Published: 09/13/2006 - Updated: 04/20/2019
We are at a critical moment in Earth's history in which humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at a time is great promise and great risk. 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 unite to create a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace. On this view, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility towards each other, 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 to promote that there is a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the essential conditions for the evolution of life. The resilience of the community of life and 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 for all peoples. The protection of the vitality, diversity and beauty of the Earth is a sacred duty.
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, resource depletion and mass extinction of species. The communities are being destroyed. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance and violent conflicts occur everywhere and are 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 choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for the earth and watch one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions and ways of life. We must realize that once basic needs are met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. We have the knowledge and technology necessary to provide all and to reduce our impacts on the environment. The appearance of a global civil society is creating new opportunities to build a democratic and humane world. Our environmental challenges, economic, political, social and spiritual are intertwined and together we can propose and develop comprehensive solutions.
To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live under a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community, like with our local communities. We are citizens of different nations and of one world at the same time, in which the local and global, are closely linked. We all share a responsibility towards present and future welfare of the human family and the living world in its breadth. The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence before the mystery of being, with gratitude for the gift of life with humility and with respect to the place human beings in nature.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging global community. Therefore, together with a great hope, we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common ground through which they must guide and assess the conduct of persons, organizations, businesses, governments and transnational institutions.
1. Respecting Earth and life in all its diversity:
- Recognizing that all beings are interdependent and every form of life regardless of their utility value to humans.
- Affirming faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and the potential intellectual, artistic, ethical and spiritual development of mankind.
2. Caring for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love:
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- Accepting that the right to own, manage and use natural resources leads to a duty to prevent environmental damage and protect the rights of individuals.
- Affirming that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power, there is a responsibility to promote the common good.
3. Building democratic societies that are participatory, sustainable and peaceful:
- Recognizing that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
- Promoting social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a way of life safe and dignified, but environmentally responsible.
4. Ensuring that the fruits and the beauty of the Earth are preserved for present and future generations:
- Recognizing that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations.
- Beaming values, traditions and institutions to future generations that support long-term prosperity of the human and ecological communities on Earth.
- Carrying out these four broad commitments are necessary to:
5. Protecting and restoring the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and natural processes that sustain life:
- Adopting at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make include conservation and environmental restoration as an integral part of all development initiatives.
- Establishing and safeguarding viable nature reserves and biosphere, including wild lands and marine areas, so they tend to protect the support systems to life on Earth, to maintain biodiversity and preserve our natural heritage.
- Promoting the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
- Controlling and eradicating non-exogenous or genetically modified organisms that are harmful to native species and environment and also preventing the introduction of such harmful organisms.
- Managing the use of renewable resources such as water, land, forest products and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and protect the health of ecosystems.
- Managing the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in ways that minimize depletion and not to cause serious environmental damage.
6. Preventing harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, proceed with caution.
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- Taking action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
- Imposing respective tests and making the responsible parties to assume the consequences of repairing environmental damage, mainly to those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause any significant damage.
- Ensuring that decision making addresses the cumulative, Long-term, indirect, long distance and global consequences of human activities.
- Preventing pollution of any part of the environment and not allowing the accumulation of radioactive substances, toxic or other hazardous substances.
- Avoiding military activities harming the environment.
7. Adopting patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth regenerative capacities, human rights and community welfare.
- Reducing, reusing and recycling the materials used in production and consumption and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.
- Acting with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and to rely increasingly on renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.
- Promoting the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
- Internalizing the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price and allowing consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards.
- Ensuring universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.
- Adopting lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.
8. Advancing the study of ecological sustainability and promoting the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
- Supporting international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
- Recognizing and preserving the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human welfare.
- Ensuring sharing information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information is available in the public domain.
9. Eradicating poverty as an ethical, social and environmental.
- Ensuring the right to clean water, clean air, food security, land being not contaminated, shelter and safe sanitation, allocating national and international resources required.
