International Environment Forum
27th Annual Report
25 September 2022 – 21 October 2023
The 27th Annual Report of the International Environment Forum summarises the events and activities from September 2022 to October 2023 between two annual General Assemblies. The 2023 General Assembly is being held online on 21 October 2023.
26th IEF GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Report of the IEF General Assembly, September 2022
Last year’s 26th General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held over the Internet on the Zoom platform on 25 September 2022 with 21 members representing 15 countries attending: Cedric Åkermark (Sweden), Steve Bosserman (USA), Gary Colliver (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Elsa Deshmuk (Puerto Rico), Cynthia Diessner (USA), Andreas Galsterer (Portugal), Mark Griffin (USA), Khondker Mustafiz Imran (Bangladesh), Matteen Kashef (USA), Desta Mesbah (The Netherlands), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Rebecca Teclemariam Mesbah, Wendi Momen (UK), Christine Muller (USA), Sabine Schlenkermann (Germany), Rafael Shayani (Brazil), Firouz Sobhani (France), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Yves Werling (Slovakia), Johann Wong (Canada)
The consultation about IEF’s strategic plan, enriched by the participation of young members, was lively and fruitful. For a report about the 26th General Assembly, go here: https://www.iefworld.org/genass26
Last Year’s IEF Board Election
On 24 September 2022, the following members were elected to the Governing Board: Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Christine Muller (USA), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Wendi Momen (UK), and Halldór Thorgeirsson (Iceland).
Only 19 members voted. (In 2021, 36 members voted and in 2020, 12 members voted.) This information is provided to encourage more IEF members to participate in board elections.
The IEF Board then elected Arthur Dahl as President and Christine Muller as General Secretary, the same officers as last year.
IEF GOVERNING BOARD MEETINGS
The Board held seven meetings during the almost 13 months covered by this report. Each Board meeting consisted in online consultations over an average of two weeks and a Zoom consultation.
The Board has approved 28 new member and 17 associate applications during this reporting period.
There are now 532 members and 159 associates, all together representing 92 countries, and 46 newsletter subscribers.
IEF 27thANNUAL CONFERENCE
The 27th Annual Conference of the International Environment Forum took place 16 – 22 September 2023 coinciding with the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York, the Climate Ambition Summit, and the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting for the Summit of the Future.
The conference topic was Implementing Solidarity – Global to Local. The six events on different sub-topics had on average about 30 participants coming from a total of 33 countries: Armenia, Austria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States (not counting the first and last event where we don’t have the data).
For a conference report and links to all recordings, go here.
IEF NEWSLETTER LEAVES
The IEF newsletter was published every month with the collaboration of Christine Muller (content editor), Todd Chirko (language editor), Arthur Dahl (proofreader), Michael Semple (email list), and Michael Richards (mailing).
We thank the following IEF members who have contributed articles to the newsletter during the time this report covers: Arthur Dahl, Gary Colliver, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, David Menham, Pascal J. Molineaux, Christine Muller, and Rafael Shayani, as well as IEF Associates Dr. Santos Kumar Mishra and Shamsideen Olawunmi Sebiotimo.
IEF STUDY GROUPS
Study Group of the IPBES Biodiversity Values Assessment
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has prepared a special report on the many ways of understanding the values of biodiversity, ranging from material to spiritual and including Indigenous worldviews.
IEF President Arthur Dahl prepared a summary of the Assessment’s Summary for Policymakers. He also used beautiful slides for the study sessions which he facilitated. The study took place in three meetings at the end of October / beginning of November 2022. There were 8 to 10 participants in each session with a total of 15 different participants, mostly IEF members.
Study of One Planet, One Habitation: A Baha’i Perspective on Recasting Humanity's Relationship with the Natural World
Three IEF groups studied this statement by the Baha’i International Community, all benefitting from the facilitation of IEF President Arthur Dahl. One group was the initiative of the IEF Youth Task Force. The other two groups were planned so that participants in different time zones could attend.
