International Environment Forum 26th Annual Report
30 October 2021 – 24 September 2022
The 26th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarizes the events and activities from October 2021 to September 2022 between two annual General Assemblies. The 2022 General Assembly is being held online on 25 September.
25th IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Last year’s 25th General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held over the Internet on the Zoom platform on 30 October 2021 with 19 members attending: Peter Adriance (Canada), Khela Baskett (USA), Phil Breuser (USA), Gary Colliver (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Cynthia Diessner (USA), Mark Griffin (USA), John Krochmalny (USA), Khondker Mustafiz Imran (Bangladesh), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Winnona Merritt (USA), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Wendi Momen (UK), Christine Muller (USA), Zulay Posada (Colombia), Wilmer Pulido (Canada), Sabine Schlenkermann (Germany), Firouz Sobhani (France), Victoria Thoresen (Norway).
Report on the election of the Governing Board
Members voted by email on 15 – 29 October. IEF President Arthur Dahl conveyed the result of the election from the teller, Michael Richards (UK), who was not able to attend because of family obligations:
23 members voted. The Governing Board for the coming year consists of Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Christine Muller (USA), Halldór Thorgeirsson (Iceland), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Wendi Momen (UK), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Victoria Thoresen (Norway).
See the full report of the General Assembly here: https://iefworld.org/genass25
IEF GOVERNING BOARD
The IEF Governing Board elected Arthur Dahl as President and Christine Muller as General Secretary.
The Board held five meetings during the 12 months covered by this report. Board meetings consisted in online consultations over two to three weeks and a Zoom consultation.
Board members studied Ruhi book 14.1 Participating in Public Discourse with the able facilitation of Wendi Momen over the months of December 2021 – March 2022. The study was deeply meaningful because public discourse is at the center of IEF’s mission. It was also a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other better.
The Board has approved 21 new member and 20 associate applications during this reporting period.
There are now 505 members and 146 associates, all together representing 87 countries, and 31 newsletter subscribers. (Members and associates automatically receive the newsletter.)
IEF ANNUAL CONFERENCES
Two IEF Annual Conferences took place during this administrative year:
The 25th Annual Conference
The 25th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum was held in association with the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 on 1-5 November 2021 and in partnership with the Adora Foundation. It was co-sponsored by the Bahá'í International Community (BIC), ebbf - Ethical Business Building the Future, the Stimson Center, the Global Governance Forum (GGF), the Coalition for the UN We Need (C4-UN), the Global Peace and Prosperity Forum, Interfaith Scotland and the Glasgow Baha'is.
It included one hybrid event both online and in Glasgow, Scotland, and five events entirely online, reaching both participants at COP26 and those around the world interested in climate change, its impacts and possible responses.
Video recordings of the events were made available on the COP26 playlist and written reports about each event on the IEF website.
The conference planning team consisted of IEF members Khela Baskett, Ineke Gijsberg, Ismael Velasco, Rafael Shayani, IEF President Arthur Dahl, IEF Secretary Christine Muller, and Anisha Prabhu.
Ismael Velasco and the Adora Foundation created the conference events page and publicity materials, provided the Zoom platform, managed all the registrations, technically hosted all the events, and were supportive in many other ways! The IEF deeply appreciated the partnership of the Adora Foundation and all of Ismael’s efforts!
The 26th Annual Conference
The 26th Conference of the IEF was a contribution to the UN Stockholm+50 International Meeting, with virtual and local events in Stockholm, Sweden, 1-5 June 2022 in collaboration with the Wilmette Institute, the Baha'i International Community, the Swedish Interfaith Council, the Baha'i Community of Sweden, ebbf - Ethical Business Building the Future, and other partners. Its topic was A healthy planet for the prosperity of all - our responsibility, our opportunity.
All IEF panel events were accepted as official associated events at Stockholm+50. Several IEF members were present in Stockholm and had roles in various events and the International Meeting itself. The day before the meeting, 1 June, the IEF was a partner in a Bahá’í International Community event at the Swedish Parliament, and helped to organize and participated in an Interfaith Council of Sweden prayer circle for the success of the meeting in a square near the Parliament.
The IEF 26th Annual Conference was followed with much interest by people from around the world. Participants came from 32 countries: Armenia, Bangladesh, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Colombia, Croatia, Georgia, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
The conference planning team consisted of IEF members Douglas Gilbert, Kathryn Neal, IEF associate Cedrik Akermark, IEF President Arthur Dahl, IEF Secretary Christine Muller, IEF Board Member Sylvia Karlsson- Vinkhuyzen, and volunteers Anisha Prabhu and Kimiya Khoshkhou.
The board appreciates the hard work of the conference planning team in making a successful IEF Conference possible.
For a conference report and links to all recordings, go here.
