One Earth Community - Principles
(These in part make reference to UN document PC/78.)
1. Responsibility towards the earth as a whole.
The earth, with its diverse life forms, is a functioning whole. Whatever we
humans do to the web of life we do to ourselves. States and individuals have
the obligation to respect the functioning of the whole. Rights and obligations
of both states and individuals need to be defined within this perspective.
2. The indivisibility of ecological justice and social justice.
We affirm the indivisibility of justice to the environment and social justice.
The Earth Charter must clearly recognize that environmental destruction and
injustice have systemic causes such as the dominant development model itself
with its emphasis on capital intensive industrialization. The main victims of
this approach to development. are the nations and peoples of the South. As relent
studies and common experience have shown, women and children bear a particularly
heavy share of the burdens of poverty and economic degradation. We must acknowledge
the need for limits to growth and a just sharing of resources in the interests
of sustainable sufficiency for all. The development of environmentally safe
-technology, rooted in the needs and experiences of the people who benefit from
it, becomes important in this context. Technologies already in the hands of
women and traditional communities must not be overlooked.
3. Access to Education.
In addition to encouraging educators to include the environment as a subject
of study, the Earth Charter should reaffirm the importance of universal access
to education and the need for education to include the development of the whole
person. The central role of women as educators and carriers of information and
culture should be recognized. Moreover, the open access of people to information
and communication on all issues including the environment should be recognized
as an essential right. Education should cultivate personal responsibility and
inclusive concern for humanity and the earth.
4. The rights of future generations.
Future as well as present generations of all peoples have a right to existence
and to their share in the goods of the earth. This right places further responsibilities
and limits on the way in which resources ought to be used in the present. These
rights need to be incorporated in legislation and internationally binding agreements.
5. Participation of individuals and groups in decision-making.
All persons should have the opportunity to participate, individually and with
others, in the formulation and implementation of decisions affecting their environment.
Governments and institutions must be accountable to their people. This opportunity
is particularly important for groups such as women indigenous peoples, children
and the poor who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of environmental
degradation and who are often excluded from participation in decision-making.
The expertise of women as environmental managers must be recognized.
6. Establishing procedures and mechanisms permitting a transnational approach
to environmental issues and disputes.
Since the environmental crisis has global dimensions there is an urgent need
for increased mutual accountability of the nations in this field. As religious
people we support procedures and mechanisms for avoiding environmental harm
and for settling disputes among nations on environmental issues and for holding
.states accountable for their actions. Increasingly internationally accepted
standards of environmental performance need to be developed. In order to enforce
such standards the creation of an international court or other mechanisms to
deal with environmental issues should be envisaged.
7. Principle of precautionary/preventive action.
The burden of proof for the safety of activities which may potentially damage
the environment should increasingly fall on the promoters of such activities.
Decisions should be based upon adequate environmental, social and cultural impact
assessments. The emphasis should be shifted from confidence in technological
solutions to environmental damage to prevention.
8. Affirming the "polluter pays" principle as an international
The cost of environmental damage, created by technological and industrial activities,
is to be borne by those who cause it. The "polluter pays" principle
needs to be affirmed. In particular, industrialized nations should be held responsible
for the degradation which they cause.
9. Protection of bio-diversity.
The world religious community respects the diversity of species and calls for
its protection. We are concerned about the extent to which the international
patenting of biological life forms has led to the exploitation of the genetic
resources of the South. We are also concerned about the disappearance of local
food crops and medicinal plants. We have a basic responsibility to ensure that
all forms of life are respected and preserved. An Earth Charter should address
10. Wealth, poverty and the peoples of the world.
The Earth Charter should address the question of the carrying capacity of the
earth by dealing with factors linked to population growth, the unjust distribution
of resources and the relationship between the consumption of resources of the
rich and the poverty of the poor. Continuing efforts need to be made to develop
new social, economic and cultural indicators of wealth and poverty.
11. The impact of militarization on environment and development.
Although the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
poses the gravest most immediate and long- term threat, other forms of military
activity including, the arms trade and the transfer of military technology are
also significant. War is ecologically disruptive in a number of ways. It always
results in widespread, temporary and permanent destruction of both the human
and physical environment, including dramatically increased consumption and destruction
of natural resources. The forced migration of peoples and establishment of refugee
camps can also have a significant impact on the environment well beyond the
war-torn region. Conflicts must be resolved through peaceful means. Disarmament
must be a priority for any action programme.
12. Fundamental change in life styles recruited.
There is a need to break the addiction to life styles based on possession and
high consumption patterns. There is also an urgent need for the North to drastically
reduce its levels of consumption and waste.