INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
15th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Individual, Community, and Institutions
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 10 and 11 December 2011
held at the Bahá’í Centre of Learning for Tasmania, 1 Tasman Highway, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, http://www.tasbcl.com.au
The main sessions were streamed live on the internet, and can be viewed at http://www.tasbcl.com.au/live.html (see conference report below).
SPEAKERS' BIOGRAPHIES - PHOTO ALBUM - STATEMENT
Most scientists see the recent record droughts, heat waves, snowstorms, tropical storms, floods, bushfires, famines and melting icecaps as the first impacts of global warming due to human emissions of greenhouse gases. The 15th International Environment Forum (IEF) Conference in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, with nearly a hundred participants in person and others following live streaming over the Internet, took a deeper look at the ethics and science needed to cope with adverse climate change, and explored creative responses that individuals, communities and institutions can make to preserve our planet, living the principle of the oneness of humankind to save our world.
One Healthy Planet, One People Living Ethically...Please!
Experts and scholars presented their views on climate change science and strategies to address this global challenge, and participated in interactive workshops to investigate the science and practical responses to climate change, learning what each one can do now to make a difference.
The conference was hosted by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia and the Baha'i community of Tasmania in the beautiful and environmentally-sustainable Bahá'í Centre of Learning for Tasmania in Hobart.
Conference Statement below, or download as pdf
Conference Proceedings as pdf
Conference web site: http://www.internationalenvironmentforumhobart.com.au/
Download Conference Flyer (pdf)
”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."
(Secretary of Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 17 February 1933, to an individual believer)
FRIDAY EVENING 9 DECEMBER 2011
Public meeting organized by the Bahá'í Community
Spiritual Principles for Sustainable Development
Link to video recording: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302284144
Watch video of Peter Adriance's talk from TasBCLDue to technical problems, the sound cuts off during wide angle camera shots. Sorry!
Sustainability and a Culture of Change
Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl
Download presentation [pdf 2.4 MB]
Link to video recording: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289259. [first few minutes missing]
MISSING FIRST SLIDE: Sustainability is a dynamic concept, not a goal to be reached but a balance to be maintained in space and in time, involving complex interactions in the whole system that maintains life on Earth (the environmental component), including the human system (the social and economic components), that must respect planetary limits.
Our present material civilization has depended on the planet's natural resources and the cheap energy subsidy from fossil fuels, but our rapidly-growing population and consumer society are hitting planetary limits with serious threats to our future. A sustainable society is technically possible but requires fundamental change. How do we get from here to there?
Sustainability is not a goal to be reached but a balance to be maintained in space and over time, requiring constant change. The more we are out of balance, the more change is required. Unfortunately humans are creatures of habit and we dislike change, both as individuals and as institutions.
Watch video of Arthur Dahl's presentation and joint Q&A from TasBCL
SATURDAY 10 DECEMBER 2011
General Chair: Charles Boyle
Morning Devotions and Musical presentation - Angela Bryan and Teresa Drozdz
Welcome and Announcements - Welcome to Country
Link to video recording of keynote and special presentations: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289324
Keynote presentation: A Short History of the Involvement of the Bahá'í Community on Environmental Issues
Peter Adriance, NGO Environmental Liaison for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States
- Powerpoint presentation [pdf 3.6MB] - Powerpoint presentation [ppt 7MB] - Written script for presentation [download docx] - Paper
- Timeline Chart on the Bahá'í Faith and the Environment
- Download Timeline Chart on the Bahá'í Faith and the Environment (docx)
The Bahá‘í Faith emerged in the latter half of the 19th century. Bahá‘u‘lláh (the prophet-founder of the Faith) revealed Teachings to address the needs of the coming age. Understood by Bahá‘ís as the Word of God for today, these Writings form the foundation of Baha'i belief. Replete with references to nature, and comprehensive in their scope, they provide inspiration and guidance for the community‘s involvement in contemporary environmental issues. The evolution of the community‘s engagement on this topic might best be understood by looking at three distinct periods. Before 1970, environmental appreciation and concern was reflected in certain actions of the Central Figures of the Faith (Bahá‘u‘lláh, 'Abdu‘l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi) as well as in the life work of a prominent early believer -- internationally renowned environmental pioneer, Richard St. Barbe Baker, known as the "Man of the Trees". A second significant period beginning in the 1970s, and continuing to the present day is marked by the Bahá‘í International Community‘s engagement in important environmental discourses at the international level, which has often served as a stimulus and guide for actions by Bahá‘ís at the national, local and individual levels. A third significant period of involvement is just getting underway and complements the ongoing institutional efforts. Through increasing engagement in 'core activities‘ individuals and communities are building capacity and beginning to integrate greater environmental awareness into their activities, while engaging with others in relevant discourses and undertaking meaningful social action. This emerging level of involvement is contributing to greater coherence between belief and action in the community.
Watch video of conference opening, Peter Adriance and Stuart Hall from TasBCL
Special Talk: Overview of the Sustainable Design of the Tasmanian Bahá'í Centre of Learning building
For pictures of the BCL see photo album below
The Bahá'í Centre of Learning is positioned on the historic site of the Hobart Railway Station. Befitting this historical location and its overarching aspirations for the future, the Centre has incorporated symbolic references to unity and sustainability in its design and construction. It includes a domed main auditorium, smaller meeting rooms, and spaces conducive to contemplation and repose, with a reading room, library and scenic bay window seats. It provides a self-sustaining facility that will last for many generations, and will also be substantially recyclable in the future.
The kite-shaped double-glazed skylights in the dome provide natural lighting to the main auditorium, and the central lantern is filled with Nanogel (a lightweight thermal insulator developed by NASA). The dome design integrates both passive and active control systems for regulating the internal temperature and allows warm air at the top of the dome to circulate to lower and cooler areas through a heat stratification system. In the event of over-heating vents in the dome open up and warm air is vented upwards through natural convection. The extensive insulation, double-glazed windows and polished concrete floor provide for passive solar heating, minimal heat loss and reduction in traffic noise.
This construction also incorporates principles of advanced energy efficiency. Air-tight construction minimizes heat loss while insulation of 600mm in the roof and 200mm in the walls is entirely recycled newspaper. Energy efficient lighting systems and electrical fixtures complement the natural light which enters through numerous tall windows. Solar panels are planned to reduce further the need for other sources of energy.
