question increasingly is, can we awaken people to the urgency
of the global challenge we face, and mobilize the political will
to create a sustainable future before ecological and social disasters
make this impossible? The Earth Charter--a declaration of fundamental
principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global
society in the 21st century--helps to envision what the world
must become. Completed this year, the Earth Charter has emerged
as a potent force for change in the way we think about ourselves
and the Earth. It is useful not only as a guide to our governments,
institutions and communities, but as a learning tool in our schools
IS THE EARTH CHARTER?
The Earth Charter seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of
global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being
of the human family and the larger living world. It is an expression
of hope and a call to form a global partnership at a critical
juncture in history. The Earth Charter's inclusive ethical vision
recognizes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable
human development and peace are interdependent and indivisible.
It provides a new framework for thinking about and addressing
these issues, and a very broad conception of what constitutes
drafting of an Earth Charter was part of the unfinished business
of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. In 1994 Maurice Strong, Secretary
General of the Earth Summit and Chairman of the Earth Council,
and Mikhail Gorbachev, the President of Green Cross International,
launched a new Earth Charter initiative in The Hague with support
from the Dutch government. An Earth Charter Commission was formed
in 1997 to oversee the project, and an Earth Charter Secretariat
was established at the Earth Council in Costa Rica.
Earth Charter Initiative has involved the most open and participatory
consultation process ever conducted in connection with the drafting
of an international document. Thousands of individuals and hundreds
of organizations from all regions of the world, different cultures
and diverse sectors of society have participated. The Charter
has been shaped by experts, government and civil society leaders,
students, and representatives from indigenous groups and grassroots
communities. It is an important expression of the hopes and aspirations
of the emerging global society. It is part of a growing worldwide
people's movement pursuing major challenges in our values and
institutions in order to ensure a better future for all.
here to read the text of the Earth Charter.
final version of the document was released by the Earth Charter
Commission in March 2000. A new phase of the Earth Charter Initiative
has begun, which involves circulation of the document as a people's
treaty throughout the world in an effort to promote awareness
and commitment to a sustainable way of life.
OF THE EARTH CHARTER INITIATIVE
The mission of the Earth Charter Initiative is to promote a global
partnership 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 the Earth Charter provides
an integrated ethical vision of shared values that serves as a
common standard by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations,
business, governments and transnational institutions is to be
guided and assessed.
OF THE EARTH CHARTER INITIATIVE
Disseminate the Earth Charter and related materials to leaders
and organizations in civil society, business and governments
throughout the world.
the use of the Earth Charter as an educational tool.
broad endorsement and implementation of the Earth Charter.
endorsement of the Earth Charter by the United Nations General
Assembly in the year 2002.
USES OF THE EARTH CHARTER
as an educational tool in schools, universities, faith communities,
businesses, and other organizations. Discussion of the Earth
Charter can heighten awareness of the basic challenges and choices
that face humanity. It can help people learn to think globally
and holistically, and to understand the fundamental commitments
that sustainable development entails. It can serve as a catalyst
for cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue on shared values
and global ethics.
as a call to action and guide to a sustainable way of life that
inspires hope, commitment, a sense of global citizenship, and
a spirit of cooperation.
as a values framework for sustainable development plans at all
levels and for preparing professional codes of conduct.
as a soft law instrument that provides an ethical foundation
for the ongoing development of environmental and sustainable
as an instrument for promoting accountability and assessing
progress towards sustainability in businesses, communities,
nations and the world at large.
Earth Charter Initiative is inviting many groups and organizations
in civil society, business and government to consider how the
Earth Charter is relevant to their activities and how they can
implement Earth Charter principles. Endorsement of the Earth Charter
is under consideration in a number of international organizations,
such as World Conservation Union. Various organizations have already
publicly endorsed the Earth Charter, such as the Sierra Club,
Green Cross International and the International Council for Local
the next two years, the Earth Charter Initiative shall pursue
a set of strategic projects, which were launched at the Peace
Palace in The Hague, Netherlands on June 29, 2000. These focus
on: Education; Religion and Spirituality; Business and Professional
Accountability; Peace Initiatives; Youth; Indigenous Peoples;
and Government. This article focuses on the Education project.
EARTH CHARTER EDUCATION PROJECT
Conducted by ULSF, the Earth Council and other organizations,
this project will develop and disseminate a range of educational
materials for all ages to promote understanding of the global
challenges we face, the values and principles contained in the
Earth Charter, and how the Earth Charter can be used to help bring
about the transformations necessary to attain a more sustainable
way of living. The goals of the Education Project include the
development and dissemination of the following:
Background resource material, including:
Briefing book that provides basic background on the history,
objectives, leaders, sponsors and projects of the Earth Charter
initiative for the general public, organizations, and the
Video showing the goals, importance, people and projects involved
in the Earth Charter initiative.
Book of essays on the legal, scientific, ethical, religious
and other foundations of the Earth Charter. The authors will
reflect diverse cultural perspectives and represent key sectors.
It will include a comprehensive bibliography on sources.
Commentary on the Earth Charter that details the sources of
the values and principles, the dialogue surrounding the consultation
process, and a comparison with existing international agreements
Compendium of interviews have been undertaken and are being
processed for publication. The theme is on Global Proposals
for the Third Millennium. These will bring together the views
of key leaders with regards to the Earth Charter Initiative
and related movements.
bibliography that students can use to research the Earth Charter
and related materials through the Earth Charter website.
Curriculum material, classroom work sheets, and teacher training
resources for primary and high school levels, and disseminate
these materials in partnership with education organizations.
This involves as a first step the production of an "Earth
Charter Resource Booklet for Education of Children."
Curricula for children and youth based on the Earth Charter
have already been developed and utilized in the public schools
of Costa Rica, Australia and Italy.
Resources for college level curriculum on the Earth Charter.
Utilize course materials developed by ULSF on this topic,
working with UNESCO and drawing upon material currently under
development by various education partners.
Earth Charter Facilitator's Kit, designed to assist individuals
and organizations to teach a class and conduct workshops,
or study groups on the Earth Charter.
We live in a world increasingly characterized by interdependence,
where the problems of poverty, environmental degradation, war,
injustice, social alienation, and spiritual crisis are intricately
interconnected. If we are to be successful in addressing these
critical problems, the human family must develop a sense of universal
responsibility, one that builds solidarity among people and a
sense of kinship with all life. The Earth Charter Initiative can
assist in awakening these values and providing a blueprint to
a compassionate and sustainable future for all life on earth.
For more information about the Earth Charter, the international
movement and national campaigns, please visit www.earthcharter.org.
For additional information on the Earth Charter Education Project,
please contact Steve L. Smith at 202-778-6133 or email@example.com.
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