ebbf acting on the SDGs

Why is EBBF involved?

The 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals

At a Summit at the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people everywhere.

The ebbf Governing Board considers that the new UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be an important inspiration for ebbf. Many of the goals that governments have adopted are aligned with ebbf’s own values. A new section of the ebbf web site includes relevant materials, including a list of SDG targets relevant to business, and a selection of Baha’i texts relevant to each of the SDGs.

The SDGs are also an opportunity for partnerships with many like-minded groups and individuals. The 2030 Agenda involves governments as well as parliaments, the UN system and other international institutions, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, business and the private sector, the scientific and academic community, and all people. All of us can take up this agenda and contribute to its implementation. Many organizations with whom ebbf partners such as AIESEC are already mobilizing around the SDGs.

The United Nations may seem far removed from our local actions in our work places and communities, yet the 2030 Agenda is a call for justice for everyone, leaving no one behind. We need to look at the global goals and aspirations as if they were addressed to each of us, and to our enterprises and local communities, and to ask what we can do to reach them at our own level. You can find here further information, and share your ideas and local activities with the ebbf teams and the Governing Board, writing to sdg@ebbf.org

How can you get involved?

Get started now with one of the options that the ebbf board highlighted listed below and then attend the summary event of the ebbf SDG initiative taking place at the next ebbf annual international event taking place in Geneva from the 4th to the 7th of May 2017

See ebbf beyond diversity – annual conference link here

Interested?

Write to the ebbf SDGs Team coordinated by Arthur Dahl to find out more about getting involved: sdg@ebbf.org


Examples of actions you can take

(a) Showcase how ebbf ground work is helping a new world civilisation to emerge, in sync with Agenda 2030

* Offer a lecture and/or prepare a statement on how ebbf efforts are connected in multiple ways and levels, how efforts are in sync with the rest of the world which is through positive development efforts like Agenda 2030 changing the world, and how one can fulfil the two-fold moral purpose of every human being

* Communication campaign around applying spiritual principles and its connection with Agenda 2030

(b) Offer ebbf as platform for people inspired by Agenda 2030 to work towards global goals using spiritual principles of ebbf

* Prepare a package of materials how to run a local event for youth and young professionals about necessity of having deeper, spiritual solutions, and how in practice world changes, and how doing that is helping end goals of Agenda 2030 to fulfil

* Create a separate page for Agenda 2030 and ebbf, to grab people who are willing to promote Agenda 2030 vision but are searching for more profound spiritual solutions, and not just those solutions everyone else is offering (already implemented!)

* Create video interviews of people who have pledged their time and effort and let them explain how they are, in practice, helping bring about change

* Help to build a community of people, who with sense of belongingness share the passion to do something, who go ahead and do things already, and help them to see themselves as both ebbf members and as active promoters of Agenda 2030

* Prepare a slide show to give a talk in a collaborative university and business setting how Agenda 2030 is bringing purpose and direction of travel for students to leave a mark and businesses to create meaningful mission and workplaces where individual purpose syncs with business goals.

For more information, contact the ebbf SDGs Team at: sdg@ebbf.org

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1: PovertyEnd poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: FoodEnd hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: HealthEnsure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: EducationEnsure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: WomenAchieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: WaterEnsure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: EnergyEnsure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy for al
Goal 8: EconomyPromote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9: InfrastructureBuild resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: InequalityReduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: HabitationMake cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: ConsumptionEnsure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: ClimateTake urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: Marine-ecosystemsConserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: EcosystemsProtect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: InstitutionsPromote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: SustainabilityStrengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Further Orientation on Connecting Spiritual Principles with the 2030 Agenda

Below you can find spiritual guidance helping us define some of the following areas:

. connecting worship and meaningful service

. translating spiritual truths into business language and action

. applying spiritual principles to create specific solutions and to develop a better society

. mirroring spiritual qualities in one’s life

. ebbf assisting in the creation of ‘communities of practice’

. ebbf’s sustained and values-based way as an approach to the 2030 Agenda

. being inclusive and increasing desire in those around us to serve others

. at the heart of ebbf there is action: taking constructive, principled action

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As a Baha’i-inspired organization, ebbf often turns to Baha’i International Community statements and Baha’i writings for ethical inspiration. The following compilation includes some texts relevant to each of the 17 SDGs.

