Leaves 2(1) April 2000


Newsletter of the
Volume 2, Number 1 --- April 2000

"Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected to every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit no imbalance, nor any slackening whatsoever"
'Abdu'l-Bahá (Conservation of the Earth's Resources, A Compilation... p.4)


From a small Bahá'í inspired organisation launched in October 1997, the International Environment Forum (IEF) has slowly begun connecting and networking with organisations and individuals across the globe interested in promoting issues of the environment and sustainable development. Its past three conferences, has seen it grow to 66 members from 33 countries (see membership statistics below) and links with many people in over 30 countries and 5 continents. This has been made possible through the Internet, where people who can not afford to attend the conferences can participate electronically and also have access to its web site. Its second conference, which took place jointly with the Bahá'í Association for Social and Economic Development (BASED-UK) in England last year was a success, as participants learned to draw on the Bahá'í principles of combining spiritual and practical approaches to the environment. Presently, the IEF has no funds of its own and limited human resources to run and promote all its activities, but that not withstanding, the commitment of its membership and the board, provides impetus in its efforts to continue to promote its goals and ideals. It is against this backdrop that its intention to hold this year's conference jointly with the Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas can be regarded as a step in the right direction and a unique opportunity in its outreach programme. It is hoped that the pending conference will constitute another mile stone in the IEF 's efforts to promote exchanges of experiences and ideas through consultation.


Twenty-four people attended an environmental networking session facilitated by three IEF members at the December 1999 Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development held in Orlando, Florida. Participants explored Bahá'í views on the environment, shared information on their own environmental interests, and learned about other ongoing projects and resources on the environment, one of which was the IEF! Separate breakout groups explored in greater detail the International Environment Forum (discussion led by Arthur Dahl), the Earth Charter (discussion led by Peter Adriance) and Bahá'í perspectives on a range of environmental issues (discussion led by Juliet Carson-Martinez). Notes from the session are posted on the IEF website at http//bcca.org/ief/orlnet99.htm.


The Board has received numerous correspondence in the last year which were consulted upon in its last meeting on 31 December 1999 -14 January 2000.

Two IEF Board members, Mr. Peter Adriance and Dr. Arthur Dahl, while attending the 1999 Orlando conference managed to establish some good links with the Rabbani Trust for a joint conference next year. Mr. Adriance was tasked to start organizing the conference and to be assisted by some members in the United States.

The Board has planned to convene a special meeting in June on developing the 5-year plan for the IEF. It will also consider the kind of publications that the IEF should produce as part of the plan. The consultative process for the adoption of the IEF statutes, and the suggestions on revision of the draft statutes which were circulated to Board members, will be agreed upon in its next meeting.

The Working Group on Educational Materials has not had any further consultation, suggestions however have been raised for the production of children's materials. The Group has therefore been encouraged to prepare a list of themes for the children's class materials.

One of the objectives of the IEF is to help those interested in studying issues of environment and sustainable development with the offer of mentoring and the board discussed how this could be started (see below).


The International Environment Forum will hold its 4th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida (USA), 12-14 December 2000 in conjunction with the development seminar preceding the Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas (December 14-17). The latter is an important event in the Western Hemisphere that has taken place annually for the past decade and regularly attracts more than 1000 participants. The IEF will also hold two joint sessions with the Sustainable Agriculture Interest Group during the larger conference.

The general theme for the IEF conference will be "Applying the Bahá'í teachings to the environmental challenges facing the world". Assistance will be available to presenters to help them incorporate elements into their presentations that foster a participatory learning environment - now a regular feature of the larger development conference. As in prior years, papers and conference proceedings will also be shared with virtual IEF conference participants via the Internet.

The initial call for papers was sent by e-mail to all IEF members on March 1st. A number of excellent proposals have been received and are being reviewed by the conference committee which includes Juliet Carson-Martinez, Roxanne Lalonde and Tahereh Nadarajah(Djafari) plus all current board members. Anyone wishing to help organize the conference should contact Peter Adriance, Conference Coordinator, at padriance @ usbnc.org.

Watch for regular updates and web postings from the conference committee.


The Earth Charter, a focus at two prior IEF conferences, has recently been released in final form, concluding an eight-year-long drafting process. In an article in "UN Wire" the document was termed an "ambitious ethical manifesto". (Click here http://www.unfoundation.org/unwire/archives/UNWIRE000314.cfm for article.)

The extensive Earth Charter effort to draft the document was called "a model for global consensus building", by One Country, the newsletter of the Bahá'í International Community, in its Fall '99 issue. (Click here http://www.onecountry.org/e112/e11207as.htm for article.) Efforts will now be undertaken to increase awareness of the document across all sectors of society and gain widespread endorsement before taking it to the United Nations in 2002, the tenth anniversary of the Earth Summit.


