IEF Annual Report 2010-2011

Report Year

International Environment Forum

Annual Report

December 2010 to November 2011

The 15th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from mid-December 2010 to the end of November 2011. The report will be presented at the 15th General Assembly of the IEF in Hobart Tasmania, Australia on 11th December 2011.

‘Making the Invisible Visible’, University of Brighton, 16 – 18 December 2010

In 2010, the IEF adopted the international scientific conference that presented results of the ESDinds project as its 14th Annual Conference, and contributed elements to the programme. The ESDinds project has produced exciting results on the development of values-based indicators, tested in the field with civil society organizations and businesses. The conference brought together workers in the different but overlapping fields of indicators, sustainability and values, and as a result a new "community of practice" is emerging, with a web site at The full report from the 14th Annual Conference with photos and audio recordings is available at


The 14th IEF General Assembly was held during the 14th Annual IEF Conference on 16th December 2010 with a welcome from IEF President Arthur Dahl, followed by introductions from those present. There were 8 members present and 3 guests. The elected board for 2011 consisted of: Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Peter Adriance, Victoria Thoresen, Duncan Hanks, Diana Cartwright and Emily Firth. The report of the General Assembly is on line at


The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Emily Firth as General Secretary. The Board had five meetings throughout the year. These meetings are almost always conducted virtually via email as members are based in many different time zones. This year, a special face-to-face Board meeting was held in September in Bonn, Germany, in parallel with the United Nations NGO Conference and with representatives from the Bahá’í International Community.


The 15th Annual IEF Conference will be held for the second time in the southern hemisphere - in Tasmania, Australia. Hosted by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of Australia and supported by the Regional Bahá’í Council of Tasmania, this year’s conference will be centered around the theme ‘Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Individual, Community and Institutions’. The conference venue will be the Bahá’í Centre of Learning for Tasmania designed and constructed in a sustainable and environmentally conscious style. The organizing committee has greatly benefited from the creativity and energy of IEF members and friends in Australia including Allen Riebau, Charles Boyle, Dimity Podger, Amy Kean, Adrian Salter and David Chittleborough. Arthur Dahl and Peter Adriance will be representing the IEF Governing Board and are among the team of speakers and presenters.

The conference details and program are available at: and on the IEF web site at For the first time, the main talks will be streamed live over the internet for e-conference participation at a distance, with interaction over skype.


Plans are taking shape to hold the 16th IEF Annual Conference in June 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in parallel with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).


Preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – ‘Rio+20’

Several IEF members have been actively engaged in the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development for the Rio+20 Conference, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 20-22 June, 2012.

In March 2011, Peter Adriance, Arthur Dahl, Duncan Hanks and Victoria Thoresen participated in the second meeting of the intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Rio 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place at the United Nations in New York. Arthur Dahl spoke in a high-level side event on International Environmental Governance during the PrepCom. He also facilitated a workshop during a UNEP/Stakeholder Forum seminar on governance the Sunday before the PrepCom. There were also side discussions with the Earth Charter Initiative and faith-based organizations on cooperation in preparation for Rio.

In October 2011, the IEF made a submission to the Bureau of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The IEF submission offered specific elements for the compilation of the zero draft outcome document for the conference, focusing on themes which included: environmental migration, development of a green economy for a sustainable society, ethical support to policy-making, and increasing accessibility to advances in science and technology for community empowerment. The full submission can be downloaded from the official conference website among the other 645 submissions made by Member States, Major Groups, UN organizations and IGOs, at….

