Bahá’í Contributions to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Television and print coverage, local and national, of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris from November 30 through December 12, 2015, was spotty, depending on where you live. At the conference representatives of the 196 parties attending negotiated a global agreement on the reduction of climate change. Now that publicity about the Climate Conference has died down, you may be wondering, “Did the worldwide Bahá’í community participate and, if so, how did it participate and what contributions did it make?” The answer to the questions is “Yes,” “Yes,” and “Yes.” Here are four perspectives that highlight the nature and depth of the Bahá’í contributions.

Bahá’í International Community (BIC) Document. You may want to start with the Bahá’í International Community’s document submitted to the UN Climate Change Conference: Shared Vision, Shared Volition: Choosing Our Global Future Together (https://www.bic.org/statements/shared-vision-shared-volition-choosing-our-global-future-together#SA469qkwqkGYrTFu.97). Since 1947 the BIC has been contributing to major discourses in the areas of human rights, gender equality, social and sustainable development, youth, religion in society, and the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran. As in all of BIC’s statements, you will find that the Bahá’í perspective is brought to bear on the topic of climate change. (For French speakers, there is a French translation of the document: Vision commune, volonté commune :Ensemble choisissons le futur de notre monde, https://www.bic.org/statements/vision-commune-volonte-commune-ensemble-choisissons-le-futur-de-notre-monde-0#DTobDuwKIjCBbRH5.99.)

BIC Press Release and Video. After the conclusion of the Paris Climate Change Conference, the Bahá’í International Community sent out a press release summarizing the highlights of the conference and the events in which it and the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum had collaborated (https://www.bic.org/news/paris-climate-change-conference-movement-towards-global-unity#V2ZgmLiH8RO1PmPY.01). Be sure to look at the photographs in the release.

TokbolatThe BIC press release includes a video of the Bahá’í delegation to the Paris Climate Conference (the 5:26 minute video is the last visual in the release). Seven of the Bahá’í delegates (a mix of women and men) are interviewed in the video: Peter Adriance, representative for sustainable development in the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs; Serik Tokbolat, representative of the BIC’s UN Office; Dr. Mojgan Sami, from the University of California, Irvine, Program in Public Health; Professor Victoria Thoresen, Hedmark University College, Norway and UNESCO Chair for Education about Sustainable Development; Dr. Arthur Lyon Dahl, President of the International Environmental Forum and retired deputy assistant executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); Dr. Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Assistant Professor, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; and Janot Mendler de Suarez, Visiting Research Fellow, Boston University, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. You will want to hear the different perspectives on climate change offered by the Bahá’í delegates.

International Environmental Forum’s December Newsletter. For a detailed account of the two-week Climate Change Conference in Paris, see Leaves, the electronic newsletter of the International Environmental Forum at http://iefworld.org/newslt.htm. The newsletter provides coverage from beginning to end; much of the report captures the feeling of the conference in first-person coverage. The report is illustrated with many photographs. Anyone interested in the environment and climate change will want to make a monthly trip to the IEF website to check out the newsletter.

A Non-Bahá’í’s Blog on the Bahá’í Involvement at the Paris Conference. Finally, click on https://wclsdlp.wordpress.com/tag/bahai/ to read “The Baha’i Pave the Way for Religious Communities of Practice in Response to Climate Change Disasters” posted on the blog entitled Sustainable Development Law & Policy: Exploring How Today’s Development Affects Future Generations Around the Globe. The article was written by Kelly Carlson, Senior Contributor on UNFCCC [UN Framework Conference for Climate Change] Party Actions to Address Climate Change after the Bahá’í International Community’ presentation on “Shared Vision, Shared Volition: Choosing Our Global Future Together” at the Paris Conference. Carlson wrote in her blog: “In terms of framing responses to natural disasters from a social change perspective, the Baha’i community offer[s] valuable teachings other communities can benefit from and model their response plans after when natural disasters spawned by climate change occur.”

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