The Earth Charter is designed as an ethical ‘blueprint’ – to offer a comprehensive and inspiring set of interdependent considerations, values and principles which individuals and organizations can use to become part of ‘a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace’.
The Earth Charter
The Earth Charter was first called for in the pages of the Brundtland Commission report, and a draft was first developed for consideration at the 1992 United Nations “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. The global Earth Charter Initiative was conceived in 1994 as a global civil society process, at the initiative of Maurice Strong (the Secretary-General of the Earth Summit), and Mikhail Gorbachev (president of Green Cross International and former President of the Soviet Union), with critical support from Jim McNeill (lead author of Our Common Future) and Ruud Lubbers (then Prime Minister of the Netherlands). The Earth Charter was formulated as an integrated set of the fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century.
Over the next seven years, consultations on the text of the Earth Charter engaged over 100,000 people in 47 countries. Over 5,000 experts from many disciplines, as well as individual citizens and students, submitted written comments. The process was governed by an independent, high-level Commission, and the final text of the Charter was agreed upon at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in April, 2000. The Charter was launched in 2000 at a special ceremony at the Peace Palace, The Hague. Over the next five years, the Earth Charter was formally endorsed by thousands of organizations and institutions, including the global assemblies of UNESCO and the IUCN – World Conservation Union.
Since its launch, thousands of individuals, companies, non-profit organisations and public agencies around the world have formally endorsed the Charter, and are using it in a variety of ways.
The Earth Charter’s key elements include:
- A clear and inspiring statement of shared challenges, values and principles developed through an open, global process of dialogue and consultation
- The process was governed by a distinguished and balanced group of civil society leaders
- The document is freely available for use by anyone or any organization concerned about the world’s problems and wanting to be part of the solution
- The Charter is widely accepted as an authoritative reference document for applications ranging from education to international law
- While not seeking to replace the many international conventions and declarations on human rights, the environment, and peace, the Earth Charter responds to a need for an accessible and authoritative summary of the underlying issues, principles and values. Importantly, it also stands as a kind of ‘people’s treaty’, enabling citizens from around the globe, and from many diverse cultural or sectoral backgrounds, to work together on a shared action agenda.
The text of the Charter and related information can be found at: