The Earth Charter Index:
Measuring the Contributions of Countries to
Planetary Well-being

Since September 2020, a small team at the Earth Charter International (ECI) has been working on a project to develop an instrument to measure Contributions of Countries to Planetary Well-being through the lenses of the four pillars of the Earth Charter. As a part of this work-in-progress, they developed a proof-of-concept for an index to score and rank countries based on their contributions. In June 2022, this new Index will be launched as part of the first annual Report of Contributions of Countries to Planetary Well-being on occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Rio-92 Earth Summit. This effort seeks to offer a new angle and to foster a narrative on the importance of Planetary Well-being and our shared responsibility to contribute towards that.  

Why this Index? 

Indices influence decisions, national policies, individual behavior and shape our perception. How we define and measure “progress” impacts how we make “progress”. 

  • In 1934 Simon Kuznets introduced the concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and since the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, GDP became the main tool for measuring a country’s economy and has driven economic growth as a measure of progress.  
  • In 1990, the United Nations Development Programme published the first Human Development Index (HDI) that has driven human well-being as a measure of progress.  
  • In 2006, the New Economics Foundation published the first Happy Planet Index that measures how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, and sustainable lives. 
  • In 2022, Earth Charter International will launch the Index of Contributions of Countries to Planetary Well-being in order to elevate the importance of planetary well-being and expand the narrative focused on economic and human well-being to planetary well-being. 

With this new instrument, we envision to provide a view of the current status of contributions of countries to planetary well-being. We aim to make this instrument become a reference for countries and an information, communication, education, and research tool. 

What are contributions of countries to planetary well-being? 

The values of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence, and peace contribute to planetary well-being. When these values drive actions and policies in a country, they result in the country’s contributions to planetary well-being. 

Why measure the contribution of countries to planetary well-being? 

For over 30 years, although many good international policies and instruments have emerged to put our societies in the path of sustainability, the reality is we have been experiencing the accelerating pace of global warming through increase in temperatures, extreme weather events, rapid melting of glaciers and polar caps, and food and water insecurities. In addition, for more than 18 months the world has experienced the consequences of planetary lockdown. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in August 2021 has raised alarm through a “code red for humanity”, reiterating that “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” and affirming that, “Each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850.” 

Increasingly people have fled away from their countries to find peace, security, and inclusion in other lands. Youth activists from across the world have mobilized around movements raising their voices for social, environmental, or economic justice, in addition to various protests against authoritarian governance.  

This is a clear indication that the predominant values of economic interests embedded in the narrative of economic growth and consumerism, continue to cause countries to compete for resources and cannot lead us to a habitable and thriving planet. We need a new narrative which recognizes and drives actions and policies based on the values of planetary well-being. 

2022 also marks the 30th Anniversary of the Rio Summit. Measuring the contributions of countries to planetary well-being provides a perfect instrument to further international action on environmental and development issues that would help guide international cooperation and development policy.  

What will an Index of Contributions of Countries to Planetary Well-being accomplish? 

It is envisioned that the Index of Contributions of Countries to Planetary Well-being will enable leaders, policymakers, and citizens to visualize how much their country contributes to keeping the planet habitable and thriving, while seeking economic progress and human well-being.  Bringing visibility to their contributions will inspire action and decisions towards planetary well-being. 

We’re inviting you to be part of this exciting new narrative – one of measuring the contribution of countries to planetary well-being as a measure of progress. 

Why an open call? 

We believe that the best way to recognize, understand, and value a new idea is to fully engage and align with it. We aspire to use this call for participation to help build a narrative of planetary well-being. We also believe that progress is faster when we can work together towards a common goal. We believe the identification of policies that influence the indicators we have chosen will give visibility to the values that have driven the actions and policies of countries.  

With the open call we hope to: 

  • Sharpen our shared understanding of how to measure contributions of countries to planetary well-being. 
  • Understand the difference indicators make to the scores and rankings of different countries. 
  • Discover indicators that will better embed the values of the Earth Charter in action and policies. 
  • Provide insights into policies and actions that are driving the contributions of countries to planetary well-being. 

What are we looking for? 

We are looking for individuals and institutions who align to the purpose of understanding, measuring, and reporting their country’s contributions to planetary well-being. We are looking for research that will accelerate our understanding of which indicators should be used to embed the values of the Earth Charter in actions and policies. The result of this effort should help countries improve their scores and ranks. 

Call for participation 

We are inviting individuals and institutions to participate in this project and become part of this unique opportunity of building this new narrative. One that puts Planetary Well-being at the center of our decisions.  

We are specifically inviting contributions to this project in the following two ways: 

1. Developing Country Factsheet 

We are inviting expressions of interest from institutions willing to develop their country factsheet that describes their country situation with regards to the indicators we have chosen to measure its contribution to planetary well-being, in our proof-of-concept methodology. This country narrative report will become a complement to the Index scores offering a support, explanation, comment on the country policies that have influenced the country situation with regards to each indicator chosen.  

Click here to see the Country Factsheet Guidelines. Please submit your expression of interest by filling up this form by 15 October 2021. Selected institutions will be notified by email and will have to submit their country factsheet by 15 January 2022.  

2. Developing alternative indicators to measure the contributions of countries to planetary well-being 

We are making an open call for individuals and institutions to measure the contributions of countries to planetary well-being through the lenses of the Earth Charter four pillars (using alternate methodologies): 

  1. Respect and Care for the Community of Life. 
  1. Ecological Integrity. 
  1. Social and Economic Justice. 
  1. Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace. 

These measures are expected to recognize those indicators that embed the values of the Earth Charter in action and policies. 

Click here to see the Guidelines. If you wish to participate in this, please register by filling up this form by 15 October 2021. You will have to submit your entries by 15 January 2022. 

What do you gain by participating? 

You will be acknowledged for your participation in the Report and the website to be released in June 2022 for your participation. The entries selected by our editorial team may be published in part or whole in the Report. 

How can you participate? 

If you are interested in participating, please register on or before 15 October 2021, as indicated above.