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UN GA RES 37/7

                     World Charter for Nature (1982)

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 character,

Aware that:

(a) Mankind is a part of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted
functioning of natural systems which ensure the supply of energy and

(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 recreation,

Convinced that:

(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 action,

(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

Persuaded that:

(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

Firmly 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.

                        I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be

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

5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other
hostile activities.

                             II. FUNCTIONS

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.

8. In 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

(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
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 particular:

(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 means available;

(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.

                         III. IMPLEMENTATION

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. 

20.  Military activities damaging to nature shall be avoided.

21. States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities,
international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:

(a) Co-operate in the task of conserving nature through common activities
and other relevant actions, including information exchange and

(b) Establish standards for products and other manufacturing processes that
may have adverse effects on nature, as well as agreed methodologies for
assessing these effects;

(c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the
conservation of nature and the protection of the environment;

(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;

(e) 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 States.

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 degradation.

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 are met.