Arthur Lyon Dahl, “Navigating the Storm: The Transition to Sustainability”
Sunday, September 6, 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. Western European time)
The world is on a very unsustainable trajectory, and while the news is filled with the possibilities of economic crises, mass movements of refugees and migrants, climate change disasters, threatened species, health impacts of pollutants, food crises and other symptoms of unsustainability, it is hard to imagine what they all imply together other than disaster. The only safe prediction is that the years and decades ahead will not be smooth sailing. Placing all this in a broad systems perspective, we shall look at the concepts from science and Baha’i principles that can help us to see that these are all symptoms of a world in transition towards a better future. They teach us that we must break free of the old ways of doing things, and can already start building, from the community up, the elements of a new world order based on ethical principles. The expected adoption of the post-2015 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals at the UN at the end of September shows that all governments now recognize that we must transform our world, supported by the Pope’s recent encyclical, and hopefully by the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. This convergence of global aspirations with the Baha’i vision will open many opportunities for constructive learning and change as we face the inevitable challenges in the years ahead.
Professor Arthur Lyon Dahl of Geneva, Switzerland (http://yabaha.net/dahl), has more than 40 years international experience in sustainable development and environment. He is President of the International Environment Forum (http://iefworld.org), a Baha’i-inspired organization for environment and sustainability, a partner in an international project on values-based indicators of education for sustainable development (http://www.esdinds.eu/ and http://www.wevalue.org), and a consultant on indicators to the World Bank. He teaches sustainability in several academic programmes and was a Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton, UK. He is a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and a consultant to international organizations and research programmes on environmental assessment, observing strategies, indicators of sustainability, coral reefs, biodiversity, islands (islands.unep.ch), environmental education, and social and economic development.
He holds an AB in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a PhD in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A specialist on small islands and coral reefs, he spent many years in the South Pacific as Regional Ecological Advisor with the Pacific Commission (www.spc.int), and organized the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (www.sprep.org). He represented the Baha’i International Community at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (1972) and the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15) in 2009, was in the Secretariat of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to prepare Agenda 21, the global action plan for sustainable development, and organized several parallel events at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002) and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20, 2012). In 2011-2012, he was co-coordinator of the UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance (http://agieg.iefworld.org). He is also on the governing board of another Baha’i-inspired organization, ebbf – Ethical Business Building the Future (http://ebbf.org). He has published many scientific papers and books including: “Unless and Until: A Baha’i Focus on the Environment” and “The Eco Principle: Ecology and Economics in Symbiosis.“