We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. (Earth Charter)
As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future immediately holds great peril and great promise.
To move forward we must recognize that amidst a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human and non-human animal family and one Earth community with a common destiny.
We must join to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human and non-human animal rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility for one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
The forces of nature demand a life of uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the essentials for life’s evolution.
To be resilient, life and well-being depend upon the maintenance of 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. Therefore, the protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
Any benefits are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor becomes wider and wider. Injustice, discrimination, prejudice, 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. However, whilst these trends are perilous, they are not inevitable.
We are citizens of different nations – but of one world in which the local and global are linked.
Everyone is responsible for the present and future well-being of both the human and non-human animal families.
The human spirit and kinship with all life strengthens when we revere its mystery and offer gratitude for the gift of life. We need to be modest in both the human and non-human animal places.
We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the world.
Therefore, together, in hope, we affirm interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common standard to guide and assess the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and transnational institutions.
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 and non-human animal 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. Promote and 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 life-long learning the knowledge, values, skills and creativity needed for a sustainable way of life
15. Treat all living beings with kindness, respect and consideration
16. Promote a culture of kindness, tolerance, nonviolence, compassion, and peace
Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To fulfil 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. As a result, 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.
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.
Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for all life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.
The document was developed over nearly a decade through an extensive process of international consultation, to which over five thousand people contributed.
The Charter has been formally endorsed by thousands of organizations, including UNESCO and the IUCN (World Conservation Union).