John McConnell

History of the original EARTH CHARTER - 1979

The original EARTH CHARTER, written by John McConnell, was featured in a large-sized illustrated poster. The poster was posted at key places at the United Nations. It was circulated and used by many UN Offices.

John McConnell (1915-2012), founder of Earth Day, felt there was a need for an Earth Charter -- a document that would set forth the key items humanity should address in order to achieve a viable future. In 1979 he wrote "The Earth Charter." John Drysdale persuaded Primary Metal & Mineral Corp. to print and donate to Earth Day (the celebration on the Spring Equinox at UN Headquarters and elsewhere) several thousand posters with The Earth Charter on one side and on the other side the beautiful image, "Ancient of Days," by William Blake (1757-1827), showing God reaching down to Earth. Earth was portrayed as seen from Space and below it the words:


The Earth Charter poster was featured at the United Nations each year on EARTH DAY. Elements of this document were incorporated in a newer document, composed in 1995, titled the "Earth Magna Charta" which is now on the Earth Society Foundation website at Earth Magna Charta, and also on John McConnell's web site: Earth Magna Charta.




John McConnell
Earth Day Founder



A Key To Earth's Survival

Here is a world view with incentives for our Earth's physical and spiritual regeneration. It calls for heroic efforts to achieve a critical common goal: To save our planet. Genuine cooperation to save Earth will lead to mutual understanding and trust -- a true basis upon which to forge lasting peacekeeping accords.

Disarmament can become a reality, economic order and opportunity can spread, and a spirit of cooperation can grow as we work together. The power of these ideals will make our Earth a healthy, peaceful planet -- a harmonious home for all our children to enjoy.

We can begin now, with a major effort this year and in each succeeding year, to become responsible custodians and benefactors of Earth's amazing web of life. With progress reported each year on Earth Day, we can, by the year 2000, observe a two year Bi-millennium to celebrate our triumph over fear and greed, graduating to a larger, richer destiny for our planet and its people.

In this year 1979 many people around the world realize that we are the first generation to determine the life or death of the planet we have inherited.

This Earth Charter is intended to help define our new role and responsibility and to strengthen the many efforts that are moving in this direction. It is intended to inspire unity and cooperation in our task that we may preserve, restore and increase Earth's beauty and bounty for our own and future generations.

People of all ideologies and religions can. and must, unite in pursuing this vital purpose. To many religious people, stewardship is a divine obligation: subjecting oneself to the will of God creatively and comprehensively. To humanitarians, stewardship is a moral imperative.

Every community on Earth is invited to ratify this Earth Charter and support it by their words and deeds.


Throughout recorded history there have been proclamations, declarations, charters and essays. Their ideas reflect humanity's search for a better future. We especially remember the Declaration of Independence and the United Nations Charter, which begin, "We the people...."

My first effort in this direction was a "Star of Hope Declaration," which was used in my failed attempt in 1957 (right after the first Sputnik) to obtain global cooperation in Space; to dramatize this with the launching of a visible Star of Hope Satellite containing signatures of all who would "... seek to work for things that heal, build and unite."

England's Magna Charta was in my mind when I wrote the original Earth Charter, and later in 1955, the Earth Magna Charta (for the latter, see Earth Magna Charta, and on my website at Earth Magna Charta). The heart of my Earth Magna Charta statement is a simple idea:

"Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure."

Words do have an effect, even though they seldom fully accomplish their purpose. Today the information explosion seems to blur what is true and important. A way to set things right is to make each International Earth Day (Equinox: March 20, 21) an Internet Earth Day.

On this day Email and Web sites can report what they are doing and what they plan to do that will implement the Earth Trustee idea. The goal will be to change attitudes and conduct worldwide from Earth Kill to Earth Care.

Web sites can give excitement and breakthrough-attention to the values that are shared by people of every creed -- resulting in powerful peaceful actions for the rejuvenation of our planet.

Make Every Web Site an Earth Trustee Web Site.
Set up Earth Trustee message boards and forums to report actions and their results.





In order for us as one human family to effectively assume our new role as the custodians of Earth, and as people who care about Earth's future, we will strive to act in accordance with the following principles and guidelines.

We are the first generation to determine the life or death of the planet we have inherited. The care of Earth is now our most important task.

The Earth Charter defines our new role and responsibility and strengthens our efforts. It inspires unity and cooperation in our task so that we may preserve, restore and increase Earth's beauty and bounty for our own and future generations. People of all ideologies and religions can, and must, unite in pursuing this vital purpose.

A massive communications effort is needed to publicize every program or product that improves the care of Earth. We must no longer condemn others, but each seek what we can honestly praise. In this way we can obtain public support and enthusiasm for Earth care action and motivate people everywhere to practice Earth care.

