A briefing paper that discusses the threat Agenda 21 poses to the U.S. Constitution.
A Briefing Paper
By Henry Lamb, Executive Vice President
Environmental Conservation Organization
If there is a bedrock principle upon which our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our nation was constructed, it is this: government is empowered by the consent of those who are governed. To translate this principle into self-governance, our Constitution provides for public policy to be enacted by elected representatives of those who are governed. To further protect those who are governed, our Constitution ingeniously balances the power of government among the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches. Balance occurs as the result of continous competition among the branches of government, and among the three levels of government, federal, state, and local. American society is organized around this bedrock principle. The first course of bricks-and-mortar in our government, however, is the requirement that public policy be enacted by officials elected by those who are governed.
There are people who believe this method of public policy development is obsolete. The President’s Council on Sustainable Development, for example, says:
“We need a new collaborative decision process that leads to better decisions; more rapid change; and more sensible use of human, natural, and financial resources in achieving our goals.”(1)
There are people who believe there is a more important principle around which society should be organized. The Vice President of the United States says:
“We must make the rescue of the environent the central organizing principle for civilization. Adopting a central organizing principle — one agreed to voluntarily — means embarking on an all-out effort to use every policy and program, every law and institution, every treaty and alliance, every tactic and strategy, every plan and course of action — to use, in short, every means to halt the destruction of the environment and to preserve and nurture our ecological system. Minor shifts in policy, marginal adjustments in ongoing programs, moderate improvements in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change — these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle, and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary.”(2)
We are witnessing in Missouri, and across America, a shift in the way public policy is being made. The power to make public policy is shifting away from elected officials to non-elected individuals who are using the “new collaborative decision process” to reorganize society around the central principle of “protecting the environment.”
Were this initiative to arise from the people who are governed, expressed through their elected officials, defined and debated in public, and decided through a public vote by the appropriate governmental bodies, then there could be no complaint. But neither the change in the decision process, nor the adoption of “protection of the environment” as society’s central organizing principle, are initiatives that arise from the people who are governed. Both ideas arise from the international community, crafted into policy documents by the United Nations and presented to the world through United Nations Conferences, particularly the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Agenda 21, a 288-page “soft-law” (non-binding) document adopted by 179 nations in Rio, sets forth very specific public policy objectives designed to reorganize societies around the central principle of protecting the environment. The process called for is “a new collaborative decision process” called consensus building.(3) To comply with the UN’s recommendation, Executive Order 12852 was issued June 29, 1993, creating the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The Council, consisting of 29 non-elected federal officials and selected representatives of major environmental organizations and industry, proceeded to translate Agenda 21 into 154 specific public policy recommendations to be implemented throughout America. The purpose of the policy recommendations is “to achieve our vision of sustainable development.” The Council adopted the UN’s definition of sustainable development:
“…to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”(4)
Throughout Missouri and across America, communities, both rural and urban, are being transformed into “sustainable communities,” through the implementation of public policies that originate in Agenda 21, and other UN documents, Americanized through the President’s Council of non-elected officials, and brought to local communities through a coordinated program of “collaborative consensus building” facilitated by trained experts.
The Congress of the United States — elected by those who are governed — has not enacted legislation that defines or authorizes a national policy of sustainable development. No state legislature has enacted legislation that defines or authorizes a policy of sustainable development. Nevertheless, the policies conceived by the international community are being implemented in local communities in Missouri and across America.
For example, in November, 1995, the Missouri Department of Conservation issued a 175-page draft of Coordinated Resource Management Plan (CRMP). The plan was not created in response to legislation reflecting the demands of the private owners of 93% of the land in Missouri, the people who are governed; it was created to “…sustain our natural environment,” and because “other state and federal agencies have already begun efforts like CRM.…”(5) Moreover, the plan endorsed the creation of a UN Biosphere Reserve in the lower Ozarks, a project sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, whose national president is a member of the PCSD, and several federal agencies headed by appointed officials who also are members of the PCSD.
As a result of local citizen response, the CRM was terminated on March 19, 1997 by Jerry Conley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. In a March 27 press release, Conley ridiculed citizens’ groups that had expressed concern about the United Nation’s influence on the CRMP as “pure unadulterated bunk.” He said concerns about shifting governmental authority over to non-elected groups was “absolute hogwash.”(6)
An analysis of the CRM, however, revealed objectives, methodology, and language, very similar, and in some cases identical, to those found in Agenda 21, the Global Biodiversity Assessment, and Sustainable America: A New Consensus. Consider the evolution of the following idea:
Agenda 21: “Compile detailed land capability inventories to guide sustainable land resources allocation, management and use at the national and local levels”(Chapter 10.7(f) p. 86).
Global Biodiversity Assessment: “Include methods that limit the use of land resources through zoning schemes; use incentives and tax policy to foster particular land-use practices; create and enforce tenure arrangements…and establish easements…that seek to establish landscape characteristics favourable to biodiversity” (Section 13.1.3(5), p. 926).