The days suggest many possibilities for local activities. Read, be inspired and act!

World Environment Day

5 June 2000

This official United Nations day organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commemorates the signing of the Stockholm Declaration at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. It is commemorated every year on 5 June in more than 100 countries around the globe. This year, the main international celebrations will take place in Adelaide, Australia. Information materials are available from UNEP.

The slogan this year for World Environment Day (WED) is 2000 - The Environment Millennium - Time to Act

UNEP is producing a WED information package in English, French and Spanish, which will include a news release, a poster, a logo sheet, stickers, a message from the United Nations Secretary-General, a message from the Executive Director of UNEP, and a special issue of UNEP's quarterly magazine, Our Planet.

To obtain this information package, which is expected to be ready for distribution in early May, please contact UNEP's production controller, Ms. Mani Kebede, at the following e-mail address: Manyahleshal.Kebede @ unep.org.

In the interim, you may wish to visit the WED web site at http://www.unep.org/unep/per/cpi/wed/Default.asp where you will find some background information on the day and on how it can be celebrated.

For an update on the various WED activities being planned in Australia, you may also wish to visit the Australian web site, which has been linked to UNEP's site, at http://www.environment.gov.au/wed.

Earth Day

22 April 2000

The first Earth Day was organized in the United States on 22 April 1970, and it has now become an annual event commemorated around the world, involving many non-governmental organizations. There are efforts to make Earth Day 2000 an especially important event. All the latest details are on the Earth Day web site at http://www.earthday.net.

Clean up the world

The Clean up the World campaign is held each year on a weekend in mid-September. It is organized by Clean Up the World, a non-profit organization, in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme. Further information is at http://www.cleanuptheworld.org.au


One of the objectives that has been envisioned for the IEF from the very beginning is for it to facilitate the contact with young men and women who wish to study environment and sustainable development issues, who share an interest in the application of Bahá'í teachings in their efforts at serving humanity, and professionals who could provide some advice for them. When consulting on how this idea could be implemented, the idea of a regionalised structure with perhaps one IEF member for each continent who could forward inquiries from young students to other members came up. But there can also be other ways to organise this. As a start we encourage all IEF members who are interested to be accessible for advising the younger generation to inform the secretariat. Then the board will have some information on the available human resources in its consultation on how to take the next steps.


The next issue of LEAVES is planned for October; all contributions should therefore be sent in by September 30th.


The revised IEF brochure which was modified to reflect the new draft statutes was distributed at the Orlando meeting and is now available on the IEF web site.


Under this headline we will report on interesting activities of members, participation in conferences, in environment projects etc. Please send your contributions to the secretariat.


(This call for papers has been taken from Bahá'í-Announce mailing list)

World Order magazine, a peer-reviewed quarterly, has been published since 1966 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, and is intended, "to stimulate, inspire, and serve thinking people in their search to find relationships between contemporary life and contemporary religious teachings and philosophy." The Editorial Board invites submissions of articles, reviews (book and film reviews or reviews of current art or photography exhibits), poetry, photographs, and photographic essays that "focus on topics of broad social concern from a Bahá'í perspective." Articles for non-theme based issues on conflict resolution, history, the arts, comparative religion, coping with AIDS and similar terminal illnesses (community and individual challenges), aging and care for the elderly, drug abuse and addiction, and the relationship between humanity and nature are particularly welcome. Prospective writers are encouraged to contact the editors for an author style sheet, and for a list of recent books and films for which reviews are sought.

SUBMISSION DEADLINES: April 15 for the issue dated Winter 1999-2000; May 15 for the issue dated Spring 2000; and June 1 for the issue dated Summer 2000. Submissions are also accepted on a rolling basis but manuscripts received for the above deadlines will receive prompt attention.

4516 Randolph Rd., Apt. 99
Charlotte, NC 28211, U.S.A.
Tel: 1(704) 362-5336
E-mail: WorldOrder @ usbnc.org


(Submitted by Richard Sherwood)

Towards Sustainable Development
April 25 - 28, 2000
Music Theatre, Olomouc
Czech Republic

Organized by
- Society for Sustainable Living Czech Republic
- Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Palacký University, Olomouc
- Department of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno
- Center of Ecological Education of Olomouc Town
- Civic Futurological Society in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
- Josef and Petra Vavrou*ek Foundation
- Association for Open Society

Aim of the conference is support, popularization and enforcement of the ideas of sustainable development and sustainable way of living in the current process of globalization.

