The mission of the Earth Charter is to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace.
The Earth Charter reflects the consensus taking form in the emerging global civil society on universal values for sustainable development and can validly claim to represent a core set of shared ethical principles with a broad and multicultural base of global supporters.
Sustainable development and sustainable ways of living require changes in both the hearts and minds of individuals, along with the reorientation of public policies and practices.
The opening sentence of the Earth Charter preamble states: "We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history a time when humanity must choose its future."
Earth Charter calls for a new sense of universal responsibility that reflects the spirit of solidarity with the whole human family, including future generations, and a commitment to protect the well-being of the community of life as a whole, of which humanity is one interdependent part.
The Earth Charter sets forth values and principles as general guidelines for sustainable ways of living and for building global community.
Shared values are the foundation of community. A person’s values reflect what kind of a person he or she chooses to be and what quality of community life she or he chooses to support and sustain.
People inherit values from their family and culture. As the individual matures intellectually and learns to think independently, he or she must learn the art of ethical decision-making. The process of making sound choices in concrete situations requires thinking imaginatively with both the head and the heart.
It is important to recognize that the Earth Charter contains general principles as distinct from rules. Rules tell one exactly what to do in a specific situation. General principles tell us what to think about when we are deciding what to do. It is also useful to keep in mind that we live in a complex world and there will be at times conflict between different values and principles. For example, there is frequently a tension between individual freedom and securing justice for all. Likewise, there can be tension between the needs of present generations and the needs of future generations and between the short-term interests of people and the long-term health of ecosystems.
The Earth Charter is designed to promote ongoing reflection and dialogue across different cultural perspectives. All peoples live in an increasingly interdependent world. No group or nation can solve the major problems they face by acting alone. International and cross-cultural collaboration is essential.
Declaring our Interdependence and endorsing the Earth Charter is a step on the path towards a sustainable future!