Q. What is ‘Agenda 21’ and why is everyone so concerned about it?
A. Agenda 21 is a voluntary (non-binding) action plan implemented by the United Nations in response to sustainable development. It was introduced to the public at the Earth Summit in Brazil, in 1992, where 178 governments voted to adopt it. The action-based program was designed for execution at all levels – governmental, organizational, national and local. The “21” refers to the 21st century.
Basically, Agenda 21 is a guideline for promoting economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality. It has been called a ‘recipe for living within our means’ and addresses topics like toxic waste, biotechnology, conservation, and green industries. One of its goals is to assist economically depressed countries in developing sustainable economies, in part by asking wealthy countries to consume less.
Agenda 21 is a 300-page document, divided in forty chapters. The concern you are referring to started over a few lines in Chapter 4 that were taken out of context. Over time the controversy grew and at its peak may have reached conspiracy status. Those who are opposed to it say that the guidelines are a scare tactic and the “narrow end of a wedge that will insert global UN authority over American towns and cities, allow the government to confiscate land, reallocate resources by force, and evict people from their homes.”
The controversy seemed to die down for a time, but it has found renewed interest this year, perhaps because it is an election year in the U.S. The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party released a statement saying that it “strongly rejects Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.” Alabama has already passed legislation prohibiting its state government from participation, and Arizona is about to do the same.
A separate, but related subject that has fueled the controversy is a dystopian novel by the same name, by author Harriet Parke. The novel tells the story of a post-American settlement where people are forced to ride bikes and walk on treadmills to generate electricity. The townspeople are raised in commune-like nurseries, told whom to marry and forced to swear allegiance to a green one-world government. Although purely fictional, oppositionists used the work as a real example of what could happen.
There is no doubt that the world cannot continue its present pace and sustain all of its citizens. The signs are all around us, but it is up to us not to ignore the obvious and to be willing to do something about it. Change is admittedly hard for almost everyone. So far, only a handful of countries, cities, corporations and people have taken the lead on this one. I posted this little cartoon on my author’s Facebook page recently. It’s so true!