September 21, 2011 —
Brisk breezes blowing inland from the lake at Camp Keowa within the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in Narrowsburg meshed magically with a performance of “Inuksuit,” featuring more than 30 musicians playing a variety of rhythm and sound instruments. The John Luther Adams piece is designed to be played outdoors to immerse listeners in a sensory experience of the natural world, combined with human-generated sounds.
It was performed last weekend as part of “For the Forest,” an event organized by Arts for Peace, a project of the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows, in association with the Electronic Music Foundation in support of the United Nations General Assembly declaration of 2011 as the International Year of Forests.
The event included a presentation by Professor Dean W. M. Leslie, president, Arts for Peace, who talked about the links between sustainable forests and development, poverty eradication and achieving the UN’s Milennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals ).
During his session, Leslie also highlighted key issues of the recent 64th Annual United Nations Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI NGO) conference, which took place in Bonn, Germany from September 3 through 5, gathering 1,300 participants from 65 countries.
The primary outcome of the conference is the draft declaration entitled “Sustainable Societies: Responsive Citizens” (www.earthsummit2012.org/other-pub  lications/draft-declaration-from-the-
The conference is considered a major stakeholder event contributing to two volunteer-focused sessions of the UN General Assembly scheduled for December 5 in New York. It also aims to inform the process for the Earth Summit, “Rio + 20,” the UN conference on sustainable development scheduled in Rio de Janeiro from June 4 through 6, 2012.
The DPI NGO Conference theme of “connecting the dots” looked at how volunteers and activists could have a greater impact on solving global problems. Leslie said that people need to realize that their local concerns are also global concerns and that citizens must tell elected officials what they want and need in order to create more sustainable communities.
The conference further explored the importance of developing local leadership, as well as the need for networking and partnerships.
Among the goals listed in the resulting declaration is the following: “We move for the adoption of an intergovernmental mechanism or instrument to assess the environmental, health and socio-economic impacts of new and emerging technologies, in line with the precautionary principle. We call for the outright ban on technologies that put the planet at grave risk.”
Leslie cited “geo-engineering and hydrofacking for natural gas” as examples of such technologies and urged citizens to make the UN aware of their concerns by sending letters and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org  in order to provide resources for upcoming discussions at the Rio + 20 conference.
“For the Forest” also featured a performance of Yoko Ono’s “Secret Piece,” a guided mushroom walk with Nathaniel Whitmore, fireside songs with Sima Cunningham and locally sourced foods prepared by Andrea Reynosa of SkyDog Projects and other volunteers. See additional photos on our website.