- Empowering all people to education and the resources required to achieve sustainable living and provide social safety nets and support required for those who cannot stay alone them.
- Recognizing the ignored, protecting the vulnerable, serving those who suffer, and enable the development of their skills and pursue their aspirations.
10. Ensuring that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable way.
- Promoting the equitable distribution of wealth within and among nations. Intensifying the intellectual, financial, technical and social development of nations and relieve them of onerous international debt.
- Ensuring that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection and progressive labor standards.
- Involving and reporting to the multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public and hold responsibility for the consequences of their activities.
11. Affirming gender equality and equity as a prerequisite for sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.
- Securing the human rights of women and girls end all violence against them.
- Promoting the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civic, social and cultural life as full and equal partner in decision making, as leaders and as beneficiaries.
- Strengthening families and ensuring the safety and loving nurture of all its members.
12. Defending the right of everyone, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, physical health and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
- Eliminating discrimination in all its forms, such as those based on race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language and national origin, ethnic or social.
- Affirming the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
- Honoring and supporting the youth of our communities, enabling it to exercise its vital role in creating sustainable societies.
- Protecting and restoring outstanding places of significance culturally and spiritually.
13. Strengthening democratic institutions at all levels and providing transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making and access to justice.
- Supporting the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters, as on all development plans and activities that may affect or have an interest in that.
- Supporting local civil society, regional and global levels and promoting the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making.
- Protecting the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association and dissent.
- Establishing effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for damage environment and the threat of such damage.
- Eliminating corruption in all public and private institutions.
- Strengthening local communities, enabling them to care for their own environments, and assign environmental responsibility in those levels of government in which can be carried out more effectively.
14. Integrating into formal education and learning throughout life, skills, knowledge and values necessary for sustainable living.
- Providing all, especially children and youth, educational opportunities to enable them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
- Promoting the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as science, education on sustainability.
- Enhancing the role of the media mass communication in the awareness of the ecological and social challenges.
- Recognizing the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.
15. Treating all living beings with respect and consideration. Preventing cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protecting them from suffering.
- Protecting wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme suffering, prolonged, or avoidable.
- Avoiding or eliminating to the extent possible, the taking or destruction of species by simple fun, negligence or ignorance.
16. Promoting a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.
- Encouraging and supporting mutual understanding, solidarity and cooperation among peoples and within and among nations.
- Implementing comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.
- Demilitarizing national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture and military use for peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.
- Eliminating nuclear, biological and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
- Ensuring that the use of orbital and outer space support is committed to environmental protection and peace.
- Recognizing that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other people, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which we are part.
The Way Forward
As never before in history, common destiny calls us to seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these principles of the Earth Charter. To fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and objectives set out therein.
The process requires a change of mind and heart, also requires a new sense of global interdependence and universal responsibility. We must imaginatively develop and apply the vision of sustainable livelihoods at local, national, regional and global levels. Our cultural diversity is a precious heritage and different cultures find their own ways to realize the establishment. We must deepen and expand the global dialogue that generated the Earth Charter, for we have much to learn in collaborative search for truth and wisdom.
Life often involves tensions between important values. This can mean difficult choices, but we must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, the short-term goals with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organization and community has a vital role to play. The arts, sciences, religions, educational institutions, media, business, NGOs and governments are called to offer creative leadership. The partnership between governments, civil society and business, is essential for effective governance.
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 the principles of the Charter of the Earth, through an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.
Ours is a time to be remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, for a firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the acceleration in the fight for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life.
About the author
Those purposes that are explained here sound hard to achieve but are pretty simple if you consider doing them by yourself, maybe you get very good results and that is very good indeed, and this way you are helping and giving the example to follow, especially to children, who are the future right?
Wow. This is a superbly well thought out article, and I am very impressed to see it here in this forum. It was very well written, and yet, it still kind of makes me sad because it makes me realize how far away from all of this we really are. Changes are slow to happen, and people love their lifestyle of consumption.