ISSUES AND DISCOURSE
The International Environment Forum's purpose is to work for the betterment of the world, living together in concord and in harmony with our planetary environment. We aim to build a society that consciously pursues this collective purpose, working with all who labour in this undertaking, raising up vibrant communities learning how to bring about spiritual and material progress within their society and environment and to contribute to the discourses that influence the direction of that progress. We aim to build upon the most foundational qualities in humanity, ones for which the world stands in great need: unity, trustworthiness, mutual support, collaboration, fellow feeling, selflessness, commitment to truth, a sense of responsibility, a thirst to learn, the love of an all-embracing heart.
Public discourse refers to presenting ideas, concepts, principles, values and other kinds of knowledge and information to others, whether in a meaningful conversation with an individual, a group discussion or meeting, a more public platform or event, at a conference, in social media or in publications. It is open to everyone, and is complementary to social action, through which your deeds should be coherent with your words.
The principal IEF focus is contributing to public discourse on concepts relevant to the environment and sustainability. This includes:
1) discourse in the global political space and in the science-religion dialogue,
2) reconceptualizing concepts in light of Bahá’í principles and teachings, and
3) scholarship, writing and communication.
Here we describe our activities and resources for participation in public discourse.
Contributing to Global Discourse
In a world overwhelmed with negative messages and attitudes, and facing tumultuous years in the life of humanity, our discourse emphasizes the positive. While endeavouring to diagnose the roots of humanity’s problems, we try to highlight positive actions for the environment and sustainability across different cultures and social environments, drawing on science and building trust. We can help all to identify common goals that build unity; to put the equality of women and men into practice and overcome prejudices of all kinds; to guard against any tendency to view matters with cynicism or an eye for faults, and instead sustain a constructive outlook; to put the need for collective action before feelings of personal preference; to balance the power of modern technologies with wisdom and responsibility for all life; to prize the joy of serving humankind above worldly interests; to reject the opiate of consumerism; to turn away from materialist ideologies and the worldviews they aggressively promote, and to apply science combined with spiritual principles.
The IEF is acknowledged as a Bahá’í-inspired professional organization in the Scientific and Technological Major Group of civil society at the United Nations. This gives us unique opportunities at the interface of science and religion with both the scientific community and faith-based organizations. The quality of our membership and their avenues of service give us credibility.
In our global discourse, we can:
• present the environmental challenges facing the planet and society and the needs for action going forward informed by science and by the ethical principles, values and spiritual world-views that can motivate the necessary efforts for implementation;
• find points of unity that can bring together the many diverse perspectives across the world, particularly across the science-religion interface, as we explore directions towards a more just and sustainable future;
• explain the society-building power of the Bahá’í Faith for a more sustainable society, both in developing individual spiritual qualities, and in foundational qualities in the community;
• present the Bahá’í concept of social transformation, in which a population becomes the protagonist of its own development, becoming conscious of barriers, drawing on relevant science, learning through small actions, and developing institutions for community support and up-scaling;
• share the Bahá’í-inspired effort at community building as a model for a future strategy of environmental restoration and sustainability - reading the local reality, consulting on needs and deciding actions, in an ongoing organic process of concord and harmony, cooperation and mutual assistance (see Social Action); and
• engage the international community in an exploration of improved concepts of governance, to address planetary environmental problems and boundaries, to ensure national autonomy in implementation, and to apply the principle of subsidiarity in empowering local communities.
The International Environment Forum has contributed to the global discourse on a number of issues where education and policy action can benefit from a combination of science and ethical, moral and spiritual approaches. These are described in the following separate pages:
RESOURCES FOR DISCOURSE
including five presentations on Preparing for Public Discourse to help you to prepare, both concerning the methods and content, with a focus on the environmental, social and economic dimensions relevant to sustainability, the need for global governance, and how to start in your local community.
Last updated 3 November 2022