INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The International Environment Forum, as a Bahá'í-inspired professional organization for environment and sustainability, shares and upholds the principles and ideals of the Bahá'í Faith and supports its efforts to establish and promote peace, the unity of the human race, and an ever-advancing world civilization that preserves the ecological balance of the planet.
Our purpose is to work for the betterment of the world, living together in concord and in harmony with our planetary environment. We aim to build a society that consciously pursues this collective purpose, working with all who labour in this undertaking, raising up vibrant communities learning how to bring about spiritual and material progress within their society and environment and to contribute to the discourses that influence the direction of that progress. To do this we combine 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. We aim to build upon the most foundational qualities in humanity, ones for which the world stands in great need: unity, trustworthiness, mutual support, collaboration, fellow feeling, selflessness, commitment to truth, a sense of responsibility, a thirst to learn, the love of an all-embracing heart.
The IEF has two focus areas:
A) Contributing to public discourse on issues and concepts relevant to the environment and sustainability in the global political space and in the science-religion dialogue, rethinking concepts in light of Bahá’í principles and teachings, writing on relevant themes, and organising annual conferences, often in association with UN events.
B) Empowering its members and associates to engage in discourse and social and environmental action
supported by information resources on the IEF website and a monthly newsletter, and by sharing case studies and blogs on the IEF website as an inspiration for others. We build capacity for service in an approach founded on faith in the ability of a population to become the protagonists of their own development. Such local social action can address a number of important fields, including the environment, agriculture, health, the arts, and education.
One of the major activities of the IEF is its annual conferences, which are often held in partnership with other organizations and events, and may rotate between continents to give more members a chance to participate, or more recently to be held virtually. For members who cannot attend, some form of e-conference is organized over the Internet so that everyone can contribute.
The next conference in 2024 is still to be determined. The most recent conference was:
The list of past conferences and links to their reports are on the CONFERENCES page
ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
As a Bahá'í-inspired professional organisation, the IEF works for responsible environmental management and sustainability through both science and values, demonstrating the complementarity of science and religion. It is open to all viewpoints and all faith traditions to encourage dialogue and increase understanding of the complex human and natural system that is life on this planet.
Many of its activities contribute to public discourse on the major issues of environment and sustainability facing the planet and its inhabitants, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and waste, and the need for effective governance of the Earth System, including through IEF Webinars.
In addition to its annual conferences, IEF contributes to events organized by its partners, and participates in conferences and forums of the United Nations and other organizations. Many of these are reported on the home page and in the newsletter. Some continuing activities and partnerships are described in more detail on the Activities page.
Since building human capacity is so essential, the IEF both develops its own Learning materials and shares those prepared by others. The Wilmette Institute organizes on-line learning courses every year on Sustainable Development and Human Prosperity, on Climate Change, and on Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, with IEF members as faculty.
The IEF presents an online webinar series on topics of current interest approximately monthly since late 2020. Future lectures or discussions, and those that are recorded, are documented on the Webinars page. Future webinars are also announced there and in the newsletter.
The latest number and all back issues are available here
As a Bahá'í-inspired professional organization, membership in the IEF is open to those who carry out environment or sustainable development activities, or who have a special interest in these areas, and who are also familiar with the ethical and social principles in the Bahá'í Writings, who want to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the guidance enshrined in those Writings, and who commit to exploring the ways and means of implementing these principles in the practice of such activities. There are presently over 500 members in over 90 countries.
IEF members generate and promote a discourse on how the Bahá'í teachings can be applied to the environmental challenges facing the world; encourage or participate in projects and initiatives in accord with those principles, in collaboration with organizations, communities and individuals who are active in areas of environment and sustainable development, while being sensitive to the capacity of projects to receive such help; advise governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and communities in promoting the sustainable use of resources and protecting the environment; explore approaches to more effective governance of the Earth system; promote a greater awareness of environmental issues, and stimulate environmental education among children, youth and adults, so that they can contribute more effectively to practical actions; increase awareness within communities of the need for sustainable and environmentally sound development; support networking among individuals and groups at the local, national, regional and international levels on issues of environment and sustainable development; and encourage and advise young people who plan to study or work in the fields of environment or sustainable development in the spirit of the Bahá'í teachings.
Associates support and participate in all of the above activities, but without voting membership.
To apply for membership or to become an associate, click on "create new account" on the right column of the IEF website and complete the user application form. The Governing Board may accept Associates as Members after they demonstrate their direct involvement in some IEF activities.
For those simply interested in learning more about the environment and sustainability, all the results of IEF activities are made available on the IEF website. It is possible to request a free subscription to the monthly IEF newsletter LEAVES by creating a new account.
See the requirements for membership on the Joining the IEF page.
While the IEF is a "virtual" organization without legal status, it does operate according to statutes that define its purpose and organization, and applies Bahá'í principles of administration. A Governing Board elected at an Annual General Assembly guides the IEF, decides on membership, and organizes its activities.
The annual IEF General Assembly is the opportunity for the membership to elect the Governing Board of the IEF, review the activities of the past year as described in the Annual Report, consult on future activities and make recommendations to the Governing Board. Members can participate in person, over e-mail, or by an Internet connection when conditions permit. Annual Reports provide a record of the activities of IEF during the preceding year, as reported to the Annual General Assembly. For more details, including all the Annual Reports and reports of the General Assemblies, see the Organization of IEF page.
While the IEF is open to members of all faiths and no faith, it is inspired by the principles and values of the Bahá'í Faith, and works to apply these principles to the practical problems of the environment and sustainability facing the world today.
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 spiritual principles.
For more on these principles, including compilations of Bahá'í texts, statements of the Bahá'í International Community and other materials, see the Resources part of the website.
Last updated 19 January 2024