Sustainable America: “Government agencies, conservation groups, and the private sector should expand the use of ecosystem approaches by using collaborative partnerships…for sustaining ecosystems and biodiversity. Develop indicators which can be used to monitor the status of ecosystems…for restoring damaged ecosystems.” (Chapter 5.2(1–5) p. 119).
Missouri’s CRMP (Coordinated Resource Management Plan): “Determine current status, prioritize, select and maintain/restore selected reaches or watershed units…(Objective 1.2(a)). Manage private lands in the watersheds of identified priority stream reaches to ensure protection of target biological communities through partnerships, watershed committees, incentives and other methods (Objective 1.2©). Support the establishment of an Ozark Man and the Biosphere Cooperative. Seek formal designation as a U.S. Man and the Biosphere Program, and work towards implementation of its goals/objectives (Objective IX.1(A&C).
This minute sample only suggests that the Missouri plan may have been influenced by ideas that first emerged in Agenda 21 and other UN documents and the PCSD. A more comprehensive reading of Agenda 21, Chapter 10 “Integrated Approach to Planning and Management of Land Resources,” and the Global Biodiversity Assessment, Section 13 “Measures for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its components,” will reveal that the entire plan is based largely on the ideas first advanced in these documents.
Even though the CRMP was terminated, its very existence is evidence of the effort to reorganize society around the central principle of protecting the environment, rather than around the central principle of government empowered by those who are governed. Until the latter half of the 20th century, natural resources on, and under the land, were considered to be the property of the person who owned the land. Throughout the United Nations documents, as well as the policy documents of the agencies of the federal government, natural resources are considered to be a “public resource” whether on private or public land. The CRMP displays the influence of that changing attitude. The people who own 93% of the land in Missouri believe they still own the natural resources on their land and they did not ask the federal government or the state government to “plan” how they might use their property. Their resentment resulted in the plan’s termination. But that only slowed the process; it did not end the federal government’s determination to comply with the recommendations of the United Nations.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) is seeking to implement a Memorandum of Agreement with Missouri Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Such an agreement would make “partners” of the local Districts in the federal agency’s expanded program of comprehensive natural resource planning.
The influence of Agenda 21, and other United Nations treaties and policy documents is very clear in the implementation of land use policies in rural America. The United Nations policy on land use was adopted in 1976 by the UN Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT I). The Preamble says, in significant part:
“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice.… Public control of land use is therefore indispensable.”(7)
Twice during the 1970s, minority interests in Congress attempted to pass the Federal Land Use Planning Act, which embraced the UN policy on land use. Twice, the effort failed. Nevertheless, the federal government, through the implementation of administrative rules and regulations, has continued to pursue a policy of “public control of land use.”
The UN’s policy of “public control of land use” is not limited to rural lands. Agenda 21 speaks profusely about controlling land use and human behavior in urban areas. The second UN Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II), held in Instabul in 1996, was devoted exclusively to “sustainable communities.” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was asked to prepare a report on the United States’ progress toward achieveing the sustainable communities described in Agenda 21. The 26-page report was prepared by HUD’s Andrew Euston, who says:
“One choice is to go as we go and do as we do — without regard to the grave cumulative changes that have undermined the earth as humanity’s cornucopia, our bread basket, our source of health, vitality and pleasure, and of hope for our future. This, we are told by science, is the unsustainable choice. The other choice is to create a deliberate transition to sustainability — that is, to design it, for one definition of the word ‘design’ is ‘to intend’ for a definite purpose”.(8)
“To go as we go and do as we do” describes the individual freedom that arises from a government that is empowered by the consent of those who are governed. Such actions are clearly “unsustainable,” according to HUD, operated by non-elected individuals, unaccountable to those who are governed. Euston further describes the sustainable communities his “Agenda for Sustainability” intends to create:
“Sustainability is a fresh ethical paradigm for science, for society and for every responsible and concerned individual. It is a shift required of modern society as a whole. There will be the linking up of networks of communities of varied sizes within quite varied and multiple regional contexts, such as ‘Community Constellations’ linked by compacts based upon common interests. Between the communities will be rural landscapes — highly functional landscapes — based upon entirely fresh understandings of landscape ecology.
“For this hopeful future, we may envision an entirely fresh set of infrastructures that use fully automated, very light elevated rail systems for daytime metro region travel and nighttime goods movement; we will see all settlements linked up by extensive bike, recreation and agro-forestry ‘E-ways’ (environment-ways); for most communities transit, walking and bikes become people’s preferred choices because they work and because people want it that way. We will be growing foods, dietary supplements and herbs that make over our unsustainable reliance upon foods and medicines that have adverse soil, environmental, or health side-effects (urban gardening, suburban edible landscaping, urban-rural truck farming and community-supported farming); less and less land will go for animal husbandry and more for grains, tubers and legumes. Gradually, decent standards of equity will be in place for women, for children and for the disadvantaged.
