International Environment Forum Annual Report
August 2018 – April 2019
This 23st Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from August 2018 to April 2019 between two annual General Assemblies. The General Assembly in 2019 is being held during the IEF 23rd Conference in New Zealand on Planetary Health and Sustainable Development in Auckland and Rotorua, New Zealand, 5-14 April 2019
22st IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The 22nd General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held over the Internet using the Zoom platform on 25 August 2018. Seven IEF members connected over Zoom.
Much of the consultation revolved around improving communications with the membership to increase their involvement in IEF. One suggestion was to produce more short video clips such as the IEF Panel on Your Smartphone at the HLPF in New York (https://iefworld.org/conf22). More should be collected, and featured regularly on the IEF web site.
Another discussion concerned activities at the local level in communities, which are now a priority for Baha'is. Members involved in local actions for the environment and sustainability should be invited to share their stories to inspire others to act, either in reports for the newsletter or as video clips. The IEF should consider how it can encourage more such local action, for example by providing ideas, materials and case studies.
The election of the IEF Governing Board took place by e-voting on 14-24 August 2018 before the General Assembly. The teller reported the election of Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Christine Muller, Victoria Thoresen, Laurent Mesbah, Wendi Momen, and Michael Richards. Since Michael Richards was unable to serve, a by-election was held after the General Assembly to replace him, and Halldor Thorgeirsson was elected to the board (see the report of the election at https://iefworld.org/node/940 ). A total of 49 IEF members voted during the election, which is a sign of the good health of IEF.
The report of the General Assembly is at https://iefworld.org/genass22.
IEF GOVERNING BOARD
The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Christine Muller as General Secretary. The Board held two electronic meetings during the seven months covered by this report and has consulted on a variety of topics related to IEF activities, including a deeper consultation about our mission and strategic plan. The following topics have been under consideration: How can we get more members actively involved? Should we reactivate some issue monitors? How do we attract more young people? Can we produce more content on video? How can we support action at the local level (broadly speaking including national/local)? How can we best accompany our members in applying spiritual principles in their professional areas?
The Board has approved twelve new membership applications since 25 August 2018. It also searched for the 48 “lost” members for whom we don't have a valid e-mail address. We found 2 members were deceased and could reconnect with 16 members.
IEF PARTNERSHIPS AND INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century
A working group supported by the Global Challenges Foundation (GCF)
After the proposal on global governance prepared by IEF president Arthur Dahl, Augusto Lopez-Claros, and IEF member Maja Groff won the New Shape Prize in Stockholm on 29 May, they have set up a working group with some additional finance from the Global Challenges Foundation to develop the proposal further, adding IEF members Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Joachim Monkelbaan to the group along with others. IEF is hosting a web page for the group on its web site at https://iefworld.org/governanceWG until they are able to design and launch their own site. They were invited by the BIC Office at the United Nations in New York to present their proposals to senior UN officials and diplomats on 5 November (see report at https://iefworld.org/node/952). The working group met in Paris on 9-10 November and then participated in the Paris Peace Forum on 11-13 November (see report at https://iefworld.org/node/955) where they also had two meetings at the National Baha'i Centre in Paris and spoke to a hundred students at Sciences Po, a leading French university. Arthur Dahl then went to London to speak on the same topic at a luncheon on 14 November at the British Parliament in commemoration of interfaith week and the twin anniversaries of the birth of the founders of the Baha’i Faith, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Baha’i Faith, with Members of Parliament, religious leaders and other dignitaries in attendance. This was followed by an evening meeting for youth at the United Kingdom National Baha’i Centre.
Working group members joined with another GCF working group on the Common Home of Humanity (http://www.commonhomeofhumanity.org) in Porto, Portugal, on 1-3 February 2019 for joint discussions.
On 15 February 2019 in Stockholm, the working group defended selected modules based on its proposals before a panel of expert outside reviewers convened by the Global Challenges Foundation.
They delivered the manuscript for their book-length proposal on Global Governance to Cambridge University Press on 28 February 2019.
