Earth Charter in Action


Rio+20 and the Earth Charter

ECUS, in collaboration with Earth Charter International, will be conducting a campaign to have the United States and the United Nations adopt an Earth Charter inspired framework for social and economic development in 2012. We are working out the details of how this campaign will unfold and will post them here as soon as possible. Please let us know if you have any suggestions. The following is some background information on Rio+20 and the Earth Charter.

2012 is the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio where an Earth Charter was originally to be adopted. Rio will host a UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

The Conference seeks three objectives: (1) securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development; (2) assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments; and (3) addressing new and emerging challenges. The Member States have agreed on the following two themes for the Conference: (1) green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and (2) institutional framework for sustainable development (see

Rio+20 provides a major opportunity to advance the use of the Earth Charter and its acceptance as a global ethical framework for sustainability.

Adoption of an “Earth Charter” is part of the unfinished business of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The proposal for an Earth Charter was rejected by the world’s national governments at the Rio Earth Summit in favor of a more pragmatic Rio Declaration as a framework for Agenda 21. Since then, little progress has been made in implementing Agenda 21, and the need for a more comprehensive global ethical framework such as the Earth Charter has only increased.

Rio+20 is an historic opportunity for governments, the private sector and civil society to embrace the values and ethical principles that are the foundation of genuine sustainability. The Earth Charter can play a vital role in helping nations accelerate progress towards sustainable development.

Over the past 15 years, the Earth Charter Initiative has clarified the global “consensus” on a framework for sustainable development, and has identified the changes that are required in our lifestyle choices, organizational practices, and global governance structures.

Earth Charter International and ECUS are developing background white papers on “The Earth Charter, Strong Sustainability, and Rio+20” - The Earth Charter as a "strong" sustainability agenda - providing an Earth Charter analysis of progress so far and the way forward toward the two main foci of the Summit, namely, a green economy and global governance.

We are also initiating a campaign for those that have developed and endorsed the global people’s treaty that is the Earth Charter- and have translated it into action-to weigh in on the adoption of a strong framework for sustainable development.

This page offers rich case examples of how individuals and organizations are using the Earth Charter effectively to create sustainable ways of living. These are just a few examples, but hopefully they will demonstrate practical examples of how to incorporate the Earth Charter into one’s personal life, work life, and role as a citizen to change the policy framework. Featured below are examples of how the Earth Charter can be incorporated in education, business, religion, government & communities, and lifestyles.


The Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University

A major component of the Centre’s work is to bring current scholars in environmental literature, religious studies, and political science to campus to meet with students and to deliver public lectures. Key areas of emphasis include ethics, activism, and the literary arts. The Centre promotes the Earth Charter in its signature events, in institutionally-oriented research, and in what we call Earth Charter scholarship.

Read more: The Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University


The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

A major catalyst for UW Oshkosh’s work with the Earth Charter are the annual Earth Charter Community Summits . First conceived by Jan Roberts in 2001, there are now more than thirty Summits – local community gatherings – held in the US every October. Following the first Earth Charter Community Summit in Oshkosh in 2001, the Earth Charter was endorsed by all four elements of the UW Oshkosh’s shared governance – faculty, students, academic staff, and classified staff. Top university administrators, including the Chancellor, also gave their enthusiastic support. This was the beginning of a significant re-focusing towards sustainability on campus and engagement with the wider community. Sustainability is now one of the university’s “Governing Ideas,” along with Collaboration and Engagement.

Read more: The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh


Earth Charter in Action: Lifestyles

“I like the Earth Charter, Now What Do I Do with It?”

Participants of an Earth Charter Community Summit were encouraged to brainstorm answers to as many questions as possible during the 2 hour workshop “I Like the Earth Charter, Now What Do I Do With It?” The overall brainstorming goal to “use the Earth Charter in all aspects of life” is broken down into 15 Topics (A-O) with over 100 questions developed by the Earth Charter U.S. on using the Earth Charter as a worker, student, retiree, parent, shopper, diner, etc.

Read the questions.


School Sisters of Notre Dame: Study and Reflection Guides

The School Sisters of Notre Dame developed seven study guides based on the Earth Charters. In addition to using the guides in their own community, the Schools Sisters provide printouts of each study guide to more than 400 people.

Read more: School Sisters of Notre Dame: Study and Reflection Guides


YES! Magazine: Earth Charter Curricular Module

YES! A Journal of Positive Futures Magazine, offers free teacher resources, including an online curriculum called “YES! Earth Charter Curricular Module,” which is written for students in grades 5-12.

The Earth Charter Curricular Module includes articles that “demonstrate the charter's principles through the stories of people—in the U.S. and around the globe—who are working on solutions to profound social and environmental challenges.”

Read more: YES! Magazine: Earth Charter Curricular Module


Join Earth Charter U.S.

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