Friday, July 20, 2007

Earth Charter news --- and publication available online

Toward a Sustainable World: The Earth Charter in Action was published in 2005 by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in the Netherlands. In addition to this book being sold around the world, it is also available as a download, chapter by chapter, at the Earth Charter website. Go to and scrol down to links to the individual chapters.

About the Earth Charter

"The Earth Charter is a widely recognized, global consensus statement on ethics and values for a sustainable future. It has been formally endorsed by over 2,400 organizations, including global institutions such as UNESCO and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). A short history:

The World Commission on Environment and Development (aka "the Brundtland Commission") called for "a universal declaration" and "new charter" to set "new norms" to guide the transition to sustainable development. (Our Common Future, 1987)

A draft UN Earth Charter was developed for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, but the time for such a declaration was not right. The Rio Declaration became the statement of the achievable consensus at that time.

In 1994, Maurice Strong (Secretary-General of the Rio Summit) and Mikhail Gorbachev, working through their organizations (Earth Council and Green Cross International respectively), restarted the Earth Charter as a civil society initiative. The initial drafting and consultation process drew on hundreds of international documents.

Messrs. Strong and Gorbachev convened an independent Earth Charter Commission in 1997 to oversee the final development of the text and to come to agreement on a global consensus document.

After numerous drafts and after considering the input of over 5,000 people, the Earth Charter Commission came to consensus on the Earth Charter in March, 2000, at a meeting held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The Earth Charter was later formally launched in ceremonies at The Peace Palace in The Hague.

Over the next five years, a formal endorsement campaign attracted over 2,000 organizational endorsements, representing millions of people, including numerous national and international associations, and ultimately global institutions such as UNESCO and IUCN. Many thousands of individuals also endorsed the Earth Charter.

Efforts to have the Earth Charter formally recognized at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2002, came very close to success, resulting in numerous public statements of support from world leaders and heads of state.
The Earth Charter is now increasingly recognized as a global consensus statement on the meaning of sustainability, the challenge and vision of sustainable development, and the principles by which sustainable development is to be achieved. It is used as a basis for peace negotiations, as a reference document in the development of global standards and codes of ethics, as resource for governance and legislative processes, as a community development tool, as an educational framework for sustainable development, and in many other contexts. The Charter was also an important influence on the Plan of Implementation for the UNESCO Decade for Education on Sustainable Development." (see this at the original site, at ).

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