Earth Trusteeship Forum

10 December 2018

Peace Palace, The Hague



This year’s Human Rights Day marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. For 10 December 2018, a number of high-level events are being organized including a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights conference in Paris, a ceremony for the United Nations Human Rights Prize in New York and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Stockholm. 

While these and other events are focussed on celebrating the achievements of human rights, the Earth Trusteeship Forum will emphasize the linkages between human rights and responsibilities with respect to humanity’s predicament, i.e. living sustainably on a finite planet. The safe and just operating space for humanity is marked by social foundations (human rights) and ecological limits (planetary boundaries). As humanity has now breached some of these ecological limits, continued living in dignity and prosperity requires a profound sense of responsibility and trusteeship for Earth. 



Adoption of The Hague Principles for a Declaration on Responsibilities for Human Rights and Earth Trusteeship



The Earth Trusteeship Forum has the three-fold objective of

  • celebrating human rights in the context of human responsibilities;
  • recognising the Earth and nature’s intrinsic rights to exist and flourish; 
  • initiating Earth Trusteeship.

To this end, the Forum will bring together a wide spectrum of civil society organisations concerned with human rights and responsibilities, social and environmental justice, democracy and peace, and nature and Earth. The commonality of all these organisations and associated individuals lies in their concern for making real humanity’s responsibility for Earth, our home. The Forum will adopt the “Hague Principles” calling upon the United Nations to initiate work towards a “Universal Declaration on Responsibilities for Human Rights and Earth Trusteeship” based on these principles.



Launch of the Earth Trusteeship Initiative



The Forum will further launch an initiative to promote Earth Trusteeship at all levels of human conduct, i.e. at the personal level, at the level of business and society’s institutions and at the levels of local, national and global governance. 

The initiative has three core objectives: to promote, engage and propose. The first objective is to promote Earth Trusteeship as an ethical commitment and a new form of governance, i.e. speaking and acting on behalf of global citizens as Earth trustees and for those who cannot speak for themselves (future human generations, non-human beings, Earth). The second objective is to engage with the current process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This process involves a review of its progress in 2020, i.e. ten years before 2030 when the SDGs are expected to be achieved. Indications are that only firm, institutionalised trusteeship responsibilities can ensure that human society will become more sustainable. The third objective, therefore, is to propose Earth Trusteeship institutions as part of the SDGs review process and a post-SDG global agenda. Associated with the campaign are several conferences to be held during 2019 and 2020 and organised by major international networks such as IUCN, WWF, Earth Charter International and others.






Following the successful Earth Trusteeship Gathering in The Hague, 22-24 June 2018, the Forum is being organised by a Steering Group for the Earth Trusteeship Initiative with support of eighteen co-sponsoring organisations shown below. 

The ETI invites civil society organisations from around the world to endorse the Hague Principles. Endorsing organisations are also invited to attend the launch of the Hague Principles and of the Earth Trusteeship Initiative at the 10 December Forum. 


Network of Institutions for Future Generations