IEF Annual Report 2012-2013

Report Year

International Environment Forum

Annual Report

June 2012 to September 2013

The 17th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from June 2012 to September 2013 between its annual conferences. The report will be presented at the 17th General Assembly of the IEF in Barcelona, Spain, on 4 October 2013.


The 16th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) consisted of its contributions to and participation in Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 11-22 June 2012. IEF was accredited to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in the Science and Technology Major Group and had 12 members in Rio.

The IEF issued five statements on themes relevant to the conference:
- Preparing for Environmental Migration
- Principles and Indicators for a Green Economy
- Ethical Support to Policy-making
- Science and Technology for Community Empowerment
- Youth Need Reasons to Hope from Rio+20

The IEF was a partner in the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with four IEF members giving papers. IEF organized an event at the Peoples' Summit on "Changing mentalities and motivations: values for the sustainability transition" and co-organized another event with EBBF.

The Baha'i International Community organized a side event on "Elimination of Extremes of Wealth and Poverty in a Green Economy Context" in which IEF was a co-organizer, partnered in another side event on "Exploring synergies between faith values and education for sustainable development" at which IEF President Arthur Dahl spoke, and released a statement to UNCSD on "Sustaining Societies: Towards a New 'We'."

One Country (v.22(3) June-Sept.2012), the newsletter of the Baha'i International Community, reported on Baha'i participation in the UNCSD (Rio+20) quoting IEF members Duncan Hanks and Halldor Thorgeirsson and including the following reference to IEF: "Members of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum also participated in several pre-conference meetings in Rio. These included the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which drew about 80 researchers from around the world to review achievements, identify challenges, and encourage a dialogue on the issue."

A full illustrated report on the conference is on the IEF web site at


The IEF General Assembly, during the 16th Conference of the International Environment Forum, was held at Pousada Mancao RioCentro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 18 June 2012, with nine members present. The Annual Report 2011-2012 was presented and approved by the members.

Topics of consultation included: the location of future annual conferences, engaging members more in IEF activities, producing materials in support of children's classes, and follow-up to Rio+20. The General Assembly and electronic voting elected the Governing Board for the coming year: Peter Adriance (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Emily Firth (Switzerland/Australia), Duncan Hanks (Canada), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Dimity Podger (Australia) and Victoria Thoresen (Norway).

The 16th 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. The Board held four meetings during the year, including one in person with the five members present in Rio de Janeiro, and three electronically. The board is now using a PBworks platform for its meetings and to archive its reference documents, including the minutes of all previous meetings.


The 17th IEF Annual Conference will be held on 3-6 October 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, in partnership with ebbf, the Baha'i-inspired organization for values in business, on the theme "Co-creating sustainable wealth: how can we combine ecology and economy?". The conference will explore positive solutions for transforming the economy and building a more sustainable society by empowering individuals, communities and corporations and other institutions. IEF members Victoria Thoresen and Arthur Dahl will be keynote speakers and run workshops during the conference. The IEF General Assembly will be held on 4 October 2013.


With its success in inviting contributions via the Internet to the Rio+20 preparatory process and the Sustainable Development Dialogues, the United Nations continued to provide opportunities on line to contribute to the implementation of the decisions taken at the conference. This included the processes of preparing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda with its follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals.

To launch the discussion on SDGs on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, the secretariat invited comments on three main questions via Facebook or twitter, to which IEF provided responses described in the October 2012 LEAVES In December, contributions from IEF members to the UN post-2015 consultation on environmental sustainability ( included Arthur Dahl on "New Indicators of Human Well-being", Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen on "Let’s collaborate for a global sustainable energy system" and "Values and education for responsible, sustainable living", and Husseim Stuck on "Creating Moral Agents of Change - A neglected generation". In April 2013, as part of the consultation on the Post-2015 agenda, the United Nations invited on-line comments on three themes related to Environmental Sustainability: Equality; Human Rights, Peace and Security; and Poverty. The IEF submitted comments on each of these themes, adapted from some of the statements it prepared for Rio+20. These included "Equality and Youth", "Environmental migration and resource security", and "Community science for the poor", available on line at In May, following another request, we prepared a comment on "Education for Sustainable Development" ( For a request for inputs on the private sector and markets, we submitted "Establishing an international ethical and regulatory framework for business" (, and concerning local action, innovation and empowerment, we prepared "Building Community Resilience" ( In July, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service requested comments from civil society on four post-2015 reports to the UN Secretary-General, which we provided ( The substance of most of these contributions was compiled as "IEF contributions to post-2015 dialogue" for easier reference, and can be downloaded from the IEF web site ( Some of these inputs have been cited in the resulting reports to the UN.


Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)

The Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL), an international network of over 150 partners around the world including universities, educational organizations and international agencies including the International Environment Forum, received funding in 2012 from the European Union Erasmus Network Programme for a new three-year period to October 2015. PERL is coordinated by IEF board member Prof. Victoria Thoresen.

