Local communities vary in size, composition, structure, and organization. A local community includes the local governmental authority, as well as the local businesses, schools, and cultural activities.
Local governments and communities are invited to adopt and use the Earth Charter as a guide or framework for action planning and community development and/or as an assessment tool to evaluate progress toward sustainability.
Local communities and governments have been using the Earth Charter as a guide for policy making and as an assessment tool in several different ways. Some local governments and communities have chosen to compare existing policies with the principles of the Earth Charter, to use the Earth Charter as the inspiration for new policies and activities, and to engage in debates and discussions stimulated by the Earth Charter.
Over 400 towns and cities have endorsed the Earth Charter, which in turn has led to thousands of local citizens becoming aware of it and to furthering its dissemination through civil society. These municipalities are located across the globe. Cities and towns such as Sao Paulo, North Vancouver, Canada; San Jose, Costa Rica; Urbino, Italy; Oslo, Norway; and Berkeley, California have all stated their support for the Earth Charter. In Spain alone, over 220 municipalities have endorsed the Earth Charter. Earth Charter endorsement has also come from all 99 city governments in Jordan.
In addition to individual municipalities, leagues and organizations of local community authorities have also endorsed the Earth Charter. ICLEI – The Local Governments for Sustainability endorsed the Earth Charter in the year 2000. The Florida League of Cities, which is a voluntary municipal league comprised of 404 of Florida’s 408 municipalities and six charter counties, endorsed the Earth Charter in 2001. In the same year, the Earth Charter was also endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors, the official nonpartisan organization of the nation’s 1,183 cities with populations over 30,000. In addition, the Catalonia Network of over 100 municipalities and the Association of 150 Towns of Soria, Spain have endorsed the Earth Charter.
Local authorities such as the government of the City of Joondalup and the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority have found that using the Earth Charter as a reference check list for their policies has been effective in helping them to become more sustainable.