WHAT IS THE IEF?
The IEF is a Bahá'í-inspired professional organization
addressing the environment and sustainability
Oneness of humankind
Unity in diversity
Fundamental reality of increasing planetary cooperation, complexity, and reciprocity
Ecological balance of vital importance to all
The problems of the human and planetary environment and the transition to sustainability are the major challenges of our time. While scientific knowledge is helping to define solutions, implementation is hindered by a lack of motivation and commitment, suggesting that the problems are as much social, cultural and spiritual as they are technical or scientific. Since environmental problems and development aspirations are both global and diverse in scope, so too must solutions be sought through exploration of the many approaches and rich experience of different communities, peoples, cultures and faiths. Also important is the exploration of the complementary roles played by the educational, scientific and value-oriented communities to support sustainable development.
The International Environment Forum, through its global membership and expertise, provides a platform for addressing this broad context of environment and sustainability. It offers its support to the international community of nations, which has both recognized the importance of the protection and wise management of the environment and encouraged the involvement of non-governmental organizations.
The preservation of the ecological balance of the world is of vital concern to all humanity, requiring action for the environment and sustainable development at all levels, from the local in harmony with the rhythm of life in communities, to the global and the need for effective governance of the Earth system.
Spiritual principles are relevant for the environment and sustainability. Some of these principles include:
a) moderation in consumption and development to avoid the dangers of material civilization carried to excess,
b) recognition of the oneness of humankind and how all things are interrelated, and
c) the importance of unity in diversity and the fundamental reality of increasing levels of cooperation, complexity and reciprocity across all of creation.
Our inner life cannot be separated from the environment around us, requiring that we address issues of environment and sustainability at the level of fundamental ethical and moral values and principles.
THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The IEF is a Bahá'í-inspired professional non-governmental organization founded in 1997 with more than 500 members in over 90 countries on five continents. The IEF membership includes scientists, academics, experts, educators, students and representatives of civil society working in relevant fields. The IEF is accredited by the United Nations in the science and technology major group, collaborating with the International Science Council (ISC) and participating in international conferences on environment, climate change and sustainability.
The IEF combines science with spiritual principles to balance the power of modern technologies with wisdom and responsibility for all life, to prefer the joy of serving humankind above worldly interests, to reject the opiate of consumerism, and to turn away from materialistic ideologies and the worldviews they aggressively promote. Its purpose is to work for the betterment of the world, and to promote living together in harmony with our planetary environment.
What then does it mean to be Bahá'í-inspired? The IEF draws on the ethical and spiritual principles of the world’s religions, in particular the Bahá'í Faith, as a complement to scientific knowledge in addressing the challenges of environmental management, sustainable development, and governance of the Earth system. A scientific understanding, by itself, is usually not sufficient to change human behaviour. Motivating change, either in individual lifestyles and consumption patterns, or collectively in communities, enterprises and government, requires a commitment to moral principles or values and some vision of social improvement that science, by itself, does not provide. It is this interface between ethics and science that the IEF addresses.
The Bahá'í Writings warn of the dangers of material civilization carried to excess, enjoin moderation, emphasize the oneness of humankind, and support ecological principles such as the interrelatedness of all things, unity in diversity, and the fundamental reality of increasing levels of cooperation, complexity and reciprocity across the vast extent of creation. The Bahá'í Faith considers the preservation of the ecological balance at all levels in the world to be of vital concern to all humanity, and urges action for the environment and sustainable development from the local to the global level in ways that are in harmony with the rhythm of life in the community. Our inner life cannot be separated from the environment around us, the two being intimately interrelated, requiring that environmental and sustainable development issues also be addressed at the level of fundamental ethical and moral values and principles.
WHAT DOES THE IEF DO?
As a small virtual organization with no funds, the International Environment Forum (IEF) works largely through its international membership networked via the Internet, sharing their results on the IEF website, organizing annual conferences, and contributing to UN dialogues and international events.
The IEF's objectives and actions include the following:
- Provide a forum for its members to deepen their understanding of the social, ethical and spiritual principles that relate to environmental responsibility and sustainable development and to explore the application of those principles in their work and activities;
- Engage with individuals and other groups and apply members' collective knowledge for the benefit of society;
- Promote environmental awareness and sustainability by, inter alia, developing educational materials through which children, youth and adults are empowered to contribute to practical action.
Annual conferences have been held around the world since 1997 on the following themes:
Conference reports are available by clicking on the themes, and on the IEF website (here).
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