Leaves 16(8) August 2014


Newsletter of the
Volume 16, Number 8 --- 15 August 2014



Website: iefworld.org
Article submission: newsletter@iefworld.org Deadline next issue 13 September 2014
Secretariat Email: ief@iefworld.org General Secretary Emily Firth
Postal address: 12B Chemin de Maisonneuve, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

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From the Editor, Request for information for upcoming newsletters

This newsletter is an opportunity for IEF members to share their experiences, activities, and initiatives that are taking place at the community level on environment, climate change and sustainability. All members are welcome to contribute information about related activities, upcoming conferences, news from like-minded organizations, recommended websites, book reviews, etc. Please send information to newsletter@iefworld.org.

Please share the Leaves newsletter and IEF membership information with family, friends and associates, and encourage interested persons to consider becoming a member of the IEF.


IEF 18th Annual Conference in Toronto

The 18th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum was a partnership with the 2014 Association for Baha'i Studies - North America Conference on 7-10 August at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. A more complete report is on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/conf18, so only highlights of the IEF contribution are reported here.

One of the purposes of Baha'i-inspired organizations like the International Environment Forum is to provide a place where professionals in a particular discipline can explore together the application of Baha'i principles to the solution of problems they encounter in their professional work. The creative interaction of spiritual principles and practical problems can shed new light on difficulties that have proven intractable in traditional frameworks and thus influence the life of society. The IEF, as a virtual organization, considers its annual conferences as opportunities to partner with other like-minded organizations. The conferences of the Association for Baha'i Studies - North America attract over a thousand people, making them ideal to multiply the impact of what IEF can contribute. It was also five years since we last had our conference in North America. This was the second time that IEF has partnered with ABS after our successful collaboration in Washington, D.C. in 2009 reported at https://iefworld.org/conf13.htm.

The IEF contributions included the following, described in more detail below:
• IEF facilitated the Friday Subject Area Consultation on Environmental Studies
• IEF was asked to provide a speaker for the Saturday Morning Plenary Panel: Exploring the Natural and Life Sciences
• IEF organized a breakout session Saturday afternoon with a lead speaker on "Addressing Sustainability Challenges" and a panel of 3 speakers on "Contributing to sustainability discourse and action" at the international, national (American) and local levels.
• The IEF General Assembly was held at the end of the Saturday afternoon session (see report below).

Association for Baha'i Studies Plenary session; Artistic performances

Subject Area Consultation on Environmental Studies, facilitated by Peter Adriance and Arthur Dahl

The Environmental Studies consultation raised both negative and positive aspects of the environmental challenge. Technology alone could not solve the problems; social science is important, and spiritual principles need to be applied, such as the oneness of humankind, the human right to clean air and water and healthy food, the need for contentment and moderation in materially advanced countries, and the education and empowerment of women where population growth is still a problem.

A variety of practical actions were proposed, with a focus on the local community. Young people need actions and solutions that can inspire hope in the future. There was a consensus on the importance of including environmental themes in the core activities, and the need for better responses to the youth. Three specific areas for continuing dialogue were identified: between environment and agriculture; between business and environment, and between social sciences and environment.

Morning Plenary Panel: Exploring the Natural and Life Sciences

Arthur Dahl - Natural Sciences and Society

In his presentation, IEF President Arthur Dahl explored how new social and environmental concerns are affecting how science is practiced and understood at a societal level. The natural sciences have become increasingly specialized and reductionist, with great effort devoted to looking for research funding, and success determined by the number of publications in prestigious journals. However the complexities of sustainability require transdisciplinary studies integrating the environmental, social and economic dimensions in a complex systems perspective, in what is now being called sustainability science. Systems modeling has produced scenarios of our possible futures, warning of the possible collapse of civilization in this century if we do not make a transition to sustainability, and ecological economics has developed alternative paradigms, but these have been ignored by the mainstream.

