* The Earth Charter *


Richard Moore


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 assessed.



  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
    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
  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
    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 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
    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
    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.


  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
    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
    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.


  13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and
    provide transparency and accountability in governance,
    inclusive participation in decision making, and access to
    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
    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
    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
    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
    a. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity,
    and cooperation among all peoples and within and among
    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
    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


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

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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All content © 2003 Earth Charter USA Campaign. All design
© 2003 Electroglyph. All rights reserved.



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