United Nations and Global Governance Archives - Earth Charter

Reflect and Respond on World Environment Day

As we approach the 2018 World Environment Day (WED) on Tuesday, 5 June, we invite you to adopt a sustainable lifestyle by consuming ethically, sustainably, and responsibly. As you consider ways to respond to this year´s WED theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”, we encourage you to use two mobile phone apps to help you deeply reflect on our Earth and positively respond with sustainable actions.dtw

The Deep Time Walk enables you to enter a deep experience by walking through a dramatized history of the living Earth. Sensitively designed by a team of experts using appropriate technology, the app encourages a shift away from the smartphone screen to instead connect with the natural world around you. Walk through 4.6 billion years of earth history, learn about humanity’s ancestral heritage with all life, experience what you are a part of and comprehend our geological impact. Download the Deep Time Walk on any Android or iOS device, available at 1/3rd off the usual price until the end of World Environment Day.mapting

We also invite you to download the Mapting app to share with others activities and projects you are involved with and that help in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Earth Charter Principles. Anyone can respond in creative ways to this year’s call for the international community to collectively “Beat Plastic Pollution”. We would like to see a wave of activities shown in Mapting.

 

“Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.” – Earth Charter Principle 7

“SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

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UNGA Resolution moves ahead France proposal for a Global Pact for the Environment

IMG_9425On June 2017, the government of France introduced a draft of a Global Pact for the Environment as a proposal for a new legally binding instrument on the principles of international environmental law. It took less than a year after that for the United Nations General Assembly to agree to move forward on a process to develop and agree on such a Pact. This demonstrates an exceptional leadership and diplomatic skills of the French government.

On 10 May 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment” (document A/72/L.51) with 143 votes in favor for the document, while just six countries voted against and six others abstained.  This effort received an almost unanimous support. The resolution opens the way for the negotiation of this new Pact and establishes an ad hoc working group to identify gaps in international environmental law. The sessions of the ad hoc working group will be open for all member states and relevant NGOs.

While French representative F. Delattre, claims that it is time to take on new responsibilities, the representatives of the countries voting against the resolution believed that there are enough agreements and policies and the need is to focus on the implementation and better articulation of existing instruments.

IMG_9424Thus, Russia and Philippines highlighted the role of the 2030 Agenda as already existing comprehensive framework. Russian representative, S. Kononuchenko, pointed out that we already have more than 1,000 instruments to protect the environment and the focus should be on their implementation instead of creation of new ones. The representative of the United States, M. Simonoff, claimed that this initiative should not disrupt existing environment commitments and the wording of the document should not prejudice the discussions.

As stated in the Earth Charter, “In order to build a sustainable global community, the nations of the world must renew their commitment to the United Nations, fulfill their obligations under existing international agreements, and support the implementation of Earth Charter principles with an international legally binding instrument on environment and development.”

In this context, creation of the working group for the identification of gaps and challenges in current regime for the protection of the environment is a welcome development. Nevertheless, the task should combine the work under the new resolution with the aim to enhance mechanisms of implementation (and better coordination) of existing instruments.

This effort builds on the outstanding work IUCN has developed over the years in drafting the IUCN Covenant on Environment and Development, the 2004 IUCN Resolution on the Earth Charter and the 2016 IUCN World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law.

There is no doubt there are synergies between the Global Pact and the Earth Charter. Hopefully, the Global Pact process will adopt explicit language on ecological integrity and strong sustainability. In 2012, a study was conducted to find the links between principles of the Earth Charter and International Law instruments. This publication was the basis of a doctoral research developed by Maria Elisa Febres. This document can be found by clicking here.

Click here for more information on the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted last week.

See the resolution adopted here.

See previous article on the Global Pact for the Environment and Its Overlap with the Earth Charter.

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Latin America agrees on a treaty on access to information and environmental justice

LAC P10 CEPAL CeremonyRepresentatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries have concluded the negotiations for a new legally binding agreement on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration – Regional agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Escazú Agreement) in Escazú, Costa Rica.

The conclusion of the negotiations and drafting process and agreement on the final version of the treaty took place on 4 March – the day of birth of Berta Cáceres – human rights and environmental defender who was killed in 2016 for her activism.

The Escazú Agreement will be open for signature by Latin American and Caribbean countries in September 2018 and it requires ratifications or other forms of approval by 11 countries of the region in order to enter into force.

