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THE EARTH CHARTER

March 2000



PREAMBLE



We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time

when humanity must choose its future. As the world

becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future

at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward

we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity

of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one

Earth community with a common destiny. We must join

together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded

on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic

justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is

imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our

responsibility to one another, to the greater community of

life, and to future generations.



Earth, Our Home

Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home,

is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature

make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but

Earth has provided the conditions essential to life's evolution.

The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of

humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with

all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and

animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global

environment with its finite resources is a common concern of

all peoples. The protection of Earth's vitality, diversity, and

beauty is a sacred trust.



The Global Situation

The dominant patterns of production and consumption are

causing environmental devastation, the depletion of

resources, and a massive extinction of species.

Communities are being undermined. The benefits of

development are not shared equitably and the gap between

rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and

violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great

suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has

overburdened ecological and social systems. The

foundations of global security are threatened. These trends

are perilous--but not inevitable.



The Challenges Ahead

The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth

and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the

diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our

values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that

when basic needs have been met, human development is

primarily about being more, not having more. We have the

knowledge and technology to provide for all and to reduce our

impacts on the environment. The emergence of a global civil

society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic

and humane world. Our environmental, economic, political,

social, and spiritual challenges are interconnected, and

together we can forge inclusive solutions.



Universal Responsibility

To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a

sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with

the whole Earth community as well as our local

communities. We are at once citizens of different nations

and of one world in which the local and global are linked.

Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future

well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The

spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is

strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of

being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the

human place in nature.



We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide

an ethical foundation for the emerging world community.

Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following

interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a

common standard by which the conduct of all individuals,

organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational

institutions is to be guided and assessed.





PRINCIPLES



I. RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE



1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.



a.Recognize that all beings are interdependent and

every form of life has value regardless of its worth to

human beings.

b.Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings

and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual

potential of humanity.



2. Care for the community of life with understanding,

compassion, and love.



a.Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use

natural resources comes the duty to prevent

environmental harm and to protect the rights of

people.

b.Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and

power comes increased responsibility to promote the

common good.



3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory,

sustainable, and peaceful.



a.Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee

human rights and fundamental freedoms and provide

everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full

potential.

b.Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to

achieve a secure and meaningful livelihood that is

ecologically responsible.



4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and

future generations.



a.Recognize that the freedom of action of each

generation is qualified by the needs of future

generations.

b.Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and

institutions that support the long-term flourishing of

Earth's human and ecological communities.



In order to fulfill these four broad commitments, it is

necessary to:



II. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY



5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological

systems, with special concern for biological diversity and

the natural processes that sustain life.



a.Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and

regulations that make environmental conservation and

rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.

b.Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere

reserves, including wild lands and marine areas, to

protect Earth's life support systems, maintain

biodiversity, and preserve our natural heritage.

c.Promote the recovery of endangered species and

ecosystems.

d.Control and eradicate non-native or genetically

modified organisms harmful to native species and the

environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful

organisms.

e.Manage the use of renewable resources such as

water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways

that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that

protect the health of ecosystems.

f.Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable

resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways

that minimize depletion and cause no serious

environmental damage.



6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental

protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a

precautionary approach.



a.Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or

irreversible environmental harm even when scientific

knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.

b.Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a

proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and

make the responsible parties liable for environmental

harm.

c.Ensure that decision making addresses the

cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and

global consequences of human activities.

d.Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and

allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other

hazardous substances.

e.Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.



7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and

reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative

capacities, human rights, and community well-being.



a.Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in

production and consumption systems, and ensure

that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological

systems.

b.Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy,

and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources

such as solar and wind.

c.Promote the development, adoption, and equitable

transfer of environmentally sound technologies.

d.Internalize the full environmental and social costs of

goods and services in the selling price, and enable

consumers to identify products that meet the highest

social and environmental standards.

e.Ensure universal access to health care that fosters

reproductive health and responsible reproduction.

f.Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and

material sufficiency in a finite world.



