Charter Benchmark Draft
Council and Green
Cross International conceived this document in 1994 as "a short,
uplifting, inspirational document that is a timeless expression of a bold
new global ethic." Numerous consultations
and revisions led to this draft, presented at the Rio+5 Forum, 18
March 97. It is hoped that a final version can be approved by the United
Nations General Assembly by the year 2000.
Earth is our home and home to all living beings. Earth itself is alive.
We are part of an evolving universe. Human beings are members of an
interdependent community of life with a magnificent diversity of life
forms and cultures. We are humbled before the beauty of Earth and share a
reverence for life and the sources of our being. We give thanks for the
heritage that we have received from past generations and embrace our
responsibilities to present and future generations.
The Earth Community stands at a defining moment. The biosphere is
governed by laws that we ignore at our own peril. Human beings have
acquired the ability to radically alter the environment and evolutionary
processes. Lack of foresight and misuse of knowledge and power threaten
the fabric of life and the foundations of local and global security. There
is great violence, poverty, and suffering in our world. A fundamental
change of course is needed.
The choice is before us: to care for Earth or to participate in the
destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. We must reinvent
industrial- technological civilization, finding new ways to balance self
and community, having and being, diversity and unity, short-term and
long-term, using and nurturing.
In the midst of all our diversity, we are one humanity and one Earth
family with a shared destiny. The challenges before us require an
inclusive ethical vision. Partnerships must be forged and cooperation
fostered at local, bioregional, national and international levels. In
solidarity with one another and the community of life, we the peoples of
the world commit ourselves to action guided by the following interrelated
1. Respect Earth and all life. Earth, each life form, and all living
beings possess intrinsic value and warrant respect independently of
their utilitarian value to humanity.
2. Care for Earth, protecting and restoring the diversity,
integrity, and beauty of the planet's ecosystems. Where there is risk
of irreversible or serious damage to the environment, pre- cautionary
action must be taken to prevent harm.
3. Live sustainably, promoting and adopting modes of consumption,
production and reproduction that respect and safeguard human rights
and the regenerative capacities of Earth.
4. Establish justice, and defend without discrimination the right of
all people to life, liberty, and security of person within an
environment adequate for human health and spiritual well-being. People
have a right to potable water, clean air, uncontaminated soil, and
5. Share equitably the benefits of natural resource use and a
healthy environment among the nations, between rich and poor, between
males and females, between present and future generations, and
internalize all environmental, social and economic costs.
6. Promote social development and financial systems that create and
maintain sustainable livelihoods, eradicate poverty, and strengthen
7. Practice non-violence, recognizing that peace is the wholeness
created by harmonious and balance relationships with oneself, other
persons, other life forms, and Earth.
8. Strengthen processes that empower people to participate
effectively in decision-making and ensure transparency and
accountability in governance and administration in all sectors of
9. Reaffirm that Indigenous and Tribal Peoples have a vital role in
the care and protection of Mother Earth. They have the right to retain
their spirituality, knowledge, lands, territories and resources.
10. Affirm that gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable
11. Secure the right to sexual and reproductive health, with special
concern for women and girls.
12. Promote the participation of youth as accountable agents of
change for local, bioregional and global sustainability.
13. Advance and put to use scientific and other types of knowledge
and technologies that promote sustainable living and protect the
14. Ensure that people throughout their lives have opportunities to
acquire the knowledge, values, and practical skills needed to build
15. Treat all creatures with compassion and protect them from
cruelty and wanton destruction.
16. Do not do to the environment of others what you do not want done
to your environment.
17. Protect and restore places of outstanding ecological, cultural,
aesthetic, spiritual, and scientific significance.
18. Cultivate and act with a sense of shared responsibility for the
well-being of the Earth Community. Every person, institutions and
government has a duty to advance the indivisible goals of justice for
all, sustainability, world peace, and respect and care for the larger
community of life.
Embracing the values in this Charter, we can grow into a family of
cultures that allows the potential of all persons to unfold in harmony
with the Earth Community. We must preserve a strong faith in the
possibilities of the human spirit and a deep sense of belonging to the
universe. Our best actions will embody the integration of knowledge with
compassion.* * *
In order to develop and implement the principles in this Charter, the
nations of the world should adopt as a first step an international
convention that provides an integrated legal framework for existing and
future environmental and sustainable development law and policy.
For more information, see the new Earth
Charter website, which also provides the text of the Earth Charter in 30