The majority of timber used is either recycled or plantation grown. Trees were not removed from the original building site. A London plane tree in the middle of the site was encapsulated in the foyer and now springs from the central atrium allowing light and ventilation while filtering the noises of the city. The landscaping uses native Tasmanian flora. Materials used, such as stone, stainless steel, aluminium and timber, were in as close to their natural state as possible. All interior surfaces have been finished with natural paints sourced from organically-grown plant-based oils and mineral pigments.
To meet future demands for water, 50,000L capacity tanks have been installed below-ground to collect and store rain from the roofs filtered through Enviroflow gutters.
Panel Session One: Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Adaptation/Responses
Moderator: Al Riebau
Link to video recording of panel session: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289379
Bahá'í Concepts of Capacity Building as a Response to Adverse Climate Change
Dr. Arini Beaumaris, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia
Download presentation [pdf 7 MB]
The Bahá‘í approach believes we have the necessary skills to acquire the knowledge to solve all the problems currently facing humanity. However, the basis of our current issues lies more in a "paralysis of will" and a lack of capacity to develop unified action. This can be identified as a lack of spiritual capacity. To develop such capacity will require the transformation at the individual, community and institutional levels of society. Hence there is a need to identify what capacities need to be built at each of these levels of functioning and what should be the roles of each of these elements in overcoming adverse climate change. There is a need to identify what are these key spiritual capabilities to build capacity to address climate change. A capability is made up of knowledge, attitudes, virtues and skills involving identifying what these will look like in a given context. Such a list would involve personal, interpersonal and societal capabilities. Our society currently works from a modality of polarization where there is a right or a wrong way to respond. This approach may have been effective in the past; however we are now part of a pluralistic and complex society requiring very different approaches to solving complex problems. Due to the levels of complexity involved and learning how to move from the collective stage of humanity of independence of nation states, to an interdependent global community will require a more transcendent approach.
What would this look like?
Develop the capacity to consult together to achieve a unity of vision, based on the ability to independently assess for ourselves the truth of a given matter, rather than allowing vested interests to dominate. At a practical level this can be developed through undertaking discourses in social spaces to hear from participants what are the issues to be addressed and to explore possible solutions.
Identify the spiritual principles involved such as justice and equity and to explore how these principles need to be applied in a given situation. This is referred to as administering by exigency not precedence.
Work towards developing a culture of learning where it is a process of becoming rather than being right or wrong. This can be developed through a process of action and collective reflection to continue to find advancing solutions.
Educate our children, junior youth and youth to take spiritual responsibility for our planet.
Finding a balance between prosperity and sustainability
Empowerment and ownership at the grassroots and community levels through study and prayerful reflection on issues impacting the building of spiritual community.
Developing project of social action to address the issues of climate change where appropriate.
Service activities are seen as the highest expression of human capacity
It will require the building of a society based on both material and spiritual capacities to find creative solutions to address climate change.
International Governance for Climate Responsibility
Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl, President, International Environment Forum, Geneva, Switzerland
Download presentation [pdf 139 KB]
Climate change caused by excessive anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases threatens profound changes to the natural systems on which our society depends. The rich contribute most to the problem, and the poor will be most affected, presenting a moral and ethical challenge. Since this is a global problem, the solutions must also be sought partly at the global level through improved international governance. This presentation first looks at the global requirement for climate change mitigation, adaptation and restoration, and then explores the governance mechanisms necessary to meet these requirements.
To mitigate or reduce climate change requires addressing its causes, most fundamentally to stop extracting fossil carbon and releasing it into the atmosphere. For a civilization addicted to the cheap energy subsidy from fossil fuels and resulting energy-driven growth, this will be traumatically difficult. An international mechanism already exists to agree to greenhouse gas reductions in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, but governments still have great difficulty looking beyond their immediate self-interest even when so much of their future is at stake. A governance process is needed to allocate greenhouse gas reductions with justice and equity, with regard both to the historical responsibility for creating the problem and the ability to pay for the costs of the measures required. The targets set must acknowledge that countries will be impacted differently, and for some their future survival is at stake. The green economy is one response to this issue.
With the great inertia in the climate system, change has already started and is accelerating, so international efforts must include measures to adapt to the actual and projected impacts from extreme weather events (storms and floods), drought, changing agricultural and fisheries conditions, melting ice, acidifying oceans and rising sea-levels. Since the poor are the most impacted and have the least capacity to protect themselves or adapt, mechanisms for determining liability, raising funds and providing compensation will be necessary. Many areas will see their carrying capacity reduced or become uninhabitable, producing massive numbers of migrants.
Climate change will alter many natural systems, threatening species survival, ecological balances and overall system productivity. Maintaining the planet's capacity to support its human population despite the changing climate will require restoring environmental systems and services. Global research and monitoring will need to guide massive investments in environmental restoration, both encouraging the regeneration of surviving natural systems and engineering whole new ecological systems where no present systems are adapted to the changing conditions.
Building on the present institutions of international governance, the UNFCCC should be strengthened with review and enforcement, dispute settlement, liability and compensation mechanisms. Scientific assessments should determine where there is carrying capacity for displaced populations. The International Organization for Migration should have new powers like the World Trade Organization to reduce barriers to immigration, allocate migrants equitably, and cover the costs of migration and resettlement. Ultimately, the international governance required to respond to climate change should evolve into a federated world government with legislative, executive and judicial functions, empowered to manage and equitably distribute the planet's resources, and to draw on all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet. It would need to operate by the principle of subsidiarity, safeguarding individual initiative, encouraging sustainable local communities, and maintaining the autonomy and diversity of its state members, while coordinating global action as necessary. Climate change is becoming one of the most significant forces pushing states to take this next logical step in the inevitable globalization of human society.
Australia's Climate Future
Professor Tony Press, CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania
Download presentation [pdf 8.8 MB]
The current trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions will lead to significant changes in climate across Australia. The average the temperature is projected to rise and rainfall decrease. These changes are not necessarily uniform across the whole of Australia, but significant areas of agricultural and pastoral lands in Australia face a warmer, drier future, and coastal Australia will affected by sea-level rise. Fine scale modelling of future climate in Tasmania (a world first) demonstrates that understanding how regional climates will evolve enables communities to respond to climate change. It also provides a context for taking both mitigation and adaptation actions to combat climate change.
