IEF Annual Report 2011-2012

Report Year

International Environment Forum

Annual Report

December 2011 to June 2012

The 16th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from December 2011 to June 2012 between its annual conferences. The report was presented at the 16th General Assembly of the IEF in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 18 June 2012.


‘Ethical Responses to Climate Change: Individual, Community and Institutions’, Hobart, Australia 10th to 11th December, 2011

The 15th International Environment Forum (IEF) Conference was held in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia from 10 - 11 December 2011. With close to one hundred participants in person and others following live streaming over the Internet, the Conference enabled a deeper look at the ethics and science needed to cope with adverse climate change, and explored creative responses that individuals, communities and institutions can make to preserve our planet, living the principle of the oneness of humankind to save our world.

The conference served to advance the dialogue around the ethical dimensions of climate change and explore what this means for the individual, the community and institutions.  The presentations and workshops generated new ideas and energy for addressing this challenging issue in the Baha’i Centre of Learning for Tasmania, with on-line facilities making it accessible to all members of the IEF community around the world. The Conference Statement and full report are available on the IEF website at The New Zealand Baha’i Film Unit posted on YouTube the trailer for its two-part one hour television film on the conference at

The IEF Governing Board expresses its sincere appreciation to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia, the Baha’i Community of Tasmania and the members of the local organizing task force in Australia for the support, time and energy provided to host the excellent conference. The local organizing task force included IEF members and friends in Australia including Allen Riebau, Charles Boyle, Dimity Podger, Adrian Salter, Amy Kean and David Chittleborough. The Board would also like to take this opportunity to thank each one of the speakers, facilitators and participants for contributing to high-quality and meaningful discussions that will continue to inform the dialogue and inspire action at all levels.


The IEF General Assembly, held during the 15th Conference of the International Environment Forum, opened at 13:30 on 11th December with a welcome from IEF President Arthur Dahl, followed by introductions from those present, and adjourned at 15:10. There were 12 members present and 14 guests. The agenda was reviewed and approved. The Annual Report 2010-2011 was presented by Arthur Dahl and Peter Adriance and approved by the members.

Topics of consultation included: guidance on organizing the annual IEF Conferences, integrating environmental principles into community life, generation of learning resources, the possibility of starting an Australian environment forum, and funding. The elected members of the Governing Board for the coming year were Peter Adriance (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Emily Firth (Switzerland), Duncan Hanks (Canada), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Dimity Podger (Australia) and Victoria Thoresen (Norway).

The 15th General Assembly full report is available on the IEF website at


The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Emily Firth as General Secretary. In this unusually short year between annual conferences, the Board has had two meetings since December 2011. The meetings are most commonly held online with email-based consultation over a period of time, the first of which for 2012 was from 19th January to 18th February 2012, and the second meeting at the end of May 2012.


The 16th IEF Annual Conference will be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in parallel with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Conference).

IEF preparations for the Rio+20 Conference, Brazil June 2012

Twenty years after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and 10 years after the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, another major UN conference on sustainable development, Rio+20 will take place in Brazil from 20-22 June 2012.

The IEF has been accredited for the conference and will be represented by a delegation of members. Joining world leaders, governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and other NGOs, the IEF will be represented by 11 members from nine countries in Rio de Janeiro including Peter Adriance (USA), Irma Allen (Swaziland), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Javier Gonzales Iwanciw (Bolivia), Duncan Hanks (Canada), Sylvia Karlsson Vinkhuyzen (The Netherlands), Fabiana Mendez Raya (Bolivia), Wendi Momen (UK), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Andreas Vatsellas (Greece), and Onno Vinkhuyzen (The Netherlands).

Working in close collaboration with the Baha’i International Community (BIC) and other Baha’i-inspired organizations attending the conference, IEF members have contributed to the zero draft of the outcome document for Rio+20 ‘The Future We Want’, and have developed coursework and discussion material to support and advance the dialogue around the core themes of the conference: a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Based on hundreds of submissions from governments and civil society including the IEF, the zero draft document provided a first basis for intergovernmental negotiations leading up to the conference in June which started in New York from 25-27 January 2012. IEF Board Members Peter Adriance and Duncan Hanks, with representatives from the BIC attended the informal consultations and initial discussions on the document at the UN in New York.

