The myth of Agenda 21

Conspiracy theorists this past week tried to use the United Nations’ “Agenda 21” as a reason to scrap Floyd County’s proposed revamp of its comprehensive plan, warning that the international initiative is a plot for “centralized control over all of human life on Planet Earth.”

That claim comes from Glenn Beck, the extreme right-wing talk show host recently fired from the conservative Fox News Channel because his views had become an embarrassment even for them.

As his show was reaching the end of its controversial run, Beck issued this warning on June 15:

Some people now have begun questioning and standing up to what, on the surface, seems like a harmless initiative just to save the environment. But it is not. Be awake. Spread the word. Watch your local community. The answer will be found with the individual. The answers and the solutions will be found in the local communities. But once they put their fangs into our communities, they’ll suck all the blood out of it, and we will not be able to survive. Watch out.

The same dire warnings are broadcast by Alex Jones, the right-wing Texas broadcaster who also supports conspiracy theories that claim the government staged the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

So what is Agenda 21 and why does it scare the hell out of conspiracy theorists?

Simply put, Agenda 21 is an action plan on sustainable development that emerged out of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janerio in 1992. It provides guidelines for suggested actions on the environment that may be taken by member nations at a local or national level.

The key word is “may.” Like most UN initiatives, it has no binding authority on member nations.  It is not a treaty or a directive.

Says Tariq Banuri, director of the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development:

Agenda 21 is not a binding treaty. It sets out a sort of common vision. Agenda 21 is trying to say that environmental concerns are common concerns of everyone on this planet.

In fact, the preamble to Agenda 21 notes that:

Agenda 21 addresses the pressing problems of today and also aims at preparing the world for the challenges of the next century. It reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment cooperation. Its successful implementation is first and foremost the responsibility of Governments.

On June 9, 2011, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13575, establishing the White House Rural Council, which provides federal grants for states and localities that wish to implement Agenda 21-style programs.

The decision to implement sustainability programs or other environmental initiatives under Agenda 21 lies with local and state governments.  Congress has not taken any action to implement Agenda 21 programs at the national level and no bills promoting such programs are under consideration.

Floyd County’s comprehensive plan includes some broad language on sustainability and talks about balancing community needs with individual rights but any actual implementation would fall upon the board of supervisors.

So where’s the control? Where’s the conspiracy? Where’s the bogeyman?

There isn’t one. There never was.

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11 thoughts on “The myth of Agenda 21”

  1. Now I see. Of course it’s not anything to be concerned about. It’s job creation for daydreamers.

    “On June 9, 2011, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13575, establishing the White House Rural Council, which provides federal grants for states and localities that wish to implement Agenda 21-style programs.”

    Someone else said the plan seemed benign. Whenever I see a few more Task Forces being created I wonder why it sounds so military. It’s just another bill to pay as the do gooders apply for the grant monies and study their way into the future. Good for them, and us, as nothing useful or terrible will happen for at least a decade, if ever.

    Is there any mention of a Czar, or several, in the Plan?

  2. Point, Mr. King. And I have a copy of that very Executive Order as you stated, E.X. 13575, yet another of The Big O’s E.X.s. Agenda 21 is also real and that too I have copies of. That has been in the works for quite some time and the US is signed on to it.
    Funny this many years later, the evidence of/ for Sen. Joe McCarthy has even been recognized as correct when it came to most of whom he labeled Communists. Of course, “right wing publications” are the only ones who did reveal that info, like [even] the New York Times?! Sadly, the time of rational and civil discussions are overshadowed by anger, frustration and name calling. Choose up sides, attacks and no quarter are not ways to exchange and compromise but serve only to divide & destroy what was/ is good about our system. I do not have a positive outlook on the state of this country’s future when it comes to the common good and preserving the foundation of the best governmental system on earth so far. “A house divided against itself, cannot stand”. Some old dead white guy Republican is credited as having said that at another tough time in this Republic’s past. Now excuse me, I need to get back to burying my stock pile of Edison lightbulbs, food stuffs and ammo. Peace, out

    • With no attempt to change the subject I view many things based on principles. I’ll offer an example.

