Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
The Earth Charter is a declaration of ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all peoples a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world.
It calls on us to search for common ground in the midst of human diversity and to embrace a new ethical vision that is shared by growing numbers of people in many nations and cultures throughout the world.
Now translated into 50 languages, the Earth Charter is gaining widespread support as a tool for education on sustainability, for dialogue and for individual reflection and change.
"I believe that the Earth Charter gives ethical and moral orientations that will help strengthen the human spirit. The Earth Charter opens a new phase not only in the ecological movement, but also in the world's public life."
Mikhail Gorbachev, cochair of the Earth Charter Commission
It is a "people's document" that was created through a unique process of global dialogue and consultation over several years. As such, the Charter reflects a new consensus on shared values in the emerging global civil society. So far it has been endorsed by over 4,500 groups around the world including governments and international organizations.
While the Earth Charter is centrally concerned with the environment, it recognizes that environmental protection, human rights, equitable human development and peace are interdependent and indivisible.
"I have been an ardent supporter of the Earth Charter since it was launched. Many agree that the Earth Charter is in a way a draft of a world constitution for the future."
Dr. Hazel Henderson, environmental economist
The Earth Charter Initiative, based in Costa Rica, has grown into a global movement supported by youth groups, educators, engineers, faith-based groups, cities, local governments and NGOs. Belonging to no one culture or religion, it can resonate with all, and it brings different groups together with a common aim. related article Learn, Reflect, Empower: SGI and Education for Sustainable Development by Nobuyuki Asai, Japan The SGI has developed wide-ranging activities to promote environmental protection and sustainable development. Education and awareness-raising are the main focus.
SGI groups in over 25 countries are now actively involved in promoting the Earth Charter and finding ways to put it into practice at the local level, working in partnership with other community groups and organizations. The Charter's message resonates deeply with the Buddhist view of the dignity and interconnectedness of all life and it is an excellent tool for education for sustainability as well as for interfaith dialogue, as it expresses the common values of humanity and our shared dream of a peaceful, sustainable world.
SGI has coproduced two educational exhibitions about sustainability which introduce the Earth Charter. The first, "Seeds of Change: The Earth Charter and Human Potential, "was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. It has been translated into 13 languages and been seen by over 1.5 million people in 27 countries. A new exhibition, "Seeds of Hope, Visions of Sustainability, Steps Toward Change," a joint initiative of SGI and the Earth Charter International, was launched at Earth Charter +10 events in Mexico and the Netherlands in 2010, and has been shown at venues throughout Taiwan and Malaysia.
"The Earth Charter is actually about values, the kind of values we need to cultivate in order to make our continued existence sustainable."
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda