- 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.
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:
- the Media
- the United Nations
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 ECI Council will also periodically review the progress and work of each Task Force. However, the ECI Council and the ECI Secretariat will not direct nor manage the work of the Task Forces. The Secretariat will provide some basic services in support of the Task Forces. The Secretariat may also play a role in advancing the work of some Task Forces when it has the expertise and resources to be helpful as in the case, for example, of education. It is expected that the Task Force leadership teams will include many individuals who are not members of the ECI Council, and that other organizations will provide services for the Task Forces, thereby giving further effect to the concept of an “extended secretariat”.
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.
As part of the new long range plan, the ECI Council also approved two other projects that involve improving the current worldwide web platform of the Earth Charter Initiative and preparing the communications materials, including books, brochures, and films, required to support expansion of the Initiative in the areas on which the Task Forces are focused. The worldwide web platform will involve establishing a local website in every nation in an appropriate language or languages. These local websites will all be equipped with the same basic information about the Earth Charter and the Initiative, and they may be further developed to address the local context. The Secretariat will assist with these two projects.
The Secretariat will post on the Earth Charter International website periodic reports on the activities of the Task Forces and on the progress of the two related projects. Individuals interested in supporting the work of a Task Force are encouraged to contact the leadership team directly.