NGO Documents for the Earth Summit, 1992
Non-Governmental Organization Alternative Treaties
at the '92 Global Forum
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Treaty 1. People's Earth Declaration
A Proactive Agenda For The Future
1. We, the participants of the International NGO Forum at the Global Forum '92, have
met in Rio de Janeiro as citizens of planet earth to share our concerns, our dreams and
our plans for creating a new future for our world. We emerge from these deliberations with
a profound sense that in the richness of our diversity, we share a common vision of a
human society grounded in the values of simplicity, love, peace and reverence for life. We
now go forth in solidarity to mobilize the moral and human resources of all nations in a
unified social movement committed to the realization of this vision.
2. The urgency of our commitment is heightened by the choice of the world's political
leaders in the official deliberations of the Earth Summit to neglect many of the most
fundamental causes of the accelerating ecological and social devastation of our planet.
While they engage in the fine tuning of an economic system that serves the short term
interests of the few at the expense of the many, the leadership for more fundamental
change has fallen by default to the organizations and movements of civil society. We
accept this challenge.
3. In so doing, we wish to remind the world's political and corporate leaders that the
authority of the state and the powers of the private corporation are grants extended to
these institutions by the sovereign people, by civil society, to serve the collective
human interest. It is the people's right to demand that governments and corporations
remain accountable to the public will and interest. Yet through a process of global
economic integration pressed on the world's people by the Group of 7 (G-7) governments,
the Bretton Woods institutions the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and transnational corporations, the
sovereign right and ability of the world's people to protect their economic, social,
cultural and environmental interests against the growing power of transnational capital is
being seriously and rapidly eroded.
4. This erosion has been only one of the many damaging consequences of a development
model grounded in the pursuit of economic growth and consumption to the exclusion of the
human and natural interest. Others include the increasing spiritual impoverishment of
human society, the economic impoverishment of some 1.2 billion people, the rapidly
widening gap between rich and poor, economic racism, institutionalized exploitation of
women, the displacement of millions from their lands and communities, marginalization of
the handicapped and the progressive destruction of the ecological systems that sustain us
5. The path of deepening international debt, structural adjustment, market
deregulation, free trade and the monopolization of intellectual property rights that
currently dominates policy thought and action is a path to collective self-destruction,
not to sustainable development. We will use our votes, our moral authority and our
purchasing power to remove from positions of authority those who insist on advancing these
socially and ecologically destructive policies to serve short-term elite interests.
6. The Bretton Woods institutions have served as the major instruments by which these
destructive policies have been imposed on the world. They constitute a formidable barrier
to just and sustainable development. We will work for their transformation or replacement
by more suitable institutions. Until they have become fully transparent, publicly
accountable and supportive of the human interest, they must not be allowed to capture
control of the sustainability agenda.
7. The world's military forces survive primarily as instruments to protect elite
interests and suppress the civil unrest that results from economic injustice. They further
place an unconscionable burden on earth's scarce ecological resources. We will work for
their elimination and the transfer of their resources to more beneficial purposes. As a
first step we will work to end international arms trade and assistance.
8. These are realities the official United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) process has avoided. They have been among our central concerns.
9. We have not, however, limited our attention to critique. We have also sought to
define our vision for an alternative future and our agenda for its accomplishment. We are
diverse in our experience and languages. We seek alternatives for which there are no clear
models. The existing dominant development model and its supporting institutions emerged
over a period of some 500 years. The two weeks we spent in Rio are only a beginning toward
crafting an alternative. We have achieved a broadly shared consensus that the following
principles will guide our continuing collective effort.
10. The fundamental purpose of economic organization is to meet the community's basic
needs, such as for food, shelter, clothing, education, health and the enjoyment of
culture. This purpose must take priority over all other forms of consumption, particularly
wasteful and destructive forms of consumption such as consumerism and military spending
both of which must be eliminated without further delay. Other immediate priorities include
energy conservation, shifting to reliance on solar energy sources and converting
agriculture to sustainable practices that minimize dependence on non-renewable and
ecologically harmful inputs.
11. Beyond meeting basic physical needs, the quality of human life depends more on the
development of social relationships, creativity, cultural and artistic expressions,
spirituality and opportunity to be a productive member of the community, than on the ever
increasing consumption of material goods. Everyone, including the handicapped, must have a
full opportunity to participate in all these forms of development.
12. Organizing economic life around decentralized relatively self-reliant local
economies that control and manage their own productive resources and have the right to
safeguard their own environmental and social standards is essential to sustainability. It
strengthens attachments to place, encourages environmental stewardship, enhances local
food security, and accommodates distinctive cultural identities. Where the rights and
interests of the corporation conflict with the rights and interests of the community, the
latter must prevail.
13. All elements of society, irrespective of gender, class or ethnic identity, have a
right and obligation to participate fully in the life and decisions of the community. The
presently poor and disenfranchised, in particular, must become full participants. Women's
roles, needs, values and wisdom are especially central to decision-making on the fate of
the Earth. There is an urgent need to involve women at all levels of policy- making,
planning and implementation on an equal basis with men. Gender balance is essential to
sustainable development. Indigenous peoples also bring vital leadership to the task of
conserving the earth and its creatures and in creating a new life-affirming global
reality. Indigenous wisdom constitutes one of human society's important and irreplaceable
resources. The rights and contributions of indigenous peoples must be recognized.
14. While overall population growth is a danger to the health of the planet, growth in
the numbers of the world's over-consumers is a more important threat than population
growth among the poor. Assuring all people the means to meet their basic needs is an
essential precondition to stabilizing population. Reproductive freedom and access to
comprehensive reproductive health care and family planning are basic human rights.
15. Knowledge is humanity's one infinitely expandable resource. Beneficial knowledge in
whatever form, including technology, is a part of the collective human heritage and should
be freely shared with all who might benefit from it.
16. Debt bondage, whether of an individual or country, is immoral and should be held
unenforceable in international and civil law.
17. Transparency must be the fundamental premise underlying decision-making in all
public institutions, including at international levels.
18. Implementation of these principles toward transformational change will require a
massive commitment to education. New understanding, values and skills are needed at all
levels and across all elements of society. We will educate ourselves, our communities and
our nations to this end.
19. We acknowledge our debt to indigenous wisdom and values. These have greatly
enriched our deliberations and will be sources of continued learning. We will honor this
heritage and work to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
20. Our thinking has also been enriched by the teachings of the many religious
traditions represented among us. We recognize the central place of spiritual values and
spiritual development in the society we seek to create. We commit ourselves to live by the
values of simplicity, love, peace and reverence for life shared by all religious
21. Our efforts in Rio have produced a number of people's treaties to define more
specific commitments to one another for action at local, national and international
levels. These treaties are in varying stages of development. All are documents in process.
We will further refine them through countless dialogues and negotiations throughout the
world as ever larger numbers of people join our growing movement.
22. We invite the leaders of business and government to join us in this act of global
citizenship. They must, however, know that we no longer wait for them to lead us in
dealing with a global reality they have so far chosen to ignore. The time is too short and
the stakes too high.
23. We, the people of the world, will mobilize the forces of transnational civil
society behind a widely shared agenda that bonds our many social movements in pursuit of
just, sustainable and participatory human societies. In so doing, we are forging our own
instruments and processes for redefining the nature and meaning of human progress and for
transforming those institutions that no longer respond to our needs. We welcome to our
cause all people who share our commitment to peaceful and democratic change in the
interest of our living planet and the human societies it sustains.
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