Catching up on the Earth Charter in Business

NOTE: Earth Charter International has been developing its business initiative — especially supported by our Dutch Affiliate, NCDO — This posting summarizes some of the background work that has gone into developing that initiative. On this page, originally published in July 2007, you will find links to documents as well as podcasts (MP3 audio files) that will “catch you up” on the Earth Charter in business.


Earth Charter and GRI at Amsterdam Global Conference


The Earth Charter Initiative and NCDO, jointly with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), hosted a special high-level event on Thursday 8 May 2008 during the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency.


The event, which was hosted by Ruud Lubbers, former Dutch Prime Minister and Earth Charter Commissioner, had three main objectives. These were:


• to announce a strategic alliance between the Earth Charter and GRI to encourage their users to also take advantage of the other’s instrument;


• to launch a guidance paper on how the Earth Charter, GRI and the UN Global Compact can be used to build a more just and sustainable world; and


• to stimulate discussion on how the Earth Charter can be used more widely in the corporate social responsibility context.


Keynote speakers included the Dutch Environment Minister, Jacqueline Cramer; Constance Kane, Vice Chair of the GRI Stakeholder Council; Herman Mulder, independent CSR expert; and Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, Earth Charter Commissioner. The paper ‘The Earth Charter, GRI and the Global Compact: Guidance to Users on the Synergies in Application and Reporting’ was presented by its lead author, Paul Hohnen.


Highlights of the event included:


• Jacqueline Cramer’s account of her past work on CSR, and her belief that the Earth Charter could play an important role in helping inspire a company’s vision on sustainable development.


• Constance Kane’s recommendation that the guidance paper should be widely read, and her hope that the Earth Charter could be a ‘guiding star’ to provide overarching guidance to the GRI and its users.


• Herman Mulder’s caution that CSR issues differ by company; effective responses needed to be developed from the local level. The Earth Charter, as a internationally relevant framework, offered valuable guidance.


• Awraham Soetendorp’s powerful reminder of the importance of the spiritual, ethical and community dimensions of human activity. This message was explicit in the Earth Charter.


GRI Deputy Chief Executive Teresa Fogelberg welcomed the alliance with the Earth Charter, underlining the shared missions of the two initiatives and the opportunities they offered users to improve their contribution to sustainable development. She looked forward to hearing progress on how business is using the Earth Charter and GRI at the next Amsterdam Global Conference in 2010.

Other speakers included NCDO’s Lisette van Rhijn, Matthijn de Boer of Sustain Train/Atmosphere, and Petrobras Executive Manager Antonio Sergio Oliveira Santana. Download file



Starting with the international “Value of Values” seminar held at Imperial College London in March, 2006, and supported by our Dutch Affiliate NCDO (who underwrote the engagement of the Globescan consultancy), ECI has developed a number of papers mapping out the Earth Charter’s role in the rather crowded field of sustainability and social responsibility in business. To respond to the increasing number of questions as to how the Earth Charter relates to other leading global initiatives such as the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Earth Charter International, in cooperation with NCDO, has developed a Guidance paper. This paper is designed to help Earth Charter users – as well as those using the GRI and Global Compact – to understand the synergies and complementary strengths of these three initiatives, and to help organizations to integrate the Earth Charter into their global engagement and reporting processes. Download file

...read more of “Earth Charter in Business: New Guidance Paper on the Earth Charter, GRI and Global Compact »

The document will be officially launched at a special Earth Charter High Level Session which will take place on 8 May in the context of the GRI conference on sustainability and transparency, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. http://www.globalreporting.org/NewsEventsPress/ConferenceAndEvents/

 ECI will be increasingly promoting the use of the Earth Charter in business, as a support for inspiration, training, assessment and decision making. And of course, many are already using and promoting the Charter in just this way. For those who want to get caught up on the developments so far, we recommend the following: Read the report on the Values of Values Seminar, published here last year. Then read the following two papers, released at last year’s Global Reporting Initiative conference: The Earth Charter and the Business Sector (Sept. 2006) Adding Value with Global Values: The Earth Charter’s Role and Relationships with the GRI and the Global Compact (Sept. 2006) For audio files of business leaders like John Elkington, Herman Mulder, and Jane Nelson reflecting on the role of the Earth Charter in business at the Value of Values seminar, you can listen to podcasts here: Listen to “The Value of Values” – MP3 Audio Files/Podcasts Now Online Finally, our recently published “EC-Assess” ethics-based assessment tool is also meant to apply to business. If you have not yet seen this and reviewed it, you can find it here: EC-Assess: The Earth Charter Ethics-Based Assessment Framework Are you currently using the Earth Charter in business? Do you have thoughts about the best application of the Earth Charter in the business sector, or comments on any of the papers we’ve published to date? You are welcome to leave a comment to us in the space below. And we will keep you posted about the development of this important aspect of Earth Charter work worldwide.