Earth Charter Initiative
“The Earth Charter Initiative” is the collective name for the extraordinarily diverse, global network of people, organizations, and institutions that participate in promoting and implementing the values and principles of the Earth Charter.
The Initiative is a broad-based, voluntary, civil society effort. Participants include leading international institutions, national governments and their agencies, university associations, non-government organizations and community-based groups, city governments, faith groups, schools and businesses – as well as thousands of individuals.
Many organizations have formally endorsed the Earth Charter and are using it or promoting its vision and many others are using or promoting the Charter without enacting an endorsement.
Earth Charter International (ECI)
Earth Charter International consists of the ECI Council and Secretariat. ECI exists to advance the Earth Charter Initiative Mission and Vision. It endeavors to promote the dissemination, adoption, use and implementation of the Earth Charter and to support the growth and development of the Earth Charter Initiative. ECI was created in 2006 as part of a major reorganization and expansion of Earth Charter activities.
It is important to remember that although the Earth Charter International Council provides leadership and guidance to the broader Initiative it does not directly govern or control the Earth Charter Initiative as a whole. The Initiative is not governed in any formal sense. The Council is responsible only for the governance of Earth Charter International.
The Earth Charter Commission, which was formed in early 1997 as an independent, international body by the Earth Council and Green Cross International, oversaw the Earth Charter consultation and drafting process, approved the final text of the Earth Charter, and launched the Earth Charter in 2000. The Commission retains authority over the text of the Earth Charter, and its members advise Earth Charter International and serve as Earth Charter Ambassadors. However, the Commission is no longer involved in oversight of the Earth Charter Initiative. That responsibility has been given to the Earth Charter International Council.
The ECI Secretariat, which is based at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica, endeavours to promote the mission, vision, strategies and policies adopted by the ECI Council. It supports the work of the Council, assists with strategic planning and coordinates many Earth Charter activities. The Secretariat guides and liaises with efforts to bring the Earth Charter to the fields of education, youth, business and religion, manages communications with the larger Earth Charter network, and promotes the use of the Earth Charter as an international soft law document.
Roles of Major Actors
ECI Affiliates are individuals or organizations that share the Earth Charter vision and are committed to promoting the Earth Charter and helping implement ECI strategies in their countries. Affiliates enter into a formal agreement with Earth Charter International to be an active source of Earth Charter information and activity in their country. The ECI Secretariat coordinates activities with Affiliates and provides them with guidance and resource materials. There may be more than one Affiliate in a country. Decisions about designating Affiliates are made by the ECI Secretariat. When a new Affiliate is being created in country where there already exist one or more Affiliates, the existing Affiliates may be consulted. Affiliates agree to maintain close communications contact with Earth Charter International and to provide reports of important Earth Charter-related activity happening in their regions. Similarly, ECI agrees to keep Affiliates informed of key decisions and events that affect them and to provide them with some level of guidance, strategic advice, and communications support (the level of which is dependent on resource availability).
2. Partner Organizations
Strategic Partners are organizations whose activities are directly and programmatically supportive to the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Initiative, or whose activities are in harmony with Earth Charter principles. These will mostly be international organizations, but they may also be nationally or locally focused. Partner Organizations enter into a formal agreement (a Memorandum of Understanding, Letter of Agreement, or some other formal acknowledgement) with Earth Charter International on specific projects that describe how the Partner will work to support and promote the Earth Charter and how Earth Charter International will support them.
Among the ECI partners is Earth Charter Associates, Ltd. (ECA). ECA is a legally incorporated entity based in the United States that has been created to provide legal and fundraising support for ECI.
An Endorser is any individual or an organization that formally expresses their support and commitment to the spirit and aims of the Earth Charter document. The category of Endorser is open to organizations of any size as well as to individuals. The ECI Secretariat has actively sought the endorsement of major international and national organizations
4. Volunteers or Supporters
Volunteers or Supporters are Endorsers who commit and donate resources - time, money, network relationships, and public promotion or whatever is appropriate to them - to the Earth Charter Initiative. They may be organizations, governments, or individuals. “Volunteers or Supporters" are the equivalent of members in a traditional NGO membership programme, except that they acquire no formal rights from their Supporter status. Although ECI seeks broad sponsorship, it reserves the right to say “no, thanks” to specific organizations or people who might want to make a donation of some kind or promote the Earth Charter in a certain way. Supporters or Volunteers do have the right to identify themselves as a “Supporter of the Earth Charter Initiative” or a “Volunteer for the Earth Charter Initiative”.