In response to the call for proposals from all accredited organizations for the Rio+20 Conference, the IEF submitted a course proposal on Values-based leadership course – concepts and capabilities which was developed and based on the Moral Leadership Practice of Nur University in Bolivia, in collaboration the European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF), the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) and the Public Administration and Policy Group of Wageningen University.

The course seeks to build capacity for leadership in transformational processes towards sustainable development, provides the rationale for capacity building in values-based leadership as essential for implementation and explains the moral leadership framework that has been developed at Nur University and includes training in a set of capabilities. The course was proposed both to the official SD Learning programme and the Peoples' Summit.

The IEF has also proposed to host a facilitated panel discussion in a parallel event at the Peoples' Summit on the theme of ‘Changing mentalities and motivations: values for the sustainability transition’. IEF members have participated in the development of the proposed discussion with the United Nations Association for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UN Women UK) and the European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF). The session has been designed to introduce the conference themes via a panel discussion and facilitated group discussions, as follows:

Widespread popular support is necessary to implement new economic systems and institutional arrangements for sustainability, requiring a change in mentalities and motivations. Such support will only come for policies and actions that are seen as just and equitable. A panel from diverse geographical and institutional perspectives (civil society, business, UN, science, education) will discuss values-based economic and social paradigms for the transition to sustainability and their implementation through education and community action. The panelists will then facilitate small group discussions to plan ways forward.

Further contributions by the IEF during Rio+20 include: co-sponsorship of the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, 13-15 June, 2012 where three IEF members will be giving papers; participation in the Science and Technology Forum among other events; and attendance at the intergovernmental meetings.


International Environmental Governance

IEF President Arthur Dahl co-coordinated the UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance. The Advisory Group has provided input to the International Environment Governance processes leading to Rio+20 and submitted comments on the zero draft document ‘The Future We Want’.

Geneva Interfaith Forum for Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights

The IEF has continued to participate in activities of the Geneva Interfaith Forum for Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights, and, as a result of this and other efforts, the UN Human Rights Council is now formally considering the need for a human right to a healthy environment.

Global Ethics Forum

The IEF is a partner of the Global Ethics Forum and IEF members have been invited to participate in the next forum in Geneva, Switzerland on 28-29 June 2012. The theme for the 2012 Forum is ‘Seeds for Successful Transformation 2012: The Value of Values in Responsible Business’.

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

The IEF continues to be an active partner in PERL, an international network of over 200 partners around the world including universities, organizations and international agencies. IEF Board Member Victoria Thoresen is the PERL Project Coordinator.

The IEF and PERL benefit from a close collaboration, particularly in the lead up to the United Nations Rio+20 Conference in June 2012. Victoria Thoresen is co-leading a thematic group on sustainable consumption and production. Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl have been active in the PERL working group organizing forward-looking expert think tanks to guide PERL's further development.

European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF)

Our partnership with the European Bahá'í Business Forum continues in support of its core value of sustainable development. IEF President Arthur Dahl is a member of the EBBF Governing Board and participates in EBBF conferences and other events, often jointly with IEF.

Bahá'í International Community

The IEF engages regularly with the Bahá'í International Community (BIC) on matters relating to environmental sustainability and climate change. The main area of focus in 2012 has been on preparations for the upcoming Rio+20 conference in June 2012.


The IEF continues to co-sponsor the University of Geneva Certificate of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development, which is offered each year from October to June. Arthur Dahl is a member of the scientific committee and teaches in three modules.

The IEF-initiated on-line course at the Wilmette Institute (USA) on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind was oversubscribed last year, so it will be offered again in September 2013. The Wilmette Institute has also converted the IEF interfaith course on climate change developed by Christine Muller into an on-line course on Climate Change which will be offered starting in February 2013.


