The Earth Charter Initiative - Nigeria

Earth Charter Initiative timeline

The UN World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) recommends the creation of a universal declaration on environmental protection and sustainable development in the form of “a new charter” that will set forth the fundamental principles of sustainable development.


The Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero convenes with the goal, among others, to create an internationally accepted Earth Charter. However, governments fail to reach an agreement, and they adopt the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in place of a charter.


Under the leadership of Maurice Strong, secretary general of the Rio Earth Summit, the Earth Council is created to promote the implementation of the Earth Summit agreements and to advocate formation of national councils of sustainable development.


Maurice Strong, chairman of the Earth Council, and Mikhail Gorbachev, president of Green Cross International, launched a civil society initiative to draft the Earth Charter. The Dutch government provides initial financial support.


The Earth Council and Green Cross International begin international consultations designed to develop a people’s Earth Charter, and international experts and government officials gather for The Hague Earth Charter Workshop. The Earth Council is made the International Secretariat for the Earth Charter Initiative.


The Earth Council initiates an Earth Charter consultation process in preparation for the Rio+5 Forum. A summary and survey of international law principles relevant to the Earth Charter is prepared and circulated. At the end of the year, the Earth Charter and Green Cross International form an independent Earth Charter Commission to oversee the Earth Charter drafting process, and a drafting committee is formed.


The Earth Charter Commission convenes for its first meeting at the Rio+5 Forum in Rio de Janeiro. A Benchmark Draft of the Earth Charter is released as a “document in progress” at the conclusion of the Forum. Ongoing worldwide consultations are encouraged and organized.


Various groups join the Earth Charter Initiative and form Earth Charter National Committees in over 35 countries. These groups, as well as many others, undertake consultations on the Benchmark Draft and start using it as an educational tool.


Benchmark Draft II of the Earth Charter is released in April and international consultations continue. The number of Earth Charter National Committees grows to 45.


In March, the Earth Charter Commission convenes in Paris, France, to agree upon a final version of the document. The official public launch of the Earth Charter takes place in June at the Peace Palace in The Hague. An Earth Charter Steering Committee is formed to oversee the next phase in the Initiative. The major goals are to promote the dissemination, endorsement, and implementation of the Earth Charter by civil society, business, and government and to support the educational use of the Earth Charter in schools, universities, and other settings.


The Earth Charter Initiative makes a major effort to secure endorsement of the Earth Charter by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. During this Summit, many government leaders and NGOs declare their support for the Earth Charter, but formal recognition of the Earth Charter by the United Nations is not secured.


By this date the Earth Charter has been translated into thirty-two languages, widely disseminated around the world, and endorsed by over 2,400 organizations including UNESCO, IUCN and ICLEI. Both an internal and external strategic review of Earth Charter Initiative activities between 2000 and 2005 is undertaken. A major Earth Charter+5 gathering takes place in Amsterdam in November. At this event, the five-year strategic review is completed, the accomplishments of the Initiative are celebrated, and plans are made for the next phase in the Initiative.


A new Earth Charter International Council with twenty-three members is formed to replace the Steering Committee and to oversee the core programs and staff of the Secretariat. The Council together with the Secretariat is reorganized as Earth Charter International (ECI).


By this date the Earth Charter has been translated into forty languages and has been endorsed by 4,600 organizations, which represent the interests of hundreds of millions of people. The ECI Council adopts a new long range strategic plan that emphasizes the decentralized expansion of the Earth Charter Initiative. Six new independent task forces are created to promote decentralized expansion in the areas of Business, Education, The Media, Religion, the United Nations and Youth. 

A short history of the Earth Charter Initiative...