International Environment Forum - A Bahá'í inspired organization for environment and sustainability http://www.iefworld.org/rss.xml en IEF PANEL ON YOUR SMARTPHONE at the UN High Level Political Forum http://www.iefworld.org/conf22 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">IEF PANEL ON YOUR SMARTPHONE at the UN High Level Political Forum</span> <div class="field field--name-field-dates field--type-string-long field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Dates</div> <div class="field__item">2018 July 9-18</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-place field--type-string-long field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Place</div> <div class="field__item">New York City, USA</div> </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">9. June 2018 - 0:33</span> Fri, 08 Jun 2018 21:33:30 +0000 admin 927 at http://www.iefworld.org Science, Technology and the Human Spirit http://www.iefworld.org/node/932 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Science, Technology and the Human Spirit</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">8. July 2018 - 12:46</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/60" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/226" hreflang="en">Technology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/56" hreflang="en">Spirituality</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"> Science, Technology and the Human Spirit</h2> <p><b>Triglav Circle</b><br> Chateau de Poussignol, France<br> 29 June-1 July 2018</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <p>The Triglav Circle (<a href="http://www.triglavcircleonline.org/">http://www.triglavcircleonline.org/</a>) was founded in 1996 after the UN Social Summit in Copenhagen to discuss the spiritual and ethical dimensions of public policies. Today it seeks to enrich the public discourse on global problems, encouraging political concern, social engagement and cultural sensitivity. It held its 2018 meeting at the Chateau de Poussignol in the Nievre Department of central France (<a href="http://yabaha.net/dahl/travel/t2018/TriglavCircle/Triglav2018.html">report with a few pictures)</a>. A small but high level group from different fields spent a day and a half discussing the theme “Science, Technology and the Human Spirit”. A report on last year’s meeting, also at Poussignol, is at <a href="https://iefworld.org/node/885">https://iefworld.org/node/885</a>, with more pictures of the chateau and the region at <a href="http://www.yabaha.net/dahl/travel/t2017/Nievre/Triglav.html">http://www.yabaha.net/dahl/travel/t2017/Nievre/Triglav.html</a>.</p> <p>Participants included the founders of the Triglav Circle, Jacques Baudot (former senior UN official and coordinator of the 1995 Copenhagen Social Summit) and Barbara Baudot; Konrad Raiser, the former General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and his wife Elisabeth; Geneviève Jacques, retiring president of CIMADE, a French association to help foreigners in difficulty; Marie-Aimée Latournerie, jurist and member of the French Council of State, author of a report on social inequality; Kishore Mandhyan, former Political Director for peacekeeping, humanitarian and human rights affairs at the United Nations; Simone Rignault, with a long political career as a Deputy, Regional Councillor and Mayor in France; and several others.</p> <p>I prepared a paper for the meeting, “<i>Reflections on Science, Technology and the Human Spirit</i>,” that provided the background for many of my contributions, and will eventually be published on the Triglav Circle web site. It can be seen at <a href="https://iefworld.org/node/930">https://iefworld.org/node/930</a>.</p> <p>The meeting started with viewing a video documentary on the life of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912-2007) made and presented by his daughter Elisabeth Raiser. His early fearful memories of the First World War, and efforts to find a reflection of God in the stars, and later in the laws of physics after meeting Werner Heisenberg when he was 14, led him to fundamental discoveries in quantum physics, nuclear fusion and planetary formation in the early Solar System. He was then drawn into the efforts in Germany under the Third Reich to understand if a nuclear bomb was practical, before succeeding in convincing the government that it would take years to develop and that they should drop the idea. The moral dilemma this represented between his theoretical research and its applications, and failed efforts with Heisenberg to convince the Americans through Neils Bohr also to drop research on nuclear weapons, showed him the limits that scientists had over the use of their own discoveries and led him to take strong anti-nuclear positions and warn of environmental degradation after the war. The video was a powerful evocation of the ethical challenges presented by science and technology.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Situation of scientists in today’s world</h3> <p>The discussion then revolved around the situation of scientists in today’s world. Scientific discoveries are accelerating change, but we do not foresee the consequences. Researchers often do not consider the ethics of their own work in science and technology. For example, what are the implications of Artificial Intelligence for human society? In science, there is no sense of humility before something that is greater than we are.</p> <p>The paradigm in the natural sciences has been their objectivity, and they have not addressed ethical considerations, while the social sciences explore relationships within communities involving ethical concerns. However, as science becomes more collaborative, these distinctions are diminishing, as illustrated by the recent merger of the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council into a single global body for all of the sciences. The mechanistic Cartesian view of science is also challenged by quantum theory.</p> <p>Today, many scientists find themselves in authoritarian structures or large corporations where they have little choice of the subjects they work on or the uses that are made of their discoveries. The scientific landscape has changed, with ”pure” science in retreat, and financial patronage becoming all-important. Whose money is invested? For whose agenda? Whose intellectual property? Who owns the applications? The public character of scientific knowledge, with science seen as a public good, is increasingly replaced by corporate research protected as intellectual property. Artificial intelligence is being pursued for corporate profit, but where are reflections on its impacts taking place? The growing proportion of private funding for science is not looking after the public interest, or whether its uses are good or bad.</p> <p>The legitimacy and integrity of science are today under threat. There is growing scepticism of elite knowledge and the scientists’ “agenda”, with science discredited as representing special interests. People see science leading to long-term destructive effects on the environment and the lack of sustainability. The concept of the environment itself separates humanity from nature, and the conservation movement separates nature from us, with only the ecologists still seeing a whole. The European Enlightenment has misled us into patterns of thinking that need to be replaced by a new more holistic enlightenment. Support for the social sciences is being cut in many countries for political reasons because they raise too many questions. We may be entering a new dark age.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Technologies and transcendental ideals</h3> <p>A second theme was on technological “progress” and transcendental ideals. Technologies give us new liberties, but they are also a leveller of culture and philosophies. It can be hard to find transcendent ideals. Political groups may practice meditation without it leading to good character. Some technologies oblige you to pursue goals you do not want, driven by commercial interests, or by hidden or overt purposes and goals. There are also differences in transcendent goals across different groups. Technology is now another tool to exclude people from access to their rights, as when migrants must make applications on line but do not have access to the Internet. In discussing the Sustainable Development Goals, should people have a right to technologies, or do we need a way to limit technologies? Transcendent ideals include human dignity and social justice. How do you get to justice without love and concern for others? Individual freedom is too often linked to neoliberal competition. The French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity need to be taken together. These ideals need to be strengthened against the new totalitarianisms and forms of power that can come with technologies.</p> <p>Another discussion revolved around sources of knowledge. Science is one obvious source, but what about spiritual insights, beyond seeing, experiencing and feeling? Nature is more than the natural sciences. Knowledge can also come from the humanities if they are not diminished by reductionist language. The German term wahrnemung (perception) literally means to take in the truth, a form of knowledge beyond investigation, close to insight or intuition, seeing and receiving the truth with an inner cohesion and wholeness, that has no English equivalent. This led to a discussion of religion as a second knowledge system complementary to science, touching on justice, peace and the integrity of the creation. Religion is the most elementary form of wahrnemung, an encounter with the whole. All religions point to this experience as the source of life and being, and give it shape to communicate it through symbols and rituals. The sequence of religious revelations build on this experience, until they become exclusive and competitive. What we need today is to build a new culture of values instead of valuing culture.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" height="66"></p> <p><small>Last updated 14 July 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sun, 08 Jul 2018 09:46:56 +0000 admin 932 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/932#comments World Conference on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems http://www.iefworld.org/node/931 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">World Conference on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">8. July 2018 - 12:30</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/69" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/64" hreflang="en">Human Rights</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/282" hreflang="en">Citizenship</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"> World Conference on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems:<br> Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights</h2> <p>Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland<br> 25 June 2018 </p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <p>On 25 June 2018 the International Environment Forum participated in the <b>World Conference on Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights</b>, held at the United Nations Palais des Nations under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who gave the opening keynote, along with a message from the UN Secretary-General. It was organized by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, and co-sponsored by the Arab Though Forum, Bridges to Common Ground, the European Centre for Peace and Development, the International Catholic Migration Commission, the World Council of Churches, the World Council of Religious Leaders, and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The 34 speakers and panelists included high level representatives of Islam, the Catholic and Protestant churches, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and interfaith movements, as well as former ministers, ambassadors, heads of UN agencies, academics and theologians, and several Special Rapporteurs on human rights.</p> <p>In his inaugural address, H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal asked if this was a make-or-break moment, with a gold curtain separating rich and poor, and an insecurity council unable to address weapons that destabilise the world. He described the global hunger for human dignity, and the need to speak out against injustice, calling for a social global Marshall Plan. We should empower and enable international citizenship to wage peace, which is less expensive than war, for our mutually assured survival. Only fearlessness is adequate for our time. He hoped that the Global Compacts for Migration and for Refugees would be agreed by the end of 2018. To support the 2030 Agenda, we need a moral lobby for equal citizenship rights, appreciating our diversity.</p> <p>There were then eight keynotes on religious perspectives which shared common themes of the need for dialogue among religions to stand up for our shared humanity and nurture equality in schools, jobs and places of worship. Today the religious and secular worlds are separated by a huge gap, with religion seen as part of the problem. Extremism and fanaticism kill religion, and religious leaders must speak out against the instrumentalization of religion for division. Religions should serve as a bridge over differences, since they share one common origin, thus ensuring religious freedom for all.