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Declaration on an Ethical Code for the Biosphere

Photo: NASA

The Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, Montréal Space for Life, and the Musées de la civilisation in Québec City, make a commitment for the biosphere


June 19, 2014.


The ethics of every society lie at the centre of its vision of the common good, and provide an idea of its hopes for the future. That ethical dimension of collective choices reflects the nature of relationships to oneself, to others, and to the environment. The values and principles that result from it furnish guidelines for human conduct, individual and collective, and help people act responsibly in dealing with problems facing the biosphere.

Currently, the biosphere is undergoing a transformation unprecedented in speed and scope. Geological, biological and cultural diversity is shrinking. The future of human societies and ecological systems, in a profoundly interdependent world, is fraught with uncertainty: we must rethink our relationships with nature.

The ethical issue is also scientific and cultural: a solidarity between humans and the other components of the biosphere must be built, founded on values that can be shared.

Through their research and expert missions in the natural and human sciences, in collection constitution and conservation, in teaching and sharing knowledge about the history, the state and the evolution of geological, biological and cultural diversities, our institutions take it as their goal to help raise the awareness of their partners and their audiences with respect to this ethical issue by sharing the values that they consider essential.

Thus we are enlisting in the dynamic of the Biosphere Ethics Initiative, launched in 2010 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to mark the International Year of Biodiversity.


Shared Values

Existence values

  • We recognize that humans, in all their cultural diversity, are part of the biosphere, living in it in close interdependence with all its components.
  • We recognize that the biosphere is a diversified and dynamic system that has limits.
  • We recognize that all living beings, in their diversity, share with us the same evolutionary history.
  • We recognize that every living being has an existence value.


Memory value

  • We recognize the memory value of geological, biological and cultural diversity, a multiple memory that enables us, even if incompletely, to locate ourselves in time and in space.


Values for the future

  • We recognize the importance of each living being with regard to the continued success of ecological communities.
  • We recognize that the biosphere’s ability to adapt hinges on the diversity of genetic and cultural memories.


Our Commitment

Because they know that the natural and cultural diversity of the Earth is the memory and the future of life, because they measure the threats that weigh on the evolution of that diversity, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris, Montréal Space for Life and the Musées de la civilisation in Québec City recognize that they therefore have a moral and intellectual responsibility regarding societies.

For which reason they undertake to promote a culture of nature supported by scientific knowledge, nourished by ethical reflection, and founded on humility and respect for and empathy towards all living beings, in order to contribute to citizen awareness and responsibility with regard to natural and cultural diversity.


In Action

The missions of the three signatory institutions are put into practice by their staffs as a whole, who carry out a wide range of occupations. Through collaborative approaches, they will see to practicing their professions while embracing the values proposed in this declaration, to sharing them and to promoting them.


Gilles BOEUF, President, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle – France

Thomas GRENON, Executive director, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle -– France

Charles-Mathieu BRUNELLE, |Director, Montréal Space for Life – Canada

Michel COTE, Executive director, Musées de la Civilisation, Québec City – Canada

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