IEF members have a number of specific responsibilities during PERL2. Under the heading "Strengthening Individual Awareness: Bridging the knowledge/action gap", a team led by Arthur Dahl and including Onno Vinkhuyzen and Victoria Thoresen is developing a Toolkit for Teachers to introduce the use of values-based indicators for sustainable living. This will adapt for school use the new methods for assessing and measuring values developed in the ESDinds research project ( over the last four years, and reported on at the 15th IEF Annual Conference in Brighton. In addition, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen is part of a group to follow-up the Rio+20 Earth Summit by participating in European events related to responsible living. Victoria will also be leading the establishment of an International Centre for Education and Research about Responsible Living at her university in Norway. Victoria and Arthur are in a working group to consult and cooperate with relevant projects and partnerships. They all took part in series of working group meeting in Marseilles, France, on 7-9 March 2013. For more information, see


Our partnership with ebbf, the Baha'i-inspired forum for ethics in business, continues in support of its core value of sustainable development. IEF President Arthur Dahl, and member Wendi Momen are on the ebbf Governing Board, and several other members are active in both organizations. At the ebbf Annual Conference in Ericeira, Portugal on 7 October 2012, Arthur Dahl gave the closing keynote talk on "Critical decade for the transition to sustainability: crises and opportunities for redefining the enterprise" ( At the ebbf spring event in London, England, on 10-12 May 2013, on the theme "Co-creating the new enterprise, shift from competition to collaboration", Wendi Momen and Arthur Dahl ran a workshop on "How do you apply collaboration at the global institutional level?" The workshop shared experience in participating in UN events, preparing statements, and building networks with like-minded people and organizations at the international level. Our next annual conference will be a joint event with ebbf (see above).

Global Ethics Forum

The IEF is a partner of the Global Ethics Forum and IEF members participated in its meetings in Geneva, Switzerland on 28-29 June 2012 and 27 June 2013. The theme for the 2012 Forum was ‘Seeds for Successful Transformation 2012: The Value of Values in Responsible Business’. A detailed report is on the IEF web site at


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 course was awarded a state government distinction this year for its contribution to sustainability.

The IEF-initiated on-line course at the Wilmette Institute (USA) on Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind is being offered again in September-December 2013. The Wilmette Institute has also converted the IEF interfaith course on scientific and spiritual dimensions of climate change developed by Christine Muller into an on-line course on Climate Change, which was over-subscribed with more than 60 participants in February-March 2013, and had to be repeated again with another 60 participants in May-June 2013. It will be offered again in February 2014. IEF members serve as faculty for both courses.


Triglav Circle

The Triglav Circle ( is a high-level informal gathering established by Jacques Baudot, Secretary-General of the 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen, and his wife Barbara, to consider the ethical and spiritual dimensions of social development. It meets alternately each year in North America and Europe. Participants include former senior UN officials, theologians including two former General Secretaries of the World Council of Churches, and distinguished academics. In July 2012, the circle held its summer meeting in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland on the theme "Harmony with Nature - perspectives on a responsible and sustainable life in our natural environment", and Arthur Dahl was invited to report to the circle on Rio+20, including the International Environment Forum contribution. At the end of the meeting, the organizers expressed the desire to include more Baha'i perspectives in their deliberations and invited Arthur to become a member of the Triglav Circle.

European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD)

The ECPD Eighth International Conference on "Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans - New Balkans in a Changing World with a Changing Europe" was held at the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia, on 20 October 2012. Over 30 presentations were made on the main conference topics of “Globalization and its Impact on the World and the European Union”, “New Balkans in a Changing World: Directions, Causes, Consequences” and “Human Security in the Balkans”.

The International Environment Forum has been collaborating with the ECPD for the last 6 years, and IEF President Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl has been named to the Academic Council of ECPD. His paper for the 8th conference on "Right of Each Human Being to Enjoy Peace, Security and Welfare" is on line at

Green Week in Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, celebrated Green Week on 12-16 November 2012, including an International Youth Forum, a UNEP Regional Consultation Meeting with Major Groups and Stakeholders, an open lecture at the Azerbaijani Diplomatic Academy on Environmental Diplomacy, and a Green Economy Round Table. The Green Week was organized by the International Dialogue for Environmental Action (IDEA) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

IEF President Arthur Dahl was a featured speaker on "Stockholm to Rio+20: Are we on the right track?" at the Youth Forum, on the "participation of civil society in international environmental governance" at the regional consultation, and on "The Challenge of Environmental Diplomacy" at the Diplomatic Academy. Local participants appreciated that his book "Unless and Until: A Baha'i Focus on the Environment" has been published in Azerbaijani.

