International Environment Forum Annual Report
April 2019 – August 2020
The 24th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from April 2019 to August 2020 between two annual General Assemblies. The General Assembly in 2020 is being held online.
23rd IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Auckland, New Zealand and over the Internet, 5 April 2019
The 23nd General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held in Auckland, New Zealand, and over the Internet using the Zoom platform on Friday 5 April 2019. Eight members were able to participate, three in person: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Marjolein Lips-Wiersma (New Zealand) and Dennis Worley (New Zealand), and 5 over Zoom: Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Christine Muller (USA), Rafael Shayani (Brazil), Victoria Thoresen (Norway) and Daniel Truran (Spain).
Report on the election of the Governing Board
The election of the IEF Governing Board was held by e-voting from 21 March to 4 April before the General Assembly so that the results could be announced during the meeting. Twelve members voted, but one ballot lacked enough names and was invalid. The teller reported that the Governing Board for 2019-2020 consists of Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller, Halldor Thorgeirsson, Laurent Mesbah, Victoria Thoresen and Wendi Momen, the same composition as last year.
Consultation on activities and priorities for the coming year
Below are some of the suggestions by participants for future activities:
UNESCO and UN Environment have been developing educational materials on values and lifestyles in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, but there is a request to bring these down to the pre-school level where values and examples are already influencing future behaviour. It is important to get children outdoors and in contact with nature. IEF could consider on-line resources in support of children's classes, and games children could play. Sustainability projects could also be developed for junior youth to empower them and give them the experience of making a difference. Examples mentioned that had worked in the past were tree planting and supporting a local plastic bag ban. Schools often provide information on environmental sustainability, but no possibility to work for change and no hope for the future. More outreach is needed to young people, for example at the Townshend International School in the Czech Republic. It would also be good to involve older people who may have more time and interest than the parents of the youth.
IEF should continue to follow international discourses and contribute to them when possible. For example members could provide perspectives on the Sustainable Development Goals on Education and Reducing Inequality at the up-coming High Level Political Forum in New York in July, either by attending programs open to the public or by creating brief videos.
The question was discussed: How can members become more actively involved with IEF?
- Member could write short notes/articles for the IEF Newsletter.
- Members could create educational materials.
- Members can help with the maintenance of the website.
- Members can take their own initiatives to contribute to social discourse about sustainability.
- Members can create brief videos.
- Members can monitor issues and identify where IEF could contribute to social discourse.
- Members can help with hosting an IEF Annual Meeting.
We could share more relevant content from the IEF website and activities of IEF members on the IEF Facebook Page.
The issue of the long term sustainability of IEF was raised. Young people could be trained in the work Arthur Dahl has been doing.
For the full report of the 23rd Assembly, go here: https://iefworld.org/genass23
The audio recording of the General Assembly is available at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1r9DvJXqaW1fl-_QNF9CDS9xQet0GSlCj and the video recording is at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YeVsScGJpxCiZDqvrmn5AN1RZlfZqetg
IEF GOVERNING BOARD
The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Christine Muller as General Secretary. The Board held five electronic meetings during the seventeen months covered by this report and has consulted on a variety of topics related to IEF activities and has continued a deeper consultation about our mission and strategic plan. Ongoing topics under consideration have been: How can we get more members actively involved, especially young people? How can we secure IEF's continued flourishing in the future? What can IEF contribute to society under the current pandemic and increasing turmoil in the world?
The Board has approved 64 new member and 37 associate applications since 3 May 2019. From the following breakdown, we can see an increase of new members and associates in 2020:
May 2019: 8 new members, 4 associates
Sept. 2019: 8 new members, 5 associates
Dec. 2019: 8 new members, 5 associates
April 2020: 23 new members, 7 associates
August 2020: 17 new members, 16 associates
IEF 24th ANNUAL CONFERENCE JULY 11 AND 12, 2020
IEF member Lesan Azadi of the Baha'i Academy in Panchgani, India, invited IEF to partner in the Online International Conference on Education for Social Cohesion that he was organizing on 11-12 July with many other partners. The board agreed to adopt this as our 24th IEF Annual Conference.
