Hannover Principles

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the Hannover Principles are a set of principles for economic and social development based on recognizing our interdependence (and thus 'partnership') with nature.

URL = http://www.mindfully.org/Sustainability/Hannover-Principles.htm


The Principles

1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.

2. Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.

3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.

4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist.

5. Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.

6. Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.

7. Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.

8. Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.

9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.

The Hannover Principles should be seen as a living document committed to the transformation and growth in the understanding of our interdependence with nature, so that they may adapt as our knowledge of the world evolves.

Developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, the Hannover Principles were among the first to comprehensively address the fundamental ideas of sustainability and the built environment, recognizing our interdependence with nature and proposing a new relationship that includes our responsibilities to protect it. The Principles encourage all of us - you, your organization, your suppliers and customers - to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and to re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity. When you make decisions in your organization, remember these essential Principles:


  • Recognize interdependence. Simply put: everything you do personally, in your organization and through your work interacts with and depends upon the natural world, at every scale, both locally and across the globe.
  • Eliminate the concept of waste. Are you considering the full, life-cycle consequences of what you create or buy?
  • Understand the limitations of design. Treat nature as a model, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled."


More Information

The Hannover Principles, 1992 http://policyworks.gov/org/main/mp/gsa/sd2.html USGSA website; Definitions used in Hannover Principles, at http://www.fac.unc.edu/eag/Definitions.htm


Key Book to Read

Cradle to Cradle. Bill McDonough.

Cradle to Cradle outlines a 5-stage design and materials usage approach to sustainability.