Annual Report 2014-2015

Report Year
2014-2015

International Environment Forum Annual Report
August 2014 to February 2015


The 19th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities for the six months from August 2014 to February 2015 between two annual conferences. The report was presented at the 19th General Assembly of the IEF in Paris, France on 11 March 2015.


18th ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM

The 18th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) was held in partnership with the Association for Baha’i Studies (ABS) - North America at its 2014 Conference on 7-10 August in Toronto, Canada. This was the second time that IEF has partnered with ABS after a successful collaboration in Washington, D.C. in 2009. The conferences of the Association for Baha'i Studies - North America attract over a thousand people, making them ideal to multiply the impact of what IEF can contribute.

The 2014 ABS conference theme was "Scholarship and the Life of Society", and the conference experimented with new formats in response to guidance encouraging the ABS to reflect on how to maintain coherence with the new processes at work in the Baha'i community. The IEF contributions to the conference included the following, described in more detail in the conference report at http://iefworld.org/conf18.

• IEF Board member Peter Adriance and IEF President Arthur Dahl facilitated a subject area consultation on Environmental Studies

• IEF member Elizabeth Bowen and Arthur Dahl participated in a plenary panel session with the theme ‘Exploring the Natural and Life Sciences’. Elizabeth Bowen shared perspectives around ‘Let Your Vision be World-Embracing’ – Why Health Sciences and Bioethics? and Arthur Dahl presented on ‘Natural Sciences and Society’

• Peter Adriance chaired an IEF breakout session which was opened by a keynote presentation by Arthur Dahl on ‘Addressing Sustainability Challenges: A Framework for Material and Spiritual Transformation’.

• IEF members Arthur Dahl, Peter Adriance, Christine Muller then participated in a panel discussion on ‘Contributing to sustainability discourse and action’ with presentations on ‘Introducing Baha’i Principles to United Nations Dialogues and Conferences’, ‘Approaches to Sustainable Development Issues and Climate Change in the American Baha’i Community’ and ‘The Wilmette Institute Course on Climate Change – an Impetus for Service and Action’.


18th IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The 18th IEF General Assembly was held during the conference in Toronto on 9 August 2014. Nine IEF members and four visitors engaged in the discussions which included consultations on the progress as described in the 2013-14 Annual Report and on future activities and priorities for the coming year. In the lead up to the 2014 conference, IEF members had been invited to provide feedback to the Board on the functioning of the IEF via a questionnaire which was discussed briefly. Following a recommendation in the Universal House of Justice's letter of 24 July 2013 concerning the Association for Baha'i Studies - North America that smaller meetings among experts on more focused topics would be useful, a recommendation was made that the IEF should consider hosting online consultations on specific areas of interest.

The General Assembly and electronic voting elected the Governing Board for 2013-2014: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Peter Adriance (USA), Emily Firth (Australia), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Wendi Momen (UK) and Duncan Hanks (Canada).

The 18th General Assembly full report is available on the IEF website at http://iefworld.org/genass18.


IEF GOVERNING BOARD

The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Emily Firth as General Secretary. The Board held one electronic meeting and one face to face teleconference meeting during the six months of this report 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 approved 12 new membership applications since August 2014.

Following recent Board consultations on ways to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the IEF, the Board has invited a select group of IEF members to form a task force to review the IEF and make recommendations for its future development. It is expected that the taskforce will report back to the Board by mid 2015. The Board continues to welcome feedback and suggestions from all members on the functioning of the IEF to maintain our valuable contribution to the important public discourse on the environment and sustainability at global, national ands local levels.


19th IEF ANNUAL CONFERENCE – 10-11 March 2015

The 19th IEF Annual Conference will be held in association with the international conference of the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France on 10-11 March 2015. The conference theme is ‘A Decade of Responsible Living: Preparing, Engaging, Responding and Learning about Responsible Lifestyles’.

As part of its contribution to the conference, the IEF will be organizing a panel on ethical transformation and education for service at the individual, community and institutional levels, with other papers presented on values-based indicators in education and the toolkits that IEF has contributed to developing. The IEF General Assembly will also be held during the conference.


CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs)

In early January, the IEF submitted an official response to the UN Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Agenda ‘The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet’. The IEF response commended the Secretary-General’s focus on youth, highlighted the importance of implementing a bottom-up process without relying solely on efforts of governments, and discussed the role of education particularly in terms of mobilizing youth whose actions are guided by moral and ethical principles. Specific reference was made to the efforts of PERL. The IEF response also called for the UN to reach beyond its traditional constituency of organizations and engage more with civil society, the media, youth and grassroots communities to build momentum for the necessary transition to a just and sustainable society. The full IEF response is available at http://iefworld.org/node/714.

