to share with us their efforts and successes, so that we can build some constructive momentum in values-based actions for sustainability.

MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS

IEF MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS, UPDATED: July 2014

Full members

Argentina 2 * Australia 15 * Bangladesh 1 * Barbados West Indies 2 * Belgium 3 * Bolivia 4 * Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 * Brazil 2 * Brunei Darussalam 1 * Bulgaria 2 * Cambodia 1 * Cameroon 1 * Canada 34 * Chile 1 * China 2 * Colombia 3 * Cook Islands 1 * Czech Republic 3 * Denmark 2 * East Timor 1 * Ecuador 2 * Ethiopia 1 * Fiji Islands 1 * Finland 1 * France 5 * Germany 9 * Ghana 2 * Greece 2 * Guyana, S America 1 * Hungary 2 * India 9 * 
Israel 2 * Kenya 1 * Liberia 1 * Macedonia 1 * Malaysia 3 * Namibia 1 * New Zealand 6 * Norway 3 * Pakistan 1 * Poland 1 * Portugal 2 * Republic of Ireland 1 * Russia 1 * Samoa 1 * Serbia 1 * Singapore 1 * Slovakia 1 * South Africa 4 * Spain 3 * Suriname 1 * Swaziland 2 *
 Sweden 3 * Switzerland 8 * Tanzania 1 * The Netherlands 9 * Togo 1 * Trinidad 1 * U.S.A. 113 * Uganda 1 * United Kingdom 44 * Vietnam 1 * Zambia 2

Number of countries 64 * 
Number of members 338 (up from 324 in September 2013)

Associate members

Australia 2 * Canada 6 * Chile 1 * China 1 * Czech Republic 1 * Finland 1 * France 3 * Germany 1 * Lithuania 1 * New Zealand 2 * Pakistan 2 * Portugal 1 * Switzerland 1 * The Netherlands 4 * U.S.A. 20 * United Kingdom 5

Last updated 25 July 2014

 


Last updated 20 July 2014