</p> <p>A first panel focussed on the concept of equal citizenship and points of convergence between religions, with reference to an extensive working document prepared by the organizers. Religions agree on almost all points, with only 10% of theological differences. Humanity is a single family, and we have responsibilities towards each other and the world. Several panelists referred to shared positions on human rights, and on the needs of refugees and migrants. </p> <p>A second panel considered equal citizenship rights for vulnerable, disadvantaged and discriminated social segments, looking at case studies of gender, religious minorities, people with disabilities, and indigenous people. It highlighted citizenship as a moral concept, and the need to educate for citizenship and participation in decision-making. Still today, there are movements using fear of minorities, xenophobia, chauvinistic nationalism and toxic rhetoric, reinforced by hate speech in social media. More than three quarters of stateless people are minorities. The UN only began to engage with religion in 2010, with an Interagency Task Force on Religion. The 2006 Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities has changed the approach from medical (protected patients) to social, opening the way for the disabled to be integrated into society.</p> <p>The third panel explored issues with migrants, refugees, and internally-displaced persons. People move to escape violence, persecution, or poverty and lack of opportunities, and suffer from the breakdown in education, health, shelter, security and land rights. Neoliberal policies are not based on the dignity of human beings and protection of the environment, leaving far too many behind, and creating a growing disconnect with the economic and social elite. Faith movements have a responsibility to move forward on this issue, becoming a driving force for a sustainable world order. There is a new level of dynamism at the inter-religious level based on shared principles and values, but there is still too little sharing of knowledge and working together among faiths. We need spiritual values and a moral compass to address this issue. All displaced persons have human rights, and a lack of citizenship undermines their human potential. Many displacements can drag on for years, and will increasingly become permanent, for example from small island developing states. Present arrangements to deal with this are insufficient. IEF President Arthur Dahl was one of the panelists, with a paper on Religion and Migration. A short report is at <a href="http://www.gchragd.org/en/article/dr-arthur-dahl-migrants-are-denied-most-fundamental-human-rights">http://www.gchragd.org/en/article/dr-arthur-dahl-migrants-are-denied-mo…</a>, and the paper is available at <a href="https://iefworld.org/node/929">https://iefworld.org/node/929</a>.</p> <p>The final panel was on moving towards a new paradigm. It noted some of the disconnects in religious sentiments, with the problem not in beliefs but in divisive belonging becoming tribal and rejecting others. There is a wide gap between legal equality and equality before God. A new paradigm is obviously needed. We must give people the right to hope. Finding relevant texts in the Holy Books can counteract fear from religious bias, and provide resources to respect the others. God is testing us by what he has revealed to us. We should compete with each other in doing good deeds. Large majorities want reduced military expenditures and more on social needs, but all countries do the reverse. It was pointed out that the youth are absent from the conference, but they will inherit the world. Equal citizenship can be a gateway to global citizenship and peace.</p> <p>A declaration was signed at the end of the conference (see extract below), and the proceedings and papers will eventually be published (<a href="http://yabaha.net/dahl/travel/tswiss/2018WCRCVS/WCRCVS2018.html">report with pictures</a>).</p> <hr> <p>The Declaration signed at the end of the conference includes the following <b>Ten-Point Global Strategic Plan</b></p> <p>1. To unite in a common endeavor of religious and lay institutions, and their respective leaders, to harness the collective energy of all religions, creeds and value-systems to uphold equal citizenship rights, to reject the instrumentalization of religions, to promote their authentic meanings and universal values, and finally to advocate openness and plurality of approach towards other faiths, creeds and value-systems; To move towards a world where the generalization of equal citizenship rights contributes to social and cultural diversity to be celebrated in resilient and inclusive societies thus preventing conflict among diverse sub-groups in society which gives rise to Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination;</p> <p>2. To address the legitimate concerns relating to the connotation of “minorities” as allegedly exogenous groups when referring to segments of the population which are an integral part of a nation’s citizenry. Harmonious integration of all segments of the population in resilient and inclusive societies should be enhanced through effective achievement of equal citizenship rights making the re-grouping of citizens into denominational sub-identities superfluous as a political tool;</p> <p>3. To enforce all rights and duties of people on the basis of their role as rightsholders of civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. The promotion and safeguarding of equal citizenship rights should encompass the concept of entitlement and preclude a freezing of accumulated inequalities;</p> <p>4. To preserve the diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious heritages of transit and host countries, while, at the same time, offering opportunities for integration to arriving refugees and migrants. The aim is to promote mutual contributions and respective resilience, thus avoiding forced assimilation of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, in line with the provisions set forth in Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to avoid proselytization;</p> <p>5. To work towards the full realization of equal citizenship rights which will require not only vertical interaction between society and the State but also horizontal interaction within society itself. To be successful, both forms of interaction will require, where necessary, to transform a culture of compliance into a culture of accountability based on answerability and enforcement. This initiative will involve local, national or regional initiatives for promoting spiritual convergence and commonality of social purpose. The implementation of equal citizenship rights will gradually weaken discrimination, whether gender-related or based on other specificities including inter alia disability, ethnic or religious origin, age bracket, access to employment, health care, or sharing of resources;</p> <p>6. To guarantee respect for the equality of women and men, girls and boys, within families, local communities, and society at large, by integrating in all efforts the promotion and the implementation of equal citizenship rights. Gender discrimination with respect to citizenship rights is a salient issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of priority. In many parts of the world there are States that deny female citizens equal rights with male citizens with regard to acquiring, changing and retaining their nationality, and to conferring nationality to non-national spouses or children. Religious traditions can and should play an important role in understanding and accompanying societal changes as they address progress toward recognizing equality between women and men and to prevent potential tensions between such evolving social mores and traditional teachings and practices;</p> <p>7. To promote equal citizenship rights as a sustained objective, starting with its implementation at school level. Education about, through and for equal citizenship rights can only be achieved by promoting a change in national policies, reviewing school development plans and developing inclusive classrooms and teaching methodologies. Decision-makers must acknowledge and embrace the idea that equal citizenship education is essential to promote peace, dialogue and social cohesion as well as to alleviate social tensions;</p> <p>8. To encourage political and civil authorities to dialogue with spiritual leadership in order to assist in promoting inter-religious literacy and in applying ethical principles to the local context. Whether religion is central or either marginal or absent from public discourse in a given country, while at the same time being central to social components thereof, it is important to encourage the state authorities including those that identify as secular, to engage with the relevant religious traditions thus enlisting the collaboration and understanding of all to prevent potential social and/or religious tension or conflict;</p> <p>9. To respect within and between all countries, whether there is a separation between State and faiths or not, the right to freedom of religion and ensure that public laws and policies are applied equitably through an inclusive approach to religious diversity and not through exclusion of their public and private expression, so as to comply with article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights;</p> <p>10. To spread equal citizenship rights as the gateway to the concept of global citizenship, a gateway in other words, to world peace.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" height="66"></p> <p><small>Last updated 14 July 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sun, 08 Jul 2018 09:30:10 +0000 admin 931 at http://www.iefworld.org Reflections on Science, Technology and the Human Spirit http://www.iefworld.org/node/930 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Reflections on Science, Technology and the Human Spirit</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">5. July 2018 - 0:31</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Reflections on Science, Technology and the Human Spirit</h2> <p>Arthur Lyon Dahl<br /> International Environment Forum<br /> Geneva, Switzerland</p> <p>Paper prepared for the<br /> <b>Triglav Circle 2018</b><br /> Chateau de Poussignol, Blismes, France<br /> 30 June-1 July 2018<br /> <a href="http://www.triglavcircleonline.org/">http://www.triglavcircleonline.org/</a></p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>Too often in our world, science and religion are seen as in conflict, if not contradictory. As a Baha’i, I have never had that problem, and chose a career in science because it seemed to be the best expression of my spirituality. These reflections emerge from this experience of science in harmony with the human spirit.</p> <p>First, it may help to explore what we mean by the human spirit. It is obvious that we have a physical reality, with a body subject to the constraints of any animal. Science is itself a proof of our rational or intellectual reality, which distinguishes us from all other animals. There might be more controversy in the scientific community about whether we have a spiritual reality, yet some form of spiritual experience is so widespread that it is hard to deny that there must be something behind it. Here I am assuming the acceptance of this spiritual reality.</p> <p>Once we admit the existence of a spiritual reality that we all possess in embryonic form and that must be developed, this comes to justify our higher human purpose, to cultivate the limitless potentialities latent in human consciousness. There is, in fact, an essential connection between the outer and inner dimensions of our existence.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.” <a href="#1">1</a></p> </blockquote> <p>I have been fortunate that my own spiritual tradition has from the beginning had great praise for science. Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world.... In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him.” <a href="#2">2</a></p> </blockquote> <p>and again</p> <blockquote> <p>“The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.” <a href="#3">3</a></p> </blockquote> <p>The son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, similarly wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Humans are] “the highest specialized organism of visible creation, embodying the qualities of the mineral, vegetable and animal plus an ideal endowment absolutely minus and absent in the lower kingdoms - the power of intellectual investigation into the mysteries of outer phenomena. The outcome of this intellectual endowment is science which is especially characteristic of man. This scientific power investigates and apprehends created objects and the laws surrounding them. It is the discoverer of the hidden and mysterious secrets of the material universe and is peculiar to man alone. The most noble and praiseworthy accomplishment of man therefore is scientific knowledge and attainment.” <a href="#4"> 4</a></p> </blockquote> <p>We see Science and Religion as two complementary knowledge systems, both of which are necessary to guide civilization forward:<br /> - science without religion falls into materialism;<br /> - religion without science tends to superstition and fanaticism.</p> <p>Unfortunately, both these excesses are common in the world today, and are behind many of our difficulties and crises.</p> <p>The problem is that science and technology are neutral, their discoveries can be used for good or evil. It is religion, broadly defined to encompass all spiritual traditions, that provides the ethical framework and moral purpose for science and technology.</p> <p>It is in this framework that we can explore some of the dichotomies that science and technology present to us today, and to consider how the human spirit can best profit from the wonderful tools that science has given us.