Human Rights Council and Climate Change

On 28 February 2011, non-governmental organizations concerned with climate change and its effects on human rights delivered a letter to Ministers attending the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, asking them to call for a Special Procedure on climate change and human rights. Following from the IEF’s contribution to this issue at the Human Rights Council Social Forum in September 2010, the IEF endorsed the statement and was one of the signatories. The letter was signed by 25 NGOs and is available at


International Environmental Governance

IEF President, Arthur Dahl, through his affiliation with the International Environment Forum was invited to be a member of the UNEP Major Group and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance. This group consists of experts from all regions and major groups and provides input to the International Environmental Governance (IEG) processes leading to Rio 2012. A first meeting was held in February in Nairobi, Kenya and Arthur took part in a high-level panel during the Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum, made a statement on behalf of the Advisory Group to the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum and participated in a Ministerial round table. These contributions and activities further increased the visibility for IEF in the Rio preparatory process. The web site of the Advisory Group is hosted by IEF at

United Nations meetings in Bonn, Germany September 2011

A number of IEF members participated in a series of United Nations meetings in Bonn, Germany, from 1st to 5th September 2011. These included a UNEP Global Consultation with Civil Society, a UNEP regional meeting for Europe, and the UN Department of Public Information Annual Non-governmental Organizations Conference on the theme "Sustainable Societies, Responsible Citizens". These opportunities have helped open up and expand the dialogue within the wider community to promote the application of spiritual and ethical principles to the challenges of the environment and sustainable development.

In the global consultation, Arthur Dahl moderated a working group on the institutional framework for sustainable development. One of the ideas he put forward is the concept of a UN Forum on Ethics and Religions patterned on the UN Forum of Indigenous Peoples, based on a Bahá’í International Community proposal in its statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. Another is an Office of Ethical Assessment in the UN, to provide policy reviews on the ethical implications of UN decisions and policies based on accepted international principles and the major religious and cultural traditions.

The 64th UN Department of Public Information NGO Conference, on the theme "Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens", took place from 3rd to 5th September, with over 2,000 participants including additional IEF members Peter Adriance, Sylvia and Onno Vinkhuyzen, and Victoria Thoresen. The Bahá’í International Community (BIC) organized a workshop on "Making the Invisible Visible: Values and the Transition to Sustainable Consumption and Production". The BIC also organized a working dinner for experts on the issue of extremes of wealth and poverty, which it is preparing for Rio+20. The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL), coordinated by Victoria and in which IEF is a partner, organized a workshop on "Moving to Sustainable Living through Education, Gender Equity and Sustainable Economic Initiatives".

Earth Charter Initiative

The IEF was invited by the Earth Charter Initiative with faith communities to collaborate in a research project on the spiritual dimensions of sustainability. The Earth Charter Initiative has already collaborated with UNESCO on a book on faith communities' involvement with education for sustainable development, for which Arthur Dahl submitted a Bahá'í perspective. This is expanding to a research project on the spiritual dimensions of sustainability. A draft statement from the world's religious and spiritual traditions, “Towards Rio+20 and Beyond - A Turning Point in Earth History” is being prepared and a film based on interviews about the outcomes from Bonn and the hopes for Rio+20, including the spiritual dimension, is being produced to motivate involvement in the Rio+20 process. The IEF has agreed to collaborate on this project.

Planet Under Pressure, 2012

IEF members have a number of papers accepted for the international science conference “Planet Under Pressure” to be held in London in March 2012, and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen is co-organizing one of the sessions.

Geneva Interfaith Forum for Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights

During 2011, the IEF participated in discussions with the Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights. In April, Emily Firth represented the IEF at a meeting of this informal group during which agreement was reached by the members to prepare a Call For Action on the role of climate change in its impact with human rights. The Call for Action is available on the IEF website at and will be shared with other NGOs working to prepare the discussion on climate change for the next Human Rights Council Session and in the lead up to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 17 in Durban in November 2011.

IPL Preach-in on Global Warming

In February, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S. joined other faith communities in participating in a Preach-in on Global Warming sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light (IPL). The Preach-in is an annual multi-faith event designed to build awareness and spur action on climate change, particularly in and through faith communities. Bahá'í materials on the themes of environmental stewardship and justice were developed for three ‘core activities’ in which the Bahá'í community is involved: children’s classes, devotional gatherings and junior youth activities. The National Assembly wrote to the American Bahá'í community encouraging its participation and many Bahá'ís registered with the initiative and took part in the activities. Subsequently, the materials were also posted on the IEF website and are available here:


Global Ethics Forum

The IEF is now a partner of the Global Ethics Forum, a project of the Geneva-based Foundation and its global digital ethics library. Arthur Dahl participated in the Conference of the Global Ethics Forum in Geneva, Switzerland from 30 June to 1 July 2011, which brought together participants from the public and private sector, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, governments, academic institutions and individuals under the theme: The Value of Values in Business: Global Perspectives, Practical Solutions. More information on the project is available at

The Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN) and the Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)

IEF continues to be an active partner in PERL, an international network of over 120 universities, organizations and international agencies coordinated by IEF member Victoria Thoresen ( In January 2011, IEF members Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl participated in a PERL ‘think tank’ event in London.

In March, Victoria Thoresen gave an opening keynote presentation and a paper on "Exchange, Empathy, Encouragement and Enabling - Keys to Collaborative Progress Towards Responsible Living" at PERL’s international conference at Maltepe University in Istanbul, Turkey with the theme "Enabling Responsible Living". Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Onno Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl also participated, with Arthur giving papers on “Multi-level frameworks to enable responsible living” and “Values-based indicators for responsible living” that are available on the IEF web site, and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Onno Vinkhuyzen presented a paper on “The role of moral leadership in responsible living: some theoretical and normative explanations”.

Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl also participated in the PERL workshop in Paris in October on the topic ‘Working Together to Advance Responsible Living’.

Bahá'í International Community

The IEF continued to have a close collaboration with the Bahá'í International Community (BIC) throughout 2011. IEF members Peter Adriance, Duncan Hanks and Victoria Thoresen supported BIC activities at the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in May. During the week of United Nations NGO events in September in Bonn, four members of the IEF Board (Peter Adriance, Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Victoria Thoresen) met with BIC representatives and with IEF member Halldor Thorgeirsson of the UNFCCC Secretariat. Plans for participation in the Rio+20 conference as well as the 16th IEF annual conference in 2012 were reviewed.


The IEF co-sponsors and provides faculty for an e-learning course on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind at the Wilmette Institute. This three-month course is being held from September to December, 2011.

IEF is also a partner in the University of Geneva (Switzerland) Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development, offered each year from October to June.

Between July and November, IEF members Peter Adriance, Ariane Bertrand, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan and Lloyd ‘Dingo’ Brown helped organize courses on ‘Environmental Stewardship and Justice’ at Louhelen, Green Acre and Bosch Bahá’í Schools in the United States.

IEF also launched a successful 9 module interfaith course on Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change ( prepared by IEF member Christine Muller which has been used in local communities around the world.


2010 Bahá’í Conference on Social and Economic Development, December 2010

IEF Board member Peter Adriance was a keynote speaker at the Rabbani Charitable Trust’s 2010 Bahá'í Conference on Social and Economic Development in Orlando, Florida on 17-19 December 2010. The conference theme was "Deeds, Not Words: Uniting the Spiritual and the Practical", and Peter's talk was on "Faithful Environmental Stewardship: the role of religion in addressing the environmental crisis". The presentation can be viewed at:… , and the audio recording at: An exhibit on IEF was also on display during the conference.

Symposium on Ethics of Environmental Health in Prague, August 2011

In August 2011, IEF member Friedo Zoelzer of the Faculty of Health and Social Studies, South Bohemia University, Czech Republic, organized a Symposium on Ethics of Environmental Health in Prague. The meeting brought together 30 people from 15 countries from a broad range of backgrounds, including radiation protection, toxicology, epidemiology and philosophy of technology. The full program and presentations are available at

European Center for Peace and Development

The IEF was again represented by its President at the 7th International Conference on Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans, in Milocer, Montenegro, on 21-22 October 2011. The conference with 180 participants was organized by the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD) of the University for Peace established by the United Nations. Over 40 papers were presented on this year's theme “New Balkans and European Union Enlargement”. Arthur Dahl presented a paper on “European Union and Global Sustainability: Issues for Rio 2012”.

