The Earth Charter


Richard Moore

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The Earth Charter


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 



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 

a. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental 
freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full 

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:


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 

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 

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 

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 

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 


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 

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 

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 

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 

a. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color,
sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social 

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 


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 

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 

15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

a. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from 

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 

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.


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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