Individual and Community Climate Change Adaption
Todd Houstein, Executive Officer, Sustainable Living Tasmania
Adaptation at the individual and community levels will be needed both for the direct impacts of climate change and its indirect impacts on Tasmania. Re-vegetation could help to protect against storm surges on the Tasmanian coast. The last bad bush fires in Tasmania were in 1967, but they have been bad in Victoria and Western Australia, so we should be preparing with building controls and natural firebreaks. Flooding may be more frequent and affect food security, but Tasmania is overall one of the best places to be to avoid climate change impacts. The indirect impacts include climate refugees and food security elsewhere. There will be an ethical responsibility to help other people. Passing peak oil will raise prices for agriculture and transport and affect imports and exports. Climate change can trigger other events such as a second collapse of the financial system, leading to economic collapse and social breakdown. We shall need a stronger sense of community and social ties, building resilience against the uncertainty of multiple changes. We should reduce energy use and meet our needs locally at the individual, community and state levels. Information technologies will still allow us to share across the world.
What works in influencing people? We can use the tools of psychology and marketing to convince people to consume less and live more sustainably. Paul Gilding has described what is coming in his book The Great Disruption. We are still in denial, but with enough impacts, people will start changing. We should focus on the financial, health and social benefits of change, as in the Transition Towns movement. We should showcase the dreamers, and encourage, support and connect them. There are beginnings in community-supported agriculture, resource and skill sharing, being there for one another, building emotional resilience. Sudden change will be a shock, and we shall need to accompany people. The great disruption will be daunting but exciting, as it will lead to a better future.
Getting Future Ready - Adaptation and Ethics
Gareth Johnston, Director, Future Ready Pty Ltd; Managing Director of Live Local Foundation; Three Days More P/L
Download presentation [pdf 2.9 MB]
The impacts of climate change creates winners and losers. Some northern latitudes gain from warmer temperatures opening up new access to water and lands, lengthening growing seasons, extending mineral and oil extraction and shortening winters. Other regions mostly in southern latitudes suffer negative impacts, creating food shortages and famine, disease proliferation, droughts, floods and conflict. Despite decades of scientific awareness, research and political system foci on climate change, little ethical consideration of adaptation responses has taken place. Fundamental issues relating to adaptation such as if, where, when, how, how much, why and by and with whom adaptation takes place are rarely considered through an ethical lens. Many communities already facing climate impacts especially island nations in the South Pacific face uncertainty, competition for resources and well intended but often mis-directed interventions by aid and international agencies.
Few if any past or current interventions are approached using a participatory or co-design process and many physical measures such as seawalls have negative impacts on livelihoods, environment and resources. Local needs are often overridden in the desire to produce results for donors, aid consultancies seeking demonstrable outcomes and budget investment terms.
As scientific understanding of climate variability, climate change and social engagement processes develops, there are emerging opportunities to challenge and improve adaptation measures. Using shorter term forecasts, staged or phased measures, improvements of community driven education, dialogue and participatory planning, better outcomes for all can be achieved.
Local livelihoods are critical for local resilience. Maintaining and supporting these whilst planning for change can support local culture, cohesion and economy.
The continuing failure of international agreement on a post Kyoto mitigation process, driven in part by bounded scientific uncertainty and political failure, should not become a barrier for inaction on adaptation. With added financial pressures from a post GFC recovery, many other regions are facing climate impacts on food, natural resources, water supply and disease. Increasing competition for aid budgets will also cause communities to miss out on support.
Major human and natural populations are at risk in the Sunderbans delta on the Bay of Bengal at the super confluence of the Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Local corruption and human v.s. conservation conflict, vulnerability differentials and differing values are adding to the complexity. Other climate signatures are visible in regional conflicts such as Darfur.
Despite differences in belief systems, culture, economic wealth, education, political affiliations, geographic advantage, government and religion, more common values and ethical similarities bind us than divide us. An opportunity to work deeply on shared values, ethics and responses using participatory processes may lead to better planned, locally appropriate outcomes. Examples from Bangladesh serve as a lesson to us all. I invite this audience to discuss and dialogue approaches.
Questions and Answers to Panel Speakers
Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change: IEF Interfaith Study Course and Other Materials for Developing a Dialogue
Al Riebau, Christine Muller (via skype)
This workshop explored the Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change -- a free 'Ruhi style' or workshop course developed by Christine Muller and formally adopted by the IEF. This workshop also included a discussion of the earth's atmosphere, the how the greenhouse phenomena works to keep our planet's temperature regulated, and why changing atmospheric gas concentrations can change the climate. It also explored how various religious traditions, with a focus on the Baha'i writings, express our collective spiritual responsibility to the environment, using material drawn from Christine Muller's course on the scientific and spiritual dimensions of climate change. In conclusion, it discussed how individuals might use Christine's course to facilitate study groups in their own communities.
What ethical considerations are entailed in the greenhouse gas theory of Earth's climate regulatory system?
What are some ethical considerations about adaptation to climate change?
Do you think a study group on Christine Muller's course is a good idea in your community? If so, who should participate?
What other materials might be useful to start a constructive dialogue about climate change?
The Baha'i Five Year Plan and Climate Change
This workshop explored some of the issues related to the present focus and direction of the five year plan and in particular the integration of environmental responsibility and activities within the pattern of Baha'i life. It considered in particular the idea of service to the community and how responding to environmental change might give direction to our personal, institutional and community lives.
Reflect on the current pattern of Baha'i life and consider how this might be modified if environmental concern was a high priority?
What insights might we offer as a Baha'i community to the social and demographic changes that will likely arise?
What spiritual qualities might become prominent in preparing for and responding to environmental change?
How can we best serve the world in our daily lives, careers and life choices?
Refugees and Food Security
Arthur Dahl and Amir Abadi
Academies of science of developed nations, such as Australia, are very confident of several fundamental conclusions about climate change: "that human activities since the industrial revolution have sharply increased greenhouse gas concentrations; that these added gases have a warming effect; and that the Earth‘s surface has indeed warmed since the Industrial Revolution." Furthermore, the same scientific institutions state that analyses with climate models show that that, by 2100, a 2°C global warming would lead to a significantly different world from the one we now inhabit. Likely consequences would include more heat waves, fewer cold spells, changes to rainfall patterns and a higher global average rainfall, disturbances to marine and terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, disruption to food production in some regions and rising sea levels. The United Nations expects that for the less developed countries current trajectories of climate change will have mounting effects on health, crop yields, livelihoods, refugees, and conflict. Consequently, climate change has the potential to undermine economic development, increasing poverty and delaying or preventing the realization of the development goals of the poor nations, most of whom are ill-prepared to adapt to climate change. Particularly, the lack of effective adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change can jeopardize the goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability. These impacts will displace millions of people, many of them permanently, and cause major disruptions to communities on a scale never experienced before. The expected overall reduction in agricultural outputs will threaten food security, leading to protein deficiency and malnutrition and heightening the risk of famine. Food security is a particular challenge for the poor, as food shortages raise prices beyond their reach. The expected increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, cyclones and raising sea levels will disproportionally affect the poor nations. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in many developing countries, yet these countries have not been the primary cause of it. Since everyone with a comfortable lifestyle contributes to climate change, we all have an ethical responsibility for its impacts on others.
