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Earth Charter

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Steven G. Gilbert
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Steven G. Gilbert


The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental values and principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Created by a global consultation process, it is endorsed by thousands of organizations representing millions of individuals. The Earth Charter seeks to inspire in all peoples a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The Earth Charter's inclusive ethical vision proposes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. The Earth Charter was developed over a period of five years from 1995 to 2000. Meetings were held on January 30-February 2, 1997, January 4-6, 1999, and January 24-26, 2000 outside New York City.
Read the Earth Charter.

General Principles

The Earth Charter urges environmental responsibility, peaceful coexistence, respect for life, democracy, and justice. It is organized into 16 general headings, each covering a general principle, as follows:

  1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
  2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion and love.
  3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable and peaceful.
  4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
  5. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
  6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
  7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth's regenerative capacities, human rights and community well being.
  8. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
  9. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.
  10. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
  11. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care and economic opportunity.
  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.
  13. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision-making, and access to justice.
  14. Integrate into formal education and lifelong learning the knowledge, values and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
  15. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
  16. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace.


  • The Earth Charter Initiative - "An extraordinarily diverse, global network of people, organizations, and institutions that participate in promoting and implementing the values and principles of the Earth Charter. The Initiative is a broad-based, voluntary, civil society effort." Site offers translations of the Charter, a virtual library, and numerous resources.
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