Nature In Service of
Humanity (misnamed "World Charter for Nature")
The General Assembly,
Reaffirming the fundamental
purposes of the United Nations, in particular the maintenance of international
peace and security, the development of friendly relations among nations and the
achievement of international cooperation in solving international problems of
an economic, social, cultural, technical, intellectual or humanitarian
(a) Mankind is a part
of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems
which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients,
(b) Civilization is
rooted in nature, which has shaped human culture and influenced all artistic
and scientific achievements, and living in harmony with nature gives man the
best opportunities for the development of his creativity, and for rest and
(a) Every form of
life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to man, and, to
accord other organisms such recognition, man must be guided by a moral code of
(b) Man can alter nature and exhaust natural resources by his
action or its consequences and, therefore, must fully recognize the urgency of
maintaining the stability and quality of nature and of conserving natural
(a) Lasting benefits
from nature depend upon the maintenance of essential ecological processes and
life support systems, and upon the diversity of life forms, which are
jeopardized through excessive exploitation and habitat destruction by man,
(b) The degradation of natural systems owing to excessive consumption
and misuse of natural resources, as well as to failure to establish an
appropriate economic order among peoples and among States, leads to the
breakdown of the economic, social and political framework of civilization,
(c) Competition for scarce resources creates conflicts, whereas the
conservation of nature and natural resources contributes to justice and the
maintenance of peace and cannot be achieved until mankind learns to live in
peace and to forsake war and armaments,
Reaffirming that man must
acquire the knowledge to maintain and enhance his ability to use natural
resources in a manner which ensures the preservation of the species and
ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations,
convinced of the need for appropriate measures, at the national and
international, individual and collective, and private and public levels, to
protect nature and promote international co-operation in this field,
Adopts, to these ends, the present World Charter for Nature, which
proclaims the following principles of conservation by which all human conduct
affecting nature is to be guided and judged.
1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall
not be impaired.
2. The genetic viability on the earth shall not be
compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated,
must be at least sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary
habitat shall be safeguarded.
3. All areas of the earth, both land and
sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection
shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different
types of ecosystems and to the habitat of rare or endangered species.
4. Ecosystems and organisms, as well as the land, marine and
atmospheric resources that are utilized by man, shall be managed to achieve and
maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger
the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.
5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or
other hostile activities.
6. In the decision-making process it shall be recognized that
man's needs can be met only by ensuring the proper functioning of natural
systems and by respecting the principles set forth in the present Charter.
7. In the planning and implementation of social and economic
development activities, due account shall be taken of the fact that the
conservation of nature is an integral part of those activities.
formulating long-term plans for economic development, population growth and the
improvement of standards of living, due account shall be taken of the long-term
capacity of natural systems to ensure the subsistence and settlement of the
populations concerned, recognizing that this capacity may be enhanced through
science and technology.
9. The allocation of areas of the earth to
various uses shall be planned and due account shall be taken of the physical
constraints, the biological productivity and diversity and the natural beauty
of the areas concerned.
10. Natural resources shall not be wasted, but
used with a restraint appropriate to the principles set forth in the present
Charter, in accordance with the following rules:
(a) Living resources
shall not be utilized in excess of their natural capacity for regeneration;
(b) The productivity of soils shall be maintained or enhanced through
measures which safeguard their long-term fertility and the process of organic
decomposition, and prevent erosion and all other forms of degradation;
(c) Resources, including water, which are not consumed as they are used
shall be reused or recycled;
(d) Non-renewable resources which are
consumed as they are used shall be exploited with restraint, taking into
account their abundance, their rational possibilities of converting them for
consumption, and the compatibility of their exploitation with the functioning
of natural systems.
11. Activities which might have an impact on nature
shall be controlled, and the best available technologies that minimize
significant risks to nature or other adverse effects shall be used; in
(a) Activities which are likely to cause irreversible
damage to nature shall be avoided;
(b) Activities which are likely to
pose a significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive
examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that expected benefits outweigh
potential damage to nature, and where potential adverse effects are not fully
understood, the activities should not proceed;
(c) Activities which may
disturb nature shall be preceded by assessment of their consequences, and
environmental impact studies of development projects shall be conducted
sufficiently in advance, and if they are to be undertaken, such activities
shall be planned and carried out so as to minimize potential adverse effects;
(d) Agriculture, grazing, forestry and fisheries practices shall be
adapted to the natural characteristics and constraints of given areas;
(e) Areas degraded by human activities shall be rehabilitated for
purposes in accord with their natural potential and compatible with the
well-being of affected populations.
12. Discharge of pollutants into
natural systems shall be avoided and:
(a) Where this is not feasible,
such pollutants shall be treated at the source, using the best practicable
(b) Special precautions shall be taken to prevent
discharge of radioactive or toxic wastes.
13. Measures intended to
prevent, control or limit natural disasters, infestations and diseases shall be
specifically directed to the causes of these scourges and shall avoid averse
side-effects on nature.
14. The principles set forth in the present Charter shall be reflected
in the law and practice of each State, as well as at the international level.
15. Knowledge of nature shall be broadly disseminated by all possible
means, particularly by ecological education as an integral part of general
16. All planning shall include, among its essential
elements, the formulation of strategies for the conservation of nature, the
establishment of inventories of ecosystems and assessments of the effects on
nature of proposed policies and activities; all of these elements shall be
disclosed to the public by appropriate means in time to permit effective
consultation and participation.
17. Funds, programmes and
administrative structures necessary to achieve the objective of the
conservation of nature shall be provided.
18. Constant efforts shall be
made to increase knowledge of nature by scientific research and to disseminate
such knowledge unimpeded by restrictions of any kind.
19. The status of
natural processes, ecosystems and species shall be closely monitored to enable
early detection of degradation or threat, ensure timely intervention and
facilitate the evaluation of conservation policies and methods.
Military activities damaging to nature shall be avoided.
and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international
organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:
Co-operate in the task of conserving nature through common activities and other
relevant actions, including information exchange and consultations;
Establish standards for products and other manufacturing processes that may
have adverse effects on nature, as well as agreed methodologies for assessing
(c) Implement the applicable international legal
provisions for the conservation of nature and the protection of the
(d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdictions or
control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States
or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
Safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
22. Taking fully into account the sovereignty of States over their
natural resources, each State shall give effect to the provisions of the
present Charter through its competent organs and in co-operation with other
23. All persons, in accordance with their national legislation,
shall have the opportunity to participate, individually or with others, in the
formulation of decisions of direct concern to their environment, and shall have
access to means of redress when their environment has suffered damage or
24. Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the
provisions of the present Charter, acting individually, in association with
others or through participation in the political process, each person shall
strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present Charter
This work is excerpted from an official document of the
United Nations as quoted in
Other Ecocentric Texts