What is our responsibility for the victims of climate change, and how can it be expressed?
How can we contribute to the discourse in society on welcoming and assisting climate refugees?
What can be done to build a sense of community among peoples of diverse origins thrown together as a result of climate change?
What national, regional and international measures will be needed to manage population displacements and ensure food security?
Conference reconvened and workshops reported outcomes
Evening Programme: Special Musical Programme - Angela Bryan, Adrian Bryan, Jules Wilek
Video - How to Boil a Frog and discussion
Link to video recording of evening programme: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289538
Watch video of evening programme from TasBCL
SUNDAY 11 DECEMBER 2011
General Chair: Zarin Salter
Morning Devotions and Musical Presentation - Angela Bryan and Rebecca Bryan
Link to video recording of special presentation and keynote talk: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289600
Watch video of Bill Thomas and Tessa Scrine from TasBCL
Special Presentation: Conservation Properties: A Formal Agreement to "Commune with nature"
Bill Thomas, Conservationist
A desire to regenerate the bush turns into a dream of a lifetime. What started out being a strong desire to preserve the native environment took on a new face when the opportunity came up to purchase a special mountain property. Sitting at 1100m on the Great Dividing Range in Hampton, NSW, the 100 hectare property immediately became a Flora and Fauna Sanctuary. Twenty years of regeneration and improvements contributed to a noticeable transformation of the land and its surrounding environment. Negotiations with the State Govt lead to a co-operative arrangement being forged – a Conservation Agreement. The property is preserved in perpetuity while still being the responsibility of the owners to care for and enjoy. A short slide show tells the story of a family‘s passion while Conservation Agreements are explained.
Keynote Speaker: "It's a Moral Issue" - How the Current Endeavours of the Bahá'í Community Contribute the the Global Response to the Challenge of Climate Change
Tessa Scrine, Member of the Baha'i Continental Board of Counsellors for Australasia
Download presentation [pdf 613 KB]
The worldwide Bahá‘í Community is currently pursuing the latest in a series of global plans designed to systematically contribute to generating the moral will and capacity among growing numbers of people across the world to address not only climate change but many of the challenges facing humanity today. The Plan focuses on extending a transformative and organic process of distance education, on which Bahá‘í community development processes and activities are founded. It promotes the development and activity of individuals, institutions and the community and fosters new relations between these three protagonists. Social action and participation in the prevalent discourses of society contribute to the Plan‘s aim, as part of a coherent framework of action. Along with further developing the culture of the Bahá‘í community, growth itself is an important objective of the Plan, so as to generate increased momentum and resources for the creation of a new and peaceful world civilization. This ever-advancing civilization will encompass the spiritual and material dimensions of life, reflect the aspirations of growing numbers of the world‘s inhabitants and allow justice and dignity for all.
Panel Session Two: Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Mitigation/Responses
Moderator: John Davidson
Link to video recording of panel presentation and Q&A: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289657
Watch video of panel presentation from TasBCL
Overcoming Partisan Politics While Advocating a Sustainable Planetary Society
Dr. Natalie Mobin-Kehseh, Director, Office of External Affairs, Australian Bahá'í Community
Download presentation [pdf 644 KB]
In recent years, efforts to address the challenge of climate change in the Australian context have been increasingly mired in rancorous partisan political conflict. The result has been damaging both to the development of sound policy, and to the state of the national discourse on climate change and the environment. This presentation raises the question of whether the current partisan political system is serving effectively as a mechanism for making decisions about serious, long term challenges such as those the Australian and global communities face today. Drawing on the experience of the worldwide Bahá'í Community in developing inclusive, non-partisan structures and processes for decision-making, it outlines some of the characteristics that a more effective system might adopt. The presentation poses a number of questions to help frame and guide further consideration of what more just, responsible and effective approaches to governance might look like.
- The Prosperity of Humankind, Bahá'í International Community. A statement prepared by the Bahá'í International Community Office of Public Information, first distributed at the United Nations World Summit on Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1995
- Transforming Collective Deliberation: Valuing Unity and Justice, Bahá'í International Community. A statement to the 48th Session of the Commission for Social Development, New York, 2010
- Reflections on Governance, Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity, 2010; published on-line at http://www.globalprosperity.org/library
Something Good This Way Came: World Governments' Successes on Ozone Depletion, Acid Rain, and Air Pollution
Allen R. Riebau, PhD. USDA Forest Service National Program Leader for Atmospheric Sciences/ Chief Atmospheric Scientist (retired); Principal Scientist - Nine Points South Technical Pty. Ltd.
Download presentation [pdf 1.4 MB]
It is often very easy to be totally and irreversibly disenchanted with the actions of government and people on the environment. We should all consider that there have been great successes made in our lifetimes on protecting the atmosphere, however. The Convention of the Long Range Transport of Air Pollution (LRTAP) has done much to solve acid rain in Europe. In the early 1960's many feared that governments would allow the complete destruction of the earth's ozone layer, with catastrophic results being predicted but nations have joined together under the Montreal Protocol to remedy the problem. Air pollution, an extremely challenging problem both technically and economically which is growing worldwide, has also been mitigated through cooperation and development of standards. The three problems are part of a bigger even more challenging whole – catastrophic transition to a new climate and biosphere 'steady state'. Without the collective action in national and international politics we are extremely unlikely to move forward this issue with any alacrity. Is it possible then to regard the environmental progress of governments skeptically but also not lose complete faith in them having any ability to make progress? Individuals, Communities, and Institutions need to take a rational stand and have a voice in these issues and others that concern the environment... that means well-considered activism, setting good examples, managing materialism/consumption, voting, choosing careers, becoming knowledgeable about the issues, and building partnerships. Such actions will ensure that governments remain a force for environmental progress.
What Really Needs to be Done to Mitigate Human Caused Climate Change?