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Poverty can be described as the absence of those ethical, social and material resources needed to develop the moral, intellectual and social capacities of individuals, communities and institutions…. The goal at hand is not only to remove the ills of poverty but to engage the masses of humanity in the construction of a just global order. (Bahá’í International Community, Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One, 2008)

The technologies and resources exist to meet the basic needs of humanity and to eliminate poverty. Equity in the use of these technologies and resources, however, will come about only with certain understandings and commitments. While individuals must do their utmost to provide for themselves and their dependents, the community must accept responsibility, when necessary, to help meet basic needs. (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

The economics of food production and distribution will have to be reoriented and the critical role of the farmer in food and economic security properly valued. (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Food production and agriculture is the world’s single largest source of employment…. Agriculture still represents the fundamental basis of economic and community life: malnourishment and food insecurity suffocate all attempts at development and progress…. The farmer must be accorded his or her rightful place in the processes of development and civilization building: as the villages are reconstructed, the cities will follow. (Bahá’í International Community, Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One, 2008)

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

With regard to health – the physical, spiritual, mental and social well-being of the individual – access to clean water, shelter, and some form of cheap energy would go a long way toward eradicating the problems that currently plague vast numbers of individuals and communities. (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

Education must be lifelong. It should help people to develop the knowledge, values, attitudes and skills necessary to earn a livelihood and to contribute confidently and constructively to shaping communities that reflect principles of justice, equity and unity. It should also help the individual develop a sense of place and community, grounded in the local, but embracing the whole world. Successful education will cultivate virtue as the foundation for personal and collective well-being, and will nurture in individuals a deep sense of service and an active commitment to the welfare of their families, their communities, their countries, indeed, all mankind. (Bahá’í International Community. Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

One of the most pervasive social challenges besetting communities around the world is the marginalization of girls and women…. Their responsibilities in families, in communities, as farmers and as stewards of natural resources make them uniquely positioned to develop strategies for adapting to changing environmental conditions. Women’s distinct knowledge and needs complement those of men, and must be duly considered in all arenas of community decision-making. (Bahá’í International Community, Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the challenge of climate change, 2008)

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Wash ye every soiled thing with water that hath undergone no alteration…. Be ye the very essence of cleanliness amongst mankind.
Immerse yourselves in clean water; it is not permissible to bathe yourselves in water that hath already been used. (Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas)

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

A world federal system… bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet… (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203-204)

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Society must develop new economic models… furthering a dynamic, just and thriving social order. Such economic systems will be strongly altruistic and cooperative in nature; they will provide meaningful employment and will help to eradicate poverty in the world. (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

The owners of properties, mines and factories should share their incomes with their employees and give a fairly certain percentage of their products to their workingmen in order that the employees may receive, beside their wages, some of the general income of the factory (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 43-44)

The dominant model of development depends on a society of vigorous consumers of material goods…. This preoccupation with the production and accumulation of material objects and comforts… has consolidated itself in the structures of power and information to the exclusion of competing voices and paradigms. The unfettered cultivation of needs and wants has led to a system fully dependent on excessive consumption for a privileged few, while reinforcing exclusion, poverty and inequality, for the majority. (Bahá’í International Community, Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism, 2010)

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

All too many of these ideologies…callously abandon starving millions to the operations of a market system that all too clearly is aggravating the plight of the majority of mankind, while enabling small sections to live in a condition of affluence scarcely dreamed of by our forebears…. Why is the vast majority of the world’s peoples sinking ever deeper into hunger and wretchedness when wealth on a scale undreamed of… is at the disposal of the present arbiters of human affairs? (Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, 1985, I, p. 6-7)

It is the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few that is in urgent need of attention. (Bahá’í International Community, Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One, 2008)

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Our challenge… is to redesign and develop our communities around those universal principles — including love, honesty, moderation, humility, hospitality, justice and unity — which promote social cohesion, and without which no community, no matter how economically prosperous, intellectually endowed or technologically advanced, can long endure. (Bahá’í International Community. Sustainable Communities in an Integrating World, 1996)