A Call for Interfaith Actions on Climate Change, Washington, D.C., 21st – 27th April, 2012

IEF Board member Peter Adriance, representing the Baha’is of the U.S., participated in a series of interfaith events in Washington D.C. during Earth Week 2012 relating to the moral dimensions of climate change. The events were organized to call for interfaith action across the USA to awaken the nation’s elected officials, as well as all civic and business leaders and households, to the urgent need for immediate and effective action to address the climate emergency.

Following the event, an article written by Peter Adriance on the event was published on 7th May, 2012 in the Huffington Post and is available online at…

Planet Under Pressure 2012: New Knowledge Towards Solutions, London U.K. March 2012

From 26th to 29th March 2012, several IEF members took an active part in the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference held in London, U.K. organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU) with an aim to provide scientific leadership towards the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012.

IEF board member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkuyzen of Wageningen University co-organized a session with a colleague from Lund University on "Bridging the knowledge-action gap: the role of values for transforming lifestyles", with the press release available at…. The session included papers on the values-based indicators project presented at the 14th IEF Conference in Brighton, UK, in 2010, including a contribution by Arthur Dahl on an "Ethical sustainability footprint for individual motivation".

In a session on "Challenges of integration", Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkuyzen and Arthur Dahl presented a joint poster contribution on "Challenges in the Integration of Systems Knowledge for Governance of the Earth System".

Arthur Dahl presented a paper in a session on "Exploring effective architecture for emerging agencies in international environmental governance" on the topic "Design criteria and learning strategies for International Environmental Governance".

Following on from the contribution on migration that IEF has made earlier to the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum and the bureau of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Arthur Dahl also contributed to a session on "Governing global environmental change-induced migration across scales" with a paper on "Science, governance and ethics in environmental migration".

Further information is available in the IEF LEAVES Newsletter for April 2012.

PERL 2nd International Conference ‘Beyond Consumption: Pathways to Responsible Living’, Berlin Germany 19th to 20th March, 2012

As a partner of the Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL), the IEF participated actively in its 2nd International conference in Berlin in March.

IEF Board Member and the PERL Project Coordinator, Victoria Thoresen presented a keynote speech on ‘Concern, Compassion and Commitment: Keys to Responsible Living’. IEF President Arthur Dahl gave a presentation on "Alternatives to the Consumer Society" and presented a poster on "Enabling Action at Rio+20".

Panel discussions allowed a deeper exploration of the issues and the conference programme and abstracts are available on the PERL web site at…. Further information on IEF’s participation is available in the IEF LEAVES Newsletter for April 2012.


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 is prepared every month by IEF member Cynthia Diessner. The Governing Board thanks Cynthia for her invaluable and reliable support to ensure that information and updates are shared between members.


In the short half-year between the 2011 and 2012 annual conferences, the IEF has continued its active efforts to contribute to the discourses in society on the relationship of ethical principles to the environment and sustainability. In this it has participated in events of the scientific community and in the lead up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June, where it will have a strong delegation. An increasing number of IEF members are developing their own capacity to move from discourse to action, and to offer hope for a better long-term future at a time when most environmental trends are negative and many see catastrophe looming. The next challenge will be to engage actively in the follow-up to Rio+20, particularly bringing to bear the two complementary knowledge systems that are science and religion. This decade is seen by many as essential to reach a turning point towards a more just and sustainable world, so IEF must be ready for the efforts ahead.



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 2 * Greece 2 * Guyana, S America 1 * Hungary 1 * India 9 *
Israel 2 * Kenya 1 * Liberia 1 * Malaysia 3 * 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 3 * Suriname 1 * Swaziland 2 * Sweden 3 * Switzerland 7 * Tanzania 1 * The Netherlands 9 * Trinidad 1 * U.S.A. 101 * Uganda 1 * United Kingdom 38 * Vietnam 1 * Zambia 2

Number of countries 56 * Number of members 303 (up from 297 at the end of 2011)

Associate members

Australia 2 * Canada 6 * China 1 * Czech Republic 1 * Finland 1 * France 3 * Germany 1 * Lithuania 1 * New Zealand 1 * Pakistan 2 * Portugal 1 * Switzerland 1 * The Netherlands 4 * U.S.A. 15 * United Kingdom 5

Last updated 8 June 2012