Altogether, about 50 people participated in the study. They came from Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, Sweden, the Marshall Islands, Malawi, Kiribati, Australia, China, the Mariana Islands, Canada/Ireland, France, Italy, Ukraine, Switzerland, USA, Germany, Colombia, Spain, Slovakia, and Belgium.
IEF member Khela Baskett continued to organise webinars for the IEF community and the public.
The three webinars from November 2022 to January 2023 consisted of presentations by IEF members Halldór Thorgeirsson, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, and Maja Groff. These were followed by three “book club style” webinars where participants listened to and discussed a different chapter of Robin Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass. The last webinar before the summer break was a conversation about Finding your calling for environmental work: How you – especially you – can help with climate solutions.
You can find all the information about past and future webinars on this Webinar page.
IEF YOUTH TASK FORCE
An outcome of last year’s General Assembly was the creation of a youth task force. Four young people from Costa Rica, Sweden, and the Netherlands have met several times online and initiated a special study group for youth on the One Planet One Habitation statement by the Baha’i International Community. Two of the youth, Elsa Deshmukh and Cedric Åkermark, have also been active at the IEF conference and other Baha’i-inspired environmental events.
CONCEPT PAPER "Environment as an area of social action"
The IEF Board has worked over several months on a conceptual paper on Environment as an Area of Social Action. Its purpose is to serve as a tool for Baha'i-inspired social action in the area of the environment, by connecting environmental action with spiritual teachings as well as by providing some initial practical considerations.
OUTREACH TO THE WIDER COMMUNITY
The IEF Board wrote a brief article that describes the mission of IEF and the need to get to know experts in environmental fields and in environmental grassroots action, and sent it to all IEF members and associates asking them to put it into newsletters etc. The letter also asked them to share any experiences they may have with environmental local action, especially with a Baha'i-inspired approach, and invited them to a study of the BIC statement One Planet One Habitation. This resulted in close to 30 responses from IEF members and associates.
IEF FACEBOOK PAGE
The IEF Facebook page is in need of a volunteer to maintain it. In the past year, the IEF secretary posted all the important IEF events there such as the IEF conference or webinars but did not have the time for much more.
IEF MEMBERSHIP USER FILES
The IEF Board consulted about what kind of information about environmental expertise and interest would be most useful for the IEF community to share. This resulted in many meetings with IEF technical expert Michael Semple, IEF President Arthur Dahl and IEF Secretary Christine Muller. The IEF user files are now improved, and all members and associates were invited to add content to their user file and to update their personal information.
The IEF board warmly thanks Michael Semple in Switzerland for his continuing help and support!
In the past, the IEF has used Mailchimp for all its communications to its members and associates, and to send out its newsletters. However, last March the contact limit was reduced to 500 for free accounts. Michael Richards who has faithfully sent out the IEF mailings for many years and his son Tom then embarked on a major search for another mailing service. With the help of Michael Semple, they successfully set up Sendy which has been working well. Thank you, Tom and Michael Richards, and Michael Semple!
IEF ENDORSEMENTS AND SIGN-ONS
Multi-faith Initiative for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
On 19 August 2023, the IEF endorsed the Multi-faith Initiative for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty https://fossilfueltreaty.org/faith-letter
A Call for an Intergenerational Declaration of Human Responsibility
The International Environment Forum endorsed a letter by the World Sustainability Forum to the International Community which calls for a United Nations General Assembly inter-generational Declaration of Human Responsibilities.
GLOBAL SOLIDARITY ACCOUNTING PROJECT
From December 2021 to September 2023, ebbf – Ethical Business Building the Future, and the International Environment Forum (IEF) led a number of working groups to explore alternative measures of human and environmental well-being beyond financial indicators like GDP, a global citizen conversation initiated by IEF President Arthur Dahl.