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Take from this world only to the measure of your needs, and forego that which exceedeth them. (Bahá’u’lláh, Súriy-i-Mulúk §19, in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 193)

Sustainable production is not simply about ‘greener’ technology but rather, should involve systems that enable all human beings to contribute to the productive process. In such a system, all are producers, and all have the opportunity to earn (or receive, if unable to earn) enough to meet their needs. The concept of justice is embodied in the recognition that the interests of the individual and of the wider community are inextricably linked….
Ultimately, the transformation required to shift towards sustainable consumption and production will entail no less than an organic change in the structure of society itself so as to reflect fully the interdependence of the entire social body—as well as the interconnectedness with the natural world that sustains it. (Bahá’í International Community, Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism, 2010)

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Much has been said about the need for cooperation to solve a climate challenge that no nation or community can solve alone. The principle of the oneness of humankind… seeks to… anchor the aspirations of individuals, communities and nations to those of the progress of humanity…. As children, women, men, religious and scientific communities as well as governments and international institutions converge on this reality, we will do more than achieve a collective response to the climate change crisis. We will usher in a new paradigm by means of which we can understand our purpose and responsibilities in an interconnected world…. (Bahá’í International Community, Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the challenge of climate change, 2008)

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources…. A world legislature… will… ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations…. The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 203-204)

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

In light of the interdependence of all parts of nature, and the importance of evolution and diversity “to the beauty, efficiency and perfection of the whole,” every effort should be made to preserve as much as possible the earth’s bio-diversity and natural order.
As trustees, or stewards, of the planet’s vast resources and biological diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth’s natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. (Bahá’í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development, 1998)

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development: Finance, Technology, Capacity-building, Trade, Systemic issues: Policy and institutional coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships; data, monitoring and accountability

The pathway to sustainability will be one of empowerment, collaboration and continual processes of questioning, learning and action in all regions of the world. It will be shaped by the experiences of women, men, children, the rich, the poor, the governors and the governed as each one is enabled to play their rightful role in the construction of a new society. As the sweeping tides of consumerism, unfettered consumption, extreme poverty and marginalization recede, they will reveal the human capacities for justice, reciprocity and happiness. (Bahá’í International Community, Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism, 2010

Connecting worship and meaningful service, and starting to see cohesion between being an active ebbf member, learning how to apply spiritual principles in daily life in the field of business, of being of service to others, work as form of service, and participation on global exercises and transformation:

However, the real transformative power of the Faith is likely to be perceived more readily still if people experience how worship and meaningful service are being woven into the fabric of the lives of Bahá’ís everywhere. Indeed, from the community-building activities of the Five Year Plan emerges a pattern of collective life within which anyone can discern the vivifying influence of the divine teachings brought by God’s Manifestations. 

UHJ 18 May 2016

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By definition, ebbf is taking part in the above-mentioned processes, by translating spiritual truths into business language and action. The 2030 Agenda is giving a headline to the activities we already inherently do:

The signs of their progress are more and more apparent: […]

in the now familiar dynamic of study, consultation, action, and reflection that has cultivated an instinctive posture of learning; in the mounting appreciation for what it means to give effect to the Teachings through social action; in the multiplying opportunities being sought and seized to offer a Baha’i perspective on discourses prevalent in society; in the awareness of a global community that, in all its endeavours, it is hastening the emergence of divine civilization by manifesting the society-building power inherent in the Cause; indeed, in the friends’ growing consciousness that their efforts to foster inner transformation, to widen the circle of unity, to collaborate with others in the field of service, to help populations take charge of their own spiritual, social, and economic development—and, through all such efforts, to bring about the betterment of the world—express the very purpose of religion itself. 

UHJ Ridvan 2016

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The 2030 Agenda is a platform to practice how to apply spiritual principles not only to solve problems, but to bring about positive development within society:

On occasion, the efforts of the friends can be greatly reinforced through the work of an established Bahá’í-inspired organization functioning in the vicinity. However humble an instance of social action might be at the beginning, it is an indication of a people cultivating within themselves a critical capacity, one that holds infinite potential and significance for the centuries ahead: learning how to apply the Revelation to the manifold dimensions of social existence. All such initiatives also serve to enrich participation, at an individual and collective level, in prevalent discourses of the wider community. As expected, the friends are being drawn further into the life of society—a development which is inherent in the pattern of action in a cluster from the very start, but which is now much more pronounced.

