Foundation for Ecodevelopment
        (stichting Mondiaal Alternatief)

MA is an internationally active environmental organisation.

We are located at different places in the Netherlands.

Its head office is situated at Hoofddorp.

Post Office Box 151

2130 AD Hoofddorp - the Netherlands

TEL: 31-(0)23-5632305



---------------- February 27, 1992 EARTH CHARTER, JAPAN (draft translation)

We, citizens of Japan, in recognition that our way of life plays a significant contribution to the oppression of the developing world, and is pushing the global environment to its limits, would like to present what we would like to be our way, as a guide to our future daily lives and public activities, to help restore the environment and safeguard its future. The Global Environment in Danger Threats to the global environment are quickly closing in. Humanity's very foundation, the Earth, is being pushed to its limits due to mankind's unsustainable use of natural resources and the uncontrolled consequences of industrial development. The present dangers have arisen excessive materialism: an unwarranted placement of value on "things" and too little value on the role of the "heart" or "spirit". This shift in values is closely entwined with the rapid expansion of industrial activities, outlined below, which have taken place since the Industrial Revolution:


1. The use of non-renewable natural resources (oil, minerals etc.) without taking their limited availability into account;


2. The use of other natural resources (forests, wildlife etc.) at a rate exceeding their natural power of regeneration;


3. The generation and use of enormous quantities of energy for industrial processes and daily life, without taking its impact on the environment into account.


4. The production of enormous quantities of toxic waste materials through industrial processes;


5. The application of mega-scale technology and mega-scale land development without taking ecological systems into account.


The North-South Imbalance Present day human society reflects the course of history. Today, there is a wide margin of inequality between the materially affluent societies, typical of the industrialized northern nations, and the impoverished societies typical of the southern developing nations. All societies have different cultural backgrounds and different systems of values, but all share the responsibility of belonging to one human society in relation to the earth. However, the northern nations, with their greater commitment to material values are failing to meet their responsibilities to the global environment. The pattern of unsustainable development which they have championed cannot continue: it is driving the earth, and all its peoples, towards ruin. We who live in Japan, one of the world's most materially affluent societies, must make efforts to reform our wasteful lifestyles. At the same time, we must assist the people of the southern nations whose lives and futures are adversely affected by our own materialistic desires. We must work together to find a sustainable way of life which we can all share. Earth's Web of Life The earth on which we live exists in the midst of a great energy cycle, revolving around the sun. The energy cycle created the unique conditions for life on Earth. Over the course of billions of years evolved the many species of plants and animals which constitute the Earth's precious hallmark of staggering biodiversity.


Mankind is a part of this diversity, not separate from the rest, and the evolution of human culture has depended on it. If we continue to wipe out diversity, we will be wiping out the basis of our own existence. Humankind Unified Although each nation on Earth may have its own culture, politics and systems of values, we all share the basic needs of mankind. At the most fundamental level, all nations need water, food and shelter. Mankind's rich array of cultures have all been built on these same foundations. If the present division between affluent society and impoverished society is to be re-evaluated and its injustices addressed, and if the global environment is to be safeguarded, all nations must cooperate, while mutually respecting one another's differences. We must respect one another's knowledge; the natural resources within national boundaries and those which transcend national boundaries. With unprecedented support, our generation has expressed the will to accept responsibility for the actions of our forebears of our own. We have realized that it is immoral to defer this responsibility to future generations: it will be too late.


Giving Weight to Spiritual Values In our judgment, modern civilization awards undeserved precedence to materialistic affluence, while treating spiritual values too lightly. A materialistic world view justifies large-scale production and large-scale consumption, accepting the destruction of the natural environment for the sake of economic profit - but that is not all. A materialistic world belittles the importance of spiritual values. If we ignore our uniquely human sensitivities and meditative insights, we deny ourselves the discovery of a richer world. The Pursuit of Peace Whenever there is war, considerations of environmental protection, and of justice and equality among people are thrown to the winds. all nations of the world must make efforts to maintain peace in the interest of protecting the global environment on which we all depend.


Even in the absence of war, enormous amounts of effort and money are spent to maintain military establishments, and to develop and stockpile weapons. Much of these vast military resources should be redirected to help provide a more stable existence for the most needy communities, and for the restoration and protection of the global environment. Democracy All people on Earth have the right of access to information which concerns their lives and livelihoods. This includes rights of access not only to information regarding our immediate surroundings, but also regarding the condition of the society to which we belong and the Earth as a whole. In addition, and of equal importance, we also have the right to participate in the decision-making process regarding our own fate, and that of our societies, nations and the Earth. With the knowledge and awareness gained through such participation, we can establish and act according to democratic principles. For the protection of the global environment and the implementation of a just global society, democracy is indispensable.