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Technology can liberate or imprison</h3> <p>As physical beings, we have all sorts of practical limitations, which dominated our potential for most of the existence of the human species. Life was largely devoted to meeting our physical needs and avoiding life-threatening situations. Now we can dive under the sea, go to the moon, fly faster than the speed of sound or go anywhere on the planet, speak to anyone around the world, record our thoughts and experiences, and manipulate our environment as we wish. It would seem that our liberties have no limits, and the consumer society is there to cater to our every want. And that is the paradox. We have trapped ourselves in our consumer culture, forced to keep upgrading our technologies to avoid falling behind. Our home is our castle, protecting us from unwanted encounters. and our motor vehicles are similarly designed to protect us from other people. We have become prisoners to our technologies. Rather than liberating us from the struggle for existence so that we can devote our energies to more important things of the spirit, we surround ourselves with distractions so that we do not have to face the spiritual void within ourselves.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Technology can unite or divide</h3> <p>Now that it is technically possible to encounter and exchange with every other human being on the planet, we can for the first time experience and profit from the unity of the entire human race. The rich diversity of human experience is available at our fingertips, not only as it is at present, but as it has been documented down through history. We have access to all the holy books, all the discoveries of science, all the literary, artistic and musical masterpieces from every culture, all the richness of human experience. We can converse, exchange pictures, interact and collaborate as never before in history. This is the perfect foundation for us to live together in peace and harmony. Yet the technology also seems to bring out all that is worst in human nature. We spread fear and hate of others, manipulate public opinion with “alternative truths” and false news, bully and intimidate, slander and corrupt, and find wonderful new outlets for criminal activity. Humanity today seems ever more fragmented and divided in our technologically united world.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Technology for independence or dependence</h3> <p>Science and technology have not yet freed us from all human limitations. We still can fall ill, have accidents, and must some day grow old and die, although perhaps with modern medical science much better than before. Still, the choices before us at any point in our lives are greater than ever. We are even independent of day and night, although we have to sleep at some point. Most technologies are now so portable that we can take them with us everywhere, and be in contact when and where we want. Yet the result seems more often than not to trap us and make us dependent. At least in the more developed parts of the world, the new technologies have led to new kinds of dependence. Everyone seems more preoccupied with their smartphone than their immediate surroundings or the people around them. The World Health Organization has declared video and on-line game dependence as a mental illness. Professional life often requires being constantly available wherever and whenever the work requires it. Social media are designed to trigger the same pleasure centres as cocaine. Technology is the new opiate of the people.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Technology for profit rather than service</h3> <p>Most technological innovation today is carried out by the private sector driven largely by the search for profits. In today’s materialistic economy, profitability is the driving force for a company, rather than just one measure of efficiency among others. It has become the end justifying any means. There are counter currents, such as in the open source software movement, but success is still largely judged by the accumulation of individual and corporate wealth. The result is a distortion of the aims of science and technology. Rather than making discoveries and inventions that will be of service to humanity, the pressure is to focus on those that will bring the most profit. This either means those that will appeal to the rich, who can afford to pay for them, or those that attract the most advertising revenue. This then leads to data profiling, reinforcing confirmation bias, and other manipulations to target consumers with the ads to which they will be most susceptible. There is little or no interest in technologies that will be of service to the poor and will empower them to self improvement, with the exception perhaps of the rapid spread of cellphones and phone-mediated payment systems and banking services which are transforming the lives of many poor around the world.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The privatization of scientific information using technology</h3> <p>One perverse result of the revolution in information technologies is the privatization of knowledge, including scientific information. The system of intellectual property rights has been steadily reinforced to protect and increase corporate profits. Much of this has focussed on the entertainment industry, but it has now extended to the privatization of scientific knowledge. A few multinational scientific publishing houses have bought up the most important scientific journals, including rights to all the back issues. These have been put on line for a price. Researchers in universities or scientific institutions have libraries prepared to pay for institutional subscriptions, but otherwise articles can only be read for a high fee. For researchers in poor countries, or those without an institutional affiliation, or retired, the scientific literature is available on line but beyond reach. This is science by and for the rich, excluding most of the world from accessing or participating in the latest scientific advances.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">An ethical approach to science</h3> <p>If we return to our higher human purpose to develop the potential in human consciousness and to be of service to an ever-advancing civilization, then we must turn the motivations for and uses of science and technology to these purposes. A scientific knowledge of the integrated nature of the biosphere, our place in it and our responsibility for it, needs to be coupled with an ethical or spiritual motivation to change our behaviour accordingly. As the Bahá’í International Community has put it:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Recognition that creation is an organic whole and that humanity has the responsibility to care for this whole, welcome as it is, does not represent an influence which can by itself establish in the consciousness of people a new system of values. Only a breakthrough in understanding that is scientific and spiritual in the fullest sense of the terms will empower the human race to assume the trusteeship toward which history impels it.” <a href="#5">5</a></p> </blockquote> <p>Our approach to science and technology needs to change in fundamental ways as part of the general transformation needed in society and called for in the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. For example, science for the common good should be funded as we would fund other common benefits, with public support and philanthropy. Where discoveries are profitable, there should be mechanisms to direct at least a share of those profits back into the scientific enterprise.</p> <p>Also, science should be accessible to everyone, and everyone should be empowered to contribute to scientific advancement. While there is a role for the highly trained scientist and elaborate scientific instruments at the cutting edge of research, science should not be restricted to an elite. Indigenous peoples have deep wisdom about their environments accumulated over many generations of careful observations. This is also science, although perhaps understood in a different intellectual framework. Everyone can learn to observe the world around them, and to think rationally in terms of cause and effect, while exploring, inventing and experimenting with solutions to their local problems. This is also a way to cultivate the potential in the human spirit of each person.</p> <p>If we are to survive these turbulent times, where our technology is impacting the planet with everything from plastics to greenhouse gases produced from fossil fuels, and science is warning us to make rapid and fundamental changes before it is too late, we must draw on both our science and the powers of the human spirit to save us from ourselves. To the extent that we succeed in this, it will contribute to our spiritual as well as material advancement.</p> <blockquote> <p>“As trustees, or stewards, of the planet's vast resources and biological diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth's natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. This attitude of stewardship will require full consideration of the potential environmental consequences of all development activities. It will compel humanity to temper its actions with moderation and humility, realizing that the true value of nature cannot be expressed in economic terms. It will also require a deep understanding of the natural world and its role in humanity's collective development - both material and spiritual. Therefore, sustainable environmental management must come to be seen not as a discretionary commitment mankind can weigh against other competing interests, but rather as a fundamental responsibility that must be shouldered - a prerequisite for spiritual development as well as the individual's physical survival.” <a href="#6">6</a></p> </blockquote> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"><small>REFERENCES</small></h3> <p><small><a id="1">1</a>. Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 17 February 1933, Compilation on Social and Economic Development, p. 4 </small><br> <small><a id="2">2</a>. Bahá'u'lláh, <i>Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh</i>, The third Tajallí, pp. 51-52</small><br> <small><a id="3">3</a>. Bahá'u'lláh, <i>Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh</i>, Words of Paradise, Eleventh leaf</small><br> <small><a id="4">4</a>. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in <i>Bahá'í World Faith</i>, p. 242</small><br> <small><a id="5">5</a>. Bahá'í International Community, <i>The Prosperity of Humankind</i>, Office of Public Information, Haifa, 1995</small><br> <small><a id="6">6</a>. Bahá'í International Community, <i>Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development</i>. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998</small></p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 4 July 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Blog tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/271" hreflang="en">Religion, Science</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/281" hreflang="en">Technology</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 04 Jul 2018 21:31:24 +0000 Arthur Dahl 930 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/930#comments Migration and Religion http://www.iefworld.org/node/929 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Migration and Religion</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">5. July 2018 - 0:25</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Migration and Religion</h2> <p>Arthur Lyon Dahl<br /> International Environment Forum<br /> Geneva, Switzerland</p> <p>based on a paper presented at the<br /> <b>World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems:<br /> Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”</b><br /> Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 25 June 2018</p> <p>Panel on Equal Citizenship Rights and Vulnerable/Disadvantaged/Discriminated Social Segments:<br /> Case Study of Migrants, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons</p> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>As we address the complex issue of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, it is important to place migration in its proper context. The human race has always migrated, from the first migrations out of Africa, to the gradual colonization of all the inhabited places on Earth, even to the most remote Pacific islands. The great religions, too, have always spread by migration. Moses led the migration of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Islam spread out of Arabia to Spain and Indonesia. National borders changed often in the past, and passports for travel are a very new phenomenon dating from only the last hundred years. Up until recently, great economies like that of America and Australia were largely built through the hard work of migrants, and even today, with many countries experiencing ageing populations and birthrates below replacement levels, their future will depend on migration. Migration therefore can be a positive phenomenon for receiving countries, even if it results from trauma for the migrants.