Science is caught in tensions between the ideal of scientific neutrality versus social engagement; quality peer review versus citizen science and indigenous knowledge; independent investigation (pure science) versus political/donor/grant-driven priorities (applied science); discipline-based academic careers versus multi-disciplinarity; public sector/academic research versus corporate research for profit; and advanced country science versus developing country science. There are barriers between disciplines, between the natural and social sciences, and especially between science and religion. Science is also faced with an anti-science movement driven by vested interests in tobacco and fossil fuels, and fundamentalist religions,that is undermining confidence in science.

On the more positive side, progress is being made in delivering science for policy-making, supported by many scientific advisory processes. There has been a multiplication of science-based sustainability indicators, and now a United Nations process to prepare Sustainable Development Goals, targets and indicators.

However, political receptivity to the messages of science is limited by short-term perspectives, powerful economic interests and lobbies, corruption, a lack of understanding of science, putting ideology before rationality to the point of legislating against science, limited attention, a rejection of science that makes politicians look bad, and a lack of leadership and political will to take necessary but unpopular decisions. Scientific reality has not been able to stand up to political reality. We give priority to economics and assume that technological innovation can solve every problem. A scientific understanding does not usually change behavior. There is now a grudging acknowledgment that something more is needed (but certainly not religion).

Part of the solution lies in public mobilization for science. Science can be used to validate spiritual principles, for example in the coral reef ecosystem that builds communities like cities, illustrating unity in diversity, balance, symbiosis and cooperation, with emergent properties of resource efficiency and sustainability. We need to strengthen science education in schools, and science journalism. Most importantly, science should be organized to permit people everywhere to participate, bringing science to the grassroots level. The public can help with monitoring and assessment, a link can be made with indigenous science, and local scientific institutions can be established to make science accessible to everyone.

Natural Sciences and Society link to the written text of Arthur Dahl's talk
Arthur Dahl's presentation as pdf 10mb

Saturday Afternoon Breakout Session - International Environment Forum

The Saturday afternoon session, chaired by Peter Adriance, was the heart of the IEF contribution to the ABS as its 18th annual conference, including an opening keynote, a panel session, and the IEF General Assembly. The room was full with about 100 people for the keynote, and about half stayed for the panel as well.

Arthur Dahl opened with a presentation on "Addressing Sustainability Challenges: A Framework for Material and Spiritual Transformation", which explored the harmony of science and religion in the context of sustainability. He started by summarizing the combination of environmental, social and economic crises that are overwhelming the existing world order, including climate change and sea level rise, biodiversity loss, and the coming food crisis with freshwater shortages and soil degradation while the population is still growing. We refuse social globalization, and continue to pursue a consumer culture while going ever deeper into debt. We are reaching the limits to growth, and could see a crisis in civilization in the near future as we always pursue solutions that are too little, too late.

While the solutions in embryonic form are found in the teachings of Bahá'ulláh, there is a strong resistance to turning to these solutions both from religious orthodoxies and from modern materialists. Once we acknowledge that the reality of man includes physical, intellectual and spiritual dimensions, we can explore the positive roles that religion can play. The challenge of Bahá'í scholarship is to demonstrate the validity of spiritual principle as a necessary complement to sectoral approaches to the sustainability challenge, inspiring a more integrated systems perspective on the necessary transition to sustainability. We need to offer an alternative to the consumer society that is sufficiently attractive to draw people to it, based on a higher human purpose and an ethics of hope. Ethical principles of justice, cooperation, trust, moderation and humility can help to improve social organization, and underly our fundamental responsibility for sustainable environmental management. Recent work on values, cooperation, well-being and happiness, and on new values for the economic system, is opening the door to a wider dialogue on these issues.

While governments seem paralyzed, progress is still possible at the community level. Since youth will be in the vanguard of the coming transformation, we need to show them that change is an opportunity for innovation, inspire them with hope, and accompany them with intellectuallysound proposals and frameworks for action across the full spectrum of challenges to civilization. They are in charge of their own lives, which they can devote to service, and there is much they can do to make their own families and communities more socially and environmentally sustainable.