Sustainable way of living (meaning respect for life, nature and responsibility to future generations) is the core concept that can become the essential idea for co-operation and development of the human society in the 21st century.

Participants from Central and Eastern European countries are kindly invited for participation. Open Society Fund covers their travel expenses, accommodation and per diem.

A) Globalization - threat or challenge
B) Enforcement of sustainable development
C) NGO institutions and activities


(Submitted by Austin Bowden-Kerby)

2ND Bi-annual International Human Dimensions Workshop for young developing countries' scientists. From 10-22 September 2000, Bonn, Germany. Theme Human Dimensions issues in the Coastal Zone. Deadline for applications 10 April 2000. All successful applicants would be funded. Contact International Human Dimensions Program on Global Enviromental Change. Walter-Flex-Str.3 53113 Bonn, Germany. E-mail: thiem.ihdp @ uni-bonn.de


(Submitted by Terry Randolph)

The Philippines - The Filipino press has disclosed that the government is to spend P750 million to implement its Clean Air Act (Republic Act 8749) signed by President Estrada last year. The amount is part of a P14 billion loan package it obtained from the Asian Development Bank for its Air Pollution Control Facility program. The Act, hailed by environmentalists and Filipinos, is regarded as a victor against pollution for now and future generations and constitutes a landmark in a major national clean-up campaign. However, doubts are still being exercised in the press as to whether the new law will be enforced. This is because the costs involved, and the need for enforcement pose major policy problems to the government due to political wangling. The Senate has been urged to provide P1.2 billion in the proposed 2000 national budget towards the initial implementation of the Act. However, it is feared that the additional foreign funding to support the Act may be threatened should Congress fail to appropriate the necessary funds for implementation in its first year.

The Act is being regarded as unique and progressive in this region of Asia and would have tremendous impact especially on oil companies who must now support the cost of upgrading their refineries. The House of Representatives, in its bid to strengthen the Act, is reported to have drafted a pro-environment agenda to protect the environment from future degradation and to preserve the natural wealth of the country. These include: Sold Waste Management Act; Clean Water Act; Integrated Land Use and Water Act; Sustainable Forest Management and Mangrove Act; Coastal Environmental Program; and Regulating Chainsaw Act. Another environmental legislation currently before the House is a bill prohibiting laundry detergents containing non-biodegradable cleansing chemicals from being manufactured, imported, distributed or sold in the country.


(Submitted by Melinda Salazar)

I will be conducting an evaluation on the implementation of the Bolivian site of the UNIFEM/BIC international gender development project. This research will have an environmental/ecosystems component as part of a Natural Resources doctorate (see extract from project description below). I am interested in corresponding with others who have integrated gender equity, economics and ecosystems approaches.
- Melinda Salazar

"This study evaluates the implementation of an international non-governmental (NGO) Gender and Development project in a rural Quechua community in the Bolivian Andes to see if the project's goal to change attitudes and behaviors towards gender in order to improve women's status actually happened, and to learn how the participants were able to sustain and apply lessons learned into their daily lives. Secondary goals are to contribute to gender planning in development by exploring the long term implications of including men, and to examine how a Colombian Latina scholar, educated in the North, "does research" with indigenous women and men in Latin America."

(for contact details see IEF directory, Melinda has just left for field work in Bolivia).


(Submitted by Peter Adriance)

Writers are needed for a forthcoming Kalimat Press volume on the environment entitled Earth Circles (a Bahá'í book). Please send hard copy, 10-20 pages, to the following address; the full range of environmental themes would be of interest:

Michael Fitzgerald, Editor
343 George Street
Winchester, VA 22601


(As of 28 February 2000)

Total 66 members / 33 countries. Up from 44 members / 27 countries in 1999.

Argentina 1
Australia 1
Belgium 1
Bolivia 1
Canada 5
Canary Islands 1
China (Province of Taiwan) 1
China, People's Republic of 1
Czech Republic 2
Denmark 1
Fiji 1
Finland 2
France 3
Germany 1
Ireland 1
Mongolia 1
Netherlands, The 3
New Zealand 1
Northern Ireland 1
Norway 1
Pakistan 1
Paraguay 1
Philippines 1
Russia 1
Slovakia 1
South Africa 1
Surinam 1
Swaziland 2
Sweden 4
Switzerland 1
United Kingdom 12
United States of America 9


The International Environment Forum is a Bahá'í-inspired organization addressing the environment and sustainable development. To become a member, just contact the secretariat which will send you a membership questionnaire.

Sylvia Karlsson
Arrendegatan 65
S-58335 Linköping
Fax: +46-13-211106
Email: ief@bcca.org
website: www.bcca.org/ief

Updated 20 April 2000