A plenary report by all the working groups was held on 26 January 2023 to gain insights into the progress made so far. A recording of the plenary can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_3ajZyAR14 (1hr 28min). A more complete description is at: https://iefworld.org/accounting.
As that project came to a close, IEF President Arthur Dahl summarised some of the results of the project, lessons learned, and possible ways forward. Go here to read it:
At the IEF Annual Conference, case studies were presented that showed the application of the learning on the local level: Global Solidarity Accountability: Values for Well-being
IEF MEMBER COLLABORATION WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS
The IEF continued to collaborate with ebbf with the Global Solidarity Accounting project (see above). ebbf also co-sponsored the IEF Annual Conference.
Global Governance Forum
The IEF co-sponsored an event organised by the Global Governance Forum and the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office on UN Charter Reform which took place on 19 September 2023 at the Baha'i International Community offices in New York and online, A Second Charter: Imagining a Renewed United Nations.
US ABS Climate Change Reading Group
The ABS Climate Change Reading Group organized a whole day environmental program at this year’s ABS conference on 4 August. They asked IEF to help with a one-hour session on intergenerational collaboration, which was then organised by Shayda Azamian with some assistance from Cedric Åkermark and with speakers Arthur Dahl and Elsa Deshmukh, all four of them IEF members.
IEF INVOLVEMENT IN COURSES
Robert Stockman and Nicola Daniels from the Wilmette Institute have been most supportive of IEF and have agreed to co-sponsor the IEF Annual Conference. The Wilmette Institute provided their Zoom platform and helped with spreading the word about the conference.
Several IEF members have served as faculty for online courses at the Wilmette Institute:
Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind, 8 September – 2 November 2022 with faculty Laurent Mesbah, Arthur Dahl, Christine Muller, and Rebecca Teclemariam-Mesbah
Bahá’í Perspectives on Agriculture and Food, 8 February-12 April 2023 with IEF members Arthur Dahl and Gary Reusche, as well as Kimberley Naqvi and Neil Whatley serving as faculty.
Climate Change, 12 April – 6 June 2023 with IEF members Christine Muller, Arthur Dahl, and Laurent Mesbah as faculty members.
IEF member Laurent Mesbah supervised a master thesis on food packaging waste in Tehran and a biology bachelor thesis on "Floating Hydroponic and Drip-irrigated Soil Growing Methods: A Comparative Study of Sustainability" in Iran. He also gave a webinar on August 17, 2023, on “How is the environmental crisis contributing to a new world civilization?”
In December 2022, IEF member Christine Muller gave a guest lecture for a BIHE Public Health course on the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health, and in April 2023 for an Engineering course on Climate Change, Environmental Sustainability, and its Importance for Engineering Students”.
Laurent Mesbah and Christine Muller also served as facilitators for some webinars organized by the BIHE Environmental Sciences Department.
IEF MEMBER PARTICIPATION IN OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
WHO People-Planet-Health Action Board
The IEF was invited to designate a member of the new WHO People-Planet-Health Action Board, a civil society element of the People-Planet-Health Initiative, intended to provide a five-year sounding board to inform WHO global policies from "unheard voices" in planetary health. IEF President Arthur Dahl joined nine members from around the world, and they met on 13-14 October 2022 to consider: what does well-being look like on a healthy planet? They presented their conclusions to Dr. Ruediger Krech, WHO Director of Health Promotion, including new forms of global and community accounting, and the need for common values.
IEF President’s Activities in India
IEF President Arthur Dahl went to India 14-24 November 2022 with Augusto Lopez-Claros and Joshua Lincoln for the Global Governance Forum to speak on global environmental governance, climate change and sustainability (see report on his personal website) with 15 presentations in Lucknow to 2,800 high school students, several universities and a conference of chief justices of the world, and 7 talks in New Delhi, mostly at universities. Arthur Dahl was interviewed by famous Indian TV journalist, Vikram Bahl, for his programme Global View. His interview, titled by the journalist “Are humans also an endangered species?”, was broadcast nationally and can be viewed on YouTube
IEF Member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity
IEF Board Member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen attended the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) together with representatives from most of the world’s countries, in Montreal in December 2022.