Addressing Sustainability Challenges: A Framework for Material and Spiritual Transformation, link to the written version of Arthur Dahl's talk.

Arthur Dahl's presentation as pdf 11mb

The second part of the IEF session was a panel on "Contributing to sustainability discourse and action", with examples at the international, national and local levels in the fields of environment and sustainability. The examples were chosen to inspire professionals in other fields to organize, encourage and accompany each other as they work to find solutions to the challenges they face in the light of Baha'i teachings.

Arthur Dahl started the panel with a presentation on Introducing Baha'i Principles to United Nations Dialogues and Conferences. He described some precursors such as Richard St. Barbe Baker and Vinson Brown, and explained the conceptual and institutional processes through which Baha'i International Community (BIC) statements are prepared. He then summarized Baha'i International Community participation in 40 years of international environmental debate, from the Stockholm Conference in 1972 through the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009 to Rio+20 in 2012, and the statements that were prepared along the way. He also described the complementary role of the International Environment Forum as a Baha'i-inspired organization contributing to dialogues in the scientific community and at the United Nations in support to BIC. There have also been important international dialogues in interfaith activities with other religious leaders for which BIC has prepared statements.

Introducing Bahá'í Principles to United Nations Dialogues and Conferences link to the written paper by Arthur Dahl

Arthur Dahl's presentation as pdf 20mb

Peter Adriance presented Approaches to Sustainable Development Issues and Climate Change in the American Baha'i Community, based on more than 20 years as a representative for sustainable development in the U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs. He has participated in discourses with representatives of other non-governmental organizations, state and federal governmental officials, staff of UN departments and other intergovernmental bodies, academics and other civil society participants, on topics such as sustainable consumption and production; education for sustainable development; the ethical dimensions of sustainability; the complementary nature of the relationship between science and religion; and the many dimensions – both material and spiritual -- of climate change. Bahá'í engagement in discourse seeks to foster unity among the diverse players contributing to the discourse, and to advance Bahá'í principles relevant to the issues, whenever appropriate. There are excellent opportunities for interfaith action on climate change as a moral issue. To ensure that our actions reflect our words, the American Bahá'í community has undertaken several energy-saving measures at the House of Worship, collected rainwater for the garden, and built a LEED certified visitor's center. The National Assembly has written to the Bahá'í community five times in as many years encouraging study of the climate issue. Courses are offered at the permanent schools and by the Wilmette Institute, and the community is encouraged to take part in the annual Preach-in on climate change organized by Interfaith Power and Light. Other contributions are opinion pieces in the Huffington Post, monthly conference calls of the Forum for Moral Voices on Climate Change, and collaboration with the Citizens Climate Lobby. The discourse continues.

Approaches to sustainable development issues and climate change in the American Baha'i community link to the written paper by Peter Adriance

Christine Muller spoke on The Wilmette Institute Course on Climate Change - an Impetus for Service and Action to show how a deeper understanding of the scientific and spiritual dimensions of the issue stimulates changes in individual behavior and activities at the community level, illustrating her points with quotes from participants. The course has been offered three times with full enrollment, and combines the science of the causes and impacts of climate change with spiritual teachings and how they relate to climate change. Some participants are already concerned about climate change, and find reinforcement in discovering the relevance of spiritual principles. Others find the discovery of the seriousness of climate change a severe mental test, but find solace in the Baha'i teachings as a response. Christine added an artistic dimension by arranging in the middle of her presentation for a beautiful musical rendition of a quotation of Baha'u'llah which she composed and accompanied on the piano. The course participants discovered new dimensions in their understanding of Baha'i teachings, and expressed these in community presentations, displays and artistic creations. They changed their personal lifestyles, applied their understanding in Baha'i community life, particularly in the core activities, and used it in teaching, interfaith collaboration and social discourse.