IEF NEWSLETTER LEAVES
The IEF newsletter was published every month thanks to Todd Chirko (editor), Cynthia Diessner (layout), Christine Muller (IEF General Secretary) and Michael Richards (email list and mailing).
We thank the following IEF members who have contributed articles to the newsletter during the time this report covers: Arthur Dahl, Khela Baskett, Christine Muller, Rafael Shayani, Pascal J. Molineaux, Douglas Gilbert, Vivian Bergenthal, Paul Hanley, and David Menham, as well as IEF Associates Abdul Majid Teewno and Shamsideen Olawunmi Sebiotimo.
IEF member Khela Baskett continued to organize webinars for the IEF community and the public:
9th IEF Webinar Saturday 18 December 2021
Environmental Education for Children Inspired by Spiritual Teachings
with Sabine Schlenkermann.
10th IEF Webinar 22 January 2022
The Accelerating Environmental Crisis: A 60-year Perspective
with IEF President Arthur Dahl
11th IEF Webinar 19 February 2022
Co-Designing a New and Better Global Systems Accounting for Pollution, a Working Webinar
Facilitator: Rebecca Teclemariam-Mesbah
12th IEF Webinar 26 March 2022
Environmental Factors in the Evolution of Skin Color Variation in Humans
with Khela Baskett
13th IEF Webinar 30 April 2022
Space Debris as Pollution of the Space Environment
with Tamara Blagojević
You can find all the information about past and future lectures on this Webinar page.
The recordings of most webinar lectures are available here: https://tinyurl.com/7p09o73q
The webinar discussions (workshops without lectures) were not recorded.
Khela Baskett’s efforts are much appreciated!
IEF FACEBOOK PAGE
IEF Member Mojgan Sami has been faithfully hosting the IEF Facebook page providing excellent resources to our members and the public: https://www.facebook.com/IEFWORLD
After many months of consultation, the IEF board adopted a 9 Year Strategic Plan on 16 February 2022. This strategic plan has been inspired by the 30 December 2021 letter of the Universal House of Justice, and taking into consideration direct guidance by the Bahá'í International Development Organization and suggestions from members. The plan is a working document and is expected to be revised periodically.
This IEF strategic plan has two focus areas: A) contributing to public discourse on concepts relevant to the environment and sustainability, and B) empowering individuals to engage in discourse and social action. Within the first area, this would include 1) discourse in the global political space and in the science-religion dialogue, 2) reconceptualizing concepts in light of Bahá’í principles and teachings, and 3) scholarship, writing and communication.
Among our more immediate priorities are:
• to use the current situation with the pandemic to identify road-blocks, reset priorities and enable the necessary transition to environmental and social sustainability;
• to infuse conversations about environmental issues with spiritual principles;
• to assist our members and associates in their efforts to act locally and to educate others on environmental sustainability, for example by providing ideas, materials and case studies;
• to engage more young people and give them hope in the future and the motivation to work for positive change despite the difficulties;
• to support our members in their efforts to build resilience in all systems and communities and to reduce vulnerabilities in our food and water systems, our energy supplies and communications, our local economies and institutions; and
• to ensure that IEF continues long into the future. To read the whole IEF Strategic Plan, go here: https://iefworld.org/IEFstrategy
After many months of diligent work, the IEF has streamlined its database and email list. The previous system served IEF well at the beginning but has proven to be too complicated for a larger organization. The membership database is now much more user-friendly and less time-consuming to update, and the email list can be generated from the Drupal database.
The IEF is exceedingly grateful to IEF member Michael Semple in Switzerland for his enormous amount of work. Words cannot adequately thank Mike for his essential contribution to help IEF survive and thrive in the years to come!
IEF ENDORSEMENTS AND SIGN-ONS
In November 2021, the IEF board decided via email to sign on to the letter of C4UN that calls for “open, transparent and inclusive modalities for the follow-up process to the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report.”
On September 11, 2022, the IEF Board decided at its meeting to endorse the open letter to world leaders by Action for Sustainable Development for the Global Week of Action to Act4SDGs (16-25 September). The text of the letter is available here.
IEF MEMBER COLLABORATION WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
IEF collaboration with ebbf has intensified when ebbf embarked on a new project with the goal of developing the ideas in the paper of IEF President Arthur Dahl on Global Solidarity Accounting.
Initially nine working groups, now combined into three, have been meeting to consult on environmental accounts 1. Carbon (energy), 2. Biodiversity and 3. Pollution, human well-being accounts for 4. Minimum living standard (poverty), 5. Food and 6. Health, and social accounts for 7. Work and service, 8. Knowledge and education, and 9. Spiritual capital and values.
Several IEF members have taken part. There is now a new issue page on the IEF website on Global Solidarity Accounting. Further consultations resulted in the related initiative Global Solidarity Conversations and Accounting - A Community Approach with tools for Global Solidarity Conversations.
IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES
Several IEF members are faculty for online courses at the Wilmette Institute:
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind, September 16 – 1 December, 2021 with faculty Laurent Mesbah, Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller, and Rebecca Teclemariam-Mesbah
Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, January 13 to March 16, 2022, with IEF members Paul Hanley, Arthur Dahl, and Gary Reusche, as well as Kimberley Naqvi and Neil Whatley serving as faculty
Climate Change, Apr. 7 - June 1, 2022 with Christine Muller, Arthur Dahl, and Laurent Mesbah as faculty members
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind just started again on 8 September.
IEF members continue to support the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran.
In the fall 2021 semester, Laurent Mesbah taught a course on Environmental Biology and Christine Muller on Climate Change.
In the spring 2022 semester, Nizar Mohamed and Laurent Mesbah taught a class on Ecosystem services and their contribution to sustainable human development.
Nizar Mohamed, Laurent Mesbah, Paul Hanley, Arthur Dahl, and Christine Muller contributed to the webinar series of the BIHE Environmental Sciences Department.
IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
IEF members participated in the G20 Interfaith Forum working group on Religion and Environment. As part of this, we have contributed two viewpoints to the G20 Interfaith Forum website blog, building on the experience of the IEF 25th Annual Conference at COP26. The first was on the Interfaith start to COP26. The second was on Interfaith Action in COP26 Week One.
Arthur Dahl presented at the Parliament of the World's Religions on Coral reefs as a model for humanity on 17 October 2021 and gave the opening keynote at the ECPD Youth Forum on 23 October.
IEF member Winnona Merritt, together with Dawn Egerton hosted a webinar on Food, Farmer and Community: Agriculture and the Reconstruction of the World on 19 December for the Agriculture Group of the Association for Baha’i Studies.
On 15 February 2022, Arthur Dahl was invited by Jubilee for Climate UK and other partners to present a Bahá'í perspective on issues of global justice, on a roundtable along with a number of other people of faith.
As a contribution to World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, IEF member Rafael Shayani initiated a webinar on Engineering and Climate Change: Remaking the Future with speakers Phil Sturgeon, Rafael Shayani, and moderator Anisha Prabhu, on, 4 March.
On March 17, the National Alliance of Women's Organisations (NAWO) sponsored a Side Event at the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) on the topic of Harnessing COVID-19 recovery for a positive, sustainable future for all with moderator Wendi Momen and panelists Maja Groff representing the Global Governance Forum and the Climate Governance Commission, and Christine Muller representing the International Environment Forum, all IEF members.
IEF member Paul Hanley was part of a group of 10 food system visionaries that received the Rockefeller 2050 Food System Vision Prize. The project Paul Hanley has been involved in is called kwayēskastasowin wâhkôhtowin.
The Wilmette Institute, in collaboration with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) presented a lecture on 6 April for students of GTU and University of California at Berkeley, as well as the Wilmette Institute with IEF President Arthur Dahl on the topic Navigating the Urgent Transition Toward Sustainability.
On 24 March, the Global Governance Forum and FOGGS organized a webinar on Rethinking the UN where Arthur Dahl spoke on "Climate change and a better format for global environmental governance" and launched the GGF's Global Catastrophic Risk Index, for which he was the lead author.
In the official UN System Contribution to Stockholm+50 "Delivering on the vision of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", the IEF is acknowledged as one of four non-UN agency contributors to the report.
Convention on Biodiversity
With IEF accreditation to the Convention, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl attended the negotiations on the new Global Biodiversity Framework in Geneva 21-29 March.
PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS
IEF members Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl authored a new Climate Governance Commission Report, Towards a Global Environment Agency: Effective Governance for Shared Ecological Risks, published in November 2021 by the Global Challenges Foundation in Stockholm.
IEF member Winnona Merritt had her comprehensive compilation on Food, Farmer and Community published in early 2022. It contains quotations from the sacred texts of the Baha’i Faith as well as statements and documents from various Baha'i institutions and agencies.
The Bahá'í community of France posted online a short paper on Nature and Spirituality (in French), prepared by Arthur Dahl.
IEF Member Rafael Shayani from Brazil had an article published on the website of IEEE Teaching Excellence Hub: How can engineering students be motivated to apply their vast technical background to solve major problems in today’s society?
The main Swedish nature magazine Sveriges Natur featured in its April 2022 edition a four-page portrait of IEF President Arthur Dahl and his fifty years of work for the environment since participating in the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972.
IEF board members Sylvia Karlsson-Vinhuyzen and Arthur Dahl were invited by the Climate Governance Commission to prepare a policy brief on Building effective multilateralism for the environmentfor the UN Secretary-General's High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism.
Arthur Dahl’s paper on Global Systems Accounting Beyond Economics was re-published in Mother Pelican, a Journal for Solidarity and Sustainability.
Last updated 12 September 2022