The Earth Charter Secretariat, Earth Charter Commission members, National Committees, partner organizations and many other groups, organized consultations focused on the ideas and principles to be included in the Earth Charter. These meetings took place over a five-year period from 1995 to 2000.
The recommendations and comments generated by these consultations were forwarded to a drafting committee created by the Earth Charter Commission in December 1996. Professor Steven C. Rockefeller was appointed by the Commission to chair this committee.
Beginning in March 1997, the drafting committee began circulating internationally to all interested parties drafts of the Earth Charter for comment. The drafting committee hosted a number of drafting meetings with groups of experts such as scientists, international lawyers, and religious leaders. In addition, on three occasions the drafting committee held a special strategic drafting meeting for the purpose of reviewing all the contributions from the consultation process and preparing extensive recommendations for a new draft of the Charter. The participants represented diverse regions of the world and important constituencies and brought to the meeting the required expertise in areas such as science and international law. The discussions and debates at these meetings were especially important in shaping the document. These three meetings were held at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) Pocantico Conference Center outside New York City on the following dates:
- January 30 – February 2, 1997
- January 4 – 6, 1999
- January 24 – 26, 2000
In addition, during the years 1997-2000, a small core group that grew from three to eight persons worked especially closely with Steven Rockefeller on the actual writing of the text.
A first Earth Charter benchmark Draft was issued in March 1997 and a second Draft was issued in 1999. Each one of them was translated in various languages, circulated widely and received significant contributions for improvement.
With the drafting process complete, the Earth Charter Initiative has entered a new phase. The goal is now to circulate the document widely and to promote it as an educational tool and guide to responsible action in civil society, business, and government. On June 29, 2000, the Earth Charter Commission with the support of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands formally launched the Earth Charter at the Peace Palace in The Hague.