INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
14 December 2000-20 October 2001
FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM
The Fourth Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) was held 12-14 December 2000 in Orlando, Florida, USA, on the theme "Applying the Baha'i Teachings to the Environmental Challenges Facing the World". More than 85 participants from over 30 countries on six contents registered for the conference in advance. 63 participated exclusively via the Internet through the electronic conference. Many others who did not pre-register attended at least some of the sessions. All conference papers were distributed in advance by email, and summaries of each session were sent out shortly after the end of the session, giving participants around the world the possibility to follow the discussions and to send in their own email comments and contributions as well, which were shared in the sessions as appropriate. In addition to those registered for the IEF Conference itself, some 200 participants in the Development Seminar of the Baha'i Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas, meeting at the same time in Orlando, were invited to participate in the IEF sessions, which were integrated as concurrent sessions into the Seminar programme.
One exciting dimension of the Orlando meetings that was also added to the IEF programme was the integration of the arts into all presentations. Music, dance and drama appropriate to each topic were provided by supporting artists as listed in the programme. The arts had a huge impact on the sessions.
The papers and report from the conference are available on the IEF web site.
4TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Fourth General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held on 13 December 2000 with 18 voting members present and another 5 that took part via email. 19 votes were cast for the new board. The governing board elected for 1999/2000 (with the officers elected by the board at its first meeting) consisted of Peter Adriance (USA); Irma Allen (Swaziland); Arthur Dahl (Switzerland - President); Sylvia Karlsson (Sweden - General Secretary), Roxanne Lalonde (Canada).
The General Assembly consulted on the Annual Report 1999-2000, the Draft 5-Year Plan, and activities for the coming year, in particular it approved the revised Statutes for the IEF.
As all members of the Board were present at the Orlando conference, the Board could have its first ever face to face meeting on the 16th of December 2000. This was of course a special occasion The rest of the board meetings have been conducted electronically via e-mail. The board has had the following formal meetings 16 December 2000, 21 January-11 February 2001, 17 March-8 April 2001, 25 May-17 June 2001, 5-19 August 2001 and 13-18 September 2001.
Meeting participation: Peter Adriance (6 of 6); Irma Allen (6 of 6); Arthur Dahl (6 of 6); Sylvia Karlsson (6 of 6), Roxanne Lalonde (6 of 6).
The Board's work during these 10 months has been dominated by finalizing the reporting from the 4th annual conference, preparing for the 5th annual conference and for the IEF seminar at the 2001 Orlando conference, implementing the adopted statutes, consulting on the first planned IEF publication, further delegation of its work to the working groups, and taking the first steps towards participating in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002. The board has kept the Office of Social and Economic Development in Haifa, and the Baha'i International Community's Office of the Environment in New York, regularly informed of its plans and activities through copies of the minutes of all board meetings.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STATUTES
The board has taken steps over the year to implement the statutes which were adopted at the 4rd General Assembly. A major change in those statutes compared to earlier draft versions related to the categories of membership. The voting and non-voting member categories were changed to "Member" and "Associate", since a single category of membership seemed closer to Baha'i practice.
Members will be listed in the membership directory, and be able to vote and be voted for. Associates will be informed of, and may take part in IEF activities but they will not be listed on the web and cannot vote or be voted for. In the newsletter sent out in February 2001 all members were asked to consider changing their membership status in response to these changes and let the secretariat know about this. A further step was taken to address all associates to encourage them to become members before the revised directory is sent out for the 5th General Assembly. Remaining steps of implementation will be taken in the months to come.
In November 2000 there were 80 IEF members in total, 59 voting members and 21 non-voting members. In September 2001 there are 94 members and 24 associates from 38 countries on all five continents. There is thus a steady growth in the IEF membership and its geographical diversity. The Office of Public Information in Haifa has included the IEF in the latest issue of the Baha'i World and we will be listed there also in the next issue. This strengthens the position of the IEF as a recognized Baha'i inspired association in the eyes of both the Baha'i community and the world at large.
