Baha'i SED and Restorative Integrative Social Enterprise: intersect for climate change mitigation, adapation and low C dev path

Submitted by john kendall on 13. January 2014 - 23:13

Blog at International Environment Forum

Using Bahá'í SED Principles for REDD+

John Kendall

There has been great debate on whether the precious few financial resources that have made it through stalled UNFCCC climate negotiations should be channeled mostly towards funding resiliency for fragile, vulnerable, rural communities or rather to design and build out REDD+ (Reduced Emission from Deforestation & Degradation) emission reduction activities. The hidden reality here is that the path to resiliency for the impoverished rural south goes through meaningful, substantive, cost effective, contributions to reducing global baseline emissions. Community-driven protection of intact primary tropical forests and the restoration of damaged forest ecosystems is a big step towards climate mitigation (roughly 8% of global emissions comes from unsustainable smallholder use of forest resources). However, for a long time, official development assistance has been attempting to achieve this goal with limited success. So, how can a financially strapped international REDD+ regime change baseline behavior? A big part of the answer lies within the inherent ability of poor, southern, communities to relearn basic cooperation skills. A REDD+ ‘payment for ecosystem service’ model by itself (inspite of some interesting emerging methodological frameworks) cannot bring about the transformational change on the ground and REDD+ model projects so far have had limited success in reaching minimal goals. There is a need to demonstrate that conceptually sound Baha'i SED for governance and collective and individual motivation is the missing link to foster and drive restorative integrative social enterprise. This is more essential to the overall solution than the missing 100 billion dollars per annum of Green Climate Fund monies.

I have been an early responder in the effort to bring rural Africa into world climate change equations. Building on my experience working with First Nations (indigenous) peoples in Canada, and contributions to African emergency relief in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, I started freelancing with smallholder cooperatives in Rwanda and Burundi in 2005 looking to see how I could make a meaningful contribution to poverty reduction and environmental restoration using Baha'i SED principles and practices as a primary guide. I was able to bring, community-centered, afforestation/reforestation (ARR) offset remedies to national NGOs who were not well served by official development assistance. I eventually was able to convince a forest carbon offset developer, ERA-Ecosystem Restoration Associates, and some progressive corporations in Europe, to invest substantially in ARR and REDD+ ‘proof of concept’ pilots in Central Africa, with the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project (in the DRC), likely being the most successful attempt at facilitating the active participation of rural African communities (via galvanized social enterprise) in finding an effective balance between climate change mitigation and adaptation. I just finished designing the investment phase of the DR Congo`s national REDD program and am presently assisting the Model Forest Network establish their first Model Forests in Central Africa. I am talking with some of the key people involved in China's Eco/Low Carbon City programs about possible partnerships/initiatives (with DRC and other African countries) on making China's rather predatory natural resource procurement more ethical and sustainable.

I would be very interested in getting feedback and having constructive discussions on these emerging opportunities with IEF guest and members who are working the same and/or parallel fields (from an implementation/strategic standpoint and/or the conceptual underpinnings).


Last updated 13 January 2014

Blog comments


I'm not working directly in these fields, but have recently been exposed to some resources that may be relevant:

It appears that both the UN and (based on how it conducted its recent climate change "MOOC' [massive open online course] on the Coursera platform) the World Bank are almost looking to crowd-source ideas and solutions.

Julie Nowak, 7 April 2014


Approaching Lahore on my way from Islamabad on M2, I don’t look at the signboards to check the distance remaining, but it’s the layer of smog hovering over the “city of gardens” that best indicates that I am about to reach my destination. Pollution accumulated over the city that makes the sky look greyish blue. Chemical gases and smoke released into the air by the factories surrounding the city, mixed with the deadly exhaust emitted by the thousands of double-stroke engines of three wheeler Vespa auto rickshaws fueled by LPG; thick diesel fumes from ancient buses, trucks, cars and van running freely around the city, thanks to lack of emission testing laws in Pakistan, and smoke and chemical gases released into the open air by countless electricity generators (thanks to load-shedding) and vehicles – something no one really seems to be bothered about.

But that is not where it ends. Toxic waste from the industries surrounding the area is then dumped into the sewerage system. Hudiara Drain, running along the southern border of Lahore is one such example. Running parallel to Ali Akbar road, commonly known as Defense Road; lined with textile and garments factories and a few chemical factories; the drain carries the bulk of the deadly toxic waste to Ravi, polluting the river, which goes on to meet Indus, carrying the lethal chemicals all the way south across Punjab, into Sindh and finally into the Arabian Sea.

Lahore is just one example. The above description literally applies to every major city of Pakistan – be it Karachi, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Peshawar, Multan, Rawalpindi, or any other industrial town.

Just imagine for a few moments, poisonous waste from across the country, converging into the Indus. Imagine the impact on the aquatic life, and the agricultural lands surrounding the rivers.

The greatest example I believe is the almost extinction of the Indus River Dolphin, commonly known as the Blind Dolphin. A species found only in Pakistan’s river Indus, the Blind Dolphin is currently the second most endangered species of its kind in the world. [1]Water pollution is the greatest reason attributed to its extinction.

And talking about water, I remember as a child, it was considered perfectly safe for us to drink tap water – and thirty years later, we are forced to buy machine treated water for drinking because tap water is too unhealthy.

Sadly, it’s not just the water we have blinded ourselves to. The wave of commercialization and real estate investments that has hit the country over the past 10 years is also doing its part in the destruction of our environment, fueled by greed and ignorance. The ever increasing housing schemes that are springing up around all major cities and swiftly taking up agricultural land and forests; destroying the natural habitats of the wild life and tilting the balance created by nature – towards short term material profit and long term wasted planet with no trees, only genetically engineered hybrid crops, hormone pumped meat, and absolutely no wild life.

Sadly, all these things for me are, and have always been, routine; just like most of the other people on the planet. I read about them, I hear about them, and I blind my eyes and move on. But as a father of three, do I want my children to grow up in this polluted world? Or do I want them to be able to enjoy what I enjoyed as a child – organic meat, organic fruits and vegetable, clean and unpolluted air and clean and fresh water.
Reading articles about the World Environment Day 2014 has made me think. Reading about the efforts of various organizations like UNEP ( on International level, Center for Culture and Development (C2D) ( and Aabroo Educational Welfare Organization ( and others on national level, have made me realize that if we don’t fix our home, no one else will. That it is about waking up to our plight, and the grave we are digging for our future generations, and correct our wrongs before it’s too late. So I urge you to join me, as an individual, in making this planet a safer and healthier place to live for our generations to come. Start with your community, your home, your office, your friends; and spread the word – We are destroying OUR habitat, and once it is gone… there is no turning back!!!

Hamid Minhas, Centre for Culture and Development, 4 June 2014


Developing new conceptual frameworks for improvements at the community level is one of the most exciting challenges in the present world situation. This must be based on practical experience in real communities in different contexts around the world, following the model of action, reflection, consultation, action. Hopefully the IEF can help as a platform for the exchange of such experience as we learn how to address the challenges of sustainability from the bottom up.

Arthur Dahl, 14 January 2014


I certainly agree with Arthur Dahls comment on th January 14 2014.  I am actually working with a team of certification and development professionals to develop a new framework standard for inclusive climate resilient sustainable green growth.  We are near to launching the design, build and road test activities which will take place in a real live setting in sub Saharan Africa.  I will keep the forum posted on this new initiative which is in partial response to the stated intention of large commodity trading companies to green their supply chains at the Rio+20 Conference

John Kendall, 26 May 2014