A New Concept of Development

In order to overcome the apparent contradiction between environmental protection and development, we need to develop a new framework for society. This depends on establishing a new system of values and new socioeconomic structures, which will be sustainable for future generations. We believe that there are two important criteria for developing these new systems:


1. Basic materials of life, such as water, food and shelter should be cycled in local societies, not to be supplied from distance. We should not destruct environment upon which people of other areas depend, being unconscious of our behavior's effect on them;


2. In all societies, in both northern and southern countries, the provision of material necessities - food, clothing, shelter and clean water - should be based as far as possible on what is available locally. By avoiding the need to bring in materials from far away, we can avoid the potential for unconsciously causing destruction of the environment at some other location, distant in space or time.


The Role of Education Knowledge of our relationships with people of other cultures, and of our complex relationships with the global environment are vital foundation stones for building a better global society. But knowledge is not enough: we need to try to understand these relationships through the spiritual emotions of joy and despair, and to communicate these feelings, as well as knowledge, to our own generation and to the young people of future generations. We must seize every opportunity to enhance the vitality of environmental education, development education and peace education. to the People of the Northern Countries The national and local governments, business corporations and citizens of the northern countries, including Japan, must accept responsibility for their significant role in the destruction of the global environment. We must reduce our present, unsustainable levels of consumption and set about reforming our ways of life and economic structures in earnest. Through mutual cooperation within and between our societies citizens must reform our lifestyles and reduce waste; business corporations must ensure that commodity prices incorporate environmental costs, and governments must take the lead in implementing environmental protection.


To the People of the Southern Countries the course of history and the pattern of contemporary politics and economics have created many inequalities between north and south. Exploitation of the natural resources of the southern countries continues to bring greater benefits to northern nations. Many southern nations have become trapped in a system over which they have little control, and which is eroding the resources on which their futures depend. As northern countries wake up to their responsibilities and realize the damage they have caused by promoting unsustainable development and environmental destruction, we urge the southern countries not to follow our destructive footsteps and to seek instead a course of development based on sustainability and the knowledge of traditional civilizations.


Resolution of the Citizens of Japan

We citizens of Japan here again, state our resolve, and take this statement as a new departure point for the continuation of the global environment, and for the implementation of a new global environment, and for the implementation of a new global society in which all the nations of the world can live in mutual peace and self-sufficiency. PEOPLE'S ACTION PLAN, JAPAN TOWARDS 21ST CENTURY


We Japanese citizens, who have been given life on earth during a period in which immediate and positive steps are required to ensure its survival, propose here our action plan for a better world in the 21st century. Our plan forms a basis for positive initiatives and action by all Japanese citizens. We call on individuals, communities, business societies, the government and international organizations to implement it.


1. Individual Responsibilities

We give thanks for our human existence as an integral part of the earth's many ecosystems, closely associated with other living things in the complex web of life.

We will aim for a wiser use of natural resources - including energy and other living things - restricting the use of non- renewable and slowly-renewable resources to ensure sustainability for future generations and to maintain the balance of natural ecosystems. of our lives.

We will seek a better understanding of how our daily life affects the earth's natural environment and, with this knowledge, strive to adapt our lifestyles in an appropriate way.

We must aim to use energy sparingly and reduce wastage.

We will give greater protection to wild fauna and flora, avoiding all unnecessary, inhumane and nonsustainable use of the products and services they may provide. Japan's economic activities not only consume large amounts of energy and resources, but also have an adverse effect on the lives and rights of the people of developing nations.

We must reform present systems of production and consumption. Where possible, the basic materials of life, such as food, water and shelter will be produced and consumed locally, avoiding exploitation of these resources in distant areas. Every individual has a role to play to bring about change.

We will publicise our views and beliefs, and lobby local government, national government, business and international organizations to develop positive policies towards environmental protection.

On a local scale, we will participate in activities to improve the environments we live in. We will protect our forests and biodiversity;

we will seek to safeguard our water and soil from pollution.

We will seek close co-operation between producers and consumers, re-evaluating our methods of agriculture, forestry and fishing and, where necessary, developing systems more compatible with our local ecology.

Beyond local horizons, we will strive to establish links with citizens of other regions and nations, sharing information and ideas and learning more about the lifestyles of indigenous people who live in greater harmony with nature.

We will consider our own occupations and the impact they have on the environment. Where this in damaging, we will be active in seeking necessary changes. Women and men have an equal contribution to make to the development and implementation of better environmental policies.

We will uphold the principle and practice of equal participation and rights for women. We will support the establishment of a non-governmental Japan Environmental Center, to act as an information exchange on the results of domestic and international research into environmental problems, and as a cener for campaign co- ordination. research into environmental problems, and conduct campaigns to protect the environment.