Around 180 letters have been received (the large majority e-mails) and over 150 outgoing letters have been sent (many of them to multiple recipients). This excludes the correspondence on the 5th IEF conference, the IEF seminar at the 2001 Orlando conference, and correspondence among members of the editorial board, educational materials working group etc.
LEAVES is only distributed to members and associates but everyone can access it on the IEF web site. There have been 3 issues this year.
IEF WEB SITE
The web site of the IEF is hosted by the Baha'i Computer and Communication Association (BCCA) at www.bcca.org/ief/. During the year the site has been further developed and expanded with the particular purpose of being available as a resource for those who at local or national level wish to become involved in the Rio+10 process leading up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. There are a number of resource documents and links available for this purpose. In addition the website contents include the announcement and programme for the 5th conference, the IEF seminar at the 2001 Orlando conference, information on the IEF, the newsletter LEAVES, a directory of members, reports and papers from previous conferences, relevant statements of the Baha'i International Community, resource materials and papers by members, selections from the writings, and links to other relevant web sites. Part of the site is in French, but the plan to translate parts into Spanish has not yet been realized. Three members have accepted to assist in further developing the website supporting the web editor.
The editorial group was continued by the board with the same membership as the previous year Peter Adriance (USA), Charles Boyle (Australia), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Nigel Jollands (New Zealand) and Roxanne Lalonde (Canada). The group has reviewed one paper submitted by a member during the year, as well as all the draft chapters for a book compiling some of the best papers from previous IEF conference, for which a publisher has already been found. Further work to solicit papers to compile into publications is only at the planning stage.
WORKING GROUP ON EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
A working group on education materials was formed the previous year and continued in the same constellation Irma Allen (Swaziland), Eva Hildorsson (Sweden), Tomas Linsel (Slovakia), Molly McMakin (UK), Tahereh Nadarajah (Mongolia) and Jan Quik (Suriname). A workshop to identify more closely the target groups and needs in this area was held at the 3rd IEF conference but little has been achieved after this.
CONTACT WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
One of the major objectives of the International Environment Forum is to interact with other non-governmental organizations and so be able to share ideas, etc. During the past year several NGOs have sent conference information or approached us for further information on our activities, especially for possible sources of funding. We also collaborated with other Baha'i-inspired organizations such as the European Baha'i Business Forum, the Badi Foundation and the Agriculture Forum.
PLANNING FOR THE FIFTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
After the Board took the decision to hold the 5th IEF annual conference for the first time in Eastern Europe, at the Townshend School in South Bohemia, Czech Republic, the Board started working with Richard Sherwood as the local liaison. Bettina Moser later joined to help with the electronic part of the conference. It was decided to make this conference specially geared towards the Rio+10 process, providing the opportunity to explore some central factors for sustainable development and what the particular challenges are to implement Agenda 21 and the Rio Conventions. A lot of efforts have been made to publicize the conference in the region, at universities and among NGOs.
PLANNING FOR 2001 ORLANDO CONFERENCE
After the successful cooperation with Rabbani Trust last year in the arrangement of the 4th annual conference in concert with their conference on social and economic development they expressed interest for our participation also in the 2001 event. A team of IEF members and two representatives of the Governing Board planned the program for a one-day seminar, a networking session with the Agriculture Forum, and a weekend workshop. A call for papers was issued to IEF members and through other channels.
PLANNING WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The first steps have been taken for IEF to become officially Accredited for participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002. This will also allow IEF members to participate in the PrepComs leading up to that Summit. The Board has also started consultations on what type of participation the IEF could plan for in cooperation with Baha'i agencies.
Overall this has been a year of continuing progress both in our membership and our activities. We are gradually finding our place as a Baha'i-inspired organization supporting its members in efforts to apply Baha'i principles to the environmental and sustainable development problems of the world. Our outreach and acceptance are growing. However the principal burden still falls on a relatively few members. With wider participation, we could greatly increase our impact and take advantage of the new opportunities for service opening before us.
Last updated 4 December 2004