At COP21 Baha'is see movement toward unity

14 December 2015

— The outcome of last week's UN Conference on Climate Change, known as COP21, which resulted in an accord signed by 196 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reflects a significant step towards greater unity and cooperation among nations as the world learns to face major global challenges, says the Baha'i International Community (BIC).

"From the perspective of unity in action, the Paris conference must be considered a success," said Serik Tokbolat, a representative of the BIC to the United Nations. "While some have suggested the final document falls short of what is really needed to prevent major effects from climate change, the world has proven its ability to come together at the global level and to consult deeply about its future."

Mr. Tokbolat represented the BIC as part of a Baha'i delegation to the conference, which brought together thousands of representatives of government, business and civil society.

"Our focus, in our activities, discussions and statements, was to call attention to the need for individuals, communities, and institutions everywhere to develop new patterns of action and interaction that can help humanity collectively take a more balanced attitude toward the environment.

"Humanity can take steps to prevent the negative effects of climate change and improve its relationship with the planet if it acts with vision and volition," he said.

The main contribution of the Baha'i International Community to COP21, he said, took the form of an official statement, titled "Shared Vision, Shared Volition: Choosing Our Global Future Together."

The document explains that "sustainable patterns of individual and collective life will ... require not only new technologies, but also a new consciousness in human beings, including a new conception of ourselves and our place in the world."

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  • The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) tweets a passage from the BIC's official statement for COP21, titled "Shared Vision, Shared Volition: Choosing Our Global… »

  • IEF representative, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, left, speaks at COP21.

  • Representatives of the International Environment Forum in a panel discussion at COP21.

  • Arthur Dahl, president of the IEF and a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presents at COP21.

The International Environment Forum (IEF), a Baha'i-inspired organization, also participated in the event. Both the BIC and the IEF organized, co-sponsored, or participated in a number of side events to COP21.

Arthur Dahl, president of the IEF and a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said, "the IEF sought to broaden the discussion of climate change beyond the science and technological solutions to include the values-based social transformation that will be fundamental to implementing the Paris Agreement.

"It supported this with practical examples of the learning in Baha'i communities, as in Vanuatu and Malaysia after natural disasters, and in Baha'i-inspired courses on climate change, as well as in research on values-based learning to motivate sustainable lifestyles and on mechanisms of accountability in international governance."

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