Peter Boyer, Founder of Climate Tasmania and noted journalist
Download presentation [pdf 443 KB]
Human-induced warming is an unprecedented threat to civil society and life as we know it. Science knows of no other time within the past 100 million years where the whole planet has been subjected to such a massive injection of carbon over so short a period of time. The only comparable event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), was a massive warming where seismic activity set off greenhouse gas release, but it occurred over many thousands of years. Nothing in nature explains current temperature rises and related changes in ocean chemistry. Science, which predicted current warming, has identified a single cause of these changes: the release of carbon into the atmosphere over the past two centuries or so by humans burning coal, oil and forests.
Climate change challenges us both collectively and personally to change the technologies we use and the way we behave.
Because the activities that have added carbon to the atmosphere present such an enormous future threat, we are obliged to change these activities. If we wish to continue mining, clearing land, manufacturing goods, using electrical energy, travelling — any of these activities and more — we must work out how to do them without adding carbon to the air. It‘s either that, or we have to stop doing them. Or we fry. This responsibility is both collective and personal. But this physical imperative is just the beginning of the problem. Counter to our instinct to respond to immediate, obvious threats, mitigating climate change requires imaginative, rational, and to a large degree non-intuitive responses.
Climate change is so big and abstract, so removed from our current, comfortable lives, that it defies belief. Paul Ehrlich calls this "evolutionary mismatch". Our hunter-gatherer brains evolved to deal with visible, imminent threats, not the creeping, invisible threat posed by a slowly cooking planet. Even if we‘ve grasped that it‘s real, it‘s doubly difficult to motivate ourselves and others to act. We have to find a way of presenting these apparently abstract threats as real and imminent. This is a personal, social and political challenge.
Strong negative campaigns reveal governments’ powerlessness to deal with this challenge. Governments are a product of history and largely of their people, but they are failing in the face of this challenge. This is partly because inefficiency — a necessary part of democracy and good government — is built into the system. But the principal cause of the repeated setbacks is a concerted campaign by vested interests to maintain the status quo by setting out deliberately to undermine the credibility of scientists and their work.
Direct physical action will fail without paradigm shifts, incorporating political and institutional reform across the globe.
The greatest responsibility lies with developed nations, historically the greatest carbon polluters. Democracy is seen as a weakness, but it is also potentially a great strength. If a majority of the voting public in a sufficient number of countries is convinced that the climate threat is real and imminent, contrary to denialist propaganda campaigns, then we have a chance of containing the damage. The number of countries needed may be quite small.
Charles Boyle, Senior Architect and Project Manager, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Download presentation [pdf 1.8 MB]
The unique and unprecedented nature of climate change demands of us new and innovative approaches to planning, design, technology and organisation, yet how easy it is to play safe and plan for familiar life and career paths and let others find solutions. We must then allow ourselves to be captivated by new and innovative ideas that we might recognise in them opportunities to better serve the needs of the age in which we live.
What Faith Communities Can Do in Response to Climate Change
Dr. Miriam Pepper, Secretary, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC); Member, Uniting Earthweb Group; Member, Faith & Ecology Network
Download presentation [pdf 962 KB]
What might faith communities do in seeking to respond to the climate crisis? What might our potential contributions be within our own religious circles, as well as in public life more broadly? This presentation explored these questions, and gave examples of responses from Australian faith communities, within a framework that understands climate change as a crisis that calls fundamentally for deep spiritual questioning about who we are and how we live. Faith communities have a responsibility and opportunity to reflect on our stories about how the world is and how it should be, and also to ask ourselves how we are implicated in and affected by the crisis and how we might change. We are called to take action in our own communities – addressing our lifestyles, operations and modes of organisation – and in speaking with conviction into the broader public sphere in advocating for change. This journey of reflection and action is one that we do within and across our communities of faith, building bridges across social and religious difference and forging momentum, power and action for the common good.
Questions and Answers to Panel Speakers
International Environment Forum Annual General Assembly
See IEF General Assembly and IEF Annual Report 2010-2011
Practical and Spiritual Approaches to Reducing One's Carbon Footprint at the Individual, Community and Institutional Levels
Peter Adriance, NGO Liaison for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá‘ís of the US
Dr Dimity Podger, Director, Barasa Consulting Group
This interactive, participatory and futures-oriented workshop explored the concept of the carbon footprint, how it can be measured, and why it is important to understand. It then explored the range of spiritual principles that would help provide the motivation to reduce one's carbon footprint, and reviewed possible steps that individuals, communities and institutions could take to reduce their carbon footprint, along with the spiritual principles underlying these actions and essential to their success. It then formed groups to make specific plans to reduce carbon footprints -- at the individual, community and institutional levels -- while identifying the underlying spiritual principles.
Workshop Focus Questions:
What is a carbon footprint, why is it important to know and how could it be measured?
What are some of the spiritual principles that would motivate us to reduce our carbon footprint?
What ideas were identified by the group for individuals, communities, and institutions to reduce their carbon footprints and what spiritual principles prompted those ideas?
Contributing to the Environmental Sustainability Strategy for the Australian Bahá'í Community
Erin O‘Connor - Environmental anthropologist
Stuart McKenzie Hall - Architect & Construction Manager
The purpose of the National Environmental Taskforce (N.E.T) is to develop strategies for the environmental sustainability of the Australian Baha‘i Community. This workshop engaged with the community and invited expert feedback and ideas to contribute to the process of developing these strategies with the aim of motivating the community to change its attitudes and practices towards a sustainable future.
A short introduction to the purpose and goals of the N.E.T was followed by a workshop style brain-storming and feedback session. Focus Question:
Identify primary human motivators for change to occur in attitudes and practices?
Discuss strategies that can use these motivators to promote change in attitudes towards an environmentally sustainable future?
What kinds of individual and community capacity building will prepare us to address environmental issues more effectively, and how can we best pursue such capacity building?
How can the Baha'i community learn more about environmental sustainability issues, and plan and implement effective individual and collective action based on these learnings?
Education and Career Considerations for Sustainability and Climate Action
This workshop engaged participants in two ways. Firstly to explore choosing education programs and careers that weave passions and interests with the pursuit of issues related to sustainability and climate change. Secondly to consider the values, ethics and skills that contribute to unity and professionalism. Participants were given opportunities to reflect on their own experience, aspirations and ideals and to discuss these with peers and mentors. They also worked in groups to reflect on quotes from the Bahá‘í Writings and other texts that provide insight into professional ethical considerations and their applications in social and environmental change projects, corporate settings and the research sector.
How can we combine our educational and professional experience with our ideals and passions to find and create career opportunities?
What are some resources and tools that will help to guide our decisions towards education programs and careers that are personally fulfilling and also beneficial to society?
