Jan Pronk

The UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro was considered by many as a clarion call. The Cold War had ended, and henceforth, the global focus would be on combating poverty linked to environmental protection. I had the privilege of attending that conference and was impressed by the renewed enthusiasm, both among politicians and the youth.

New initiatives were emerging everywhere, and one of them was the drafting of the Earth Charter, a groundbreaking and inspiring document outlining principles to guide our actions as citizens of the Earth.

I was tangentially involved in the Earth Charter initiative, first in my roles as Minister for Development Cooperation and Minister for the Environment, and later when I had the opportunity to teach at the University for Peace in Costa Rica, where the office of Earth Charter International is located. Ruud Lubbers was the driving force behind the Charter, both internationally and in the Netherlands. When he passed away, I wholeheartedly took over the chairmanship of Earth Charter Netherlands, not only as one of his former friends and comrades but also as a friend of Earth Charter Netherlands.

See Jan Pronk’s contributions to the dialogue series in collaboration with the Worldconnectors on Climate Action (July 7, 2020) and on Migration and Refugees (Migratie en Vluchtelingen) (March 9, 2021). A compelling podcast from Earth Charter International features a conversation between director Mirian Vilela and Jan Pronk discussing his key moments in the UN and international politics, available here (podcast van Earth Charter International). A series of three podcasts about Jan Pronk’s political ideals and positive actions was released in September 2021 by the Correspondent. You can listen to it here (hier te beluisteren.)