Our attempt to formulate a Charter of Environmental Education is based on other similar attempts.
First of all it is closely connected with the course of the Alliance for a responsible, plural and united world, an informal network in which thousands of individuals and organisations participate, from about one hundred countries, which has developed a remarkable action, for the last ten years, both in the field of theoretical analysis and the field of social action in various contexts. The Alliance has been working since 1995 on the project of the creation of a “Charter of Human Responsibilities” to face the challenges of the 21st century3. This Charter has been formulated progressively through a collective process, in which individuals from all over the world, from various cultural and social-professional groups, participated. The final draft of this Charter started to be diffused in October 2002, in many languages, aiming to study how much the principles declared could be applicable in a concrete way to various areas of human activity and various cultural environments. The plan of creating a “Charter of Environmental Education” falls within the process of adaptation of the basic principles of the “Charter of Human Responsibilities” in the field of Environmental Education.
Simultaneously, we were inspired by the basic principles for a sustainable development introduced in the “Earth Charter”, which constitutes an attempt for the creation of a third pillar for public life, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations’ Charter4. This text was formulated collectively, under the co-ordination of Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the Council of Earth and Milkhail Gorbachev, president of the Green Gross International. The objective of this initiative is the promotion and implementation of the Earth Charter by citizens, governments and the world of business, ensuring, at the same time, the support of the United Nations.
We have also taken into account the attempt of the creation of a “Charter of Environmental Education” (which, however, has not been formulated yet) of the Planet’ERE network, which constitutes an informal French-speaking network of individuals and organisations who take action in the field of Environmental Education in more than 40 countries. The project is defined as the “creation of a Charter of the Planet’ERE network which will record the principles and objectives of the French-speaking people involved in the field of Environmental Education”. The principles put forward by this network, on the occasion of meetings and various texts5, offered us some basic ideas, which we considered when creating the first draft of the Charter we present. Our objective, however, is different from that of the Planet’ERE network, in the sense that we are not limited to the French-speaking environment, but we aim, for the formulation and implementation of the Charter, to cooperate with people who come from various cultural groups.
The plethora of Charters that have already been created or are today at a stage of elaboration6 are an indication of the urgent need for the definition and implementation of values and principles which should guide human action for the confrontation of the serious threats that the society and the environment are facing. It is obvious that these Charters declare convergent and complementary principles, which could be best applied in the field of Environmental Education.