UNEP Foresight Panel on Small Island Developing States

In preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created a Foresight Panel of fifteen distinguished experts on islands to identify new and emerging environmental issues that should be considered at the conference. The panel, including Arthur Dahl, met at the University of Cambridge, England, on 13-17 May 2013.

University of Reims, France

On 19-20 June 2013, the International Research Centre on Sustainability ( at the University of Reims, France, organized the Third Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies, with the theme of "Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a New Social Contract", under the patronage of the President of France. There were 15 speakers at the two-day meeting, including Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia (Scientific Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam), Carlos Lopes (Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa), Leena Srivastava (Vice-Chancellor of TERI University and Executive Director of The Energy and Resources Institute-TERI in New Delhi), well-known researchers on sustainability governance like Peter Haas (U. Massachusetts), Liliana Andonova (The Graduate Institute, Geneva) and Frank Biermann (VU Amsterdam), and two IEF members: Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen of Wagenigen University in the Netherlands, and IEF President Arthur Dahl from Geneva, Switzerland. IEF member Jon Marco Church, an Assistant Professor at IRCS, was on the organizing committee and chaired one session.

Arthur Dahl's presentation was on "Putting the Individual at the Centre of Development: Indicators for a New Social Contract", and his written paper is available on the IEF web site at Sylvia's paper was on "Legitimacy of Global Energy Governance".


In September 2012, IEF board member Peter Adriance, who is the Representative for Sustainable Development of the Baha'is of the United States, published a piece in the Huffington Post on The Power of Interfaith Collaboration: Linking Energy Conservation and Faith Communities. See….

An international Cloud Conference on Scholarship and the Arts was held over the internet on 13 October 2012 on the topic: 'Abdu'l-Baha, Legacies and Resonances. The conference alternated scholarly and artistic presentations. Arthur Dahl gave a presentation on "Abdu'l-Baha and Sustainability" which can be downloaded from the IEF web site at

Three IEF members, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Nigel Jolands and Lawrence Staudt, published their paper "Global governance for sustainable energy: The contribution of a global public goods approach" in the journal Ecological Economics, volume 83, pages 11-18, November 2012. The abstract is available on line at, where the full article can be purchased, or send a request to one of the authors. The IEF is mentioned in the acknowledgments as the origin of their collaboration.

IEF members Onno Vinkhuyzen and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen have had their paper "The role of moral leadership for sustainable production and consumption" accepted for publication by the Journal of Cleaner Production (2013)


IEF web site

The IEF web site ( was upgraded in 2012 to serve as the public face of IEF and is an important resource for many. It reports on IEF events and statements, provides an on-line version of LEAVES, the IEF newsletter, and includes blogs, book reviews and papers by IEF members.

LEAVES newsletter

The IEF newsletter LEAVES is prepared faithfully every month by IEF member Cynthia Diessner, and shares both news of IEF activities and other significant events of interest to IEF members.


After our major effort to be present, both physically and substantively at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, we maintained the momentum by continuing to provide inputs to the UN discussions on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda. The IEF will continue to support its members in their own efforts to apply ethical values and spiritual principles to the practical problems of the environment and sustainability. There were a number of examples of this during the year as highlighted in this report. It is the quality and scientific competence of IEF members and their recognition in the scientific and international communities that build the reputation and increase the impact of IEF. We are now exploring how issues such as climate change can be related to the broader transformation of human society envisioned in the Baha'i teachings and by many visionary groups and individuals, to offer a more positive vision of the transition ahead.



Full members

Argentina 2 * Australia 15 * Bangladesh 1 * Barbados West Indies 2 * Belgium 3 * Bolivia 4 * Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 * Brazil 2 * Brunei Darussalam 1 * Bulgaria 2 * Cambodia 1 * Cameroon 1 * Canada 34 * 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 8 * Ghana 2 * Greece 2 * Guyana, S America 1 * Hungary 2 * India 9 * Israel 2 * Kenya 1 * Liberia 1 * Malaysia 3 * Namibia 1 * New Zealand 6 * Norway 3 * Poland 1 * Portugal 2 * Republic of Ireland 1 * Russia 1 * Samoa 1 * Serbia 1 * Singapore 1 * Slovakia 1 * South Africa 4 * Spain 3 * Suriname 1 * Swaziland 2 * Sweden 3 * Switzerland 8 * Tanzania 1 * The Netherlands 9 * Togo 1 * Trinidad 1 * U.S.A. 105 * Uganda 1 * United Kingdom 41 * Vietnam 1 * Zambia 2

Number of countries 61 * Number of members 324 (up from 303 in June 2012)

Associate members

Australia 2 * Canada 6 * Chile 1 * China 1 * Czech Republic 1 * Finland 1 * France 3 * Germany 1 * Lithuania 1 * New Zealand 2 * Pakistan 2 * Portugal 1 * Switzerland 1 * The Netherlands 4 * U.S.A. 16 * United Kingdom 5

Last updated 22 September 2013