</p> <p>Two things have changed in recent years. A reaction against globalization, with the rise of nationalisms for political ends built on nativism and xenophobia, coupled with the revival of ancient tendencies to racism, have led to increasing divisions and social fragmentation, if not violent rejection of those who are different, even in places where peaceful coexistence had long been the rule. The resulting negative view of migration is quite recent. The original tendency of religion to accept and appreciate every human soul regardless of the outside form has unfortunately also too often been turned into an additional reason for rejection and discrimination. Religious intolerance and persecution are today a leading cause of forced displacement by denying equal citizenship rights on religious grounds.</p> <p>Second, the rapid growth of the human population pressing against planetary limits and globalized with the support of new technologies is stressing if not seriously eroding the carrying capacity of the planet. There is no place left to migrate to that is not already well occupied. Furthermore, our environmental impacts, first among them accelerating climate change, are going to displace hundreds of millions of people in the decades ahead, forced permanently from their homes by rising sea levels, increasing drought, agricultural failures, violent storms and other catastrophes. In these situations, it is always the poor who have the fewest options. These displacements do not fall under the criteria for refugees, since they have no hope of returning once the cause of the displacement is removed. The most extreme case is that of the Small Island Developing States on low atolls that risk losing their entire national territory, and thus not only their homes and occupations but their culture and national identity, becoming citizens without a state.</p> <p>All of this is in addition to the migrations and displacements caused by social and political factors, from war and violence to terrorism, failed states, and persecution of minorities, covered by the present refugee conventions. We must anticipate greatly increased flows of migrants.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">The contribution of religions</h3> <p>From the perspective of our religions, creeds and value systems, this inevitable rise in migrations raises a series of issues, and potential solutions that we can offer.</p> <p>First, from my perspective as both a scientist and a Bahá’í, our Earth has become one country with all humanity as its citizens. Every human being is a trust of the whole, to be treated with respect, dignity and solidarity. All forms of prejudice, whether racial, political, religious, of gender or other differences need to be abolished. Extremes of wealth and poverty have no place in a world where there is enough wealth to meet everyone’s needs if distributed more equitably. An economic system therefore needs to be devised that is socially just, altruistic and cooperative, creates meaningful employment for all, and eliminates poverty, starting at the community level.</p> <p>All this applies equally to migrants. In Paris in 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, talked about our duty of kindness and sympathy towards strangers:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Let not conventionality cause you to seem cold and unsympathetic when you meet strange people from other countries. Do not look at them as though you suspected them of being evildoers, thieves and boors. You think it necessary to be very careful, not to expose yourselves to the risk of making acquaintance with such, possibly, undesirable people. I ask you not to think only of yourselves. Be kind to the strangers, whether come they from Turkey, Japan, Persia, Russia, China or any other country in the world. Help to make them feel at home; find out where they are staying, ask if you may render them any service; try to make their lives a little happier. In this way, even if, sometimes, what you at first suspected should be true, still go out of your way to be kind to them—this kindness will help them to become better.”</p> </blockquote> <p>In all our religious traditions, we can find similar expressions of the values we should apply to the vulnerable, disadvantaged and discriminated groups in our society. The wonderful response of our faith traditions to climate change, as demonstrated by the <a href="/node/853">Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si’</a>, the <a href="/node/847">Islamic Declaration on Climate Change</a>, and similar initiatives from other faiths, shows what is possible. The migration crisis gives us the opportunity to take similar initiatives for those now being displaced on a massive scale, where the human dimension and dramatic suffering are even more obvious. We should be at the forefront of positive responses to this crisis.</p> <p>Second, many human rights violations today are against migrants, and illegal migrants are often denied even the most fundamental human rights protections. The label “illegal” from the simple fact of crossing a border withdraws their right to exist as human beings, and is thrown up as a barrier to defend a “national interest”. Even those who are legally in another country face discrimination. At the 2010 Human Rights Council <a href="/node/249">Social Forum on Climate Change and Human Rights</a>, the International Environment Forum raised the need to extend concern beyond those migrants who are victims of climate-induced violations of their human rights, to focus on the education of receiving communities. All the great religions have traditions of welcoming guests. The spiritual nature of human beings is the same regardless of race, colour or creed. Also, we are all, through our lifestyles, part of the cause of climate change and environmental degradation, and have a duty of solidarity to those who are its victims. By educating those in the communities receiving migrants to have sympathy for their plight and a sense of responsibility towards them, welcoming them and assisting in their settlement, many human rights violations could be avoided. Faith-based organizations are well placed to take a lead in these efforts.</p> <p>Third, since environmentally-induced migrations can be anticipated, they should be planned for and well organized, not waiting until a natural disaster or catastrophe forces the displacement in great misery and suffering. This also means determining where such migrants could best be settled where adequate resources are available, and perhaps with a situation and climate not too different from what they have known. Where whole communities are displaced, it should be possible for them to migrate as a unit, keeping families together and retaining as much as possible of their social capital. Globally, this could be a responsibility of an appropriate United Nations agency, but this should not stop our religious communities from assisting with positive responses at our own level.</p> <p>Then there is the issue of assimilation or cultural preservation. Should migrants be forced to abandon their culture, traditions and faith and assimilate completely into the receiving community? Should they be allowed to cluster in their own in-group, maintaining their differences in a kind of cultural ghetto? Neither extreme is desirable. If the receiving community is welcoming and offers all the necessary opportunities for education, employment and participation, each migrant can choose the balance they feel comfortable with. Ideally they should see the culture and faith that they bring with them as enriching the diversity in their new community, something to offer on equal terms as they also receive new perspectives from the community they have joined. Children can share the richness of multiple heritages, and young people, as they intermarry, will pass this human richness to their offspring. Learning diverse languages as infants has been shown to increase intelligence.</p> <p>Finally, given what we now know about the changes coming in the world, not to mention other potential crises and catastrophes that past experience suggests could well be on the horizon, we could all find ourselves as migrants, refugees or displaced persons. The golden rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us certainly applies.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 4 July 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Blog tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/273" hreflang="en">Migration</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/275" hreflang="en">Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 04 Jul 2018 21:25:28 +0000 Arthur Dahl 929 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/929#comments Leaves - June IEF newsletter is available http://www.iefworld.org/node/255 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Leaves - June IEF newsletter is available</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">15. June 2018 - 22:40</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Read on line: <a href="/newslt108"><strong><em>Leaves</em></strong> 20(6) June 2018</a> light text version with fewer illustrations.<br /> Download as a <a href="/fl/IEF_Leaves180615.pdf">pdf version</a> [0.9 mb].</p> <table background="/gr/BLEAF1.JPG" style="background-color: rgb(0, 153, 0); width: 100%; height: 55px; text-align: left; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"> <tbody> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 15 Jun 2018 19:40:52 +0000 admin 255 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/255#comments UN Secretariat Reform on Sustainable Development http://www.iefworld.org/node/926 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">UN Secretariat Reform on Sustainable Development</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">8. June 2018 - 20:45</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/70" hreflang="en">United Nations</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/62" hreflang="en">Sustainable Development</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">UN Secretariat Reform on Sustainable Development</h2> </div> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <p>The United Nations Secretary-General is moving ahead with his reforms within the UN Secretariat. After achieving gender balance in all his senior appointments, he has now reorganised the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, responsible for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. The following is a summary of the new divisions (edited from <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/about/desa-divisions.html">https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/about/desa-divisions.html</a>).</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development</h3> <p>The Office supports the work of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). It works with Member States, other UNDESA divisions, the UN system entities, NGOs and other major groups and other stakeholders of society to support the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda by UN intergovernmental bodies.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Division for Sustainable Development Goals</h3> <p>The Division for Sustainable Development Goals will act as the Secretariat for SDGs, focusing on providing substantive support and capacity building to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their related thematic issues, including water, energy, climate, ocean, urbanization, transport, science and technology, the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), partnerships and SIDS. It will organize focal teams on the Sustainable Development Goals and their interlinkages, including UN-Ocean, UN-Water, UN-Energy, UN Transport and UN-climate. It will also play a key role on evaluation of system-wide implementation of the 2030 Agenda and on advocacy and outreach activities relating to Sustainable Development Goals.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Population Division</h3> <p>The Division produces constantly updated demographic estimates and projections for all countries, including data essential for the monitoring of the progress in achieving the SDGs, developing and disseminating new methodologies, leading the substantive preparations for the United Nations major conferences on population and development. It studies population dynamics and monitors demographic trends and policies worldwide. Population estimates and projections prepared by the Division for all countries – on fertility, mortality, international migration, urbanization, and population size and structure – are widely used.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government</h3> <p>The Division focuses on analyzing and supporting efforts to make institutions inclusive, effective, accountable and well-equipped to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as reflected in SDG 16. By focusing on building strong institutions and governance for the 2030 Agenda, the Division assists UN intergovernmental bodies in reflecting on the role of institutions as an integral part of their examination of the SDGs. The Division nurtures a multi-stakeholder dialogue on transforming institutions and building people’s trust in them at the annual UN Public Service Forum. Its analysis and capacity development activities help governments reflect on how to organize, mobilize and equip all parts of national and local government and public servants for implementing the SDGs, placing a special focus on policy integration, coherence and innovation. The Division also focuses on information and communication technologies (ICTs) whose transformative role is highlighted in the 2030 Agenda.