International Environment Forum
26th General Assembly
25 September 2022
The 26th General Assembly of the International Environment Forum was held over the Internet on the Zoom platform on 25 September 2022 with 21 members attending: Cedric Åkermark (Sweden), Steve Bosserman (USA), Gary Colliver (USA), Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Elsa Deshmuk (Puerto Rico), Cynthia Diessner (USA), Andreas Galsterer (Portugal), Mark Griffin (USA), Khondker Mustafiz Imran (Bangladesh), Matteen Kashef (USA), Desta Mesbah (The Netherlands), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Rebecca Teclemariam Mesbah, Wendi Momen (UK), Christine Muller (USA), Sabine Schlenkermann (Germany), Rafael Shayani (Brazil), Firouz Sobhani (France), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Yves Werling (Slovakia), Johann Wong (Canada)
1. Opening of the General Assembly by the IEF President
The IEF President, Arthur Dahl, opened the General Assembly and welcomed the participants to the IEF 26th General Assembly.
2. Introduction of members present
All members introduced themselves. The rich diversity of backgrounds in the participants who represented 15 different countries showed the strength of IEF.
3. Approval of the agenda
The agenda was approved as presented.
4. Results of the election of the Governing Board
Members voted by email on 13 – 24 September. IEF President Arthur Dahl conveyed the result of the election from the teller, Michael Richards (UK), who was not able to participate because of family and professional obligations:
19 members voted with no spoiled votes. The Board remains the same. The Governing Board for the coming year consists of Arthur Dahl (Switzerland), Christine Muller (USA), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Netherlands), Laurent Mesbah (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Victoria Thoresen (Norway), Wendi Momen (UK), and Halldor Thorgeirsson (Iceland).
In all 39 members received one or more votes.
5. Presentation of the Annual Report
The main points of the Annual Report 2021-2022, already circulated to all the members, were summarized by IEF President Arthur Dahl, and the report was approved.
6. Consultation on activities and priorities for the coming year
The first topic of consultation was how to best implement the IEF strategic plan.
Gary Colliver suggested that more case studies could be shared, even projects at initial stages.
There was also a discussion about collaboration on the local level. Here it was clarified that action at the local level needs to come from individual IEF members and that IEF cannot coordinate local efforts.
Several members emphasized the importance of case studies of members’ experiences and projects in the form of stories or reports. As an example, Sabine Schlenkermann mentioned a youth environmental activity during a local Baha’i summer school in Germany. Arthur Dahl invited everyone to share such stories and case studies in the IEF newsletter or in blogs on the IEF website.
The second topic of consultation was how to encourage more youth participation. Steve Bosserman mentioned that young people successfully communicate in collaborative online groups. Such online activities could be published in the newsletter.
Desta Mesbah volunteered to represent the IEF on Instagram.
Matteen Kashef pointed out that generally there is much interest in environmental issues among youth, but that young people generally require the encouragement and guidance of adults. It was noted that the IEF website contains many useful materials, but that people don’t know about it.
Elsa Deshmukh called for the translation of materials into other languages and offered to volunteer to find sources of Baha’i quotations for translations into Spanish.
Laurent Mesbah suggested that environmental youth organizations could be contacted such as the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. Arthur Dahl indicated that it would be best if an IEF youth task force could be formed that would get in contact with youth organizations. Cedric Åkermark suggested that some topics at IEF conferences could be chosen that are especially attractive for youth. This would also make it easier for the IEF youth to invite their peers.
Johann Wong asked how IEF can have a relevant and engaging public discourse and emphasized the need for finding ways of clear and attractive messaging. He also suggested to pursue the areas where “the energy is”, where members are really interested in being engaged.
The next topic discussed was how to encourage the study and promotion of the statement of the Baha’i International Community One Planet One Habitation - A Bahá’í Perspective on Recasting Humanity's Relationship with the Natural World.
Arthur Dahl informed that the IEF website contains a version of the statement that is more user-friendly for study purposes, and that he also created a version that can be understood by older children/youth.
It was mentioned that it would be very useful to have this statement available in many languages. Firouz Sobhani suggested giving priority to Spanish and French translations and emphasized that it would be important to make sure that translations are of good quality. Arthur Dahl suggested group collaboration and participation of native speakers. Christine Muller reported that a translation into German is in progress. The IEF could call for volunteers to translate the statement into different languages in the newsletter.
Arthur Dahl then invited participation by IEF members in the Global Solidarity Accounting project. There is a need for volunteers who can research what has already been done in specific areas. Christine Muller summarized the purpose of the Global Solidarity Conversations, and Arthur Dahl encouraged IEF members to use these materials in their communities and to report their experiences as case studies.
Regarding volunteering, Arthur Dahl also mentioned the need for a technical expert who could help with the technical aspects of the Drupal website.
7. Other business
Arthur Dahl also encouraged participation and presentations by IEF members at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Victoria Thoresen reported that in the area of education, there had finally been a development where environmental sustainability and values had become increasingly recognized as essential areas of education but that due to Covid and economic problems, the pendulum switched back to basic education for job training. She encouraged everyone to support sustainability and values education in all spaces of public discourse.
Victoria also suggested to have our ears open to follow-up discussions from the recent UNESCO’ Transformative Education Summit. They may present opportunities for public discourse.
Rafael Shayani was impressed by UNESCO’s “Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education” and seeks collaboration with IEF members to write a paper about how to put more emphasis on values and spiritual education as a response to UNESCO’s statement. The IEF will announce this request in the next newsletter.
8. Closing of the General Assembly
After almost one hour and a half of rich consultation, the President thanked all those that had participated, and closed the General Assembly.
This year’s Annual General Assembly was blessed by more participation by the younger generation. The offer to volunteer for the IEF by two youth members brought much joy to the veterans who see the value of capacity building and the need for active participation of youth as essential for the long-term flourishing of the IEF.
Last updated 26 September 2022