In late January, the IEF responded to an invitation of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to comment on the revised draft report of ‘Indicators and a Monitoring Framework for Sustainable Development Goals: Launching a data revolution for the SDGs’. The IEF response recommended that in order to improve communication and buy-in, a small selection of indicators be identified that can be calculated and used in local communities and provided specific examples of indicators that could be used. Specific mention was made of IEF’s involvement in EU-funded research on values-based indicators of education for sustainable development and their application in secondary schools through the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living.


OTHER IEF PARTNERSHIPS AND INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)

The IEF continues to be actively engaged with the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL). PERL is 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.

IEF has been leading the PERL workgroup to prepare toolkits on values-based activities and indicators for use in schools. The first editions of three toolkits are now available: ‘Measuring What Matters – Values-based Indicators’, ‘Discovering What Matters – A journey of thinking and feeling’, and ‘Growing a Shared Vision – A toolkit for schools’. The toolkits have been printed and distributed to 60 countries. More information is available at http://iefworld.org/node/665.

ebbf

Our partnership with ebbf – Ethical Business Building the Future, the Baha'i-inspired forum for ethics in business, continues in support of its core value of sustainable development. IEF President Arthur Dahl, and Board member Wendi Momen are on the ebbf Governing Board, and several other members are active in both organizations.


IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES

In January and February, a five-week free internet course ‘Pathways to climate change adaptation: the case of Small Island Developing States’ was offered by the University of Geneva in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme. As one of the faculty, IEF President Arthur Dahl prepared a module of eight lectures on the special problems of Small Island Developing States.

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 Wilmette Institute on-line course on Climate Change led by IEF member Christine Muller and based on the IEF interfaith course on scientific and spiritual dimensions of climate change is offered twice a year in March-May and September-November 2014. IEF members serve as faculty for the course. A report was shared by IEF member Sue Blythe in the January 2015 issue of the LEAVES newsletter on the development of an interfaith climate group in Gainesville, Florida USA. This group was inspired through completion of the course in 2013. Over the past two years its members have been engaging people of various religious traditions in education, inspiration and action for a sustainable world.

IEF member Kadima Mpoyi Long’sha of Kanaga in the Democratic Republic of Congo organized a training course on Sustainable Development and Climate Change in late December and early January. The course was based on IEF materials from the website and attracted over 30 participants.


IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS

On Sunday 21 September, the largest People's March on Climate Change in history was organized in New York City, with about 400,000 people participating, including IEF members Peter Adriance, Representative for Sustainable Development for the US Baha’i Office of Public Affairs, and Christine Muller, who wrote the IEF course on climate change, and is lead faculty for the Wilmette Institute course on climate change. Similar, if smaller marches were organized in 2,600 other places around the world, involving at least another 300,000 people. Arthur Dahl marched with hundreds of others in Geneva, Switzerland.

European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD)

IEF President Arthur Dahl participated in the 10th ECPD International Conference on National Reconciliation, Religious Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans in October in Belgrade, Serbia. The conference was followed by the Second ECPD Youth Forum, where Arthur Dahl chaired a session and presented a paper on "Hope for Balkan Youth in the Contemporary World Reality" available on the IEF web site at http://iefworld.org/ddahl14g .

In November, IEF President Arthur Dahl attended a presentation on the most important findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report. A commentary provided by Arthur Dahl on this presentation and the latest findings is available at http://iefworld.org/node/705.

IEF Board members Peter Adriance and Victoria Thoresen participated in the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in November in Nagoya, Japan. More than 1,000 participants gathered for the three-day conference under the theme “Learning Today for a Sustainable Future.” The Action Plan is a follow up to the UN Decade of ESD, and will generate and scale up ESD actions in each of five priority areas of policy support, whole–institution approaches, educators, youth, and local communities.

IEF Board member Victoria Thoresen is a member of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee for the 10 Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Production and Consumption.


PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS

Two academic books with contributions by IEF members were published in November 2014.

