The Earth Charter is an international declaration of fundamental values and principles considered useful by its supporters for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. Created by a global consultation process, and endorsed by organizations representing millions of people, the Charter "seeks to inspire in all peoples a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family, the greater community of life, and future generations."It calls upon humanity to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history. The Earth Charter's ethical vision proposes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. The Charter attempts to provide a new framework for thinking about and addressing these issues. The Earth Charter Initiative organization exists to promote the Charter.
The idea of the Earth Charter originated in 1987, by Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev as members of The Club of Rome, when the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development called for a new charter to guide the transition to sustainable development. In 1992, the need for a charter was urged by then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, but the time for such a declaration was not believed to be right. The Rio Declaration became the statement of the achievable consensus at that time. In 1994, Maurice Strong (Chairman of the Earth Summit) and Mikhail Gorbachev, working through organizations they each founded (the Earth Council and Green Cross International respectively), restarted the Earth Charter as a civil society initiative, with the help of the government of the Netherlands.
Strong died in November 2015.
"The Ark of Hopewas created for a celebration of the Earth Charter held at Shelburne Farms, Vermont on September 9, 2001."
The drafting of the text was done during a six-year worldwide consultation process (1994–2000), overseen by the independent Earth Charter Commission, which was convened by Strong and Gorbachev with the purpose of developing a global consensus on values and principles for a sustainable future. The Commission continues to serve as the steward of the Earth Charter text.
One of the members of the Earth Charter Commission and Steering Committee was Steven Clark Rockefeller, who, among other things is professor emeritus of Religion at Middlebury College and an advisory trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.According to a 2001 interview with Rockefeller, he "chaired the Earth Charter international drafting committee". Other members included Amadou Toumani Touré (Mali), Princess Basma bint Talal (Jordan), Mohamed Sahnoun (Algeria), A. T. Ariyaratne (Sri Lanka), Wakako Hironaka (Japan), Erna Witoelar (Indonesia), Ruud Lubbers (The Netherlands), Federico Mayor (Spain), Mercedes Sosa (Argentina), Leonardo Boff (Brazil), Yolanda Kakabadse (Ecuador), Shridath Ramphal (Guyana), Elizabeth May (Canada), Severn Cullis-Suzuki (Canada), and others.
The final text of the Earth Charter was approved at a meeting of the Earth Charter Commission at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in March 2000. The official launch was on 29 June 2000 in a ceremony at The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands attended the ceremony.
The approximately 2,400 word document is divided into sections (called pillars), which have sixteen main principles containing sixty-one supporting principles.The document opens with a preamble and ends with a conclusion entitled “The Way Forward”.
|“||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.||”|
The four pillars and sixteen principles of the Earth Charter are:
I. Respect and Care for the Community of Life
II. Ecological Integrity
III. Social and Economic Justice
IV. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace
The Charter has been formally endorsed by organizations representing millions of people, including the UNESCO,over 250 universities around the world, the World Conservation Union of IUCN, the Indian National Capital Territory of Delhi, the 2001 U.S. Conference of Mayors, and dozens of youth organizations.
Various religious groups from a wide range of religions support the Earth Charter. The Soka Gakkai International, representing more than 12 million Buddhists worldwide, has supported the Earth Charter since its inception.The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations representing over 1000 Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States supports the measure. The official body of the Baha'i Faith religion reacted by saying "While not officially endorsing the Earth Charter, the Baha'i International Community considers the effort toward drafting it and activities in support of its essential objectives to be highly commendable, and it will continue to participate in related activities, such as conferences, forums and the like." The World Pantheist Movement, which supports a naturalistic view of religion, endorses the plan. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a Catholic organization in the United States approved the measure in 2004. The Episcopal Diocese of Newark (New Jersey), an Episcopalian Christian organization, endorsed the Earth Charter in 2009.
In May 1992, more than 650 representatives of indigenous peoples adopted their own 109-point Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter.Representatives of indigenous peoples also participated in the Earth Charter consultations in 1996. In 2000, the Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), representing 31 indigenous peoples living in Siberia and far eastern Russia, formally endorsed the Earth Charter.
Mayor Hsu of Tainan, a city of 750,000 in Taiwan, endorsed the charter in 2007.The cities of Corvallis (Oregon), Berkeley (California), Pickering (Canada) and 21 towns in Vermont have endorsed the measure. Nine other towns in Vermont rejected measures endorsing the Earth Charter.
Engineers Without Borders, an international association whose mission is to help its member groups assist poor communities in their respective countries and around the world, also endorses the Earth Charter.The Green Party of Botswana supports the plan. The African Conservation Foundation describes the Earth Charter movement as a "partner".