In case of entering into force, the document becomes a legal instrument for:

  • Protection of human right defenders in environmental matters;
  • Better access of every person to information concerning the environment including dissemination of information about imminent threat to public health or the environment;
  • Participation in decision-making concerning the environment;
  • Access to justice in environmental matters with the procedures that are not prohibitively expensive;
  • Considering the interests of persons or groups in vulnerable situations, including indigenous people.

LAC P10 CEPAL GroupThe Escazú Agreement strongly correlates to the principles of the Earth Charter including its Principle 13 on democratic institutions, transparency, accountability, inclusive participation and access to justice.

Such a connection makes Earth Charter International believe that civil society will support the document and will cooperate with the governments of Latin America and Caribbean countries in order to turn the provisions of the Escazú Agreement into reality in the region.

There are several actions that organizations and individuals can do to promote the Escazú Agreement in their countries:

  • Organize round tables and conferences on the Agreement;
  • Include information on the Agreement in educational programmes, courses and workshops;
  • Organize contests of scientific papers and Media events on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters (access rights);
  • Organize special events to commemorate the life and achievements of human right defenders in environmental matters.

For further information see:LAC P10 Civil society

The full text of the Escazú Agreement 

Official site – Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN agency that led the drafting process of the Escazú Agreement)

The Access Initiative the largest civil society network on access rights.

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Developments on the “Global Pact for the Environment” and Its Overlap with the Earth Charter

pact 2 IUCNOn June 23, politicians, experts and jurists met to take part in a drafting committee to finalize the “Global Pact for the Environment,” which was publically presented the following day to an audience that included Ban Ki-moon, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Laurent Fabius, Zhang Xinsheng, and many others.

French President Emmanuel Macron closed the discussions, pledging to play an active role in the process and take the Pact to the UN General Assembly for consideration. It is meant to go alongside the 1966 United Nations Covenants on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, providing a global reference instrument that could become part of the foundation of international environmental law.

This initiative is historic not only because of its environmental message, but because the Pact is intended to become a binding international treaty, unlike previous efforts such as the Rio Declaration of 1992, which had only declaratory impact.

Many of the principles in the Pact are familiar, i.e. the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle. This is not surprising, as it builds on existing soft law documents like the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference` on the Human Environment, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the Earth Charter. One of the goals of the Pact is to create a unifying treaty that is specifically on environmental protection, bringing coherence to the hundreds of existing international treaties that deal with this topic. Meant to capitalize on the momentum of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the pact also would work in tandem with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. If successful, the Pact would be an enforceable treaty that could solidify many fundamental principles of conservation and sustainable development.

Justice Antonio Benjamin (Brazil), Professor Nicholas Robinson (U.S.A.), Professor Christina Voight (Norway), Professor Nilufer Oral (Turkey), and Dr. Parvez Hassan (Pakistan)

Justice Antonio Benjamin (Brazil), Professor Nicholas Robinson (U.S.A.), Professor Christina Voight (Norway), Professor Nilufer Oral (Turkey), and Dr. Parvez Hassan (Pakistan)

This process has been enriched with the outstanding participation of Professor Nick Robinson, Judge Antonio Herman Benjamin and Dr. Parvez Hassan, who have been spearheading the evolving efforts of international environmental law and in the IUCN World Commission of Environmental Law.  The three of them were also part of the drafting of the Earth Charter. Senior judges from multiple countries participated, marking the first time that judges have been part of the preparation of a treaty. Lord Robert Carnwath from the British Supreme Court, Luc Lavrysen of the Belgian Constitutional Court, and Swatanter Kumar, the Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal in India were all involved.

Although the Earth Charter is not focused solely on the environment, unlike the Global Pact for the Environment, ecological protection is still a major theme. The ecological integrity principles of the Charter can be seen in the articles of the new pact, along with the necessary inclusions for a future legal document. The Earth Charter is very specific in its ecological principles, calling for nature and biosphere reserves, endangered species recovery, the control of GMOs, the build-up of toxic substances, etc.