UHJ 29 December 2015

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Mirroring forth spiritual qualities in one’s life is crucial element in betterment of society – in fact, exploring those spiritual themes is absolutely necessary:

Experience suggests that a discussion about contributing to the betterment of society fails to tap the deepest springs of motivation if it excludes exploration of spiritual themes. The importance of “doing”, of arising to serve and to accompany fellow souls, must be harmonized with the notion of “being”, of increasing one’s understanding of the divine teachings and mirroring forth spiritual qualities in one’s life. And so it is that, having been introduced to the vision of the Faith for humanity and the exalted character of its mission, the youth naturally feel a desire to be of service, a desire to which training institutes swiftly respond. Indeed, releasing the capacity of the youth is, for each training institute, a sacred charge. Yet fostering that capacity as it develops is a responsibility of every institution of the Cause. The readiness youth demonstrate to take initiative, whatever lines of action they choose, can obscure the fact that they need sustained support from institutions and agencies in the cluster beyond the early steps. 

UHJ 29 December 2015

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ebbf can assist in creating a ‘community of practice’:

The link between religious conviction and service to the common good, however, is by no means automatic. It is entirely possible, for example, to have a congregation of noble-thinking and well-intentioned adherents whose actions do little to contribute to the betterment of society. Clearly there is much to learn about how noble ideals become expressed in committed, sustained action. In this sense, religious communities can be understood as communities of practice in which spiritual teachings are translated into social reality. Within them, a process of capacity building that enables people of all backgrounds to participate in the transformation of society — and protects and nurtures them — can be set in motion. How this process unfolds in different contexts and diverse environments promises to be an area of rich exploration in the coming years. 

BIC, Summoning our common will

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By building on spiritual principles, ebbf can offer a more comprehensive, sustained and values-based way to bring about the transformation called for in the 2030 Agenda. As an ebbf member, one is contributing to these processes profoundly:

The challenges addressed in the SDGs will require many technical and technological approaches. But lasting, sustainable progress will also require solutions which are consonant with the spiritual nature of human beings. Addressing the age-old malady of poverty might well require the redistribution of financial assets, the refinement of systems of taxation, and similar measures. But at a deeper level, eradicating poverty will require the construction of a global civilization characterized by generosity, solidarity, compassion, equity and a sustainable relationship of human beings with their environment. Corruption will ultimately be eradicated not solely by penal codes or sophisticated tracking systems, but by the establishment of a society in which honesty and trustworthiness are socially expected moral norms. And great indeed is the responsibility of religious communities to put these positive values — their values — into practice. It is incumbent on every person of insight and understanding, the Bahá’í Writings state, “to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.” The world’s great religious teachers have each sought to promote human well-being and honour and to advance civilization. In this sense, religion, as a dynamic system of knowledge and action, fulfils an essential purpose: expanding the bonds of unity among the people of the world and transforming their inner character and outer life. 

BIC, Summoning our common will

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Our purpose is to include everybody in an immediate, community network to increase each individual’s desire to be of tangible service to others.

Working in the neighbourhood or village setting, its participants strive to create an environment conducive to the empowerment of individuals who will come to see themselves as active agents of their own learning and protagonists of a constant effort to apply knowledge to effect individual and collective transformation. Those involved gradually build capacity to engage in purposeful discussion with people they come in contact with in daily life — neighbours, parents from their children’s schools, shopkeepers, students — about the spiritual and material conditions of their communities. Crucially, service is the organizing principle of this process. The desired outcome is not for participants to simply learn things, but rather to build their capacity and increase their desire to be of tangible service to others. 

BIC, Summoning our common will

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At the heart of ebbf there is action: taking constructive, principled action.

More broadly, the efforts of the Bahá’í community are intended to build capacity in individuals and institutions for selfless service to others and contribution to the common good. They help participants to analyse and understand the constructive and destructive forces operating in society, to recognise the influence these forces exert on their thoughts and actions, and to take constructive, principled action in response.

BIC, Summoning our common will

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