The Wilmette Institute Course on Climate Change - an Impetus for Service and Action link to the written version of the paper by Christine Muller

Christine Muller's presentation as pdf 74mb


IEF General Assembly & Election Report

The 18th IEF General Assembly was held in association with the 18th Annual Conference in Toronto on 9 August 2014. Nine members and four visitors were able to attend to approve the Annual Report (https://iefworld.org/report2014), elect the IEG Governing Board for 2014-2105, and consult on the affairs of the IEF. A total of 24 members participated in the election in person or by email. The newly elected Governing Board consists of Peter Adriance, Arthur Dahl, Emily Firth, Duncan Hanks, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Victoria Thoresen and Wendi Momen. The report of the General Assembly is available on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/genass18.


U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs Seeks Qualified Candidates

The U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs is seeking qualified candidates interested in serving in the position of Representative for Sustainable Development. This position represents the U.S. Baha’i community on the subject of sustainable development, fostering relationships and collaborating with national and international non-governmental organizations, U.N. Offices, faith and interfaith groups, government leaders and leaders of thought. He/she researches, writes, and speaks publicly, engaging in national discourses through conferences, publications, blogs, seminars, study sessions, etc.

How to apply: Send a cover letter, a resume with at least three character and/or academic references listed with contact information, and a writing sample to jobs@usbnc.org with the subject line "OPA Sustainable Development Application." Full job description is here


September UN Climate Summit & People’s Climate March in New York

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Heads of State and Government along with leaders from business, finance, and civil society to the Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York on 23 September to catalyze ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen climate resilience, and to mobilize political will toward achieving an ambitious, legally binding international climate change agreement by December 2015.

In order to show the political leaders that action on climate change has wide public support, on Sunday, September 21, a peaceful People’s Climate March will be held in New York, and supporting events will also be held across the country that weekend. The event will draw participation from many sectors of society, including faith communities, all wanting to show their support for cooperative action on climate change. Since the event is peaceful and has no partisan political agenda, participation is encouraged.

See the following links to websites related to the September 2014 activities. To consult about questions related to Bahá'í participation, contact the U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs at usnsa-opa@usbnc.org and 202-833- 8990.

Links for further information:
Faithful Call to Address Climate Change (a petition from people of faith to President Barack Obama and members of Congress)
Global Day of Action, September 20–21
People’s Climate March, New York City, September 21
• Green Faith’s page, “People of Faith @ the People’s Climate March


People of Faith Going to NY Climate March


Published: August 15, 2014

The climate crisis is widely acknowledged by people of all faiths as the biggest moral challenge the world has ever faced.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

Together with our brothers and sisters of all nations, traditions, and with the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. On September 21, we will join the Peoples Climate March to demand our world leaders answer this moral challenge and take big steps to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

We believe a brighter future is within reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities; and, a world where people step up to the plate and act as good stewards of the Earth.

There are several Interfaith Power & Light state affiliates planning buses and activities. If you’re interested in taking part, visit the IPL closest to you to plan your trip and to learn where everyone is meeting before the march.

New York Interfaith Power & Light has been busy working on the People’s Climate March. They’ve been part of the planning committee for people of faith, and have been helping to coordinate housing for out-of-town visitors.
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light has a climate march bus heading to New York. Read more about PA IPL’s reasons for going and read the heartfelt EPA testimony from faith leaders at public hearings on reducing carbon pollution from power plants.
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA) is partnering with Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice National Capital Region to coordinate multi-faith buses to the People’s Climate March.
• Delaware Interfaith Power & Light is working with the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, Pacem in Terris, Students for the Environment at the University of Delaware, and others to get a good turnout for the New York march. Click here to learn more about buses going from northern Delaware to NYC and back on Sept. 21.
Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light is planning a sister march in their own state. Join in!
North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light will be participating in the march in NYC.
• New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light is spearheading a Climate Pilgrimage: Connecting the Dots event in Albuquerque and another event will be in Santa Fe. Information will soon be available.
If you’re outside of these areas, visit Peoples Climate March to sign up.