The Pact for the Environment faces a difficult road towards becoming an enforced treaty, and its articles are written with that consideration. It calls for necessary measures to prevent environmental harm and to ensure remediation of environmental damages, but without the specificities of the Earth Charter.

pact_coverIn addition to referencing issues of environmental concern such as biodiversity and Earth’s carrying capacity, the preamble to the new pact also touches on some of the broader social considerations that are part of the Earth Charter, such as gender equality and the role of women, the importance of education, and the rights of indigenous peoples. The drafters of the Pact integrated the message of the new Sustainable Development Goals – as true positive progress involves an integrated and global approach.

Since the Earth Charter was written as an ethical framework and not as an international treaty, it had more latitude to include unambiguous actions for environmental change. The drafters of the Global Pact for the Environment are hoping it will become a cornerstone of international environmental law, and wrote it as such. Consequently, its ecological goals are broader and more general than many of the Earth Charter principles, and accompanied by crucial considerations for its future. Regardless of their phrasing, there is no doubt that if the Global Pact can keep its core goals through the process towards implementation, many of the Earth Charter principles will be much closer to being fulfilled and it will become a milestone in the global environment governance efforts.

(Article by: Lorna Battista)

Continue Reading on the Global Pact for the Environment:

https://www.iucn.org/commissions/world-commission-environmental-law/events/23-24-june-2017-global-pact-environment-introduced-world 

http://legal-planet.org/2017/06/27/france-pushes-for-global-pact-on-the-environment/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-world-climatechange-macron-idUSKBN19F0LG

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-macron-arnold-schwarzeneggar-climate-change-make-planet-great-again-a7806491.html

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Earth Charter Affiliate speaks in UN General Assembly Dialogue on Harmony with Nature

Photo 3The Seventh Interactive Dialogue of the United Nations General Assembly on Harmony with Nature took place on Friday, 21 April 2017 under the Theme: Earth Jurisprudence.

The event counted with the participation of Professor Klaus Bosselmann, ECI Affiliate from New Zealand and Director, New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, University of Auckland, who, as an Earth Jurisprudence expert, made a presentation on “The Next Step: Earth trusteeship”.

In Professor Bosselmann´s speach he made a proposal to “accompany the current SDG process with high-level ethical dialogue and promote the idea of nation-states as trustees for the Earth and that the UN should provide a forum for achieving that.”

Below you can find Professor Bosselmann´s intervention:

Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Photo 5Nature

Friday, 21 Apr 2017

Trusteeship Council, UN Secretariat Building, New York

Theme: Earth Jurisprudence

¨An Earth-centred worldview recognizes the intrinsic value of Nature; understands humans as fundamentally part of the natural world, that is, one life-form among many evolved from the same natural processes. It further recognizes that there are biophysical limits to human activity and that our socioeconomic systems are embedded in natural systems. In this worldview, human-Earth relationships are based on a symbiotic connection, are interconnected and are subject to the natural laws of the Universe.

Photo 4Indigenous peoples’ philosophies, spiritualities and traditional forms of knowledge worldwide express the understanding that human governance systems must be derived from the laws of the Earth and comply with them.

Experts from around the world working in the natural and social sciences similarly recognize the need for an evolved, holistic worldview that must be rooted in respect for Nature and in the interdependence of the well-being of humankind and of the Earth.

In order to forge a balanced, healthy relationship between human activity and the Earth, there is an urgent need for society to reconsider how it perceives and interacts with the natural world.

Photo 2Earth Jurisprudence recognizes that the Earth is the source of laws that govern life. It provides a cohesive framework reflecting the integrated nature of the world in which we live. And, as the source of laws that govern the community of life, Earth Jurisprudence also provides a cohesive framework underpinning many disciplines, weaving them together to create a more effective, holistic governance approach, one that reflects the integrated nature of the world in which we live.¨

In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 22 April as International Mother Earth Day. In so doing, Member States acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are our common home, and expressed their conviction that it is necessary to promote Harmony with Nature in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations. The same year, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Harmony with Nature.

Click here for more information

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10-week Youth Online Training Course: Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics to Start 19 June, Deadline to Apply 17 May!

Don’t miss the deadline to sign up for our next 10-week youth online training programme in Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics. The course will begin on 19 June and participants will need to apply by programaWednesday 17 May! This course is designed to train young people around the world, from the ages of 18-30, on how to become active leaders in their community towards a more just, sustainable, and ethical world.

The course will offer you an opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills on certain themes such as leadership, ethics, sustainability, Earth Charter principles, Eco literacy, Systems Thinking, and how to successfully design and implement a workshop in your community.

