by Kat Morgenstern, June 2004
Every once in a while I run across initiatives that let my heart rejoice and restore my hope and faith in humanity. When I came across the Earth Charter Initiative I was elated to find a worldwide network of hundreds and thousands of people working as individuals, or grassroots organizations and NGOs under the umbrella of the Earth Charter Initiative, all sharing a common vision of appealing to the highest common denominators and values of our shared humanity in an effort to draw up a charter that could serve as a guideline for a sustainable, just and peaceful future for this planet. Below I have collated some excerpts from their website and will thus let the Earth Charter Initiative speak for itself. The full charter can be downloaded as a .pdf file at the end of the article. There is also a link for an endorsement form (also as a pdf file) which individuals and organizations are invited to fill out and send to the headquarters to express their support for this global initiative.
The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all peoples a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world. It is an expression of hope and a call to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history.
At a time when major changes in how we think and live are urgently needed, the Earth Charter challenges us to examine our values and to choose a better way. It calls on us to search for common ground in the midst of our diversity and to embrace a new ethical vision that is shared by growing numbers of people in many nations and cultures throughout the world.
The Earth Charter Commission was formed in early 1997 to oversee the consultation and drafting process and to approve a final version of the Charter, which was released in March 2000, following a Commission meeting in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters. The members were chosen on the basis of their commitment to the cause and their ability to advance the project. The Commission created the Earth Charter Steering Committee to oversee the operations and programs of the Earth Charter Initiative, as well as offer guidance to the International Secretariat.
The Earth Charter International Secretariat is based at the campus of the University for Peace in San José, Costa Rica. The Secretariat provides support for the Commission and Steering Committee, coordinates major programs and global undertakings, and works with a global network of 53 Earth Charter National Committees and facilitators, as well as partner organizations, including National Councils for Sustainable Development.
The Earth Charter focal points are composed of a broad range of community, educational, business, and government representatives. In some countries, National Councils of Sustainable Development (NCSDs) serve as the Earth Charter focal point. In other cases, there is a single person or organization that is the Earth Charter facilitator for that country.
A new phase in the Initiative began with the official launching of the Earth Charter at the Peace Palace in The Hague on June 29, 2000. The mission of the Initiative going forward is to establish a sound ethical foundation for the emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
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