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Earth Charter Initiative
Mechanism of Operation

ECI Strategy & Focus Areas

The following are the goals and strategic objectives of the Earth Charter Initiative.


  • To raise awareness worldwide of the Earth Charter and to promote understanding of its inclusive ethical vision.
  • To seek recognition and endorsement of the Earth Charter by individuals, organizations, and the United Nations.
  • To promote the use of the Earth Charter as an ethical guide and the implementation of its principles by civil society, business, and government.
  • To encourage and support the educational use of the Earth Charter in schools, universities, religious communities, local communities, and many other settings.
  • To promote recognition and use of the Earth Charter as a soft law document.

Strategic Objectives:

  • To promote development of a global network of Earth Charter supporters and activists with the collaboration of advisors, affiliates, partner organizations, and task forces.
  • To create and disseminate high quality communications and educational materials to different target groups that will reach millions of people.
  • To translate key Earth Charter materials in all major languages of the world.
  • To set up Earth Charter websites in all countries in partnership with key individuals and organizations.
  • To promote the Earth Charter vision in key local, national and international events and engage individuals and organizations in applying it in their areas of activity.
  • To position the Earth Charter in relation to important international initiatives and processes so that its ethical framework can be used as a guide in efforts to address urgent challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, the Millennium Development Goals, food security, and conflict resolution.
  • To undertake training programmes to facilitate the uptake and application of the Earth Charter in different sectors.
  • To develop the guidance and instruments to help organizations, businesses, and local communities use the Earth Charter to assess progress toward sustainable development.

Decentralized Empowerment strategy

"Decentralized Empowerment for Scaling Up" is the short name given to a set of policy directives and decisions taken in 2007. The purpose of the strategy is to enable the massive expansion of the Earth Charter Initiative without having to grow the central administration, and to allow for a vast number of self-organizing efforts to multiply and grow.

In support of this new strategy, a set of Action Guidelines for Decentralized Empowerment of the Earth Charter Initiative were developed. Following these guidelines, any person, organization, or community can make use of the Earth Charter and put it to work in appropriate ways commensurate with their capacities and opportunities.

Focus Areas and Task Forces

At its third annual meeting in May 2008, the Earth Charter International (ECI) Council approved the creation of six Task Forces as part of a new long range plan that is based on the principle of decentralized empowerment and is designed to rapidly expand Earth Charter activities around the world. Each Task Force will focus on developing a network and promoting activities in one of the following areas:

  • Business
  • Education
  • the Media
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • United Nations and Global Governance
  • Youth

These six areas were chosen because they provide significant opportunities for using the Earth Charter strategically to advance the transition to sustainable ways of living. In most of these six areas, there are already a number of promising activities and projects on which the Task Forces can build on. In all these areas there is also the potential for interest in the Earth Charter to spread quite spontaneously or organically beyond the initial catalyzing effect of the Task Forces.

The Task Forces have been designed to operate as volunteer networks that will lead to independent initiatives. They have been conceptualized by the ECI Council and launched by various ECI Council members acting as “seed” team members. The ECI Council executive committee will approve appointment of the leadership team for each Task Force.

The rationale behind the decentralized empowerment strategy and the establishment of the Task Forces is based on the reality that the Earth Charter Initiative is a network and not a formally incorporated non-governmental organization (NGO). It is not possible for the Earth Charter Initiative to expand its influence around the world and realize its mission if it is conceived as a conventional organization where all activities are directed and controlled by one organization, the ECI Secretariat. Given the Earth Charter’s mission it would be impossible for even a large NGO to oversee the activities of the global Earth Charter Initiative and the cost and complexity of attempting such an undertaking would be extraordinary. It would be an impossible task and an unwise plan.

In actuality the Earth Charter Initiative has developed as a network of thousands of individuals and organizations that sometimes collaborate and often act independently. The ECI Council establishes policies and strategies for the ECI Secretariat and these policies and strategies also provide some guidance for the larger network that forms the Earth Charter Initiative. The small Secretariat provides a limited number of core services such as management of the international website and preparation of basic materials and resources. The offices of a number of ECI Council members already support and assist the Secretariat and constitute an extended Secretariat office in different regions of the world.

The leadership of each Task Force will be a team of approximately two to ten individuals. The purpose of each Task Force is to catalyze new Earth Charter activity and to promote a dramatic expansion of the Earth Charter network. Each Task Force will begin its work by clarifying the distinctive contribution the Earth Charter can make in its area and the niche that the Earth Charter can appropriately fill. It will also be necessary to develop a plan of action with short and long range goals and strategies for achieving these goals. The Task Force will then enlist the volunteer leadership and support needed to implement its plans and must mobilize the necessary resources. Each Task Force will become its own network of Earth Charter ambassadors and activists.

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