2. Responsibilities of Local Governments

Local governments bears responsibility for, and plays an important role in the preservation of its areas forests, soil, water and biological diversity. All local governments should establish clear environmental principles and review their organization, policy and operations to ensure these principles are upheld in all areas of their actiity. Furthermore, in conjunction with local residents and business corporations, local governments should take the initiative to set up local environmental committees to agree environmental principles, objectives and policies, and to seek co-operation from all sectors of the community in implementing these. Working together, local government and community environmental committees must share the responsibility for control of local economic activity, through all stages of production, distribution, consumption and disposal, according to the agreed environmental principles. Effective recycling schemes should be introduced and encouraged to reduce waste as much as possible. Resources brought in from other areas and wastes carried out to other areas will be minimised. As far as possible, food, water, energy and other daily necessities will be locally produced. Local objectives for reduced energy use should be set. Public transport systems should be reviewed and develped to maximise energy efficiency and safety. Local government and community environmental committees from different areas should co-operate with each other and forge links with national and international organizations to exchange information and develop solidarity. In regard to their own activities, local governments should consider advice from independent environmental bodies, and appoint independent groups to act as environmental watchdogs. Information relating to the local environment should be made public to citizens, and their opinions sought. Non-sustainable natural resources from outside the local area will not be used in public projects - for example, timber from tropical forests will not be used in public construction projects. Citizens and corporations will also be encouraged to do likewise.


3. Responsibilities of Corporations

All corporations should take greater responsibility for their actions. This applies to all operations - both inside and oustside Japan - including supply, manufacturing, distribution, sales and disposal of wastes.

Corporations should not participate or encourage operations which involve the non-sustainable use of natural resources, irreversibly damage natural ecosystems, threaten the future of other living species or adversely affect the lives of other commnities. Corporations should introduce new accounting systems when costing their operations. These should include the costs of environmental damage due to resource extraction. Industrial systems and processes must be reviewed and changed to reduce emission of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants. The useful lifespan of all products should be maximized, and recycling schemes for materials and wastes should be encouraged and introduced. Products should be re-evaluated according to their potential for efficient re-cycling or harmless disposal.

Corporations will play an active role on local environmental committees, and be prepared to disclose all information regarding the impact of their operations on the environment.

Corporations should not stimulate demand and promote sales of goods which are environmentally destructive.

Corporations whose operations or products cause environmental damage or harm to consumers must be held responsible for adequate compensation and the implementation of measures to repair the damage.


4. Government Responsibilities

The Government of Japan must accept responsibility for environmental problems caused by its current economic and social models and policies. It must now construct new models and policies which will protect the environment on a local, regional and global scale and promote the basis of locally self-sufficient societies. Current international economic systems, supported by organizations such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are devoted to economic expansion and growth at the expense of sustainable development and environmental protection. The Government must seek to change the basis of these systems.

The concept of national agricultural independence, leading to self-sufficiency in food, should be kept as an important principle in sustainable development and global environmental protection. Domestic investment and incentives should be introduced to encourage sustainable use of forests and energy resources.

The government must take steps to significantly reduce the importation of natural resources and their products - including timber, fuel and minerals - whose exploitation is non-sustainable or damaging to the environment. In cases where imports continue, levies should be imposed on the imports to cover the full cost of repairing any damage incurred during extraction and processing n the country of origin.

The Government should play a positive and leading role in setting the necessary international targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Government commitment to this and other international treaties for environmental protection should be clearly established at UNCED.

Government policies to reduce domestic energy consumption are necessary, and structural changes should be made to reduce society's dependence on fossil fuels. The operation of the existing nuclear power station and nuclear fuel recycling plants should be halted and the policy of reliance on nuclear power should be changed.

The government should take the initiative to encourage urban decentralization and improve the efficiency of public transport in all areas. The use of trains, buses and bicycles should be encouraged and promoted, while automobile use should be discouraged.

The Government should reconsider and make a maximum effort to reduce the accumulated burden of debts owed by developing countries to the industrialized nations, or completely abandon a right to collect the debts. ODA (Official Development Assistance) policy should be modified from placing heavy priority on large scale project into small scale project in conformity of indigenous conditions of developing countries with involvement of NGOs in the process of implementation.

The Government should immediately ratify the World Heritage Convention. Compensation should be given to past victims of pollution, a system of relief for all victims of pollution established, and the sources of such pollutions eliminated. A system to publicize information on environmental problems and involve peoples in environmental assessment should be established. Military expenditure should be drastically cut and diverted to the environment.


5. Responsibilities of international Bodies

In order to promote sustainable development Environment and Development Council in parallel with Economic and Social Council in the institutional framework of United Nations should be established. An international court of the environment should be set up to mediate between interests related to the environment at local and global levels, and to allot and maintain rights, responsibilities and an appropriate division of duties. The legitimate position of NGOs at the United Nations should be discussed and their participation as official members of the organization recognized.

Alternate the policy of heavy centralization to Tokyo Metropolitan Area with over accumulation of people, information, transportation and energy beyond its ecological capacity into the one of decentralization and encourage local people to the independent and self-reliance.