U.S. EPA Listening Session on Carbon Pollution Standards For Existing Power Plants

Remarks by Anthony Vance, Director, U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs, July 30, 2014

Anthony Vance, Director, U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs, testified at a hearing of the Environmental Protection Agency on July 30th, in favor of EPA’s proposed carbon standards for existing power plants. His testimony follows.

Good afternoon. I’m Anthony Vance, Director of the U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this hearing.

I am pleased to join the more than two dozen representatives of faith communities, and many others that have come here over these two days to speak in strong support of EPA’s efforts to set carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

The proposed standards, when implemented, promise to cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 30% by 2030. They are an essential step toward reducing pollution from our largest source of emissions. The standards will help to stimulate improved energy efficiency and growth in renewable energy and lead us toward a clean energy future.

As you know too well, carbon pollution triggers asthma attacks and respiratory disease, worsens air quality, and contributes to more frequent, destructive, costly and deadly extreme weather events. And yet, to date, carbon emissions have not been regulated! It’s time for that to change.

As a parent, I have personal reasons to support these standards. Several years ago, my own daughter at the age of 8, had her first asthma attack. It was frightening to see her struggling, unable to breathe. Fortunately, we were able to rush her to a nearby hospital where she was treated and released, but as any parent can tell you, that kind of experience makes a lasting impression. No-one’s child should have to needlessly suffer as a result of our unrestrained carbon pollution.

While the technical aspects of reducing our emissions are manifold, there is a deep moral dimension to the issue that is understood and felt by individuals and institutions across the faith spectrum. Can we really continue to emit unlimited amounts of carbon into the atmosphere knowing the harmful impact it will have on current and future generations, as well as all life on the planet? This question becomes even more poignant, when we realize that those being impacted first and most severely have had little or nothing to do with creating the problem.

We in the Bahá'í community are guided by a firm belief in the principle of the oneness of humankind. This spiritual principle has profound implications for policy at many levels. It guides us to seek solutions that are equitable and just, treating all people as members of one human family. I believe that the EPA’s proposed carbon standards, if implemented, would be one way of honoring and reflecting an awareness of this central principle.

The American Bahá'í community for the last several years has taken action to reduce its carbon emissions, both nationally and locally. We removed an old heating and air conditioning system and replaced it with a high efficiency system in our continental House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, where we are also building a LEEDcertified visitors center. Bahá'ís in 114 local communities in 43 states were among the 1700 diverse faith congregations that took part in Interfaith Power and Light’s national Preach-in on climate change last February.

These efforts and others like them help to raise awareness of the climate issue and emphasize the important part each of us can play in seeking solutions. But such actions alone will not be enough. We need strong national policies that will propel us toward a clean energy future. EPA’s proposed carbon standards will help in this regard.

As evidenced in the recent U.S. National Climate Assessment, the impacts of carbon pollution are already being felt across all regions and sectors of the U.S. economy, and the projected impacts from doing nothing about our emissions are severe indeed. In truth, these carbon standards are long overdue and, particularly, in the absence of a more comprehensive national climate policy, they are an essential step in the right direction.

The approaching Climate Summit scheduled at the United Nations in September is seeking commitments by all nations to reduce their emissions. The climate challenge can only be solved through international cooperation and national leadership. The United States has an important role to play in inspiring the world to take cooperative action. The Administration’s proposed carbon standards demonstrate a seriousness of intent in this direction.

With many symptoms of a changing climate at our door and the many health impacts of carbon pollution quite evident, we must act with great conviction and haste to reduce our emissions. I thank EPA for its efforts to do just that through its proposed carbon pollution standards.


Report from the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment

John H. Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment named by the Human Rights Council, has recently reported the following news items. For more information, see his website, http://ieenvironment.org/, and the UN website on his mandate at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/IEEnvironment/Pages/IEenviro…, including his reports to the Human Rights Council.