We believe that a vigorous united effort to understand, protect and revive our planet will at the same time promote mutual trust and accommodations needed for creating a peaceful future. The signers urge individuals and communities throughout the world to endorse and ratify this Earth Charter. Together we can save our planet.


Article 1. Earth Care

The natural bounty of land and sea is the inheritance and responsibility of all Earth's people. Each person's help is now needed for the care of Earth and each person can benefit from that care. We must each act responsibly to help nurture and care for our planet -- in our block, our neighborhood, our vocation and in the new policies, formulated within all institutions and governments, that affect the future of Earth. The fact of Earth's existence, and the nature of the live web of which we are all a part, should form the basis for all future actions.

Article 2. Earth Rights

We hereby determine that in pursuing the goal of Earth's renewal, opportunity will be provided every person on Earth to share in its future. More important than property rights and the rights of sovereignty is the fundamental right of each person's claim to a portion of our planet: and opportunity for every person, who will contribute to the care of Earth, to have a portion of land, a home, a job and the means to learn the skills needed to live a wholesome life.

Article 3. The Human Spirit

The greatest contributions to human progress -- whether in art, music, science, religion or philosophy -- have come from tapping the inner resources of the human spirit. To many religious people stewardship is a divine obligation: subjecting oneself to the will of God creatively and comprehensively. To humanitarians, stewardship is a moral imperative. To foster a global spirit of cooperation it is essential that we recognize our common desires for love, truth, beauty, justice and freedom, and that we are all inter-dependent members of one human family.

Article 4. Education

In order to carry out our responsibility as custodians of Earth, we must all learn how to produce, trade, consume and create without damaging the delicate fabric of life; to practice an Earth Care Ethic. An Earth Care Curriculum is now the first requisite for a good education.

Article 5. Production

We must walk the soft path that meets human needs without endangering the many interdependent Earth life forms that exist throughout our biosphere. So urgent is this task that we must now achieve the same kind of massive innovation that nations have demonstrated in time of war. Decentralism and self-help programs are urged for grass roots participation everywhere. Eventually, all mass-produced products must conform to Earth care criteria: (1) long life; (2) easy repair: (3) non-polluting in production and use; (4) energy efficient; and (5) recyclable.

Article 6. Trade-Marketing/Advertising

Our goal in Earth's renewal is to provide fair and equal access to credit, raw materials, exchange and trade,. Economic policies and incentives must reward those who provide basic human needs instead of those who, out of mindless shortsighted greed, unfairly exploit their neighbors. For this purpose a stable medium of exchange can and must be created, as well as an accessible means of mass transportation. Advertising should inform, not deceive.

Article 7. Consumption

Every consumer should realize each product he buys and uses can affect Earth for good or bad. An Earth Care Ethic will foster in our buying habits and personal conduct, choices that will avoid pollution and waste. Each person will be an educated consumer. The present practice of Earth Kill will be supplanted by Earth Care.

Article 8. Renewable Resources

The preservation, improvement and renewal of soil, water, air, wild life and vegetation must be a primary goal in our research and planning. All the basic physical needs of society must be obtained in ways that will increase rather than destroy Earth's renewable bounty. To this end a rapid transition is needed to greater conservation and use of renewable resources: to tracking and recycling scarce non-renewable raw materials, to new land use policies for clean water, healthy soil, parks, gardens and creative humane settlements. Sustainable population goals and sustainable solar energy are all essential for our survival.

Article 9. Communications

The new Earth Care Ethic is best communicated person-to-person. Each individual who makes Earth care a major goal can contagiously spread the excitement and adventure to be enjoyed as caretakers of our planet. Communicators in all media can also make a vital difference. Headlines for heroes who are caring for earth And about Earth care alternatives can create a sense of high purpose and adventure in young and old.

Article 10. Earth Day: A Yearly Celebration To Unite the World in the Care of Earth.

To strengthen the efforts described in this earth Charter, and to call attention to yearly progress in these efforts, we will celebrate Earth Day each year on the day of the March Equinox. In the week preceding Earth Day, we will help give an accounting of the state of the Earth -- in every part and as a whole. Earth Day will then be a time to celebrate Earth's life and progress, a time to come together in renewed dedication to its care, a time to rejoice, sing, dance and play, a public holiday shared by all people of Earth. Every community, city state and nation is invited and urged to plan their own special ceremonies and participation in this annual event.

To forever commemorate our task and our challenge we will in the year 2000, begin a two-year Bi-Millennium celebration, graduating to a larger, richer destiny for our planet and its people.

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