What spiritual principles can be drawn upon and what skills are necessary to maintain values and ethics in our workplaces and professional dealings?
Conference reconvene and workshop reports
Link to video recording of workshop reports and closure: http://justin.tv/tasbcl/b/302289771
Watch video of workshop reports and conference closure from TasBCL
Conference Statement Presentation and Discussion - Amir Abadi and Edwin Humphries
IEF 15th Annual Conference Statement
At the heart of the climate change issue are a number of fundamental spiritual, moral and ethical concerns that humanity must address. Such concerns cross all boundaries of faith, culture, politics, and science. They include challenging questions about justice, equity, responsibility, and social obligation which, despite the efforts of concerned citizens worldwide, remain unresolved.
Accepting that human greenhouse gas emissions are adversely affecting the climate of the planet and exacerbating planetary warming, climate change can be viewed as a catalyst for positive change. It presents opportunities for personal, community and institutional action that capitalize on the positive attributes of the world's diversity of economics, politics, geography, culture and traditions of faith. There is no single or simple solution to this problem; responses, both by way of mitigation and adaption, will crystallise from individuals and nations taking mature responsibility for the welfare of the whole planet. Such responsibility will require changes in personal life-style for those living in developed nations, necessitating new choices to lower consumption and a mindfulness of how individual actions can collectively cause adverse impacts to the entire earth. Wealthy nations must also take greater responsibility towards reciprocity with the poor in less-developed nations. Indeed, the extremes of wealth and poverty within and between nations are a root dimension of climate change that must be addressed.
Individuals can see climate change as a call to transform their personal view of morality so as to become more embracing of the needs of future generations and of all nations. Communities can arise to reflect environmental responsibility as a core value, expressing such as a new social norm based on a clearer vision of moderation in light of scientific and environmental evidence. Institutions also can be transformed by the recognition of the reality of climate change, modifying themselves to meet new realities rather than holding to traditions or out-worn social structures, to embrace a process of continual positive progressive transformation. Climate change should not be viewed by individuals and communities as a partisan political issue, but rather as a summons for humanity to unite.
The imminent threats posed by climate change are thus causing nations to debate the future direction of human civilisation and its governance. Climate change may well be the common threat that forces governments to work together in the collective interest – it is giving humanity the impetus to deal with global issues in a cohesive and united manner. For the first time in history, humanity is able to predict the future impacts of its current decisions through advances in science, and seriously consider the world-wide consequences of the choices we make as individuals, communities and institutions. This is a great opportunity to make a transition from a self-centred and materialistic way of life to one that fully reflects the essential cooperative nature of humankind. This transition requires a deeper embrace of the interconnectedness and oneness of humankind, a transition from a nationalistic model of governance to one that connects us as the inhabitants of one biosphere, the citizens of one planet, and the members of one human civilisation.
The current political impasse on climate change at least partially results from fundamental misconceptions about human nature – that humans are inherently selfish and competitive – resulting in a paralysis of will. In reality, humanity has many times shown its capacity to act decisively and selflessly. Witness for example the Montreal Protocol's success in confronting damage to the Earth's ozone layer. There is a need for humanity and its leaders to develop the ethical and moral capacity to make such models of selflessness the standard for climate change action.
A two-fold challenge confronts the world community. First, a technical challenge must be faced. The world must implement practical and effective solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation, solutions that have largely been identified, but remain to be applied. Second is the moral challenge. This is the transformation of thoughts and behaviours so as to empower our political and social structures to extend the benefits of environmentally sound development to all people. In addressing challenges posed by climate change, only the full cooperation of all nations, each according to its means, will ultimately enable human society to prosper. Partisan arguments over which nation should sacrifice the most and which nation the least have been, and will continue to be, fruitless. Ultimately it is the concerted efforts of all nations, judged by the measure of their means and resources, that will be the assessment of history.
Of vital importance is reflection and social dialogue on the ethical and spiritual dimensions inherent to our understanding of nature and the environment. In particular, there needs to be a greater understanding of the complementary role that can be played by both religion and science in relation to environmental concerns. Scientific knowledge applied under a spiritually informed ethical code will foster the development of technology that protects the long-term interests of humanity. Only a harmonious and coherent application of the spiritual and intellectual gifts of humanity can realistically address climate change and similar issues that revolve around international and intergenerational use of the resources of our planet.
Outdated methods of decision-making can give way to consultative and collaborative methods that invite and value a diversity of informed views, where contributions are actively sought from all affected sectors, where views are expressed frankly, where decisions follow from identification of relevant moral principles rather than just financial concerns, where decisions once taken result in collective support, and where a willingness to learn ensures wrong decisions are corrected.
The safety and long-term well-being of humanity must be considered as the first priority. We call all people to strive for a transformation in human hearts and minds from a short-term materialistic viewpoint to a viewpoint of long-term ethically-informed sustainability. Everyone, as citizens of an interdependent world, should be active agents of their own learning about climate change, and also share information with others to assist them in their learning. Transcending new policies and technologies, this transformation will need to embrace all people, reflecting shared values of spirit and ethics. We are thus called to no less a task than to build with a deep sense of shared purpose an environmentally sustainable ever-advancing civilisation in which all of humanity, the rich and poor, people of all faiths and of no particular faith, must justly share.
Download Conference Statement as pdf
Close of 15th Annual Conference - Appreciations, Thanks and Good-byes - Zarin Salter, Arthur Dahl, Dimity Podger
SPEAKER BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
Peter Adriance has served as NGO liaison for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U.S., focusing on issues of the environment and sustainable development, since 1990. He helped establish several major NGO networks for the series of UN conferences on sustainable development themes in the 1990s. He serves as secretary of the board of the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and co-chair of its Faith Sector team. He also serves on the Governing Board of the International Environment Forum, the editorial board of Sustainability: the Journal of Record and the International Advisory Board for Stakeholder Forum. In 2009 he received the "Bridge Builders Award" from the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, DC, for his "passionate commitment to inter-religious care of the earth". In his home town of Falls Church, Virginia, he is a member of the Environmental Services Council which advises the city council on environmental issues, and he serves on the board of the local non-profit, Village Preservation and Improvement Society, which supports cultural, historical and environmental projects to enhance community life. He has a passion for environmentally friendly landscaping and restoration work. He and his lovely and energetic wife, Riva (an attorney by profession), raised three wonderful children, and recently enjoyed restoring their 80-year old home, making several environmental enhancements.
