One Earth Community - Preamble
We, representatives of religious communities from around the world, have gathered
together to respond to the challenge presented by the United Nations Conference
on the Environment and Development. Representing major religious traditions
and diverse cultures and regions, as well as groups working in local situations
on issues of environment and development, we have sought to discover how our
various concerns bring moral, ethical and spiritual perspectives to the agenda
for UNCED. In particular, we have considered various proposals for the Earth
Charter from the standpoints of our shared convictions about the unity of the
human family and the oneness of the earth and the particular beliefs of our
various religious traditions. We offer the following declaration and statement
of principles as an expression of our work and commitment.
Life is a gift and elicits our respect, awe and reverence. We are one earth
community, one human family, and we share one destiny. We cherish and respect
the rich diversity of life, and celebrate the beauty of the earth. For us, as
members of one family, love and caring are the basis of our relationship with
one another and with nature. The earth community is our greatest gift and sacred
trust. We recognize a call to receive this gift gratefully, to draw earth's
sustenance carefully, and to share it equitably.
This vision has been distorted. Now the life of the earth community is threatened
with destruction. In the name of human progress and development, there is growing
devastation of nature and widespread and increasing poverty. The present world
economy makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. It has promoted consumerism
and greed and a preoccupation of people and nations with money, control and
power at the cost of justice and cultural and spiritual enhancement. Rising
international debt enslaves some peoples, even as it enriches others.
The streams and seas which give life are used as dumps for our wastes, the
forests which give life are destroyed for crass commercial gain, the soil which
gives life is squandered for profit to benefit the few. We have become alienated
from ourselves, from one another and from nature. The dominant pattern of development
has led to the degradation of cultures, the destruction of nature and the death
of millions of our brothers and sisters and threatens future generations. It
has intensified the exploitation of women and children and has further marginalized
indigenous peoples. Although it has given short-term benefits to a substantial
minority, for most it has given agony.
The way forward
We are at a major turning point in which we can either continue along the path
of self-destruction or turn towards restoration and renewal. The human family,
in which the unique quality of all its members is recognized and protected,
must bring itself back into harmony with nature and the universe. We need to
listen to those communities which have remained close to the earth, and recognize
and incorporate the wisdom culled from women's traditional links with nature.
We have to realize that there are limits to growth and that the idea of an ever-expanding
economy contradicts the capacities of the earth community. We must end the over-consumption
of industrialized societies. We must make institutions accountable to the people
whose lives they touch. We must restructure economic institutions to make them
serve the needs of the poor and function in harmony with ecological reality.
We see every member of the family as a full participant, sharing equally in
the gifts of nature, the work to be done and the fruits of that work. We need
to reaffirm the importance of justice, frugality, humility and reverence for
life and nature.
Considerations for an Earth Charter
The Earth Charter should recognize that our unjust exploitation and destruction
of the environment, as well as our reverence for it and our conservation of
it, have spiritual and ethical dimensions which undergird the following principles.