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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1608 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Thousands of national and international organisations, including local governments, have already endorsed the charter. This includes the United States Conference of Mayors, comprising mayors of some 2,000 cities. The Costa Rican government has also endorsed it. The Earth Charter has no legal status, so endorsement of the charter is not committing the government to take particular action. But endorsement is making a positive statement that we think these principles have significance and deserve to be advanced through international forums.

The Earth Charter Commission have produced some words about what they mean by endorsement. Those words are:

Firstly, recognise the Earth Charter as an exceptionally valuable civil society contribution to the development of a shared vision of fundamental values and the creation of global partnership for sustainable development.

Secondly, study the integrated ethical framework set forth in the Earth Charter and work to incorporate its spirit and aims into national policies and practices, and assess how the Earth Charter principles can be integrated into new international environmental and sustainable development law and policy.

Thirdly, use the Earth Charter to promote education and dialogue on global interdependence, global ethics and the principles of a sustainable way of living, leading to cooperative action for a better world.

The Labor government has already committed itself to establishing an office of sustainability, but in discussions with ministers and officials about the role of this office it has struck me that there is still considerable uncertainty about how the concept of sustainability will be applied by the government to its everyday work. It seems to me that the Earth Charter can provide a valuable framework of principles to guide the Office of Sustainability.

I am not saying that the Earth Charter should be the only document the office should work with. For example, the 1992 national strategy for ESD contains many useful principles and objectives. There are also other United Nations documents of relevance, such as the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit.

A lot of work has gone into the development of the Earth Charter. We have had a part in that development and it should not just be consigned to the bookshelf. It is meant to be a living document that will be of assistance to groups and individuals in many circumstances.

Mr Smyth in his original speech on the Earth Charter encouraged the Assembly to accept the long-term objectives of the charter and embrace its principles in our daily lives. My motion gives the Assembly the opportunity to take a small but concrete step towards implementing these principles within the ACT.


(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.23): Mr Speaker, I thank Ms Tucker for bringing the Earth Charter to the attention of the Assembly. The government is committed to Canberra becoming a sustainable society. This is a special year for the

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