United States of America

usaThe Earth Charter took root in the USA in 1996 when The Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE) organized a first Earth Charter meeting to raise awareness and support to the Earth Charter consultation process. John Hoyt, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Bella Abzug, chair of WEDO (Women, Environment and Development Organization) and Steven Rockefeller, chair of the Earth Charter Drafting Committee, participated with many others in this special event that took place in Washington and was organized under the leadership of CRLE’s head, Rick Clugston.

In the year 1999 CRLE continued to organize events and publish materials through its Earth Ethics related to the Earth Charter. Earth Charter USA, a formal non-profit, was established and an Earth Charter Campaign to involve NGOs, Universities, and other groups in the drafting process of the EC was initiated.

In April 2000 activists from around the US gathered in the Washington, DC area to hold the Earth Charter USA National Conference. Participants included the chair of the Earth Charter International Drafting Committee, Steven Rockefeller, the Chairman of Earth Charter USA and former president of the Humane Society of the United States, John Hoyt, among other key leaders.

After Jan Roberts, Founder of Earth Charter U.S., learned about the Earth Charter at an EC drafting session in Assisi, Italy in July 1999, she set up a process to engage individuals from communities all around the US. The purpose was to sensitize and engage local community leaders including individuals without affiliation to any organization or institutions. They formed an Earth Charter Local Community committee in Tampa, Florida to organize simultaneous Earth Charter Community Summits in as many cities or towns as possible that would be connected by satellite. Since the first EC Local Community Summit held in September 2001, these efforts continue to persist in and have spawned many offshoots and parallel initiatives.

There was activity all over the USA in 2014. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh held its Earth Charter week again. It has been doing so for a decade. Earth Charter Indiana was very busy with climate activities, participating in marches and legislative efforts, and publishing regularly on Earth Charter topics. Florida Gulf Coast University, the EC affiliate in Florida, continued using the Earth Charter heavily and integrating it more deeply into its core curriculum.

There were a number of activities in the United States of America in 2013, some through Affiliates, some through new partners, and many Earth Charter activities carried out independently. Earth Charter US held its fifth annual Sustainable Business Awards ceremony, celebrating 13 businesses and with an attendance of more than 200 people.

Another Earth Charter Affiliate, the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and its Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, continued to implement the Earth Charter on many different levels and through a variety of programmes and educational initiatives. In the academic year 2012-13, the University awarded 10 Earth Charter mini-grants to the Center’s Faculty and Staff. FGCU also started a new initiative, a Live Learn Community (LLC) titled “Leadership through Service.” Another mini-grant helped fund the development of a study abroad, interdisciplinary, team-taught, service-learning course, which was delivered across two semesters and included a study abroad component in Costa Rica. The 2013 edition of FGCU’s Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture featured Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver.

In 2004, EarthCat, the Earth Charter Community Action Tool, a software tool was developed for use by communities interested in developing sustainability programs. It is a guide designed to provide communities with a framework that permits them to identify their own priorities and approaches as they work towards a sustainable future. EarthCat provides a clear methodology to take in defining goals and targets, developing strategies, and measuring progress. It is an easy-to-use tool that provides practical instruction and theoretical background for every step.

In May 2002 a remarkable Academic Symposium, co-sponsored by the Chewonki Foundation, The Center for Respect of Life and Environment and the University Leaders for a Sustainable Future took place in Wiscasset, Maine, USA. The organizing theme was the implication of the Earth Charter in higher education.

Yes! Magazine developed a curriculum and guide to the Earth Charter for teachers. Now thousands of teachers are part of this education network. Yes! Magazine is a progressive quarterly that prints no advertisements and has an international circulation. Yes! Magazine continues to collaborate with Earth Charter International to this day.

Earth Charter Community Summits inspired the Earth Scouts project, which developed an interesting guide in the early 2,000s. The Earth Scouts Guide is based on a cooperative learning environment that empowers children and youth to take active roles in leading Earth Scout activities. It is written in a conversational and helpful style, so both adults and youth will find it easy and enjoyable to use.