IEF 8th Annual Conference electronic version

Submitted by admin on 24. August 2010 - 17:08
15-17 October 2004
Thessaloniki, Greece


The Electronic version of the
8th Conference of the International Environment Forum
Cultivating Sustainable Lifestyles
A conference in anticipation of the
UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)

by e-mail
15-17 October 2004

After addressing the roles of knowledge, values and education for sustainable development (Czech Republic, 2001), broader international dimensions (Johannesburg, 2002), and the role of national and local communities (USA, 2003) at its three previous conferences, the 8th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece, focused this year on the role of the individual in leading the transition towards sustainability through changing lifestyles (see the conference programme and report).

THEMES: Some of the themes that were explored were:
The Environmental, Economic and Social Dimensions of Sustainable Lifestyles
The Role of Education: Teaching Responsibility
Measuring Sustainable Lifestyles and Sustainability
Putting Principles into Action

Keynote speakers included:
Dr. Arthur L. Dahl, Geneva, Switzerland, Former Head UN System-wide Earthwatch and UNEP Coral Reef Unit
Ass. Professor Victoria Thoresen, Norway, Recipient of the Tower Award as the best European Consumer Educator 2003

To allow those who were unable to travel to the conference to participate, the IEF as usual offered an electronic version. The participants in the electronic version of the conference received a number of links to relevant background papers, the abstracts and notes of the presentations as they were given, and daily summaries of the discussions during the conference. These are now incorporated in the conference report. Participants in the electronic version were able to ask questions and give input to the physical conference via e-mail. Thirty-three people from 17 countries registered to take part in the electronic conference facilitated by Judith Fienieg. She collated everyone's introductions and forwarded them to the participants before the start of the conference, and then circulated the conference proceedings and electronic participants' responses to everyone.



This year the electronic conference was held hand in hand with the physical conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. 33 people participated, all sharing a joint interest in the subject of cultivating sustainable lifestyles, due either to their chosen profession, their studies, or their aim to lead a sustainable life. The participants represented 17 countries from Africa, Australia, Central America, Eastern Europe, North-America, the Pacific Islands, South-America and Western Europe.

Nine contributions were submitted by those following the electronic conference. They were transmitted by e-mail to both the electronic conference as well as the participants of the physical conference, and a dialogue between the two was established.

A snap shot collection of some of the main topics discussed is presented below:

"The Internet could replace the need for publishing houses to produce such huge wastes via their traditional production processes - paper, and distribution channels - fossil fuels. The challenge of understanding the return on investment is at one end of the spectrum, sustainability and getting a competitive advantage is at the other."

 "Let's think about colour coding of products going from red to green showing the level of fossil fuel cost, as well as stronger fair trade identification"

 "Education is key, and understanding the decision making process on a community and individual basis would have far more benefit."

 "How do you distinguish social from cultural sustainability, and if you were to talk about cultural sustainability, what would it look like in a way that educational institutions could recognize? The agenda leading my question is: how to frame/talk about race dialogues (oneness of humankind) under the broader umbrella of educating for sustainable development."

 "Two very important issues are raised. We must first visualize what is meant by sustainable development in enough detail to conceptualize its essential components and then we must develop educational programs that will address these components in the schooling of children and youth."

 "One way to avoid over-use of a resource is that the resource be owned privately."

 "Through the action of planting a tree - whether as a sapling or a seed - a person of any age becomes part of planetary healing for the future. This is sustainability in one of its primal forms."

 "I was at a women's conference and I want you to know that everything that was discussed at your conference blended in with the women's conference."

 "There is a lot of common ground between the International Environment Forum and the European Bahá'í Business Forum."

The following resources were provided as useful background for the e-mail-based discussion of the conference topics.
See also the page of resources on the DESD on this web site and the Report of last years IEF Conference.

Official UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) website (English/French/Spanish):

Document: United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) Framework for the international implementation scheme

World Summit on Sustainable Development, WEHAB (water, energy, health, agriculture, biodiversity) framework papers:

Document: Learning to Last: The Government's Sustainable Development Education Strategy for England, DRAFT (February 2003)
Learning to Last toolkit
"The National Curriculum On-line" web site (United Kingdom)

Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit (USA/Canada)

Encyclopedia of Sustainable Development:

World Conservation Union (IUCN): "What is education for sustainable development?"
IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (see section on ESD and the conventions):
World Conservation Learning Network (e-learning in environmental / sustainable development)

European Consumer Citizenship Network
The coordinator of CCN, Victoria W. Thoresen of Norway, was a keynote speaker at the IEF Conference

Ecological footprinting:
Review document:
ecological footprint calculator:

Sustainable lifestyles (USA):


Last updated 14 February 2009