In the UK, Bournemouth Borough Council endorsed the Charter in 2008.[ citation needed ]
The Charter has received opposition from several groups. For example, in the United States, members of religious groups, such as the Religious Right have objected to the document on the grounds that it is secular, and espouses socialism.[ citation needed ] In addition, some conservatives[ who? ] cite an informal comment by Mikhail Gorbachev that the document is "a kind of Ten Commandments" and point to the fact that at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, a copy of the document was placed symbolically in an "Ark of Hope" — an independent project by the American artist Sally Linder.
Earth Charter International, the organization responsible for promoting the Charter, states in its literature that the Earth Charter is respectful and inclusive of all religious traditions. They say that the Charter itself makes no statements to support claims of intent to supplant any of the world's religions or to create a world government. ECI asserts that the Charter is a statement of common ethical values towards sustainability, that recognizes humanity's shared responsibility to the Earth and to each other.
The Baháʼí Faith is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Persia and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world's countries and territories.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is an umbrella organization founded in 1995 comprising many Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist organizations. Some groups represent only a few hundred people; while the largest, the Unitarian Universalist Association, had more than 160,000 members as of May 2011—including over 150,000 in the United States.
Universalism is the philosophical and theological concept that some ideas have universal application or applicability.
The University for Peace (UPEACE) is an intergovernmental organization with university status, established by treaty at the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 and having its main campus in Costa Rica. Its stated mission is "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations."
The United Religions Initiative (URI) is a global grassroots interfaith network that cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities and the world. The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
Religious intolerance is intolerance of another's religious beliefs or practices or lack thereof.
The World Pantheist Movement (WPM) is the world's largest organization of people associated with pantheism, a philosophy which asserts that spirituality should be centered on nature. The WPM promotes naturalistic pantheism
Habitat II, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements was held in Istanbul, Turkey from June 3–14, 1996, twenty years after Habitat I held in Vancouver in 1976. Popularly called the "City Summit", it brought together high-level representatives of national and local governments, as well as private sector, NGOs, research and training institutions and the media. Universal goals of ensuring adequate shelter for all and human settlements safer, healthier and more livable cities, inspired by the Charter of the United Nations, were discussed and endorsed.
The United Nations Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. The UN Global Compact is a principle-based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labor groups and civil society. Cities can join the Global Compact through the Cities Programme.
Spiritual ecology is an emerging field in religion, conservation, and academia recognizing that there is a spiritual facet to all issues related to conservation, environmentalism, and earth stewardship. Proponents of Spiritual Ecology assert a need for contemporary conservation work to include spiritual elements and for contemporary religion and spirituality to include awareness of and engagement in ecological issues.
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. It is considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners.
The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) was founded in 1946 as a Federation of national associations. Its objectives are to promote the values of the UN Charter, defend multilateralism, work towards a better United Nations Organisation and raise awareness on the main pillars of work of the United Nations - peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights.
The Baháʼí International Community, or the BIC, is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) representing the members of the Baháʼí Faith; it was first chartered in March 1948 with the United Nations, and currently has affiliates in over 180 countries and territories.
The Earth Charter Initiative is the collective name for the global network of people, organizations, and institutions who participate in promoting the Earth Charter, and in implementing its principles in practice. The Initiative is a broad-based, voluntary, civil society effort, but participants include leading international institutions, national government agencies, university associations, NGOs, cities, faith groups, and many well-known leaders in sustainable development.
The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC) leads the civil society movement for full United States participation in the International Criminal Court.
The Baháʼí Faith in Brazil started in 1919 with Baháʼís first visiting the country that year, and the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly in Brazil was established in 1928. There followed a period of growth with the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Brazilian converts and in 1961 an independent national Baháʼí community was formed. During the 1992 Earth Summit, which was held in Brazil, the international and local Baháʼí community were given the responsibility for organizing a series of different programs, and since then the involvements of the Baháʼí community in the country have continued to multiply. The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated some 42211 Baháʼís in 2005.
High conservation value forest (HCVF) is a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management designation used to describe those forests who meet criteria defined by the FSC Principles and Criteria of Forest Stewardship.
A sustainability organization is (1) an organized group of people that aims to advance sustainability and/or (2) those actions of organizing something sustainably. Unlike many business organizations, sustainability organizations are not limited to implementing sustainability strategies which provide them with economic and cultural benefits attained through environmental responsibility. For sustainability organizations, sustainability can also be an end in itself without further justifications.
In participation with the United Nations Earth Summit 2012 the Bolivian government submitted a proposal titled 'Harmony With Nature' this proposal attempts to define a platform for global sustainable development.
Religion and peacebuilding refers to the study of religion's role in the development of peace. Scholars generally accept that religion has been, at different points in history, both advantageous and ruinous to the promotion of peace. However, there have been many approaches to explaining this variability.
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