Annual Report 2016-2017

Report Year

International Environment Forum

Annual Report

October 2016 to April 2017

The 21st Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities for the six months from October 2016 to April 2017 between two annual conferences. This report will be presented at the 21st General Assembly of the IEF at the Justice Conference in de Poort, the Netherlands on 15 April 2017.


The 20th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) was held in partnership with Nur University and the PERL/UNITWIN network at Nur University, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia from 7-9 October 2016.

The theme of the conference was ‘Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals as communities and individuals’. The conference focused on three issues that concern everyone, with particular interest to Latin America:
• Responsible and sustainable lifestyles (SDG12)
• Values and education (SDG4)
• Sustainable urban communities (SDG11)

The conference provided an opportunity to dialogue and reflect about these elements of the SDG framework. Discussions were guided by specific questions, such as: What are the expectations, challenges and guidelines for achieving the progress needed? How to ensure social inclusion and participation? What are the implications for science, social action and policy?

In closing, Arthur Dahl, President of the IEF, shared that the IEF had planned the conference to catalyze a process to bring the SDGs to the local level, with a bottom-up approach to complement the initiatives by governments and the United Nations. The conference recognized the importance of values in motivating change, in complement to scientific approaches. It was able to draw on the diversity of backgrounds, ages and experience represented among the participants. Dr Dahl reflected on the promising potential unveiled by the conference, considering all the initiatives in Latin America, in universities, museums, civil society organizations, communities and individuals, with so much practical experience on the ground to build on, and highlighted the importance of participants finding ways to take the SDGs forward appropriate to the region. He noted that IEF and other international organizations represented at the conference will take it to the global level.

Conference participants included representatives from:
• Nur University
• PERL/UNITWIN network
• UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama
• Earth Charter Initiative in Costa Rica
• Bolivian Ministry of Education
• Bolivia Indaga
• Centre for Applied Ecology of the Patino Foundation (Bolivia) (CEASIP)
• Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
• Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest, Bolivia
• Viceministry for the Protection of Consumers’ and Users’ Rights of Bolivia
• University of East Anglia, UK
• Academy of Innovation for Sustainability (AISO)
• Universidad de El Bosque, Bogota Colombia

The following IEF members were involved in the conference: Arthur Dahl, President of the IEF, Victoria Thoresen, IEF Board Member, Director of the PERL/UNITWIN network at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, and UNESCO Chair for Education about Responsible Living, Fabiana Mendez, Javier Gonzales and Zulay Posada.

The conference report can be found on the IEF website at


The 20th IEF General Assembly was held on 9 October 2016 at Nur University, Santa Cruz, Bolivia following the close of the Conference.

Five IEF members and three guests were present. The agenda included approval of the annual report, approval of a proposed addition to the By-laws, and consultation on activities and priorities for the coming year such as implementation of the SDGs.

The General Assembly and electronic voting elected the Governing Board: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Emily Firth (Australia), Sylvia Karlsson- Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Duncan Hanks (Canada), Wendi Momen (UK) and Ian Hamilton (USA).

The report of the 20th General Assembly 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 two electronic meetings including teleconferences during the six months covered by this report and has consulted on a variety of topics related to future conferences and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Board has approved seven new membership applications since October 2016.

21st IEF ANNUAL CONFERENCE: 14-17 April 2017

The next IEF Annual Conference will be held in partnership with the Justice Conference in de Poort, the Netherlands from 14-17 April 2017. The theme of the Justice Conference is "From Disintegration to Integration: navigating the forces of our time". The IEF contribution to the programme will include a workshop on "Environmental Changes as forces for disintegration and integration", with presentations delivered by IEF members Laurent Mesbah, Arthur Dahl, Joachim Monkelbaan and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen. The IEF General Assembly will be held on 15 April 2017 during the conference, with other members able to participate over the Internet.


Partnership for Education and research about Responsible Living (PERL)
As demonstrated through the success of the annual conference at Nur University last year, the PERL/UNITWIN network continues to be a valuable and inspirational partner of the IEF.

In late 2016, a new Center for Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Development was established at the Inland Norway (formerly Hedmark) University of Applied Sciences. The main function of the Center is to further the work of the UNESCO Chair and PERL/UNITWIN network by continuing to coordinate research and implementation activities about education for responsible, sustainable living. The decision of the University’s Board was an important confirmation of the 20 years of work carried out in the field of consumer citizenship and sustainable lifestyles and coordinated by Hedmark University.

IEF board member Victoria Thoresen holds the UNESCO Chair for Education about Sustainable Lifestyles and heads the new Center.

Other IEF members are also active in PERL/UNITWIN. Ismael Velasco, of the Adora Foundation, inspired students in Norway during his trip in January 2016 to Hedmark University of Applied Sciences. Ismael had presentations with students and staff in both the drama department and the social sciences department. His activities were shared in the local press in a detailed interview. Several IEF members and PERL/UNITWIN partners met in Shanghai, China in December 2015 with colleagues from The Netherlands, the U.K., New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA to further collaboration and to review and develop the values-based Learning toolkits and indicators.

Our partnership with ebbf – Ethical Business Building the Future, the Baha'i-inspired forum for ethics in business, continues in support of its core value of sustainable development. IEF President Arthur Dahl, and Board member Wendi Momen are on the ebbf Governing Board, and several other members are active in both organizations. The next ebbf event on “Beyond Diversity” will be held near Geneva, Switzerland, on 4-7 May 2017, and Arthur Dahl will give the opening keynote on “Systems Science Beyond Diversity”.

