The Birmingham Charter is a proposed statement of principles promoting sustainable development and design around the world. The notion of putting together a proposal to take to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark was suggested by Indian architect Karan Grover who presented a moral argument for sustainable design during the Green Building Focus Conference & Expo held at the BJCC in July 2009.
In his multi-media presentation Grover connected the principles of non-violent direct action for human rights, as practiced in his country by Mohandas Gandhi and in Birmingham by Martin Luther King, Jr, with the need for individual direct action to overcome the inherent injustices of the unsustainable use of resources in development. During the conference he and fellow presenters, including South African architect and researcher Llewellyn van Wyk and Arizona-based architect and builder David Eisenberg, sketched out a statement which could be delivered as a philosophical result of the conference presentations. With the enthusiastic support of conference organizer James Smith, delegates approved the idea by acclamation on the final day of the event.
A meeting to plan the drafting of the proposed charter was held at the offices of the Regional Planning Commission on September 25, 2009. Development is expected to continue until the charter can be approved at the 2010 Green Building Focus conference.
The precedent for the Birmingham Charter is the "Athens Charter" drawn up by the 4th Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) meeting on the cruise liner SS Patris II in route from Marseilles, France to Athens, Greece in 1933. As edited and published by Swiss architect Le Corbusier, the charter outlined 95 principles for the development of modern, rational cities. Those principles of functional segregation and scientific planning were influential in the rebuilding of European cities after World War II and in modern planned cities such as Brasilia, Brazil and Chandigarh, India. There have been many proposals for documents to update or replace the Athens Charter, of which the current proposal is only one.
- Tomberlin, Michael (August 28, 2009) "The Birmingham Charter: Green building initiative could give city's image a boost." Birmingham News
- DeButts, Jimmy (September 25, 2009) "Sustainability experts to write 'Birmingham Charter'." Birmingham Business Journal
- Faulk, Kent (September 28, 2009) "Birmingham, Alabama summit pursues model for clean, green cities." Birmingham News
- Birmingham Manifesto, a statement of demands issued at the outset of the Birmingham Campaign by Fred Shuttlesworth's Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, April 3, 1963
- Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King's statement of principles for the Civil Rights Movement, drafted April 12, 1963
- Birmingham Pledge, an oath against racial prejudice drafted in 1997