Best Practices. A major element of my mandate is to identify, promote and exchange views on best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations to inform, support and strengthen environmental policymaking. In the spring, we sent a questionnaire to governments, international bodies, and civil society asking for views on such practices. Even though the deadline for responses has passed, we are accepting late submissions! If you would like to submit a good practice, please do so as soon as possible. If you need a copy of the questionnaire in English, French or Spanish, request one by replying to this email ieenvironment@ohchr.org.

Another major event in the effort to identify best practices will occur on 5-7 September, at Yale University. UNITAR and Yale are hosting their third Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy, with a focus on Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development, and the Future Climate Regime. Other partners in the conference include UNDP, UNEP, and the World Resources Institute. The conference will bring together more than 150 scholars and policy experts, and cover more than 100 papers by researchers and practitioners from 40 different countries. For those interested in attending, the deadline for registration is 14 August 2014. More information is available at http://www.unitar.org/egp/3rd-unitar-yale-conferenceenvironmental-gover….

Environmental Human Rights Defenders. As I noted in the last newsletter, environmental human rights defenders – people who seek to defend the rights of themselves and others to their land and environment – are at great and growing risk. A recent study by Global Witness concludes that between the beginning of 2002 and the end of 2013, 908 people in 35 countries were killed because of their work defending environmental and land rights, an average of one a week for over a decade. Deadly Environment: The Dramatic Rise in Killings of Environmental and Land Defenders, available at http://www.globalwitness.org/deadlyenvironment/.

A disturbing increase in alleged murders, attacks on and acts of intimidation against environmental defenders has been reported by both the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders (A/HRC/19/55) and the Working Group on Human Rights and Business (A/HRC/26/25, para. 69) in their recent reports to the UN Human Rights Council. Harassment of environmental defenders is truly a global problem: another civil society organization, Article 19, recently published a report on threats to environmental human rights defenders in Europe, and recent articles discussing this issue in the context of specific cases in Latin America and Africa can be found at: http://ensia.com/features/dying-to-save-the-world/ and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-mother-who-defied-th….

In May, I held an expert consultation in Bangkok aimed at helping to identify good practices in the protection of environmental defenders, as part of the larger good practices project. The report of the consultation is now available at my website, http://ieenvironment.org/. This website, as well as the UN website on the mandate, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/IEEnvironment/Pages/IEenviro…, also contains a great deal of other information about the mandate, including my reports to the Human Rights Council.

Climate Change and Human Rights. At its June session, the Human Rights Council adopted an important resolution on climate change and human rights. Among other things, the resolution emphasized the urgent importance of addressing, as they relate to States’ human rights obligations, the adverse consequences of climate change for all, particularly in developing countries and people whose situation is most vulnerable to climate change; called upon all States to continue to enhance international dialogue and cooperation in relation to the adverse impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights; and decided to incorporate in the program of work of its March 2015 session a full day discussion on specific themes concerning human rights and climate change.

The resolution also encouraged relevant special procedures mandate holders to give consideration to the issue of climate change and human rights within their respective mandates. To that end, on 17 July I held a public consultation in Geneva on climate change and human rights. Together with expert meetings held over the previous two days in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the consultation helps to clarify the many ways that climate change is relevant to human rights, and vice versa. The relationship between the two areas is being addressed by many other sources as well. A report pulling together statements by human rights bodies, including special procedures, on climate change and human rights is available at my website, at http://ieenvironment.org/mapping-report-2014-2/.

In this respect, it is highly encouraging that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 14 July the appointment of Mary Robinson to be his Special Envoy on Climate Change. After serving as President of Ireland and High Commissioner for Human Rights, she founded and is the president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and her understanding of the relationship of climate change and human rights is unsurpassed. She has described climate change as “the biggest human rights issue of the 21st century.”

Environmental Democracy Index. Although this is not an activity of the mandate, many of you may be interested to learn that the World Resources Institute, together with The Access Initiative, is developing an Environmental Democracy Index (EDI), which it describes as the first comprehensive index designed specifically to measure procedural rights in an environmental context. The EDI uses UNEP’s Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters as an international standard against which it can assess national laws. For more information about this project, go to http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/access-initiative-tai/commissions.