European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD)
IEF President Arthur Dahl co-moderated a session and presented a paper on “Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Balkans” at the annual European Center for Peace and Development conference in Belgrade 28-29 October 2016 (


IEF engagement with the Wilmette Institute
In 2017, several IEF members will be faculty for three on-line courses at the Wilmette Institute (

Baha'i Perspectives on Agriculture and Food from 15 January to 5 March 2017, was so successful that it may be repeated in May, and become a regular annual course. Faculty include IEF members Paul Hanley, Arthur Dahl and Robert White.

Climate Change from 15 April to 9 June 2017. The faculty for this popular course consists of IEF members Christine Muller, Arthur Dahl and Laurent Mesbah.

Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind from 10 September to 28 October 2017. This is the sixth time since 2009 that this course is offered, now on an annual basis. Faculty include IEF members Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller and Peter Adriance.


Board member Victoria Thoresen spoke at the International Association of Universities conference held in Bangkok on the SDG's and the role of higher education, including a presentation of the IEF conference in Bolivia. She also participated with Fabiana Mendez Raya in the “UNESCO Week for Peace and Sustainable Development: the Role of Education” in Ottawa, Canada on 6-10 March 2017. The event discussed two key programmes of UNESCO’s Education Sector, namely Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED), and their practical contribution in achieving Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education.


UN Environment’s Major Groups and Stakeholders Unit invited Arthur Dahl to prepare an NGO perspective on “Why should the UN and in particular UN Environment engage more with faith-based organizations” which was published in their Perspectives series No. 23 available at He also recorded an interview about IEF for Internet radio In the December 2016 issue of LEAVES newsletter, he published a paper on ‘Corruption, morality and religion’ which was then issued in three parts on

He also contributed an article to the March 2017 edition of the LEAVES newsletter on ‘Social Conditions and Economics’. This is a summary and commentary on the Message of 1 March 2017 from the Universal House of Justice.

New study materials for Baha’I Junior Youth are available, as described by IEF member Christine Muller in the March 2017 edition of the LEAVES newsletter. The six session course ‘The Story of Stuff’ is a grassroots effort to provide supplemental materials to the Ruhi Junior Youth Empowerment Program addressing the specific needs of youth in the industrialized world.


IEF web site
The IEF web site ( continues to report 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. In December 2016, the IEF website was migrated to the latest version of the Drupal content management system with increased security, as shown by the change to https in its URL.

LEAVES newsletter
The newsletter team consisting of members Cynthia Diessner and Michael Richards, continues to make invaluable contributions to the IEF by preparing and distributing the LEAVES newsletter each month. The newsletter shares news of IEF activities and other significant events of interest to IEF members. Contributions from members are always welcome.


In the short 6-month period covered by this Annual Report, the IEF has continued to provide a platform for its members to contribute to public discourses on environmental issues, in particular the Sustainable Development Goals. Its bottom-up approach to the SDGs provides an important complement to government action, and is coherent with a community approach to poverty alleviation and economic reform. As the world situation continues to deteriorate, the value of a virtual organization like IEF that does not depend on material resources or financial contributions should continue as long as the Internet allows it to function. The monthly IEF newsletter LEAVES is widely appreciated. Younger members are mentored and encouraged to make positive contributions to society wherever they are in the world, and the seeds of new ideas and values are planted in fertile soil.


Full members

379 members in 70 countries (up from 374 in September 2016)

Albania 1 • Argentina 2 • Australia 16 • Bangladesh 1 • Belgium 4 • Bolivia 4 • Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 • Brazil 2 • Brunei Darrussalam 1 • Bulgaria 2 • Cambodia 1 • Cameroon 2 • Canada 40 • Chile 1 • China 2 • Colombia 3 • Congo, Democratic Republic 3 • Czech Republic 3 • Denmark 1 • Ecuador 2 • Eritrea 1 • Ethiopia 1 • Fiji 1 • Finland 1 • France 7 • Germany 10 • Ghana 2 • Greece 1 • Guinea Bissau 1 • Guyana 2 • Hong Kong 2 • Hungary 2 • India 10 • Indonesia 1 • Iran 1 • Israel 2 • Italy 1 • Japan 1 • Kenya 3 • Liberia 1 • Macedonia 1 • Malaysia 4 • Marshall Islands 1 • Namibia 1 • The Netherlands 12 • New Zealand 8 • Norway 3 • Pakistan 3 • Philippines 1 • Poland 1 • Portugal 2 • Samoa 1 • Serbia 1 • Singapore 1 • Slovakia 1 • South Africa 5 • Spain 3 • Suriname 1 • Swaziland 2 • Sweden 3 • Switzerland 9 • Tanzania 1 • Togo 1 • Tonga 1 • Trinidad & Tobago 1 • Uganda 1 • United Kingdom 47 • United States of America 119 • Zambia 1 • Zimbabwe 1

Associate members

55 Associates in 16 countries

Australia 2 • Canada 6 • Chile 1 • China 1 • Czech Republic 1 • Finland 1 • France 2 • Ghana 1 • Lithuania 1 • New Zealand 2 • Pakistan 2 • Portugal 1 • Switzerland 3 • The Netherlands 4 • USA 22 • United Kingdom 5

Last updated 5 April 2017