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Financing for Sustainable Development Office</h3> <p>The Office provides coherent and integrated support to Member States in addressing the issues related to financing for development, as well as the means of implementation for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It plays a critical role in supporting various work streams to mobilize the means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to strengthen the United Nations cooperation with other international organizations in the area of fiscal affairs.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Division for Inclusive Social Development</h3> <p>The Division seeks to strengthen international cooperation for achieving social inclusion and the reduction of inequalities, by fostering effective policy impact and intensified global dialogue on social development issues. The Division is the main vehicle for promoting the social dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, particularly in the areas of inequality, poverty eradication, productive employment and decent work, family, cooperatives and the social inclusion of older persons, youth, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and persons marginalized from society. It is responsible for coordinating the entire scope of social development progress and implementation. The Division takes an integrated and multidimensional approach to its work to address and analyze policy issues, working at the interlinkages and overlaps of the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, as well as at the intersections of development, rights and peace-building, to provide coherent, evidence-based policy advice.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Statistics Division</h3> <p>The Division is a global centre for data on all subject matters, bringing to the world statistical information compiled by the entire UN system. It is committed to the advancement of the global statistical system, by compiling and disseminating global statistical information, developing standards and norms for statistical activities, and supporting countries’ efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems. It also facilitates the coordination of international statistical activities and supports the functioning of the United Nations Statistical Commission.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Economic Analysis and Policy Division</h3> <p>The Economic Analysis and Policy Division (EAPD) provides research and policy analysis on global macroeconomic trends and prospects, frontier issues, emerging issues, and issues associated with countries in special situations, in the broad context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. EAPD manages capacity development projects in developing countries, providing assistance through research, training and workshops.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">United Nations Forum on Forests</h3> <p>The Secretariat is the UN DESA focal point on all forest policy and forest-based sustainable development issues. It promotes sustainable forest management based on the 2030 Agenda, the Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration, Forest Principles, Global Objectives on Forests, and the UN Forest Instrument. It provides substantive support to the annual sessions of the Forum, prepares technical reports and analytical studies, and fosters dialogue to enhance cooperation and coordination on forest issues. It provides a comprehensive and integrated view of forests which encompasses economic, social and environmental aspects.</p> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Capacity Development Office</h3> <p>The Office provides strategic support to the effective translation of the outcomes of intergovernmental processes in the areas of economic, social and environmental development, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, into the Department’s operational programmes and capacity development work. It assists the Department in delivering integrated policy advisory services and other forms of capacity development support drawing on the expertise of UN DESA’s subprogrammes, as a contribution to the formulation of national sustainable development strategies. These include the identification of policy options to balance the achievement of social, economic, and environmental goals. The Office promotes a more coherent and coordinated system-wide approach in implementing the 2030 Agenda including the SDGs.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 8 June March 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Fri, 08 Jun 2018 17:45:17 +0000 admin 926 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/926#comments New Shape Forum and Prize http://www.iefworld.org/node/925 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">New Shape Forum and Prize</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">4. June 2018 - 1:47</span> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/51" hreflang="en">Governance</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);"> New Shape Forum, Stockholm</h2> </div> <p>Two members of the International Environment Forum, Maja Groff and Arthur Dahl, together with Augusto Lopez-Claros, submitted a proposal to reform the UN Charter to the New Shape Prize competition organized in 2017 by the Global Challenges Foundation. The proposal was one of 14 finalists invited to Stockholm, Sweden, on 25-30 May 2018, for the New Shape Forum and final judging for the US$ 1.8 million New Shape Prize, and came in first. This is the report on the New Shape Forum.</p> <hr> <p>The Global Challenges Foundation (<a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en">https://globalchallenges.org/en</a>) was founded in 2012 by Swedish financial analyst and author Laszlo Szombatfalvy, with the aim to contribute to reducing the main global problems and risks that threaten humanity. </p> <p>The Foundation is particularly concerned about a number of risks that could threaten the existence of at least a tenth of the Earth’s population, referred to as global catastrophic risks. These include climate change, other large-scale environmental damage, politically motivated violence, extreme poverty and population growth. These five main challenges are interdependent and influence each other detrimentally, requiring immediate joint action by the world’s states. As these risks include the greatest threats to humanity, they should be on top of the international political agenda in order to ensure safety for existing and future generations. </p> <p>In November 2016, the Global Challenges Foundation launched a global prize competition, “<b>The Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape</b>”, which challenged thinkers all over the world to formulate proposals for new models of how the major global risks could be managed more effectively and equitably to avoid an extreme global catastrophe in coming decades. The New Shape Prize was the biggest competition of its kind, seeking improved frameworks of global governance of global catastrophic risks. During the time it was open for submissions from November 2016 to September 2017, it received 2,702 entries from 122 countries. There were proposals from people in every continent and from diverse backgrounds – from academic institutions, think tanks, researchers, and business, to university students and non-governmental organisations. Regional selection panels went through all the entries, and a global selection panel identified about a hundred semifinalists from which 14 finalists were presented to the final jury at <b>The New Shape Forum</b> in Stockholm, Sweden, on 27-29 May 2018 (<a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/new-shape-forum">https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/new-shape-forum</a>).</p> <hr> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">The New Shape Forum</h2> <p> <img src="/gr/NSFgroup.jpg" alt="New Shape Forum"><br> <small>Participants in the New Shape Forum</small> </p> </div> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Public event and presentations to the jury</h3> <p>The first day was a public event that addressed two questions: <b>How well are the greatest risks to humanity governed today? What are the latest ideas on how to fix them?</b> There were keynotes, panels, and short presentations by each of the finalists with questions from the jury. More than 200 participants came together with the aim of reshaping global governance to better tackle global catastrophic risks. </p> <p>The opening keynote was given by Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, on the <b>Global Challenges the UN is Facing</b>. He noted both the UN's accomplishments and progress made, and the changes in the world over the last 70 years that make the UN unfit for present challenges. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals provide a roadmap for the way ahead, requiring a paradigm shift. The UN needs to take on climate change, the financial system, the gap between rich and poor, the trust deficit, and those walking away from values and norms. He looked forward to the proposals coming out of the Forum.</p> <img src="/gr/NSFMoller180528.jpg" alt="Michael Moller"><br> <small>Michael Møller</small> <p>The first panel on <b>Global Governance: What is it, how does it affect you, and what is its current shape? </b>included Inge Kaul (Adjunct Professor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin), Yang Zheyu (Opinion Editor of Caixin Global), Paul Dickinson (Executive Chair, Carbon Disclosure Project), and Malini Mehra (CEO, Globe International)</p> <p>The panel described the UN as buildings for meetings of States, reflecting the power politics of States, and civil society had to fight to get in. Now there are companies bigger than most states, and through their lobbying the world is now run by business. It will be important to get corporate money out of politics. With some countries now preferring bilateral to multilateral relationships, the future depends on how countries manage their disagreements. They still look at national interests first, not the global public good. There are bits and pieces of global governance but they do not add up to systemic integrity.</p> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Presentations by the finalists to the jury</h3> <p>The finalists of the New Shape Prize then presented their proposals before the jury, chaired by Maria Ivanova (Professor of Global Governance and director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts, Boston), with Reshma Anand (founder of the Earthy Goods Foundation, India), Susan Avery (President Emeritus of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA), Jacques Marcovitch (board member of IHEID-Graduate Institute of International Relations and Development Studies, Geneva, and Professor of Environmental Management and International Affairs, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), Julia Marton-Lefèvre (former Director General of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and former Rector of University for Peace), Wanjira Mathai (Wangari Maathai Institute, Kenya), Folke Tersman (Chair Professor of Practical Philosophy at Uppsala University, Sweden), and Anote Tong (former president of Kiribati).</p> <img src="/gr/NSFjury180527_11.jpg" alt="Final jury"><br> <small>Final jury: Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati; Wanjira Mathai (Kenya), Susan Avery (USA), Reshma Anand (India), Julia Marton-Lefèvre (Hungary / France / USA), Jacques Marcovitch (Brazil), Folke Tersman (Sweden), Maria Ivanova, Jury Chair (Bulgaria)</small> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">The finalists</h3> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/a-truly-global-partnership-helping-the-un-to-do-itself-out-of-a-job">A truly global partnership - helping the UN to do itself out of a job</a></b><br> Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of the United Nations Association – UK</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/a-global-league-of-sustainable-cities">A Global League of Sustainable Cities</a></b><br> Adrian Mihălțianu, science fiction author and journalist, Romania</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/evolutionary-organisation">Evolutionary Organisation</a></b><br> Morya Short, programme designer, facilitator and coach, UK</p> <hr> <p><img src="/gr/NSF_Groff180527_26.jpg" alt="Maja Groff"> <small>Maja Groff</small></p> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/global-governance-and-the-emergence-of-global-institutions-for-the-21st-century">Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century</a></b><br> - Augusto Lopez-Claros, Senior Fellow, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and World Bank, Bolivia/USA<br> - Arthur Lyon Dahl, President, International Environment Forum and retired senior official of UN Environment, Switzerland<br> - Maja Groff, international lawyer based in The Hague, Canada/Netherlands<br> (<a href="https://globalchallenges.org/new-shape-library/596b7b861aae546f4fa95bba/details">see the full proposal</a>) </p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/planetary-condominium-the-legal-framework-for-the-common-home-of-humanity">Planetary Condominium: the legal framework for the Common Home of Humanity</a></b><br> - Paulo Miguel Ferreira Magalhães, jurist and researcher, CIJE-Center for Legal and Economic Research, University of Porto, Portugal<br> - Will Steffen, Earth system scientist; Councillor, Climate Council of Australia; Emeritus Professor, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra; Senior Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden; Fellow, Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm<br> - Maria Alexandra de Sousa