Finally, I had the honor of being a scholar in residence at Vermont Law School in July, where I gave a presentation describing my work on the UN mandate on human rights and environment. A video of the presentation is available on YouTube.

As always, please feel free to share your comments and questions about the mandate!

Best regards,
John H. Knox
UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment
Henry C. Lauerman Professor of International Law, Wake Forest University School of Law


Florida U.S. Interfaith Climate Group Building Community

By Sue Blythe
After taking the Climate Change course from the Wilmette Institute, five Baha'is in Gainesville, Florida created the Interfaith Climate Group in March 2013. Our first goal was to find out who else in the faith community was working on climate issues. Last year we reached out to the wider community and invited people to monthly climate meetings. We shared resources and had conversations, shared prayers and supported other groups' activities. We sponsored an Interfaith Power and Light workshop on Cool Congregations -- reducing the carbon footprint in places of worship. We began using the Earth Charter as an organizing and education tool.

Building Community in a Changing Climate. We planned four workshops in 2014, as part of a series to provide education and inspire individual and collaborative action in our community.

World Religion Day / January - We shared scripture and climate statements from the world's religions. Quakers, Jews, Catholics and Baha'is described the climate education programs they're involved in, including the Quaker EarthCare Witness, GreenFaith Certification Program, Interfaith Power and Light, Citizens Climate Lobby, the Great March for Climate Action and the FutureFlash! Climate Challenge. We asked what else was happening in Gainesville. Forty participants created a list of individual actions and organizations.

Earth Day / April - Using the list created at the previous meeting, participants discussed what each is involved in and made commitments for personal action.

Earth Charter Anniversary / June - Youth from the FutureFlash! Climate Challenge / Making the Game Club presented the story of the Earth Charter from 1968 to the present, and challenged participants to write the rest of the story, from 2014 to 2050. People made short- and long-term commitments for action, and matched them to the 16 Earth Charter principles for a sustainable, just and peaceful world (Illuminating the Earth Charter). They learned about the FutureFlash! Climate Challenge, an online game under development. They also joined the global Sing for the Climate movement.

UN International Day of Peace / September - The Interfaith Climate Group is collaborating with other religious and community peace organizations, marching on a major road with flags of the United Nations. We will ask participants to consider how we can create peace with the Earth with a growing network of interfaith partners.

The Interfaith Climate Group will continue the process of Building Community in a Changing Climate with quarterly workshops, monthly devotional gatherings, and occasional special programs, including an upcoming presentation with Home Depot on Saving Energy. For more information, contact sue@interfaithclimategroup.org.


IEF member and Coordinator of the Non-government Organization APRE
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kadima Mpoyi Long'sha,
shares news of recent activities at the local level

APRE, 'Action for Protection and Reorganization of the Environment' was created in 2004 and has the overall aim of contributing to the betterment of the world through pure and goodly deeds, a laudable and proper conduct of men for the sustainable management of the environment.

APRE has worked previously as a partner with: community, schools and foresters. With the support of the Belgian province of Limburg, activities and support that APRE has been engaged in over the past four years include:
• support for thirty foresters who each planted at least one hectare of acacia;
• a community in an area threatened by the heads of erosions was accompanied by APRE to form a band of 1250m x 15m acacia to protect the neighborhood;
• twenty schools in the city of Kananga on the awareness of the effects of climate change;
• in partnership with the Mayor of the city, a community was supported to start the creation of a small artificial forest on the outskirts of the city.

Since 2008, APRE has been commemorating two World Days in synergy with other environmental institutions: that of the Environment on June 5 and that of the Tree on December 5.

The Coordinator of the NGO APRE was elected this year Team Leader of Environment within the framework of consultation of civil society. APRE is now a member of GTCR (TG Climate REDD).

Updated 18 August 2014