      Where do we draw the lines of responsibility? Is there another option that doesn’t require collective expenses for personal problems? Why do we seem to overeact to a small percentage and leave a psychological impact on the rest that everyone is suspect?

      I’m not onboard or adapted to this fear and paranoia era. I don’t agree with the notion that those who have nothing to hide should just go along with the program.

  3. Doug,finally someone else understands that agenda 21 is not a conspiracy,but is a implementation plan.The 1992 resolution “urges” countries to implement by direct or incentives.Choices are up to Federal,State and Local Governments.While it is true at the moment there are none under consideration in Congress,there have been proposals in the past that would directly impacted our county and state.I noted one on your report of the public hearing.I went and dug thru some of my old papers.Did not find that one yet,but I did find another one.It was being negotiated as part of a treaty.If Congress had not blocked it we would see a very different Floyd County and State now.This was in 1997.I will get you copies of what I have left.I sent most of what I had at the time on to some members of Congress.The problems of the implementation plan are not with Congress.Problems arise from time to time with the departments at the federal level.The Presidents have,since 1992,signed Executive orders on this.That,by these orders,allows a department to adopt regulations that are in line with the resolution.Federal law supersedes State and Local laws and so do department regulations.This most of the time takes local and state options away.As to your questions. 1,where is the control?Most of that is with Congress and the federal departments.2,where is the conspiracy? None at all!It is how government has been working almost from the start.3,where is the

  4. Until I read your blog post, I had thought the references to Agenda-21 were nothing more than propaganda. Unfortunately, your words actually cause me to pause and consider (not accept) the idea that this is something our community should be concerned over.

    I have always believed we have the most control over our lives and our liberty at the local level. If the Federal government is promoting these ideas and dangling carrots, then all our red flags should go up. There is no one size fits all for any community. Floyd is an even more diverse community that is not easily defined by proposals set at an international or national level.

    We need to put this nonsense aside and make decisions that we as a community want for our children and grandchildren. We do not need input from the UN or the President. I can almost certainly predict that neither the President nor anyone at the UN has set foot in Floyd county.

    The reality is that throughout history politicians have made drastic changes to our rights and laws using the cover of some fairly innocuous words. They don’t come out and say: we are going to force you to do X or live in X. They use words like “balance”, “National Security”, “Patriot Act”, and yes “sustainability”. These terms are feel good safe words but often have consequences. We as citizens should demand details.

    Quite frankly if the CP was more defined and clear, there wouldn’t be these openings for cries of conspiracy. While I appreciate the work that went into the document, they were much too vague when it came to the property rights areas. Since the founding of our Country, nothing has been more sacred than a family’s land and homestead. If the County plans to make policy that affects our property rights, then they owe it to us all to be clear and concise about the terms of said policies.

    • Nothing to worry about Bill. I still have a problem with presentation of this topic. How can something that truly exists be a myth? Why is it funded at all at the federal level? Are there any grants for the opposition to question and monitor the initiative?

      I’ve read about and know of Floydians that attempt to do what our politicians desire. Be creative, take a risk, have a dream with our unique God given gifts of intellect. (sarcasm)

      With or without zoning or some grand master plan,the money will talk first, the rest is window dressing and/or broken promises.

      Examples: The brewery compromise. The ethanol plant of the late 70s. Does the Riverflow still exist? The data center fiasco and how the Microsoft flop in Montgomery looked similar.

      In a related thread someone brought up the example of uranium mining next door. Really? How many other agencies, departments, task forces, already poorly manage that boogey man idea?

      It’s just more pan handling and wishful thinking. I want a piece of the pie too. Where do I sign up?