World Science Forum, November 2011

The IEF was invited to participate in the World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with UNESCO and ICSU, in Budapest on 16-19 November. Arthur Dahl represented IEF, and also gave a public lecture on "Environmental Governance and its Ethical Challenges" at the Central European University.


IEF member wins Changemaker competition

IEF member Dr. Austin Bowden-Kerby from Fiji was one of 3 winners in the Changemaker competition co-sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Austin has worked for many years in the Pacific Islands to help local communities, particularly village women, restore damaged coral reefs by selecting resistant corals and replanting them on the reef. He is now extending the project to the Caribbean. The Changemaker web site showing the project with the winner's cup is at, and details on Austin's project is available at


In December 2010, there were 271 members from 57 countries. In November 2011, membership numbers had increased by close to 10% to 297 members.


In light of the growing number of climate change activities taking place in communities around the world, the IEF website and LEAVES newsletter are designed to help facilitate the sharing of information, experiences and initiatives within the IEF community. The idea is to establish a place for mutual learning between members which will be light, dynamic and interactive and provide further insight into the motivations and development of these initiatives.

IEF web site

The IEF web site ( has continued to serve as the public face of IEF and has become an important resource for many, often appearing at or near the top in Google searches. New materials are added all the time. The new site allows many new features like blogs (each IEF member can have one) and forums for discussions on particular topics like those for which IEF has issue managers. The site is completely searchable. Each member can have a user page and can update her/his own directory entry. New applications for membership can also be made through the site. It is possible to reserve parts of the site for members only, so it can become a platform for joint work by IEF members.

LEAVES newsletter

The IEF newsletter LEAVES was resuscitated in late 2010 with the arrival of Cynthia Diessner as lead writer and editor. The IEF Board warmly thanks Cynthia for her energy, commitment and perseverance in ensuring that LEAVES is distributed every month.


This has been another successful year with the growing acceptance and impact of the International Environment Forum in the international scientific community, providing opportunities to contribute ethics and values to the global dialogue on environment and sustainability. Our continuing close collaboration with the Bahá'í International Community, and with national communities now extending to the southern hemisphere and Australia, has been mutually beneficial. The IEF is a model for an organization accompanying and inspiring professionals in applying spiritual principles to the practical problems faced in their field of work. As the environmental challenges mount and climate change accelerates, the need to combine scientific and spiritual solutions to the problems of the world can only increase.

IEF Membership statistics

updated: 28th November 2011

Full members

Argentina 2 *Australia 14 *Bangladesh 1 *Barbados West 2 *Belgium 3 *Bolivia 4 *Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 *Bulgaria 2 *Cameroon 1 *Canada 30 *Chile 1 *China 2 *Colombia 3 *Cook Islands 1 *Czech Republic 3 *Denmark 2 *East Timor 1 *Ecuador 2 *Ethiopia 1 *Fiji Islands 1 *Finland 1 *France 4 *Germany 7 *Ghana 1 *Greece 2 *Guyana, S America 1 *Hungary 1 *India 9 *Israel 2 *Kenya 1 *Malaysia 2 *Namibia 1 *New Zealand 5 *Norway 3 *Poland 1 *Portugal 2 *Republic of Ireland 1 *Russia 1 *Samoa 1 *Singapore 1 *Slovakia 1 *South Africa 4 *Spain 2 *Suriname 1 *Swaziland 2 *Sweden 3 *Switzerland 7 *Tanzania 1 *The Netherlands 8 *Trinidad 1 *U.S.A. 99 *Uganda 1 *United Kingdom 38 *Vietnam 1 *Zambia 2

Number of countries 56 *Number of members 297 (up from 271 at the end of 2010)

Associate members

Australia 1 *Canada 6 *China 1 *Czech Republic 1 *Finland 1 *France 2 *Germany 1 *Israel 1 *Lithuania 1 *New Zealand 1 *Pakistan 2 *Portugal 1 *Switzerland 1 *The Netherlands 4 *U.S.A. 15 *United Kingdom 5

Last updated 1 December 2011