The IEF has been accredited as an observer organisation to the CBD which made it possible for her to attend.
Global Futures Forum
The International Environment Forum has been contributing actively to the Global Futures Forum.
Preparatory consultations in seven thematic tracks culminated in the two-day Global Futures Forum, which was held in a hybrid format on 20-21 March 2023. Participants discussed joint recommendations for tackling global challenges and reforming global governance.
The Forum was organized by the Coalition for the UN We Need (C4UN), a network of civil society organizations interested in improving the UN’s capacity to serve the world’s people better and in accountable and legitimate ways. The IEF is a co-sponsor of the Coalition for the UN We Need (C4UN) and the Global Futures Forum.
Justice Conference in the Netherlands
Deliberative Humanity: Justice, Consultation and Co-Governing the World: This was the overall topic of a Baha’i-inspired conference that took place at the De Poort Conference Centre, Netherlands, from 7-10 April 2023. Among the many distinguished speakers were IEF members Maja Groff, who was also one of the principal organizers, Arthur Dahl, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, and Gary Reusche.
PUBLICATIONS AND PAPERS BY IEF MEMBERS
The Environmental Education of Children
IEF member Victoria Thoresen wrote an excellent blog about the importance of a holistic education. It was published by the G20 Interfaith Forum on 11 April 2023.
Commemorating Earth Day, Webinar interview with Arthur Dahl
For Earth Day 22 April 2023, Bahá'í Blog recorded a video Commemorating Earth Day - An Interview with Arthur Dahl (33 min), in which the IEF President starts with his participation as a speaker at the first Earth Day in Washington, D.C. in 1970, discusses the significance of Earth Day, as well as contributing to public discourses surrounding climate change, and our need to work together.
Spirited Seas: Science and Spirituality, an Interfaith Exploration of the Environmental consequences of Deep Seabed Mining
In May 2023, IEF President Arthur Dahl moderated a panel on Spirited Seas: Science and Spirituality, an Interfaith Exploration of the Environmental consequences of Deep Seabed Mining which was organized by the Religion and Environment Working Group of the G20 Interfaith Forum, chaired by Arthur Dahl.
Communities for the future, spiritual insights from rural living
Also in May, IEF member Gary Reusche presented a webinar on Communities for the Future, Spiritual Insights from Rural Living offered by the Association for Baha’i Studies Agriculture Working Group
Thinking about the Summit of the Future
IEF President Arthur Dahl and Amanda Ellis wrote an article that discusses global environmental governance and gender equality, picking up two important themes in the recent report "Effective and Inclusive Global Governance for Today and the Future" prepared by the High-Level Advisory Board, ahead of the 2024 UN Summit of the Future.
Compassionate Era: Bahá’í Teachings on the Animal Kingdom
On 16 April 2023, IEF member Carole Flood presented a webinar for the Wilmette Institute on Compassionate Era: Bahá’í Teachings on the Animal Kingdom. The recording of this webinar is available here.
Translation of BIC statement One Planet One Habitation
IEF member Christine Muller together with Paula Justine van den Boogaart from the Environmental Interest Group of the German speaking Association for Baha’is Studies (ABS), and German NSA translation team member Janet Rawling-Keitel translated the BIC statement One Planet, One Habitation: A Baha’i Perspective on Recasting Humanity's Relationship with the Natural World into German.
Sustainable Development, Education and Learning
IEF board member Victoria Thoresen had a new book published in August 2023: Sustainable Development, Education and Learning: The Challenge of Inclusive, Quality Education for all.
For more information about the book, go here:https://iefworld.org/node/1437.
Last updated 6 October 2023