BAHA'I FAITH AND ENVIRONMENT
This page assembles resources documenting the involvement of the founders of the Bahá'í Faith, its institutions, and significant individual Bahá'ís in the environment and sustainability.
Selected Bahá'í-Associated Events and Activities
Selected External Events
EARLY PERIOD (the roots of the tree, 1800s to 1970)
|Early to mid 1900s
MIDDLE PERIOD (the trunk of the tree 1970-2009)
CONTEMPORARY PERIOD (leaves and branches of the tree, 2010+)
1 "We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions." (Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 1933)
2 Journal of Bahá'í Studies, Vol. 7, number 2, 1988. This document was reprinted in different forms and distributed widely by the BIC throughout the ‘90s.
3 “...assisting in endeavours to conserve the environment in ways which blend with the rhythm of life of our community must assume more importance in Bahá'í activities.” (UHJ, Ridvan 1989)
4 “Through the newly established Office of the Environment, the Bahá'í International Community, on its own initiative and in collaboration with other environmental organizations, re-instituted the annual World Forestry Charter Gathering founded in 1945 by the renowned Richard St. Barbe Baker; since then the Office of the Environment has been invited to participate in important events sponsored by international organizations concerned with environmental questions.” (UHJ, Ridvan 1990)
5 No longer in print. Used copies may be available. Link is review of book.
7 The Bahá'í position on the Charter, determined later that year, is captured in this sentence: "While not officially endorsing the Earth Charter, the Baha'i International Community considers the effort toward drafting it and activities in support of its essential objectives to be highly commendable, and it will continue to participate in related activities, such as conferences, forums and the like." (From Wikipedia entry on the Earth Charter.)
8 Baha’I delegation to the WSSD is comprised of 21 individuals from six sister organizations: BIC; NSAs of Canada, Brazil, S. Africa; IEF and the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF). They participate in events in three areas: the official negotiating sessions; the civil society forum; and Ubuntu Village (a meeting ground between the two). They manage two exhibits and a press liaison office. More than 70 Baha’i’s from surrounding communities provide hospitality and logistical support.
9 The Canadian NSA letter notes, “Far from distracting from the processes of growth underway in Canada, attention to environmental practices that respect the earth and the oneness of its inhabitants must support and sustain them. Thus, small initiatives should be undertaken to gradually increase consciousness of our “ecological footprint” and develop capacity for responsible action that responds to the challenges of global climate change.”
10 At the 2008 Baha'i Conference on Social and Economic Development in Orlando, Florida, on 19-21 December 2008, the theme was sustainable development. The whole Saturday morning was devoted to climate change and its multiple dimensions, chaired by IEF board member Peter Adriance, and including IEF members Arthur Dahl, Halldor Thorgeirsson and Duncan Hanks, and Baha'i International Community representative Tahirih Naylor-Thimm.
11 The letter encourages Bahá'ís to “incorporate greater awareness of the environment in your community life and core activities.” It notes, “Materials will be developed to facilitate this study, but many resources, both Bahá'í-inspired and others, are already available.” Bahá'í resources include IEF and the NSA websites.
12 The statement became a focus of study at the NGO orientation for CSD-18 and was used to shape collective NGO oral statement in opening plenary.
13 “At the level of the cluster, involvement in public discourse can range from an act as simple as introducing Bahá’í ideas into everyday conversation to more formal activities such as the preparation of articles and attendance at gatherings, dedicated to themes of social concern—climate change and the environment, governance and human rights, to mention a few.” (UHJ, para. 30, Ridvan 2010)
14 The facilitated dinner discussion is a first attempt to find alternate ways of advancing a key discourse than through a traditional side event. It is deemed very successful by all participants (8 Bahá'ís and 8 guests), and will be tried again in different venues.
Based on a table by Peter Adriance, with updates
Last updated 8 October 2023