The Conference addressed various dimensions of social cohesion and the role that higher academic institutions and teachers can play in promoting the same. These dimensions included:
Theme 1: Social disparities and discrimination, racism, gender equality, prejudices, unbridled nationalism, religious strife;
Theme 2: Economic disparities, extremes of poverty and wealth, role of women in poverty alleviation, inclusive development, spiritual indicators of development;
Theme 3: Universal education and role of teachers in laying the foundation of a new world order.
Participants came from 37 countries and 24 states of India, 71 universities and 200 institutions of higher education, with 12 main speakers, 21 panelists and moderators, and 1,500 registered attendees. The main presentations were followed by panels commenting on implementation and responding to questions from the audience. IEF President Arthur Dahl was a speaker, and IEF board member Victoria Thoresen a panelist.
A full report is on the IEF web site at https://iefworld.org/conf24 and a summary is in the July IEF newsletter.
IEF AND BIODIVERSITY - Launch of a new thematic issue
The growing crisis in biodiversity has now reached the top of the international agenda alongside climate change, with the 2019 release of a damning report, the IPBES Global Assessment of Biodiversity. The International Environment Forum has decided to add Nature and Biodiversity as a new issue on which to concentrate, with materials in support of its membership accessible through a new Issue page on its web site. These materials include
A compilation of Baha'i writings and texts on Nature and Biodiversity to put this issue in a spiritual context
A summary of the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2019 providing the latest consensus scientific information from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on the crisis facing nature and its biodiversity on which we all depend
A list of things that everyone can do to help to protect biodiversity.
More materials will be added as they become available.
Some IEF members have been involved as scientists in this issue for many years, and have even contributed to the IBPES global assessment process. Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen organized a workshop at Wageningen University in the Netherlands preparing inputs to IPBES on indicators of peoples' relationships to nature, with the participation of Arthur Dahl and other experts, including one of the lead authors of the IPBES report. Sylvia and Austin Bowden-Kerby of Fiji also contributed to an IPBES meeting in New Zealand last year.
The International Environment Forum has taken the 75th anniversary of the United Nations as an opportunity to contribute to the discourse on how to build the future we want.
Together First is an association of civil society organizations including IEF that is coordinating inputs to the United Nations consultation on UN reform in its 75th year. Many organizations have submitted proposals to Together First for consideration, and the most popular were incorporated into its submission to the UN. In January 2020, the IEF submitted a proposal on Governance, Science and the Climate Crisis. This is a major statement by the International Environment Forum which will continue to be of vital interest to our members and others. You can read the whole proposal here: https://www.iefworld.org/node/1023
IEF MEMBER COLLABORATION WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
IEF members contributed to the virtual conference by its sister Baha'i-inspired organization, ebbf - Ethical Business Building the Future (ebbf.org) on 14-17 May 2020. The overall theme of that event was Rethinking Success: a way to save the planet and ourselves with an emphasis on the impact of the pandemic on our concepts of success. IEF member Arthur Dahl (Switzerland) gave the opening keynote.
Interfaith Rainforest Initiative
IEF contributed to the efforts to create a Baha'i Tool Kit for the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative.
IEF NEWSLETTER LEAVES
The following IEF members have contributed articles to the newsletter: Arthur Dahl, Margaret Tash (USA), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Elizabeth L Mclean (USA), John Krochmalny (USA), Austin Bowden-Kerby (Fiji), Carol Curtis (Marshall Islands), Christine Muller (USA), Rafael Amaral Shayani (Brazil), David Menham (Austria), Zobayer Raihan (Bangladesh), Michael Richards (UK), Terra Sprague (UK), as well as IEF associates Wandra Harmsen (USA), Matteen Kashef (USA), and an anonymous IEF associate in Yemen.
For the first time in its history, IEF now has a newsletter editor, Todd Chirko, who lives in China. His skilled editing contributes much to the quality of our newsletter. Cynthia Diessner (US) is back helping the General Secretary by doing the beautiful layout of the pdf edition of the newsletter. Michael Richards sends out the newsletter every month.
IEF FACEBOOK PAGE
Mojgan Sami is posting many interesting articles on the IEF Facebook page every day!
You can check out this amazing resource here: https://www.facebook.com/IEFWORLD
IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES
Several IEF members are faculty for on-line courses at the Wilmette Institute (http://wilmetteinstitute.org):
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind from 5 September to 1 December, 2019 with faculty Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller and Laurent Mesbah.
Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, January 23, 2020—March 12, 2020, with faculty Paul Hanley, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Neil Whatley, Gary Reusche, Kimberley Naqvi.
Climate Change, 9 April – 3 June 2020 with faculty Christine Muller, Arthur Dahl, and Laurent Mesbah.
In the past year, IEF members served The Baha'i Institute of Higher Education with the following courses:
Environmental Biology, Fall 2019 with faculty Laurent Mesbah
Climate Change, Fall 2019 with faculty Christine Muller
Ecosystem services and their contribution to sustainable human development, Spring 2020 with faculty Nizar Mohamed and Laurent Mesbah
IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
Statement delivered by IEF Member Willy Missack on behalf of the NGO Major Group at the UN HLPF, 10 July
The statement addressed two key issues: Responding to the challenges in the current global milieu through a process of empowerment, and the importance of education in order to promote inclusive development.
Annual gatherings on everyday spirituality at the Domaine de la Garde
On 5-9 September 2019, Arthur Dahl participated in the annual gathering on everyday spirituality at the Domaine de la Garde near Bourg-en-Bresse, France, that bring together representatives of many spiritual and artistic traditions. The theme was everyday spirituality and our economic behaviour, explored from many angles. Arthur presented on rethinking business and the economy based on spiritual principles.
Global Challenges Foundation
IEF member Joachim Monkelbaan and his partners in the Sustainability Leadership Lab were one of the winners of the Educator's Challenge of the Global Challenges Foundation on 16 May 2019. This is the second time that IEF members have won prizes from the Global Challenges Foundation.
Bringing Environmental Issues to Scotland and Malta
From 20 May to 12 June 2019, IEF President Arthur Lyon Dahl crossed Scotland from East to West and North to South, visiting 22 communities in 22 days, making 24 presentations to over 330 students and 530 adults in schools and public meetings, visiting local leaders and academics to discuss the pressing issues facing humanity such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity, considering how individuals, communities and institutions should respond, and also examining the moral, ethical and spiritual principles which must underpin that response.
From 14-19 October 2019, IEF President Arthur Dahl was invited by the Baha’i community of the Mediterranean island country of Malta to contribute to local discourses on the environment, climate change, and sustainability.
PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS
"Les changements climatiques, nous sommes plus que concernés", new book on climate change by IEF member Kadima Mpoyi Long'sha of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Managing a sustainable farm enterprise” (Managing a sustainable farm enterprise in a responsible, rewarding and resilient way), new book by Giles Cavalli, an IEF member in France.
Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century, a new book by IEF members Arthur Dahl and Maja Groff, together with Augusto Lopez-Claros.
In Pursuit of Hope: A Guide for the Seeker, the latest book by IEF President Arthur Dahl
Does the Pandemic have a Silver Lining? This article by IEF President Arthur Dahl drew much attention and was reprinted in slightly different versions by ebbf, Other News, and BahaiTeachings.org
Rethinking Success: what key dimensions of success are we failing to address, ebbf webinar with IEF President Arthur Dahl, 18 December 2019
Podcast by IEF Board member Halldór Thorgeirsson, with Rainn Wilson, January 2020
What is the role of global governance during a pandemic?, ebbf webinar with IEF members Maja Groff and Arthur Dahl, 5 April 2020
Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century, Wilmette Institute webinar, with IEF members Maja Groff and Arthur Dahl, and Augusto Lopez-Claros 12 April 2020
In Pursuit of Hope in a Time of Crisis, Wilmette Institute/ebbf webinar with IEF President Arthur Dahl, 25 April 2020
Intergenerational Climate Collaborative Project, Wilmette Institute webinar, with IEF member Sue Blythe, new IEF associate Matteen Kashef, and Savannah Roemhild and Farhang Darabi, 26 April 2020
Climate Change, Coronavirus, and One World; The Choice is Clear, Wilmette Institute/ebbf webinar with IEF members Gary Reusche and Daniel Truran, 2 May 2020
Climate Conversations with IEF Board member Christine Muller:
Baha'i Perspectives on Global Risks, 30 March 2020
How Can Spiritual Principles Save the Climate? 9 June 2020
Hope in the Face of Dire Scientific Projections, 16 June 2020
Last updated 6 August 2020