United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

28 October 1982


                                                   48th plenary meeting
                                                   28 October 1982
     37/7.   World Charter for Nature
     The General Assembly,
     Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the revised
draft World Charter for Nature,
     Recalling that, in its resolution 35/7 of 30 October 1980, it expressed
its conviction that the benefits which could be obtained from nature depended
on the maintenance of natural processes and on the diversity of life forms and
that those benefits were jeopardized by the excessive exploitation and the
destruction of natural habitats,
     Further recalling that, in the same resolution, it recognized the need
for appropriate measures at the national and international levels to protect
nature and promote international co-operation in that field,
     Recalling that, in its resolution 36/6 of 27 October 1981, it again
expressed its awareness of the crucial importance attached by the
international community to the promotion and development of co-operation aimed
at protecting and safeguarding the balance and quality of nature and invited
the Secretary-General to transmit to Member States the text of the revised
version of the draft World Charter for Nature contained in the report of the
Ad Hoc Group of Experts on the draft World Charter for Nature, as well as
any further observations by States, with a view to appropriate consideration
by the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh session,
     Conscious of the spirit and terms of its resolutions 35/7 and 36/6, in
which it solemnly invited Member States, in the exercise of their permanent
sovereignty over their natural resources, to conduct their activities in
recognition of the supreme importance of protecting natural systems,
maintaining the balance and quality of nature and conserving natural
resources, in the interests of present and future generations,
     Having considered the supplementary report of the Secretary-General,
     Expressing its gratitude to the Ad Hoc Group of Experts which, through
its work, has assembled the necessary elements for the General Assembly to be
able to complete the consideration of and adopt the revised draft World
Charter for Nature at its thirty-seventh session, as it had previously
     Adopts and solemnly proclaims the World Charter for Nature contained in
the annex to the present resolution.
                           World Charter for Nature
     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
co-operation 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 achievement, 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 generations,
     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 habitats shall be
     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
habitats 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
     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 degradation;
     (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, the rational
possibilities of converting them for consumption, and the compatibility of
their exploitation with the functioning of natural systems.
     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 adverse 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
     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
     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 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
     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
     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.