Arini Beaumaris, M.Ed (Human Resource Studies), the Managing Director of High Capacity, is an international consultant. She is highly experienced in human relations, family relationships, organizational development, education and training and leadership development. She has held positions such as College President of a Community College, Principal of Maxwell International Baha'i School, Principal of an International Pre-school in Prague, Managing Director of Sunkids and International Program Director of XL Pre-schools. Her consultancy work has extended to industry, business, hospitality and tourism industry, government, community and educational institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Canada and the United States of America. Arini is currently completing her doctoral studies in Character Education, looking at the gap between Moral Judgement and Moral Action and its implications for Education. Arini has now developed a unique ethical character development program starting from birth. Arini has developed a unique set of services to empower family relationships, from determining the communication dynamics of each family member, to coaching and educating families to build peaceful and nurturing relationships. In recognition of the importance of the earliest years of life she has specialized in developing a unique program for Mothers and Fathers ( First Educators Program Kit ) to educate their children from birth in their home environment. This approach incorporates the best practices of the Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Amelia methods of early child hood education. Arini is also skilled in helping parents who are at their wit's end in working with difficult and highly spirited children. She is the mother of two children and grandmother of four grandchildren and lives in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Recommendation Ms Beaumaris is a true professional that will walk into a group of complete strangers and walk out a lifelong friend, mentor and role model...Her effortless style of speaking before a group puts everyone at ease immediately. Her sense of humour and goodwill makes her course as much a pleasure as it is an invaluable learning experience. She is currently a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia.
Peter Boyer, BA (hons), freelance writer and historian. As an Australian Antarctic Division staffer from 1987 to 2002, historian and journalist Peter Boyer wrote extensively about the climate science of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. He was a freelance writer and publisher when in 2006 he was selected in the first intake of volunteer presenters for the Climate Project, for which he was trained by Al Gore to speak to Australians about the challenges presented by climate change. In this capacity he has spoken to more than 10,000 Tasmanians in over 200 groups. Since mid-2007 he has written a weekly newspaper column for the Hobart Mercury about changes in climate, energy and the environment, and the impact of these on Tasmania and the world. His writing is posted weekly at his blogsite, Climate Tasmania.
Charles Boyle Dip arch - Architect UK trained, Australian registered architect and "Greenstar" certified professional; Worked in Australia, Pacific islands, UK and for the middle east; Former director of Architectural studies at Papua New Guinea University of Technology; Currently working as an architect and project manager at Curtin University in Perth Australia; Specialising in tropical architecture, environmental design, disaster mitigation and cyclone preparedness, and the development of creative thinking skills. Todd Houstien is a humanitarian engineer turned sustainable community development leader. From 2004 to 2010, he dedicated a great deal of his time, energy and passion to EWB in the roles of Knowledge Manager, Director of Awareness & Action, and founding President of the Tasmania Chapter. From 2004 to 2006, Todd researched renewable energy engineering at UTas and IFE (Norway), and developed and delivered UTas‘ first engineering unit dedicated to sustainability in 2005. Todd returned to his homeland earlier this year to pursue his passion for providing Tasmanians with practical pathways to sustainable communities. He is executive director of Sustainable Living Tasmania.
Professor Arthur Lyon Dahl of Geneva, Switzerland has more than 40 years international experience in sustainable development and environment. He coordinates the UNEP/University of Geneva/Graduate Institute Programme of Advanced Studies in Environmental Diplomacy and is Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton, UK, and partner in an international project on values-based indicators of education for sustainable development. He is a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and a consultant to international organizations and research programmes on environmental assessment, observing strategies, indicators of sustainability, coral reefs, biodiversity, islands, environmental education, and social and economic development. He holds an AB in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a PhD in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A specialist on small islands and coral reefs, he spent many years in the South Pacific as Regional Ecological Advisor with the Pacific Commission, and organized the Pacific Regional Environment Programme. He represented the Baha'i International Community at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (1972), was in the Secretariat of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to prepare Agenda 21, the global action plan for sustainable development, and organized several parallel events at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002). He is President of the International Environment Forum and on the governing boards of the European Baha'i Business Forum (http://www.ebbf.org) and the Global Islands Network. He has published many scientific papers and books including: "Unless and Until: A Baha'i Focus on the Environment" and "The Eco Principle: Ecology and Economics in Symbiosis".
Stuart McKenzie Hall runs a small Architecture & construction practice, concerned with both designing and making energy efficient, healthy and ecologically sustainable buildings, landscapes and objects. Stuart is interested in the collaborative design method - team work - two heads are better than one approach.
Mr. Gareth Johnston is a Sydney based entrepreneur with expertise in climate mitigation, climate adaptation and resilience. He worked in diverse areas from species ecology to infrastructure risk before he co-founded a CSIRO wind energy technology company, one of Australia‘s and Europe‘s first adaptation consultancies, a renewable energy development firm and a leading corporate sustainability network. With work in over 18 countries he sees local action as a critical response to climate, sustainability and resilience. Post grad educated in Applied Science, Social Leadership and Climate Science and Policy, he is shifting his practice from technical direction to leadership through participatory facilitation. He is a director of Future Ready P/L , an Australian change management consultancy specializing in complex futures, Three Days More (3DM) a natural disaster technology company and The Live Local Foundation, a not for profit encouraging responses to peak oil and climate change. He mentors emerging leaders and coaches experienced executives for change. As a father of two, he hopes to grow the leaders of tomorrow.
Dr Natalie Mobini is the Director of External Affairs for the Australian Bahá'í Community. In this capacity she represents the Bahá'í community in its relations with the Australian Government and works together with other national non-government organisations in areas of shared interest including human rights, the equality of men and women, inter-faith dialogue and the environment. Dr Mobini has been a staff member of the Australian Bahá'í Community for the past 15 years. She previously taught South East Asian history at Monash University, where she received her doctorate for her historical research on the Arab minority in Indonesia. She is the author of one book and several papers in that field.
Christine Muller studied piano and music education at the Conservatory in Basel, Switzerland, and currently teaches piano at the University of Rhode Island‘s Community Music Program. Christine has been a lifelong student of the environment and of the Baha'i Faith. She wrote the script and many of the songs for the artistic presentation â€•Climate Change, Science and Religion – a Dialog with Songsâ€– for four readers, two singers and piano accompaniment, which was performed in various settings in New England and Switzerland. More recently she wrote â€•Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Changeâ€– - an interfaith study course, which is available on the website of the International Environment Forum. Christine is active with Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light - a religious response to global warming – where she currently serves as board president.