Our goal at the end of the course is to successfully strengthen your knowledge and skills on leadership in sustainability, enhance your consciousness to contribute to the greater good, inspire like-minded individuals to collaborate across borders and to carry out your work in your communities, and develop the confidence to use your voice as a leader!

Alumni of this course have the opportunity to become an Earth Charter Young Leader (ECYL). This programme is a year-long leadership opportunity to serve as a focal point in the Earth Charter Youth Network to mobilize and engage other young people around the Earth Charter vision and principles.

Register now by visiting our site:  http://earthcharter.org/events/leadership-sustainability-ethics-june-2017/

 

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Tribute to Maurice F. Strong (1929 – 2015)

 “We are victims of ‘the struggle between ecosystems and egosystems’.
It is the egos of people, governments, businesses that prevent solutions and generate a terrible lack of political will.

 

Maurice F. Strong speech at the Earth Charter+5
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Earth Charter International mourns the passing of Maurice F. Strong, co-chair of the Earth Charter Commission. All of us involved in the sustainability movement share special feelings of gratitude and admiration for the unique role he played and brilliant leadership he provided over many years in the global process of social transformation.

As the Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit, founder of UNEP, The Earth Council, The Earth Charter Initiative and many other great movements, he was able to significantly influence historical changes, proven by the numerous conventions and international policies that emerged on the environment and sustainability over the past 30 years. At the turn of the century, Koffi Annan invited him to take on the task of revitalizing the University for Peace, to which he dedicated all his efforts as the Rector and the chair of the Council for several years.

As a member of the Brundtland Commission and Secretary General of the Earth Summit in 1992, Mr. Strong took on the commitment to carry the idea of an Earth Charter forward (which was a recommendation made in the Brundtand Commission Report and according to him an unfinished piece of business of the Rio Earth Summit). Therefore, in 1994, together with Mikhail Gorbachev he launched the Earth Charter Initiative and became the co-Chair of the International Commission.

We would like to stress his unique ability to communicate with people from all walks of life and his tireless commitment and vision towards elevating the voices of non-state actors in the international policy arena. The fact that Agenda 21 has a whole section on The Role of Major Groups, which has subsequently opened up many possibilities, is in great part due to his capacity to envision a new multi-stakeholder process of decision making.

In light of the opening of COP21, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on some of the messages he used to convey:

“We know what we should do; science and technology can help us to do it. We know the solutions and we know what to do in the future. But we are not doing it. We are not able to make the transition to a sustainable way of life. Moral, ethical and spiritual responsibility hangs on today’s generation and emerging generations. We must reach into the hearts and souls of all people, and work with them for what we all want: a healthy whole community, happy children, and a secure life on Earth.”

 

Maurice F. Strong, Earth Charter+5 Event,
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Following in his footsteps, we would like to move ahead with determination and a deep sense of intergenerational commitment to carry forward the great work that he started and that we still have ahead of us, which is to continue to influence the process of changing the development model through the awakening of a new global consciousness.

We want to express our condolences and sentiments to his family, friends, and past colleagues and above all remember and celebrate his life with gratitude.

Earth Charter International Secretariat and Council

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“I want to thank Mr. Strong for everything he has done. A leader is someone who has a vision to make things better and dedicates all possible efforts to make it happen gathering the cooperation of many. A leader is able to communicate that vision well, inspire and engage many, and influence processes of change. Mr. Strong did that in an outstanding way. I feel deep admiration, respect, and gratitude to him for his consistency over the years, for his vision, and life dedication to address the world´s environmental challenges and make sustainability a reality.”

Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International

“We have read with sadness and empathy of the passing of Maurice. We are all indebted to his leadership on environmental issues these many years.
May his work live on! We send our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family.”

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau’s statement.

Al Gore’s statement.

UNEP statement.

The Guardian article, Maurice Strong: A Sustainable Life by Felix Dodds

The New York Times article AP, UN: Maurice Strong, Climate and Development Pioneer, Dies

A tribute from Ronald Leger.

Please, feel free to leave a tribute message of your own in the comment section below.

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Earth Charter International partners for climate change theater production

The Little Theatre Group of San Jose, Costa Rica, with the support of Earth Charter International, recently participated in an international Climate Change Theatre Action with more than 100 other groups around the world to raise awareness through the art of theatre on the issue of climate change before the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21) at the end of November 2015. ECI was inspired to join the effort by the Earth Charter principle 14 b., which states, “Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.”