"Transitions to Sustainability", edited by François Mancebo and Ignacy Sachs (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014), explores the challenges of putting sustainability into practice, especially in terms of governance and a new social contract. A number of chapters were written by IEF members:
• Jon Marco Church of the University of Reims on "Norms, Rules and Sustainable Planning: Who Said What About Norms"
• IEF President Arthur Dahl on "Putting the Individual at the Center of Development: Indicators of Well-Being for a New Social Contract".
• IEF Board member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen of Wageningen University on "The Legitimation of Global Energy Governance: A Normative Exploration".

"Sustainable Development and Quality Assurance in Higher Education: Transformation of Learning and Society", edited by Zinaida Fadeeva, Laima Galkute, Clemens Mader, Geoff Scott (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmilllan, 2014). Chapter 9 by Arthur Lyon Dahl is on "Sustainability and Values Assessment in Higher Education".

More detail on both these books is available at http://iefworld.org/node/710.

November also saw the publication of IEF member Paul Hanley’s book ‘Eleven’ which tackles the question of how we can manage the 11 billion population now projected for 2100. The recording of a webinar given by Paul Hanley in Washington DC on 1 February is available at https://franciscanaction.adobeconnect.com/p1bjncqk0hr/. Arthur Dahl wrote and posted a book review of Eleven on the IEF website at http://iefworld.org/node/708.


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. It includes several recent reports on United Nations efforts to prepare a post-2015 agenda and to respond to climate change, including Small Island Developing States, Sustainable Development Goals and indicators, and the Secretary-General’s synthesis report “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”

LEAVES newsletter

The newsletter team consisting of members Cynthia Diessner, Sarah Richards and Susie Howard continues to make invaluable contributions to the IEF by preparing and distributing the LEAVES newsletter each month. The newsletter shares news of IEF activities and other significant events of interest to IEF members. Contributions from members are always welcome.


CONCLUSIONS

In the relatively short time covered by this Annual Report, due to the dates of our 2014 and 2015 conferences, the IEF and its members have continued to be active in the key environmental and sustainability issues on the international agenda, contributing Baha'i-inspired perspectives when appropriate. The Peoples' Climate Marches in September showed that there is increasing public interest in acting to address the challenges the world faces. 2015 will be a critical year for the world community, with a major UN meeting on financing for development in July, a summit at the UN in New York in September to agree on the Sustainable Development Goals for every nation, and the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December, which must agree on global action to reverse climate change before it is too late to prevent significant human and environmental impact. In addition to government action, the people of the world should mobilize and begin to transform their own communities and neighbourhoods. The need to encourage a transition to a more sustainable world society has never been greater, and becomes more urgent with every passing day. The strength of the IEF is in its membership combining scientific and ethical perspectives, and including members with significant involvement in the processes and discourses under way, and those bringing change in their own local communities. We encourage all of our members to explore what they can do to be agents of change, and to help IEF to reach out to others who can contribute to catalyzing that change.


MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS

IEF MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS, UPDATED: February 2015

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 33 * Chile 1 * China 2 * Colombia 3 * Cook Islands 1 * Czech Republic 3 * Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 * Denmark 2 * East Timor 1 * Ecuador 2 * Ethiopia 1 * Fiji Islands 1 * Finland 1 * France 6 * Germany 10 * Ghana 2 * Greece 2 * Guyana, S America 1 * Hong Kong 1 * Hungary 2 * India 9 * 
Israel 1 * Kenya 1 * Liberia 1 * Malaysia 3 * Namibia 1 * New Zealand 7 * Norway 3 * Pakistan 2 * Philippines 1 * Poland 1 * Portugal 2 * Republic of Ireland 1 * Republic of Macedonia 1 * Samoa 1 * Serbia 1 * Singapore 1 * Slovakia 1 * South Africa 5 * Spain 3 * Suriname 1 * Swaziland 2 *
 Sweden 3 * Switzerland 8 * Tanzania 1 * The Netherlands 9 * Togo 1 * Tonga 1 * Trinidad 1 * U.S.A. 117 * Uganda 1 * United Kingdom 36 * Vietnam 1 * Zambia 1

Number of countries 66 * 
Number of members 354 (up from 344 in August 2014)

Associate members

Australia 2 * Canada 6 * Chile 1 * China 1 * Czech Republic 1 * Finland 1 * France 2 * Germany 1 * Ghana 1 * Lithuania 1 * New Zealand 2 * Pakistan 2 * Portugal 1 * Switzerland 1 * The Netherlands 4 * U.S.A. 21 * United Kingdom 4


Last updated 3 March 2015