Aragão, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Coimbra, Portugal<br> - Katherine Meyer, Director, Ecometrics, New Zealand<br> - Leena Iyengar, Director, Tune Into Earth, Geneva, Switzerland<br> - Alessandro Galli, International Coordinator, Common Home of Humanity Initiative, and Senior Scientist and Mediterranean-MENA Program Director, Global Footprint Network, Italy</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/global-governance-by-cooperative-communities">Global Governance by Cooperative Communities</a></b><br> Stephan Bettzieche, Katharina Peter, PacELNoroc civil society initiative, Germany</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/a-simplified-blockchain-approach-to-non-coercive-decentralized-global-governance">A (Simplified) Blockchain Approach to Non-Coercive, Decentralized Global Governance</a></b><br> John R. Bowley, Attorney, USA</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/the-sponsored-loans-program-how-to-mobilize-private-sector-into-global-development">The “Sponsored Loans Program” – How to Mobilize Private Sector into Global Development</a></b><br> Eduardo Pascual Pouteau, Cofounder, Contrarian-View, and consultant for the World Bank, Spain/USA</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/social-conditionality-in-patents-achieving-a-paradigm-change-in-private-sector-participation">Social Conditionality in Patents: Achieving a Paradigm Change in Private Sector Participation</a></b><br> Thomas Höhne-Sparborth, Director, Economics and Analytics, Roskill, Netherlands</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/emergent-dynamic-governance-ecosystems-edge-project">Emergent Dynamic Governance Ecosystems (EDGE project)</a></b><br> Andrew Goldring, Chief Executive, Permaculture Association, UK</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/a-club-based-model-of-global-governance">A Club-Based Model of Global Governance</a></b><br> Luca Rade, student at Princeton University, USA</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/basic-tax-control">Basic Tax Control</a></b><br> Aleksandar Ristevski, author and IT professional, Ukraine</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/insurance-based-global-governance">Insurance-based Global Governance</a></b><br> Len Fisher, scientist, writer and broadcaster, and Senior Research Fellow, School of Physics, University of Bristol, UK</p> <hr> <p><b><a href="https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/the-new-shape-prize/finalists/ai-supported-global-governance-through-bottom-up-deliberation">AI-supported global governance through bottom-up deliberation</a></b><br> Soushiant Zanganehpour, social scientist, entrepreneur and Founder/CEO/Architect of Swae, Canada/UK</p> <hr> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Four panels followed:</h3> <p><b>The UN: Reforms and New Global Actors</b>, with Maher Nasser (Director, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information), Yang Yao (Director, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University), John Mukum Mbaku (Professor of Economics, Weber State University), and Rama Mani (Convenor of the Enacting Global Transformation Collaborative Initiative, University of Oxford’s Centre for International Studies, Founder of Theatre of Transformation Academy)</p> <p>The panel noted that the moderate proposals of the 1995 Commission on Global Governance did not come to much, although there is more involvement of civil society and all stakeholders. The new Secretary-General is also pushing ahead with reforms, with more women than men in the Senior Management Group, and aiming for gender parity at all levels. More reform is needed for cross-country issues like climate change and migration. The UN should become a people-driven organization, promoting the values that matter to its stakeholders, especially those that have been marginalized like indigenous peoples, women, the poor and youth. Poverty is the main problem. Students see no jobs after graduation. People need help to develop their own capacities. The UN should help countries with dysfunctional governments to maintain the rule of law and provide basic social services. The veto power is difficult to step around, and UN resolutions are not implemented, so mechanisms are needed to enforce binding agreements. The major machinery should be reformed before 2020.</p> <hr> <p><b>Key Risks threatening Human Existance: What is being done about them?</b></p> <p>Janos Pasztor (Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and Executive Director, Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative), Ruhee Neog (Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi), Mosoka Fallah (Deputy Director for Technical Services, National Public Health Institute of Liberia), and Philip Osano (Deputy Centre Director, Capacity Development and Partnership, Stockholm Environment Institute, Africa)</p> <p>For the panel, the world is getting scarier, with rising risks of the use of nuclear weapons. Emerging technologies are leading to new vulnerabilities. We are facing environmental collapse and climate change, while the economic system does not signal environment impacts and growth is destroying our life support systems. There are 1300 multilateral environmental agreements, but they are voluntary with no enforcement. Pandemics are another threat, with climate change amplifying outbreaks. We need carbon removal from the atmosphere to reach climate change targets, but there is no governance for solar geoengineering proposals which may not be reversible. Governments make irrational decisions. Which is more terrifying, climate change or geoengineering solutions? There is tension between local and global governance mechanisms. The geopolitical situation is more insecure, requiring more cross-domain conversations and holistic policy perspectives. Today we are deciding for generations to come.</p> <hr> <p><b>What is the power of visionary thinking to change institutions? A discussion between two pragmatic visionaries</b>, Helen Goulden (CEO, The Young Foundation), and Maina Kiai (Co-director, InformAction, and Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association)</p> <p>This dialogue highlighted the importance of visionary thinking to overcome our fear of change. There is no incentive for civil servants to make decisions if mistakes are fatal. The UN is more resistant to change because there is no benefit to doing anything right. Human rights are still a constant struggle. There is a rebellion against the elites who think they deserve to be there, but this is leading to populism and the new serfdom of the gig economy. Change must come from both the bottom up and the top down. Desperate communities need to rise up and find their own solutions, bringing respect to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. How do we deal with rotten corrupt societies that glorify in theft, with two thirds of young people saying it is fine to be corrupt and benefit from one’s position? We must change our cultures.</p> <hr> <p><b>Overcoming Challenges in Relating to the UN and Global Catastrophic Risks</b>, with Anthony Banbury (formerly United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support), Hajer Sharief (Co-founder, Together We Build It, Libya), and Cristina Manzano (Editor-in-chief, Esglobal).</p> <p>One key issue for this panel was the challenge of informing the public of risks when the media are changing so rapidly, and the Internet revolution is making old news outlets disappear, while we are overwhelmed by too much information. Global issues are pushed out by local and national events that attract clicks. What news is available reflects a mostly Western world view. There have been some successes like the global network against corruption and the save-the-bees campaign. The UN is essential, but it is failing, facing backwards and changing too slowly, influenced by the most important states. It is input-driven rather than looking at outcomes. It does not reflect the pressing needs of today. People feel disconnected from it. It is important to build bridges between the global and local. The UN needs to be relevant to people on the ground. If you are affected by a local issue, you are the expert. The Ebola crisis pushed the UN to create an emergency health mission, engaging with communities, using local leaders as communications channels. The challenge is to create global narratives when the global does not affect everyone the same way. There is a growing global consciousness, changing the parameters in society against injustice. Each of us can do something, for example against plastic pollution. No other organization can find solutions, so what can we do to support the UN?</p> <hr> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Second day of the Forum</h3> <p>The second and third days were more interactive. Notable policy-makers in global governance and cooperation and leading academics, among others, came together in the beautiful setting of Münchenbryggeriet, Stockholm, for creative workshops and discussions to examine what the future of global governance could look like.</p> <p>Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center, a board member of the Global Challenges Foundation, and a leading researcher on planetary boundaries, provided a scientific overview of the catastrophic risks that have emerged in the last 50 years with the Anthropocene, when human impacts have reached planetary scale, causing climate change and pushing us over planetary boundaries. The world needs governance capabilities for global catastrophic risks that are operational, legitimate, viable and scalable.</p> <p>Carin Ism, Executive Director of the Global Challenges Foundation, presented the challenges for the forum. We must raise the level of global governance if we are to reduce the risks. There were so many ideas in the 2,700 entries for the New Shape Prize. We need to refine these ideas and put together many more. The GCF Library has all the semi-final propositions as building blocks. The GCF is working with the Stockholm School of Economics on business risk. We need to inspire and organize individuals to work together, and form groups to take these proposals further towards acceptance and make them operational. In the next phase, the GCF will support groups on the reform of existing institutions within global decision making, new institutions within traditional global decision making, beyond traditional global decision making, and the emergence of a movement for global governance reform.</p> <p>The participants were divided into work streams on:<br> - New models for global decision-making<br> - Reforming existing models for global decision-making<br> - Global governance beyond traditional political systems and mechanisms.<br> They were asked how to approach operationality, legitimacy, and viability to create change.</p> <hr> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Third day of the Forum</h3> <p>The third day opened with a keynote by Margot Wallstrom, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs.</p> <p>She emphasized the power of multilateralism and the 2030 Agenda as a unique framework for equitable and sustainable development, with national government implementation plus multistakeholder partnerships. The UN needs the capacity to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, with its targets for measuring progress. More inputs are needed from behavioural scientist if we are to change behaviour for our grandchildren’s future. The top Swedish priority in their feminist government was more actors and more engagement in society to do their share, since national and global issues cannot be separated. She saw four challenges: the increasing complexity of issues, requiring a long-term planning perspective of generations; the emergence of new powers, both state and non-state actors; defending the legitimacy of democracy, western liberal values and the freedom of the press against those for whom multilateralism is no longer a given; and mastering technological innovation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. The international order needs to be strengthened and reformed for a multipolar and highly changeable world, with inclusive globalization to spread economic benefits more evenly, and a social dialogue on decent work. We all have a personal responsibility to be kinder and do something unselfish. We cannot give up if we are to make the world a better place to live in. She wished good luck to the winners of the New Shape Prize.</p> <hr> <p>The collaborative work-streams prepared presentations to share and discuss with all the forum participants</p> <hr> <h3 style="color: rgb(0, 51, 51);">Gala Prize Awards Ceremony</h3> <p>The New Shape Forum concluded on the evening of 29 May with the New Shape Prize Awards Ceremony Gala, where the winners were to be announced. The dinner was entirely vegan.</p> <p><img src="/gr/NSFfinalists-NSP.jpg" alt="Finalists for New Shape Prize"><br> <small>Finalists for the New Shape Prize</small></p> <p>Mats Andersson, Vice Chairman, Board of the Global Challenges Foundation, announced the winners of the New Shape Prize.