SOUTHEAST ASIA CONTRIBUTION TO THE EARTH CHARTER

PREAMBLE

WE are one earth community, living in harmony, interconnected with one another, enjoying the fruits of the earth and all her wisdom and blessings. But we have lost touch with who we are. We listened to the distant sounds that heralded progress and development. We were captured by the ways of a world alien to us.

Now, we meet face to face with our brokenness, our lack of wholeness and remember ourselves.

We are people who have been exploited and dominated by commerce-driven cultures lured by the legends of the gold and mineral veins that course through our mountains, and the richness of our flora and fauna. We had timber in abundance and a teeming marine life. But these are gone now. In the process, we have forfeited our cultural resource and local wisdom.

We had only taken what was necessary for the moment as all mothers have made us understand. Greed is eccentric to our cultures.PRINCIPLES

WE ASSERT THAT----

1. SPIRITUALITY IS THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE OF OUR EXISTENCE.

We recognize the diversity of our religious traditions and cultures which converge at the depths of our Asian identity. Everything that we do is infused with spirituality. It is the web that connects us.

As we walk through our forests, we bow in reverence to seek permission to pass. Before we gather food or housing materials from our seas and woods, we manifest deference for the spirits that reside within and offer them sacrifice. As we take from nature, we return something of ourselves.

We, therefore, commit ourselves to return to our consciousness of reverence for nature and being true to our inner spirit.

2. THE EARTH IS SACRED AND ALL OF NATURE IS INTERDEPENDENT.

We have one Common Origin and Destiny and we are interdependent. We respect life in all its manifestations, and uphold the integrity of all creation.

While biotechnology is beneficial in certain aspects, its pursuit must be guided and informed by a proper regard for the long term health and development of society and human beings and their natural environment. We oppose the engineering of human genes and the appropriation of indigenous genetic material and other intellectual property that springs from our lifeline.

3. OUR ETHNICITY IS A SEARCHING BACK FOR THE PRINCIPLE OF COMMUNITY.

Our true identity must be rediscovered in our ethnicity as a community-based people existing within our respective habitat and bio-region.

We give value to nature or local wisdom and the right to self-determination, allowing for cultural diversity and recognizing the primacy of our first peoples to enhance communal citizenship.

We uphold and protect the rights of community to territory and ancestral domain and will provide the mechanism for local resource management and equitable resource distribution.

The documentation, recording and transfer of the values of local wisdom and indigenous knowledge is our contribution to the enrichment of the cultures of the world.

4. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WILL PROVIDE THE TIME FOR MOTHER EARTH TO HEALTH HER WOUNDS AND THOSE OF HER CHILDREN AND ENSURE THE CONTINUANCE OF LIFE THROUGHOUT GENERATIONS.

Recognizing the destructive development patterns are a product of peoples' thinking, commercialism and institutionalized greed, we will renew our sacred task as caretakers of our earth and restore harmony and balance with nature in pursuing development models. Where there is economic growth, there should be corresponding social, cultural, political and environmental growth. Where there is industrial development there should also be an accompanying improvement in agriculture. Modern technologies should draw on local wisdom. Materialistic expansion and individualism must be moderated by our spirituality and humanity. And there must be equality between men and women.

Without ecological justice and equity, there can be no basis for sustainable development. Nature has as much a right to be life-giving and life-supporting as all humanity has a right to share of the earth's resources equitably.

A transition from an enterprise economic system to that of a system based on the values of a community-based economic system is imperative to allowing and catalyzing sustainable development.

We must actively inculcate an ecological consciousness in the youth and encourage and develop a wholistic curriculum. Furthermore, we call for the creation of an open learning system, a living university without walls, for sustainable development in the region.

5. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO EMPOWER THE PEOPLE AND ENCOURAGE PEOPLES' PARTICIPATION.

We recognize the creative potential of each citizen. We encourage the flow of information from the smallest community to return to the initiators and enable its people with the skills for decision-making and visioning their future.

We further seek to enlighten and transform ourselves by effecting a paradigm shift from a fragmented and mechanistic to a wholistic world view.

We must organize consultations on the community level, foster education in governance and democratic processes, and facilitate opportunities for the free exchange and equality of ideas.

As individuals, we will articulate our hopes, aspirations and dreams. We will be proactive rather than reactive. We will build consensus and strive for a unified vision.

OUR COMMON DESTINY LIES IN THE REALIZATION OF THESE PRINCIPLES

Participating Organizations:

  • Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC), Philippines
  • Appropriate Technology Practitioners in Asia (APPROTECH ASIA), Philippines
  • Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD), Thailand
  • Green Forum-Philippines
  • Management Institute for Social Change (MINSOC), Malaysia
  • SVITA Foundation, Thailand
  • Wahana Linkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI), Indonesia

This document was drawn from the contributions of the participants of the "Southeast Asia Regional Consultation on a People's Agenda for Environmentally Sustainable Development: Towards UNCED and Beyond" and ratified at a plenary session on 2 December 1991 at SEARCA, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.

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