Caring for the Earth.

Caring for the Earth is a publication of IUCN - The World Conservation Union. The full text is available through the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Gateway. The full text is 272321 bytes in the ASCII version, and 708540 bytes in the Wordperfect for DOS format.

The following is an extract from "Caring for the Earth"


This strategy is founded on the conviction that people can alter their behaviour when they see that it will make things better, and can work together when they need to. It is aimed at change because values, economies and societies different from most that prevail today are needed if we are to care for the Earth and build a better quality of life for all.

Over a decade ago our organizations published the World Conservation Strategy. It stated a new message: that conservation is not the opposite of development. It emphasized that conservation includes both protection and the rational use of natural resources, and is essential if people are to achieve a life of dignity and if the welfare of present and future generations is to be assured. It drew attention to the almost limitless capacity of people both to build and destroy. It called for globally coordinated efforts to increase human well-being and halt the destruction of Earth's capacity to support life.

The World Conservation Strategy and its successors

The World Conservation Strategy was published in 1980. It emphasized that humanity, which exists as a part of nature, has no future unless nature and natural resources are conserved. It asserted that conservation cannot be achieved without development to alleviate the poverty and misery of hundreds of millions of people. Stressing the interdependence of conservation and development, the WCS first gave currency to the term "sustainable development".

Sustainable development depends on caring for the Earth. Unless the fertility and productivity of the planet are safeguarded, the human future is at risk. The World Conservation Strategy therefore emphasized three objectives:

Since 1980, the World Conservation Strategy has been tested by the preparation of national and subnational conservation strategies in over 50 countries. In 1987, in its report Our Common Future, the World Commission on Environment and Development advanced our understanding of global interdependence and the relationship between economics and the environment. It contributed significantly to the growing recognition of the need for sustainable development and international equity. Also in 1987, governments adopted an Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond, which defined a broad framework to guide national action and international cooperation for environmentally sound development. In June 1992 they will meet in Rio de Janeiro to agree an agenda for environment and development in the 21st Century.

In the decade since 1980 the complexity of the problems we face has become clearer, and the need to act has become more pressing. In this new document we set out the broad principles, and an array of consequent actions, upon which we believe the future of our societies depends.

We accept that the actions called for in this Strategy will not be taken easily. Inertia is strong within human societies. Governments have to balance the gains of change against the inevitable costs of upheaval, and tend to develop policies through a succession of cautious steps. People cling to what they have, especially if they perceive that change threatens their personal power and wealth. It will be difficult for many communities to switch resources from war to peace, national to global advantage, or immediate gain to future welfare. But the conflicts, famine and strife that persist in an over-stressed world show how essential it is to seek a new approach. This reinforces our conviction that this Strategy must go ahead.

Caring for the Earth has been prepared through a wider process of consultation than was possible when we wrote the World Conservation Strategy a decade ago. It is intended to re-state current thinking about conservation and development in a way that will inform and encourage those who believe that people and nature are worth caring about and that their futures are intertwined. It is also intended to persuade people at all levels that they can do something, or help cause something to be done, that will lead to better care for the Earth.

The actions of our organizations and others will have to be reshaped if we are to ensure speedy and efficient implementation of this Strategy. We urge all governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental groups, and individuals to help achieve that essential goal.

Martin W. Holdgate, Director General- IUCN
Mostafa K. Tolba, Executive Director - The World UNEP United Nations WWF World Wide Fund
Charles de Haes, Director General - Conservation Union Environment Programme For Nature

User's guide to Caring for the Earth

The aim of Caring for the Earth is to help improve the condition of the world's people, by defining two requirements. One is to secure a widespread and deeplyheld commitment to a new ethic, the ethic for sustainable living, and to translate its principles into practice. The other is to integrate conservation and development: conservation to keep our actions within the Earth's capacity, and development to enable people everywhere to enjoy long, healthy and fulfilling lives. It extends and emphasizes the message of the World Conservation Strategy, published by the same organizations in 1980.

Caring for the Earth is intended to be used by those who shape policy and make decisions that affect the course of development and the condition of ourenvironment. This is a much larger group than might at first appear. While it must include politicians, and executives in the public and private sectors at the national and international levels, it also includes leaders, business people and other citizens in communities and settlements everywhere. Caring for the Earth is everyone's business.

Structure of the text

The text has three parts.

While the text has three parts and comprises 17 chapters, this should not obscure the reality that environmental, social and economic issues are joined in a network of sobering complexity. Thus no single chapter really stands alone, and while linkages are indicated by a system of cross references, it is an imperfect system and it would be useful to read at least Part I in full and preferably the whole text.