</p> <p>The distinguished final jury, led by Professor Maria Ivanova, selected the following three proposals out of the 14 put forward by the semi-final review panel:</p> <p> <img src="/gr/NSFDiapositive1.jpg" alt="Global Governance"> </p> <p><img src="/gr/NSFDiapositive2.jpg" alt="Global Institutions table"></p> <p>"<b>Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century</b>"<br> Augusto Lopez-Claros, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Maja P.C.E. Groff</p> <p>"<b>A truly global partnership - helping the UN to do itself out of a job</b>"<br> Natalie Samarasinghe</p> <p>“<b>AI-supported global governance through bottom-up deliberation</b>"<br> Soushiant Zanganehpour</p> <img src="/gr/NSFAward180529s.jpg" alt="Award"><br> <small>Maja Groff, Arthur Dahl, Laszlo Szombatfalvy, Natalie Samarasinghe, Soushiant Zanganehpour</small> <p>The Global Challenges Foundation decided to award a total of USD 1.8 million, rewarding the three submissions with USD 600,000 each. Speaking about the process, Professor Ivanova noted that “This competition has unleashed the creativity of thousands of people around the world and has launched a new community of thinkers, advocates and doers.”</p> <p>An invitation was extended to participate in the Paris Peace Forum next November.</p> <hr> <p>The New Shape Prize initiative had an ambitious goal: to inspire ideas and stimulate debate around new, more effective forms of global cooperation at the highest levels about how the world community manages global catastrophic risks, ranging from climate change effects to weapons of mass destruction. The New Shape Forum was a starting point in efforts to reshape global cooperation in order to better tackle global catastrophic risks based on the proposals put forward in the New Shape Prize. The best ideas from the New Shape Prize can be improved and repurposed for individual objectives and concerns in companies, cities, organizations and communities. </p> <p>The New Shape Forum marked the starting point of a new phase in the Global Challenges Foundation’s efforts to find new global governance models. It will support the reworking and refinement of the best ideas toward more holistic models that emerge from this process. Working groups began to convene at the Forum and will continue to develop frameworks for global governance. As the models evolve over the next five months, these ideas will come to life, and the most promising ones will be presented in Paris in November at the Paris Peace Forum. </p> <hr> <p>For the report with more pictures, see <a href="http://yabaha.net/dahl/travel/t2018/Stockholm/Stockholm.html">http://yabaha.net/dahl/travel/t2018/Stockholm/Stockholm.html</a></p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" height="66"></p> <p><small>Last updated 15 June 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> </section> Sun, 03 Jun 2018 22:47:00 +0000 admin 925 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/925#comments BIC/IEF Contributions to Talanoa Dialogue http://www.iefworld.org/Talanoa2 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BIC/IEF Contributions to Talanoa Dialogue</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">5. May 2018 - 14:02</span> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-hidden comment-wrapper"> </section> <div class="field field--name-subjects field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Climate change</a></div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">BIC/IEF Contributions to Talanoa Dialogue</h2> <p>Bonn, Germany, 6 May 2018 </p> </div> <p>The Fijian presidency of COP23 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change launched the <a href="https://talanoadialogue.com/">Talanoa Dialogue</a>, named for a Fijian tradition of trust building through story telling, to prepare governments for increasing ambition in their greenhouse gas reductions before COP24. The International Environment Forum submitted a first written contribution in March 2018: <a href="https://iefworld.org/Talanoa1">https://iefworld.org/Talanoa1</a>. Face-to-face dialogues were then organized at the Bonn Climate Change Conference on 6 May 2018, with seven dialogues in circles each consisting of 30 state party representatives, with 5 representatives of other stakeholders in rotation each addressing one of three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?. Each participant was given 3 minutes to tell a story, and could then take part in the following discussion. The stories were intended to be positive and encouraging, inspiring others to increase their ambition. The Talanoa Dialogue brought an example of constructive consultation sharing a diversity of perspectives and experience in support of a formal diplomatic negotiating process. Two IEF members participated in these dialogues.</p> <p><img src="/gr/ENB_SB48_6May18_KiaraWorth-24Rakiraki.jpg" alt="Talanoa Rakiraki Dialogue"><br> <small><a href="http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb48/6may.html">Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth</a></small> </p> <p>The Bahá'í International Community, represented in the UNFCCC by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in partnership with the IEF, was accepted to participate in one of the dialogues on the question "How do we get there?" with IEF President Arthur Dahl as the representative. The following is the story shared in the dialogue in Bonn. </p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <i> <p>My story is about faith-based organizations in the Bahá'í International Community, represented in the UNFCCC by the Bahá'ís of the United States, that are working around the world to build resilient communities and stimulate social action at the grassroots.</p> <p>The International Environment Forum is a Bahá'í-inspired professional organization with members in over 70 countries including Fiji. Our members have worked for a decade developing educational materials on climate change and community resilience that incorporate interfaith, intercultural and indigenous perspectives, and empower local involvement and action. These are implemented on line, in local communities and, for example, in a national programme in Vanuatu. This experience could easily be replicated.</p> <p>In many countries, political leaders do not want to get too far ahead of public opinion, and will only raise their ambitions if they know that they have public understanding and support. Informing the public about the science of climate change is not sufficient to change attitudes or behaviour if it is not coupled with messages with ethical, moral or spiritual content that trigger an emotional involvement and motivation to change. This requires public education that reaches wider constituencies beyond those already concerned about climate change.</p> <p>Religious communities and their faith-based organizations are already heavily involved in education, and can spread climate messages linked to their spiritual teachings, as in the Pope's <a href="http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html">Encyclical</a>, the <a href="http://www.ifees.org.uk/declaration/">Islamic Declaration on Climate Change</a>, and <a href="https://www.bic.org/statements/seizing-opportunity-redefining-challenge-climate-change">Bahá'í International Community statements</a> on the topic. Indigenous communities, with deeply-held values and concern about climate change affecting their future, can also be assisted to share relevant climate messages.</p> <p>Governments and the UNFCCC can identify such potential additional partners in public education about climate change and the need for action. These organizations and communities have strong ethical frameworks and public trust. They may need assistance to understand the science of climate change in culturally relevant ways, so that they can relate this to their own values and develop educational programmes to build motivation for change in individual lifestyles and consumption patterns, in support of government ambition. Our Bahá'í experience can serve as a model for similar action in other communities and countries.</p> <p>We encourage governments to partner with the many faith-based, civil society and indigenous groups in their country to expand educational outreach on climate change, combining science and ethics, to build wide support for their enhanced commitments under the Paris Agreement.</p> </i> <hr> <h3 style=" color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">IEF RESOURCES on climate change education referred to in the story</h3> <p>Courses on the Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate change<br> - English: <a href="https://iefworld.org/ssdcc0.html">https://iefworld.org/ssdcc0.html</a><br> - French: <a href="https://iefworld.org/ccFr0">https://iefworld.org/ccFr0</a><br> - Spanish: <a href="https://iefworld.org/fl/ccSp.pdf">https://iefworld.org/fl/ccSp.pdf</a></p> <p>Climate Change Disaster Risk Reduction in Vanuatu (case study): <a href="https://iefworld.org/elcvanuatucc">https://iefworld.org/elcvanuatucc</a></p> <p>IEF Contributions to COP21 on community resilience, accountability and education: <a href="https://iefworld.org/cop21">https://iefworld.org/cop21</a></p> <hr> <p><img src="/gr/ENB_SB48_6May18_KiaraWorth-38Kadavu.jpg" alt="Talanoa Kadavu Dialogue"><br> <small><a href="http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb48/6may.html">Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth</a></small></p> <p>IEF governing board member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen also participated in the Talanoa Dialogue representing Wageningen University where she teaches. She was in a circle addressing the question "Where are we?". She has a particular interest in the effectiveness of intergovernmental processes and holding governments accountable for what they agree to. The following is her story.</p> <i> <p>This is the story of a species with a unique capacity for science and morality that inhabits a beautiful blue planet. As a result of a tumultuous history its members are divided into some 200 countries. These countries are finding more and more reasons to unite to address common challenges. The changing climate is one example. After many years of struggle they agreed on an accord with a common objective. Joy and celebrations! In this accord countries accepted to do their very best to address climate change. As was their habit – however – they did not want to prescribe how much each country should do. </p> <p>So to make sure that the total contributions are sufficient to reach their common objective they created a mechanism of global reflection on past action every five years. Each country then has to consider the outcome of this when deciding how much they will do next. This is a collective accountability mechanism. Accountability can be defined as being about telling a story, based on some obligation and with some consequences. </p> <p>We are now in a trial run of this mechanism. This we know. But we do not know how obligatory story telling at global level can have sufficient national consequences. We can develop two sets of questions to find out.</p> <p>First, how do we tell our stories and reflect on them at the global level?</p> <p>• How do we create an environment of amity and trust for sharing stories of both failure and success for mutual learning?</p> <p>• How earnest and uplifting can we make our collective deliberations based on these stories?</p> <p>Second, how do we bring the global reflection home to our countries?</p> <p>• How open and timely are our national climate planning cycles to consider the outcome of the global reflection?</p> <p>• How much do parliamentarians and other domestic actors support considering national responsibilities in light of a global perspective? And how can these actors hold the government to account for its climate policy?</p> <p>Even more relevant is: how do we hold ourselves to account? Do we regularly look ourselves in the mirror, reflect on our own actions and compare those to our ethical standards? And if we find a mismatch do we strengthen our pledge to do our best to support the Paris Agreement?</p> <p>Finally, do we go home from here and have uplifting and meaningful conversations with our family members, co-workers, friends and strangers to accompany others towards such self-reflection? Then we can say this process is about facilitative accountability. </p> </i> <hr> <p>The Fiji-inspired Talanoa Dialogue is quite close to the Bahá'í concept of consultation in a constructive spirit of sharing diverse experiences in support of decision-making, explicitly asking for respectful and constructive interactions, building empathy and trust as the objective and avoiding naming and shaming. In a reflection session on the Dialogue on 8 May all countries expressed appreciation for the approach and several pointed out how it added emotional aspects and values as important. As one delegate said: "We went into the dialogue knowing and came out understanding." Some governments made proposals to continue the Talanoa Dialogue process beyond COP24, but in this year there is strong encouragement to organize Talanoa Dialogues at national and local levels. You all might explore if there are opportunities where you are to participate. </p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" height="66"></p> <p><small>Last updated 9 May 2018</small></p> </div> </div> Sat, 05 May 2018 11:02:02 +0000 admin 923 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/Talanoa2#comments Information: private property or public good? http://www.iefworld.org/node/921 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Information: private property or public good?</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">12. April 2018 - 13:07</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div style="text-align: center;"> <h2 style="text-align: center; color: rgb(0, 153, 0);">Information: private property or public good?