Dr Miriam Pepper is a Christian environmental activist. She is secretary of multi-faith organisation the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a founding member of Uniting Church NSW/ACT ecology network Uniting Earthweb, and a member of the Faith and Ecology Network (FEN). She worships at South Sydney Uniting Church, where she is an elder and coordinates the church‘s involvement in Food Connect, a community supported agriculture scheme. Miriam is also a researcher with the National Church Life Survey and an Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. Her PhD research examined Christianity and sustainable consumption from a social psychological perspective.
Dr AJ (Tony) Press is the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC), one of Australia‘s leading climate change science institutions. Based at the University of Tasmania, ACE brings together scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division, CSIRO, UTas and many other national and international collaborators to study the role that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean play in climate change and its impacts regionally and globally. Over the past 18 years ACE scientists have helped chart the course of climate change and assess what its impacts are likely to be, not only in the Antarctic, but also in Australia and around the globe. ACE scientists have played a leading role in the development of the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Prior to his appointment as CEO of the ACE CRC, Dr Press was the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division from 1998 – 2008.
Dr. Allen Robert Riebau spent his childhood on a small family farm in North Central Ohio. As a youth in 1969, he joined the United States Air Force and married (in that order), spending time as an electronics instrumentation specialist at air bases in New Mexico and Oxfordshire, England. Afterwards he attended university earning an AAS degree in Environmental Technology, a BS in Environmental Science, an MS in Environmental Biology/Ecology, and finally a PHD in Earth Resources and Air Quality Management from Colorado State University. He worked in public service for the United States in the Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture for over 32 years. His last career government position was as Chief Atmospheric Scientist of the USDA Forest Service Research and Development, from which he coordinated wildland fire, fire smoke, air quality, and meteorology research both nationally and internationally for almost 10 years. Dr. Riebau was a standing member of the United States delegation to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization's Commission on Agricultural Meteorology, was a formal advisory member on the USA Secretary of Agriculture's Ag Air Quality Task Force, was the lead US delegate to the European Union ICP Forests, and was the chairman of the United Nations North American Forestry Commission Working Group on Atmospheric Change and Forests. He now leads Nine Points South Technical Pty. Ltd. a Western Australian air quality and natural resources management consulting company. Under NPST, Dr. Riebau is currently co-coordinating (with Dr. Douglas Fox of NPST) bushfire smoke research under the Joint Fire Science Program for the US Departments of Interior and Agriculture. Dr. Riebau is an internationally known figure in wildland/bush fire smoke issues, air quality management concerning natural resources, and wilderness air quality issues. He has been an active member of the Baha'i Faith since 1973.
Zarin Salter is a PhD Candidate at The University of Western Australia. She is currently three years into a PhD in the field of Education for Sustainability. Zarin's research explores the effects of whole-school education for sustainability on the pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of upper-primary school children and their families. Zarin has an honours degree in Marine Science and after graduating in 2006, worked as the Marine Programs Officer and Lead Guide for a Perth based marine education program. She also has extensive volunteer experience working with youth in various environmental, social and spiritual empowerment programs, especially within the Bahá‘í community and with Millennium Kids. After completing her PhD, Zarin intends to pursue a career in sustainability education program development, evaluation and coaching.
Ms. Tessa Scrine, Member, Bahá'í Continental Board of Counsellors for Australasia. Tessa‘s life has been shaped by her passionate commitment to contributing to the creation of a world in which there is justice, peace and dignity for all. Tessa serves on an international board of advisers working to support community development activities undertaken by Bahá‘í communities in Australia and across the Pacific region. Since 1998 the primary focus of her professional roles has been human rights policy development and advocacy with government and the UN. Tessa is currently Human Rights Adviser to the Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for over 70 Australian not-for-profit aid and development organisations working to attain a world where gross inequality and extreme poverty are eradicated. She is also Convenor of the Australian Forum of Human Rights Organisations, an informal network of over 50 NGOs, which share information and collaborate in the promotion and defence of human rights. Tessa previously worked for the Commonwealth and ACT Governments in various research, program and policy positions. She has a First Class Honours Degree in History and Political Science from the University of NSW.
Bill Thomas became interested in the native habitat in the early 80's. He studied Bush Regeneration with National Trust and was influenced by Men of the Trees founder Richard St Barbe Baker and the teachings of the Baha'i Faith. Currently Bill and his wife Sue own and manage a conservation property supported when possible by their three children and grandchildren.
Websites You Might Like to Know
International Environment Forum: https://iefworld.org/aboutief.htm
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC): http://www.arrcc.org.au
Uniting Earthweb: http://www.unitingearthweb.org.au
Faith & Ecology Network (FEN): http://www.faith-ecology.net
Forum on Religion & Ecology @ Monash: http://artsonline.arts.monash.edu.au/fore/
Climate Tasmania (Peter Boyer), http://climatetasmania.com.au/
The Bahá'í Centre of Learning in Hobart, Tasmania, where the conference was held, is a unique environmentally-sustainable building designed by architect Stuart Hall.
The BCL has a domed central auditorium with two radiating wings of meeting rooms and offices around a central courtyard
Outside the auditorium is a large lobby and exhibit area
The building uses ecological materials and natural lighting; a central atrium preserves an established tree on the property
There is a popular public coffee shop in the lobby
There are beautiful designs in the dome and the flooring
The property is surrounded by greenspace and landscaped with native Tasmanian plants; architect's aerial view of the BCL
International Environment Forum 15th Annual Conference
The International Environment Forum conference in the main auditorium; IEF board member Peter Adriance gave the opening keynote
The audience came from around Australia, New Zealand, and other countries
The breaks were a chance to meet people and to discuss the issues
. . . .
Former IEF board member Charles Boyle chaired the first day; Peter Adriance (USA) was keynote speaker, with Kevin Starke providing technical assistance
BCL architect Stuart Hall described the unique environmental features of the building; IEF president Arthur Dahl speaking
Second day chair Zarin Salter; keynote speaker Counsellor Tessa Scrine (Australia); panel moderator John Davidson
Speakers Al Riebau, Australian climate scientist Tony Press and journalist Peter Boyer
There were panel sessions with multiple speakers
Workshops allowed for more participation. Workshop leaders included (left): Al Riebau and Christine Muller (by skype from the USA); (right): Zarin Salter
There was excellent music including traditional Tasmanian themes; the Saturday evening musical programme with the Bryan band had people dancing in the aisles
Dancing Saturday night; Ken Zemke (NZ) and his assistant filmed the conference for television
Last updated 14 February 2012