  5. One of the key statements made during the 1996 Congress of the Socialist International in New York contains this paragraph:

    Sustainable development

    … What is needed is a socially and environmentally sustainable community in which growing wealth can be properly distributed and people can live in harmony with nature.

    The distribution of wealth statement appears again and again in Agenda 21 and ICLEI documents which are the template for all local Comprehensive Plans in the US.

    It supports agreement with the oft-quoted saying: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” a slogan popularised by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.

    Being near the bottom of the local wealth pyramid, I am eagerly looking forward to the equitable sharing of land and wealth by our wealthier residents who are busily pushing this sustainable development idea.

    With this sort of viewpoint, can collective farms be far behind? After all, we know how successful they were in the USSR.

  6. David, when you demonstrate that you even know what sustainable development is, I’ll entertain your ideas. What is it about conservatism that you don’t understand? Isn’t the word “conserve” contained within the word “conservative”? Instead of associating the phrase “sustainable development” with your favorite bogeymen of Socialists and Marxists, why don’t you pay a visit to Seven Sisters farm or Weathertop Farm and learn something about sustainability? Why do you cower in fear of such ideas? Where do you get the idea that “our wealthier residents are busily pushing this sustainable development idea?” Is it because Jack Wall actually has the vision to create, with his own money, a cluster-housing development? If you would take the time to actually read up on the movement, you would find that there are hundreds of thousands of young people (almost by definition poor) who are eagerly embracing (and acting upon) the idea of sustainable development. Are you so wedded to Ayn Rand that you can’t accept the idea that there might be some value in neighbors helping neighbors who are working towards creating your much-despised “socialist” community? Rugged individualism will only get you so far, my friend. You need to stop listening to extreme right-wing radio and get out in the world and see, with your own eyes, what is the future of this world. The future of this world is not gas-guzzling SUVs, McMansions, and genetically engineered food. Hundreds of thousands of people have rejected this idea and are busily building the future, right under your nose. You can rail about it until the cows come home, but by propagating such asinine ideas as you do, you are only exposing your own ignorance and selfishness.

    • Perhaps cluster housing is not the best selling point for sustainable living or practices. Take a tour of Christiansburg and Woodyville. You would think the Town never had zoning or a planning department. Lance can fill you in about how this happened with various people developing with their own money.

      What happened to the green spaces that were suggested and promised by the developers?

      Clusters are great for this sort of future.

      Fishing for drugs is good practice for whatever the next target might be.

    • Jeff,

      Your post illustrates the problem I see with this debate. There is too much generalizing, stereotyping, name calling, and assumption. What is needed is solid information on proposed plans. The vague references to sustainability, balance of freedoms, cluster housing – they make people nervous. I don’t have cable nor do I listen to talk radio. I have read Rand and many others. But please don’t try to put me in a convenient box.

      I sincerely believe there is a great deal of common ground that could be found between those Floydians with a libertarian bent and those desiring sustainability. Neither have much trust for the government. Both desire to live in a rural setting where they have more control over their futures. Both respect the Earth and it’s natural blessings. Both want to preserve Floyd County’s unique mix of agriculture, small town values, and quality of life. We all may believe we know the best way for the other to live. The reality is that at the end of the day, no one wants to be told how to live.

      Our County needs a plan for the future. However, it needs to be clearly defined. We live in a Republic where each citizen has a inherent right to vote (either directly or via elected representative) for how to manage their community, nation, world. If codes or laws are passed using vague terms as mentioned above, we leave the door open for government action we may regret. What is considered “sustainable” today may be used against us all in the future. Think about the Patriot Act. It was passed and employed under the nation’s desire for safety. Yet, most on both sides can agree it has been stretched well beyond what any of us had imagined.

      We live in a small community where we can all actually have a voice over our lives. Lets do this the right way. Lets find common ground, be specific about the terms, and keep the beautiful way of life we have here available for our children and grandchildren.

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