</h2> </div> <p>On 15 February, I gave a TEDx talk at the Institut National Polytechnique: École Nationale Supérieure d’Électrotechnique, d’Électronique, d’Informatique, d’Hydraulique et des Télécommunications (INP ENSEEIHT), Université de Toulouse, France, on the topic "Information: private property or public good?". The full series of TEDx talks that day in French can be seen on YouTube at TEDxINPENSEEIHT. My talk is at <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP4Kr2cYxdQ">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP4Kr2cYxdQ</a>. This article is the English translation of what I shared with the students in Toulouse with a few added quotes from the Bahá'í writings.</p> <hr /> <p>We are living in an information age, and corporations built on information technologies have become the wealthiest and most powerful in the world. But behind this is a fundamental problem that has not been properly debated. Should information be considered private property to be bought and sold, or a public good accessible to everyone like the air we breathe?</p> <p>In 18th century England, the aristocrats decided to fence the pastures and make them their property, leaving peasants who formerly grazed their flocks there without resources. This was the privatization of the commons. Today we are experiencing a new privatization of the commons as knowledge and information that used to be freely available becomes the property of multinational corporations intent on managing it for maximum profit. With the medium of the new information technologies and social networks, we are all exploited to extract our information, which is assembled in "big data" without any benefit to us in return. On the contrary, our information is used to target us with the advertisements we will be most susceptible to, and the news that will reinforce our prejudices and confirmation biases.</p> <p>This presents us all, and society in general, with an ethical challenge: where is the common good in all this? Two questions will illustrate the problem.</p> <p>Is there a human right to access information, or is it normal that we have to pay for it? Perhaps we should distinguish between information to which we should have a right, such as news of the world, and other content, such as for entertainment, that we should expect to pay for. And for those who cannot afford to pay for information, is it damaging for society that they do not have access? Inequality in access to information is as unjust as extremes of poverty and wealth.</p> <blockquote>"Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone." (Baha'u'llah)</blockquote> <p>Second, how should we reward the creators of information? Is profit the only motive for creation and innovation? What about scientific curiosity, the desire to help others or to advance civilization? Are we inherently selfish, or can altruistic motivations be more important? How do we encourage creation for the common good, for everyone's benefit? For individuals, an ethical education and spiritual motivation will be determinant. For corporations, which today are driven only by profit, we need to add a social motivation and responsibility to be of service to society. Profit should be one measure of efficiency among others, but not an end in itself.</p> <p>A few cases will illustrate the problem. We have built a system for intellectual property rights, including patents, trade marks, and copyright, enshrined in national law and managed globally by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization. Patents are the foundation of modern industries, and are intended to make new discoveries public in exchange for a limited period (usually 20 years) of exclusive rights. There has always been a debate about whether intellectual discoveries should be considered property, and the WIPO tries to balance public and private interests. The system is legally cumbersome, with constant lawsuits that often benefit the biggest and richest, but it has serious drawbacks. For example, a poor sick person could be cured by a patented medicine, but he will die because it is priced to maximize dividends to the shareholders. For a new discovery that could improve the welfare of everyone, should we have to wait 20 years before all can benefit, while the rich enjoy it first?</p> <p>Agriculture is an interesting case, because two parallel systems of innovation have existed since the mid-twentieth century. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) coordinates research centers around the world that maintain seed banks for important crops and share seeds freely as they make crosses adapted to each local situation. They were behind the green revolution of the 1970s that allowed India to go from a country of famines to a food exporter. Alongside this, the multinational agroindustries produce patented seeds, some with genetic engineering, adapted to their herbicides and other agricultural chemicals that they sell around the world for large-scale intensive agriculture, all designed to maximize their profits. In Canada, they so control prices that farmers are always close to bankruptcy, while all the profits of the agricultural sector are captured by corporate interests. Are monopoly monocultures or sustainable ecological diversity more in the common interest?</p> <p>Even worse, with the new information technologies of remote sensing, drones and other instruments, the same multinationals can offer information services on the state of crops and the localized treatments needed. These help farmers to increase productivity, but all that information is captured by the corporations in big data that allows them to see the larger picture and to manipulate the whole agricultural system to maximize their profits, while farmers simply become passive consumers.</p> <p>Another case is that of genetic information increasingly privatized by multinationals. For example the company that discovered certain mutations favouring breast cancer patented them, so that anyone wanting to know if they were carriers had to go to them for expensive testing. One woman whose results were inconclusive wanted a second opinion, but the company refused to give her the analyses, and only a long court case finally ruled that genes should not be patented.</p> <p>Even access to scientific discoveries has largely been privatized, as the major journals have increasingly been bought up by multinational scientific publishers who protect everything by copyright and require payment to read each paper. Everything is available on line, but if you do not have access to an academic library that pays high subscription fees, you have to pay. I cannot even read my own publications, or those of my grandfather from a century ago, except for a high fee, up to $50. Scientist in poor countries are thus excluded from access to much scientific information, except the too few open access journals.</p> <p>Private property makes some sense for a scarce resource. If I eat a sandwich, you cannot eat it too. But information is not like that. It can be printed in a book (requiring payment for paper and printing but readable by many people ever after), but also broadcast over radio waves or sent to a screen, at no cost increase for the number of users. In fact, information becomes more valuable the more it is shared, benefiting thousands or millions of people without diminishing the original information. With the internet, free access is universally possible as a public utility, although some companies would like to privatize it.</p> <blockquote>"A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity." (Shoghi Effendi, 1936)</blockquote> <p>There are many benefits from the free access to information, from political transparency to health information and environmental warnings. It facilitates democracy and elections, and encourages public participation. It can also shed light on attempts to manipulate people, to incite hatred (as during the genocide in Ruanda), or even to wage cyberwarfare. It seems odd that the essential public service that journalism provides to keep us informed should largely be financed by advertising for things we do not need. The Guardian newspaper decided to make its articles freely available on line without ads, asking for contributions instead, and now receives more than it did from advertising.</p> <blockquote>"...in the sight of God knowledge is the greatest human virtue and the noblest human perfection. To oppose knowledge is pure ignorance, and he who abhors knowledge and learning is not a human being but a mindless animal. For knowledge is light, life, felicity, perfection, and beauty, and causes the soul to draw nigh to the divine threshold. It is the honour and glory of the human realm and the greatest of God’s bounties. Knowledge is identical to guidance, and ignorance is the essence of error." ('Abdu'l-Baha)</blockquote> <p>What are some other options for rewarding innovation and the creation of information and knowledge? There are public subsidies and research grants, employment as researchers in universities or institutes, prizes for innovation, and crowd-sourcing. Even the present system of intellectual property could be modified to guarantee the free access to information and discoveries, with a requirement that any profits from the use of those discoveries be shared with the original creator.</p> <p>From the perspective of system science, it is the exchange of information between the different components that allows the system to organize and function. The more highly evolved and productive a system is, the more developed and diversified are its networks of communication and coordination. Limiting the circulation of information by privatizing it deprives the poor and slows the advance of our civilization.</p> <hr style="width: 100%; height: 2px;" /> <div style="text-align: center;"> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="66" src="/gr/IEFlogo5.gif" width="142" /></p> <p><small>Last updated 12 April 2018</small></p> </div> </div> <section class="field field--name-field-blog-comments field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title">Blog comments</h2> <a id="comment-48"></a> <article role="article" data-comment-user-id="2427" about="/comment/48" typeof="schema:Comment" class="comment js-comment clearfix"> <span class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1527977268"></span> <footer class="comment__meta"> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/2427" class="profile"> <a href="/blog/2427">View recent blog entries</a></article> <p class="comment__author"><span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/2427" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dennis Worley</span></span> </p> <p class="comment__time">3. June 2018 - 1:07 <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2018-06-02T22:07:48+00:00" class="rdf-meta hidden"></span> </p> <p class="comment__permalink"><a href="/comment/48#comment-48" hreflang="en">Permalink</a></p> </footer> <div class="comment__content"> <h3 property="schema:name" datatype=""><a href="/comment/48#comment-48" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Ever advancing civilization </a></h3> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Comment</div> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Arthur's book  'The Eco Principle ' is, in my opinion, essential reading for all Baha'i's.</p> <p>My question is ....when is the next one to be released?</p> <p> </p></div> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=48&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="OrvEVqV-UezZv7CqEUFdTN7wkGEbOXOU7VDTkUNmtKE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </article> <div class="indented"><a id="comment-50"></a> <article role="article" data-comment-user-id="3" about="/comment/50" typeof="schema:Comment" class="comment js-comment by-node-author clearfix"> <span class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1530713831"></span> <footer class="comment__meta"> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/3" class="profile"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <a href="/user/3"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/thumbnail/public/userpictures/ADahl0605c.jpg?itok=Gk-F13Pv" width="69" height="85" alt="Profile picture for user Arthur Dahl" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-thumbnail" /> </a> </div> <a href="/blog/3">View recent blog entries</a></article> <p class="comment__author"><span rel="schema:author"><span lang="" about="/user/3" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Arthur Dahl</span></span> </p> <p class="comment__time">4. July 2018 - 17:17 <span property="schema:dateCreated" content="2018-07-04T14:17:11+00:00" class="rdf-meta hidden"></span> </p> <p class="comment__permalink"><a href="/comment/50#comment-50" hreflang="en">Permalink</a></p> <p class="visually-hidden">In reply to <a href="/comment/48#comment-48" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Ever advancing civilization </a> by <span lang="" about="/user/2427" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dennis Worley</span></p> </footer> <div class="comment__content"> <h3 property="schema:name" datatype=""><a href="/comment/50#comment-50" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Another book is in final…</a></h3> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Comment</div> <div property="schema:text" class="field__item"><p>Another book is in final editing with the publisher, but will probably not be out until next year.</p></div> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=50&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="mBBYRA2bSjbvhjATpZ349uybL4iAhfaDOtMHOwxP7oo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </article> </div> </section> Thu, 12 Apr 2018 10:07:17 +0000 Arthur Dahl 921 at http://www.iefworld.org http://www.iefworld.org/node/921#comments