United Nations and Global Governance Archives - Earth Charter

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

By: Lorna Battista

pact 2 IUCN

Photo by: IUCN

On 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_cover

Image by: IUCN

In 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.

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.

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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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Third EC+15 webinar on Social and Economic Justice and the SDGs

On September 22nd, ECI hosted its third webinar in celebration of the Earth Charter’s 15th anniversary. The webinar was titled, “The SDGs and Social and Economic Justice”. This webinar focused on the third pillar of the Earth Charter on social and economic justice and guest speaker Ashok Khosla related some of the third pillars’ principles to the Sustainable Development Goals that were launched days after the webinar.

Mr. Khosla is a long-time sustainability professional, having been involved for the past three decades, since well before the 1992 Earth Summit where he was the co-Chair of the NGO Forum. He has also been a President of IUCN and the Club of Rome, serves as the Chair of the Board of Development Alternatives, and has served and still serves many important sustainability organizations around the world.

During his talk, Mr. Khosla, who was speaking from Delhi, focused on economic disparity and the ecological hazards of consumption that compound that inequality.  He also fielded questions for more than 40 minutes from participants and offered his expert opinion on a range of related issues. The webinar was informative, interactive, and engaging from start to finish. Participants joined from Costa Rica, Guatemala, the United States, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Brussels, Austria, and Japan.

You can watch a recording of the webinar at this link:

http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/3084464-social-and-economic-justice-the-earth-charter-and-the-sustainable-dev

And you can download the slides that Mr. Khosla has generously agreed to share below.

SDGs and Earth Charter Ashok Khosla presentation to share

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Earth Charter Opinion article by Climate Ethicist, Don Brown

In a few weeks, nations of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP21. This Convention emerged out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, just like the Earth Charter did, and has been one of the most interesting, successful, and also not successful international agreements. The ethical perspective of sustainability, which is the central focus of the Earth Charter, should play a larger role in government policy making, and this is apparent when looking at the climate change challenge. In his essay, Don Brown looks at several of these issues, using an ethical lens to dissect the climate change discourse, and urges governments and policy makers to include ethics specialists when forming climate change responses and policies.

You can download the essay here.

Earth Charter International is grateful that Don Brown has offered this essay to us for publication in our virtual library and we extend him our heartfelt thanks for his excellent work on ethics and his lifelong commitment to making the world a better place.

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Earth Charter invitation to webinar on Earth Community and Global Citizenship

EC+15 Webinar
The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship

On November 17th, 2015, ECI will host its sixth and last 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.

This webinar will air at the end of a very important year for sustainable development and international relations. 2015 has already seen the agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals, strong ethical statements including the Pope’s Encyclical, and is about to witness the much-discussed climate conference in Paris to begin at the end of November. What does all this mean for the future of the Earth Community and the human place in it? The two speakers will explore these issues and look to the future possibilities from the Earth Charter and sustainability perspectives in light of this year’s important sustainability processes.

Following both of the speakers’ interventions, there will be a question and answer period.

The webinar will take place on November 17th, 2015 at 18:00 UTC, 12:00 Costa Rica time, 07:00 Auckland time November 18th.

Join the webinar through the following link.

http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/3225840-ec-15-webinar-the-way-forward-earth-community-and-global-citizenship

If you want to participate, make sure your computer meets system requirements:

http://www.wiziq.com/info/technical-requirement.aspx

Guest speaker: Nigel Dower is Honorary Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Aberdeen and Academic Consultant. In June 2004, he took early retirement in order to pursue his interests in ‘exploring ethics in a globalized world’ through teaching, lectures, writing, and consultancy. His main research interests are in the field of the ethics/philosophy of development, environment and international relations. He taught for many years two special subjects relating to his research, one on the ethics of international relations, covering normative theories, war and peace, theories of justice/human rights and global citizenship, and the other on the ethics of development, environment and technology. He has also taught various other courses on the ethics of sustainable development.

Guest speaker: Prue Taylor received her legal qualifications from Victoria University, New Zealand and Tulane University, USA. She currently teaches environmental and planning law at the School of Architecture and Planning. She is the Deputy Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law and an elected member of the IUCN Commission of Environmental Law and its Ethics Specialist Group. Prue’s specialist interests are in the areas of climate change, human rights, environmental governance, ocean law and policy, property rights and environmental ethics. She has authored numerous books and articles in these areas. Her current research projects involve the following topics: local government and climate change; climate change ethics; common heritage of mankind and legal strategies for the commons.

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