Talanoa Call for Action
In the Pacific tradition of Talanoa, the world came together this past year to share experiences and help make wise decisions to inspire a global response to the threat of a changing climate. People shared stories of the widespread devastation already inflicted on their communities by climate change, and the increasing risks for human and food security. They also shared stories of ambitious action already being taken all over the world in response to these threats.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) launched a Talanoa Dialogue a year ago to share positive stories and to build commitment to more action on climate change under the Convention. IEF participated in this Dialogue, first with a written submission, then with two IEF members, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl, contributing to the May dialogue with diplomats in Bonn, Germany. Sylvia also participated in the Ministerial level Talanoa Dialogue at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, on 11 December 2018. In December, the IEF board decided to join the Talanoa Call for Action as an organization. In the December issue of LEAVES, IEF has encouraged its members to individually support this Call for Action. For more on the Talanoa Call for Action, see https://iefworld.org/Talanoa3.
Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)
After the close partnership with PERL in a joint event at the UN High Level Political Forum in New York last July (https://iefworld.org/conf22), our next specific collaboration was at the UN Economic Commission for Europe Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Geneva and its Civil Society pre-meeting on 20-22 March 2019.
Our close partnership with our sister Baha’i-inspired organization ebbf – Ethical Business Building the Future continued, since IEF board members Wendi Momen and Arthur Dahl are also on the Governing Board of ebbf. Some IEF members participated in the ebbf Autumn retreat at Acuto, Italy, in October 2018. ebbf has a major focus on ethical values for sustainability, and its next conference in May in Geneva will be on “beyond materialism.”
Living the Change
Living the Change is a program of GreenFaith. Its mission is to encourage sustainable living by people of faith all over the world. IEF member Christine Muller in association with the US Baha'i Office of Public Affairs has begun a collaboration with them. The first result was that Living the Change added Baha'i content on its website. Carolyn Bader, the executive director of Living the Change introduced the initiative to the participants of the recent Wilmette Institute course on Sustainable Development during a Zoom course meeting. Living the Change is interested in collaboration with IEF and National Baha'i institutions, especially from those countries with a high carbon footprint.
Building on our 10 year collaboration with the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD) at the University for Peace established by the United Nations in Belgrade, Serbia, Arthur Dahl was asked to prepare the concept note for and to serve as rapporteur of their 14th international conference "A New Concept of Human Security" at the Belgrade City Hall, on 26 October 2018, as well as to chair their Youth Forum on 27-28 October (see report at https://iefworld.org/node/954).
IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES
Several IEF members are faculty for on-line courses at the Wilmette Institute (http://wilmetteinstitute.org):
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind from 1 September to 19 October 2018. This is the seventh time since 2009 that this course has been offered, now on an annual basis. Faculty include IEF members Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller and Laurent Mesbah.
Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, 20 January – 9 March, 2019. Faculty include IEF members Paul Hanley, Arthur Dahl and Robert White.
The Baha'i Institute of Higher Education has asked IEF members Arthur Dahl, Nizar Mohamed, and Laurent Mesbah to design the first courses in a new Masters programme on Applied Environmental Sciences, starting in April 2019. Teaching materials first developed by IEF are contributing to these courses.
IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS
On 5-9 September, Arthur Dahl participated in another of the annual gatherings on everyday spirituality at the Domaine de la Garde near Bourg-en-Bresse, France, that bring together representatives of many spiritual and artistic traditions. The theme this year was everyday spirituality and our economic behaviour, explored from many angles. Arthur presented on “rethinking business and the economy based on spiritual principles”, drawing on the 2 April 2010 and 1 March 2017 messages from the Universal House of Justice and other Bahá'í texts.
PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS
IEF member Iko Congo has submitted his MSc thesis on “Rethinking management: a case of bahá'í practitioners” which proposes that, if we are to address climate change effectively, a new way of thinking is required in order to transform how our organisations are governed and our economic system structured. His thesis was awarded as best among all those in his MSc promotion at Lancaster University, UK.