8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and

promote the open exchange and wide application of the

knowledge acquired.



a.Support international scientific and technical

cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to

the needs of developing nations.

b.Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and

spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to

environmental protection and human well-being.

c.Ensure that information of vital importance to human

health and environmental protection, including genetic

information, remains available in the public domain.



III. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE



9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and

environmental imperative.



a.Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food

security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe

sanitation, allocating the national and international

resources required.

b.Empower every human being with the education and

resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and

provide social security and safety nets for those who

are unable to support themselves.

c.Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve

those who suffer, and enable them to develop their

capacities and to pursue their aspirations.



10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all

levels promote human development in an equitable and

sustainable manner.



a.Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within

nations and among nations.

b.Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and

social resources of developing nations, and relieve

them of onerous international debt.

c.Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource

use, environmental protection, and progressive labor

standards.

d.Require multinational corporations and international

financial organizations to act transparently in the

public good, and hold them accountable for the

consequences of their activities.



11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to

sustainable development and ensure universal access to

education, health care, and economic opportunity.



a.Secure the human rights of women and girls and end

all violence against them.

b.Promote the active participation of women in all

aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and

cultural life as full and equal partners, decision

makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.

c.Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving

nurture of all family members.



12. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a

natural and social environment supportive of human

dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with

special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and

minorities.



a.Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that

based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion,

language, and national, ethnic or social origin.

b.Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their

spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to

their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.

c.Honor and support the young people of our

communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential

role in creating sustainable societies.

d.Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and

spiritual significance.



IV. DEMOCRACY, NONVIOLENCE, AND

PEACE



13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and

provide transparency and accountability in governance,

inclusive participation in decision making, and access to

justice.



a.Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and

timely information on environmental matters and all

development plans and activities which are likely to

affect them or in which they have an interest.

b.Support local, regional and global civil society, and

promote the meaningful participation of all interested

individuals and organizations in decision making.

c.Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression,

peaceful assembly, association, and dissent.

d.Institute effective and efficient access to

administrative and independent judicial procedures,

including remedies and redress for environmental

harm and the threat of such harm.

e.Eliminate corruption in all public and private

institutions.

f.Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care

for their environments, and assign environmental

responsibilities to the levels of government where they

can be carried out most effectively.



14. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning

the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a

sustainable way of life.



a.Provide all, especially children and youth, with

educational opportunities that empower them to

contribute actively to sustainable development.

b.Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities

as well as the sciences in sustainability education.

c.Enhance the role of the mass media in raising

awareness of ecological and social challenges.

d.Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual

education for sustainable living.



15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.



a.Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies

and protect them from suffering.

b.Protect wild animals from methods of hunting,

trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged,

or avoidable suffering.

c.Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the

taking or destruction of non-targeted species.



16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and

peace.



a.Encourage and support mutual understanding,

solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and

within and among nations.

b.Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent

violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving

to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and

other disputes.

c.Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a

non-provocative defense posture, and convert military

resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological

restoration.

d.Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and

other weapons of mass destruction.

e.Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space

supports environmental protection and peace.

f.Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by

right relationships with oneself, other persons, other

cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of

which all are a part.





THE WAY FORWARD



As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to

seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these

Earth Charter principles. To fulfill this promise, we must

commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and

objectives of the Charter.



This requires a change of mind and heart. It requires a new

sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility.

We must imaginatively develop and apply the vision of a

sustainable way of life locally, nationally, regionally, and

globally. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and

different cultures will find their own distinctive ways to realize

the vision. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue

that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn

from the ongoing collaborative search for truth and wisdom.



Life often involves tensions between important values. This

can mean difficult choices. However, we must find ways to

harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with

the common good, short-term objectives with long-term

goals. Every individual, family, organization, and community

has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions,

educational institutions, media, businesses,

nongovernmental organizations, and governments are all

called to offer creative leadership. The partnership of

government, civil society, and business is essential for

effective governance.



In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations

of the world must renew their commitment to the United

Nations, fulfill their obligations under existing international

agreements, and support the implementation of Earth Charter

principles with an international legally binding instrument on

environment and development.



Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new

reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability,

the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the

joyful celebration of life.


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