The Climate Change Theatre Action was a joint initiative among three organizations, NoPassport, The Arctic Cycle, and Theatre without Borders. Together, they organized this global Climate Change Theatre Action and more than 100 groups in more than 20 countries are participating, joining the Little Theatre Group and Earth Charter International.

The production by the Little Theatre Group was titled “Nature Acts”, adapted from a quotation by Voltaire, “Men argue, nature acts”. The performance consisted of both thought provoking and humorous monologues and short plays performed by actors of the Little Theatre Group and by actors from the University for Peace community. The production sold out all three of its shows and more than 100 members of the audience learned about the Earth Charter and took home messages about the importance of climate change action and sustainability.

Find out more here.

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ECI hosts fifth EC+15 webinar of 2015

On November 5th, 2015, Earth Charter International held its fifth webinar in a series of online events to celebrate the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary. ECI held the event in the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development in Costa Rica on the University for Peace campus. The event was attended by more than 50 people from the UPEACE community with another dozen joining in online.

The special guest speaker was Mr. Jan Pronk, former Dutch Development Cooperation Minister and Former Minster for Environment, a hands-on leader in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. Mr. Pronk was also the Chairman of the 6th Conference of Parties UN Convention on Climate Change (2000-2001) and Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2001-2003). He is now a Special Advisor to the Earth Charter International.

Mr. Pronk took about 30 minutes to talk about his experience and observations of climate policy over the last 20-plus years. He described the history of climate negotiations, stressing the importance of achievements in policies developed in the 1990s, especially the articulation of five major terms or principles: 1) The Precautionary Principle; 2) Common but Differentiated Responsibilities; 3) Responsibilities beyond national borders; 4) Sustainability; and, 5) Fair and equitable solutions. He also emphasized the importance that the Kyoto Protocol negotiations managed to agree on a binding treaty and the fact that we cannot rely on voluntary agreements only. He continued to describe the deficits in the current process and measures to be taken at the COP21 in Paris starting at the end of November. Mr. Pronk highlighted the drawbacks to the voluntary carbon reduction strategy, the necessity of questioning the right to comfort lifestyles by the wealthy countries, and he lamented what he observes to be an inadequate response to the climate challenge by states in the current negotiations.

The observations and explanations by Mr. Pronk were followed by more than 45 minutes of questions and answers by both the audience in the room and the online participants. The back and forth was lively and informative. Mostly, Mr. Pronk offers a pessimistic opinion of the prospects for a good climate deal and, although he doesn’t spell out consequences, he cited Darfur and Syria as being examples of climate change exacerbated tragedies. While he also didn’t explicitly state it, his talk implies his thinking that more of these occurrences will take place in the future. Speaking about the Earth Charter +15 slogan, “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”, Mr. Pronk shared the feeling that on one hand this notion is a dream and on the other it is a fact. He expressed concern about who is to decide global society’s common destiny, and that present-day consequences might not affect the whole world community in the same way. He also placed an emphasis on the predominance of globalization as a market phenomenon, and lamented that the market paradigm frames the global mindset, making the “Earth Community” more of an Earth marketplace than a community. He also stated that while the idea of the Earth Community is a vision, it is also a reality, only one that has not embraced the values of the Earth Charter.
 
You can see and hear the recording of the session here.

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Two more webinars in November, one on climate change, the other on global citizenship



Earth Charter +15 Webinar

From Rio ‘92 to COP21 Paris: Challenges and Opportunities
for Climate Change Politics and Policies

On November 5th, 2015 ECI will host the fifth in a series of webinars in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Earth Charter. This time we will be joined by former Dutch Development Cooperation Minister and Former Minster for Environment Jan Pronk, a hands-on leader in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

More information here.

Earth Charter +15 Webinar

The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship

On November 17th, 2015, ECI will host its sixth webinar in a series that began in February to celebrate the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary, to look back, observe the current issues of relevance to the Earth Charter, and to look ahead to the future of sustainability work and ethics. We will be joined on November 17th by Nigel Dower, a senior academic specializing in the ethics and philosophy of development, environment, and international relations, and by Prue Taylor, an expert in environmental law and ethics.

More information here.

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