IEF member Joachim Monkelbaan published his book on Governance for the Sustainable Development Goals - Exploring an Integrative Framework of Theories, Tools, and Competencies (Springer, link: https://www.springer.com/us/book/9789811304743). This book provides a detailed description of the principles and methods for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including sustainability performance evaluation in companies and local governments.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Cynthia Diessner and Michael Richards, the IEF was able to send out its newsletter LEAVES every month.
For the December issue, the IEF received permission to publish a document which future historians may likely find significant: the January 2018 affidavit of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the US in support of the decision of federal district court Judge Anne Aiken in the Juliana vs the United States case, in which a group of youth have sued the United States Government for not taking sufficient action to address climate change that threatens their future. So far this document does not seem to be published anywhere else.
IEF Members contributed to the newsletter in several ways. Some members wrote book reviews or reports, for example IEF member David Menham wrote a summary of the report by the Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation (VIDC) on Time Bomb Climate Change - What Role for Ecotaxes? Environmental taxes and their application in developing countries. And Carol Curtis on Majuro, Marshall Islands shared her concerns about their “literal” Mountain of Garbage, Ocean Pollution and Sea Level Rise.
This has been a short year with only seven months between General Assemblies. A major initiative has been the involvement of a number of IEF members in efforts to rethink global governance for the 21st century to respond to pressing environmental and sustainability challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss, among others. Members are also heavily involved in on-line educational activities. We continue to engage with United Nations processes and to partner with like-minded organizations. Through the regular newsletter, and resources available on the web site, we try to accompany our members in their efforts to transform society through the combination of scientific and spiritual approaches, the mind and the heart. Our impact can only come through the active engagement of our members, and we deeply appreciate everyone’s efforts to struggle against the forces of disorder and confusion, and to build a vision of shared identity and common purpose leading humanity towards peace and unity in harmony with the natural world that sustains us.
IEF MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS
updated March 2019
418 members in 76 countries (up from 408 in August 2018)
Albania 1 * Angola 1 * Argentina 2 * Australia 20 * Austria 1 * Bangladesh 2 * Belgium 4 * Bolivia 4 * Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 * Brazil 2 * Brunei Darrussalam 1 * Bulgaria 2 * Cambodia 1 * Cameroon 2 * Canada 40 * Chile 1 * China 2 * Colombia 3 * Congo, Democratic Republic 3 * Costa Rica 1 * Czech Republic 3 * Denmark 1 * Ecuador 2 * Eritrea 1 * Ethiopia 1 * Fiji 1 * Finland 1 * France 9 * Germany 10 * Ghana 2 * Greece 1 * Guyana 2 * Honduras 1 * Hong Kong, China 2 * Hungary 2 * Iceland 1 * India 13 * Indonesia 1 * Iran 1 * Israel 2 * Japan 1 * Kazakhstan 1 * Kenya 4 * Liberia 1 * Malawi 2 * Malaysia 6 * Marshall Islands 1 * Namibia 1 * The Netherlands 14 * New Zealand 10 * North Macedonia 1 * Norway 3 * Pakistan 3 * Philippines 2 * Poland 1 * Portugal 2 * Serbia 1 * Singapore 2 * Slovak Republic 2 * South Africa 5 * Spain 3 * Suriname 1 * Swaziland 2 * Sweden 4 * Switzerland 8 * Tanzania 1 * Thailand 2 * Togo 1 * Tonga 1 * Uganda 1 * United Kingdom 49 * United States of America 127 * Vanuatu 1 * Zambia 1 * Zimbabwe 1
59 Associates in 17 countries
Australia 2 * Canada 6 * Chile 1 * China 1 * Czech Republic 1 * Finland 1 * France 2 * Ghana 1 * Iceland 1 * Lithuania 1 * New Zealand 2 * Pakistan 2 * Portugal 2 * Switzerland 3 * The Netherlands 5 * USA 22 * United Kingdom 6
Last updated 20 March 2019