“At all levels of governance there must be commitment to the integration of society’s social, economic, and ecological objectives. This local rebalancing can be done within the dictates of natural ecology, and this task has become civilization’s central challenge — an enterprise termed here ‘Sustainable Community Development.’”(9)
Euston’s vision, which is the vision of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, did not arise from those who are governed, expressed through a publicly debated law enacted by duly elected representatives of those who are governed. His vision emerged from United Nations agencies, codified in Agenda 21, refined by the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, and is now being implemented in Missouri, and across America, not by state legislatures and county commissioners, but by “Visioning Councils,” and “Stakeholder Councils,” consisting of non-elected individuals who are not accountable to those who are governed.
With great fanfare, St. Louis has launched its quest for “St. Louis 2004.” Even the most cursory analysis readily reveals the influence of the top-down wisdom of the United Nations, the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Development. One of the objectives of St. Louis 2004 is to “Inventory the region’s plants, animals and ecosystems.” The PCSD says “Convene planning sessions among all stakeholders to agree on …methodologies for collecting data and conducting assessment of…biodiversity.”(10) Agenda 21 says: “Undertake long-term research into the importance of biodiversity…with particular reference to new observations and inventory techniques.”(11)
Another objective is to create “Sustainable neighborhoods — Support residents in the creation of self-sufficient neighborhoods.” HUD’s vision of a “Sustainable Community,” is discussed above. The PCSD says:
“…provide incentives for regional collaboration on issues such as transportation…,and land use, that transcend political jurisdictions. Develop design tools [which] include model building codes; zoning ordinances; and permit approval processes for residential and commercial building, use of recycled and recyclable building materials, use of native plants that can reduce the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and water for landscaping.…”(12)
Agenda 21 calls for:
“Adopting and applying urban management guidelines in the areas of land management, urban environmental management,infrastructure management.… Developing local strategies for…integrating decisions on land use and land management. To improve the social, economic, and environmental quality of human settlements, countries should adopt the monitoring guidelines adopted by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT).…”(13)
Still another objective of St. Louis 2004, Air Qulaity, is an “apple-pie-and-motherhood” recommendation behind which lies all manner of planned regulatory initiatives to implement recommendations of the PCSD, Agenda 21, and the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The PCSD’s revised Charter instructs the Council to “not debate the science of global warming, but…instead focus on the implementation of national and local greenhouse gas reduction policies.”(14) The instruction to “not debate the science” is consistent with the administration’s position on global warming, despite growing skepticism in the scientific community about the human influence on global climate. More than 140 climatologists and astrophysicists have now signed the Leipzig Declaration, which says, in part:
“The polocies to implement the [climate change] treaty are, as of now, based solely on unproven scientific theories, imperfect computer models — and unsupported assumptions that catastrophic global warming follows from the burning of fossil fuels and requires immediate action. We do not agree. Many climate specialists now agree that actual observations from weather satellites show no global warming whatsoever — in direct contradiction to computer model results. Based on the evidence available to us, we cannot subscribe to the politically inspired world view that envisages climate catastrophes and calls for hasty action.”(15)
In 1992, Agenda 21 called for governments to promote and develop “integrated energy, environment, and economic policy decisions for sustainable developent, and integrated rural and urban mass transit for sustainable social, economic and development priorities.”(16) With the approval of the administration, the United Nations adopted the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change which requires that the United States reduce its greenhouse gas emission to a level seven percent below 1990 levels by the year 2008–2012. The President has announced that he will sign the Protocol.
The PCSD, and the administration, have been preparing to comply with the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for several years — without debating the science. Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) discovered an internal memo within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prepared by Michael Shelby in EPA’s Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation. The memo set forth 39 measures that could be implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — without Congressional involvement. Some of the measures discussed in the memo include:
*Tighten CAFE standards from the current 27.5 mpg to 33.5 in 2010; 40.9 in 2020; and 45.1 in 2025.
Levy a 50-cent per gallon tax on gasoline using the obscure Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which allows the Secretary of Commerce, not the Congress, to authorize a gas tax in certain circumstances.
*Use BACT (Best Available Control Technology) as a condition for construction permits. “The EPA could begin raising objections to state determinations…” the report advises.
*Full pricing for roads — which would require states to match federal funds with monies derived from “user fees,”
*EPA-mandated emission control technology required in State Implementation Plans.
Pay-at-the-pump insurance program (25-cents per gallon).
*Emission-based registration fees.(17)
When the President signed the New Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) into law, more than 700 counties instantly fell into “non-attainment,” which authorizes the EPA to implement whatever measures it chooses to force those counties into compliance — without Congressional involvement.
The extent to which Agenda 21 and the PCSD have influenced public policy in America is truly astounding, especially since there has been no Congressional debate, definition of “sustainable development,” or authority for its implementation. It may be surprising to Representatives Joan Bray and Russell Gunn that their HB994, which creates the “Environmental Equity and Justice Commission,” would comply with the recommendations of both Agenda 21 and the PCSD. Agenda 21 says “Governments should carry out exposure and health assessments of populations residing near uncontrolled hazardous waste sites and initiate remedial measures.”(18) The PCSD says, “Environmental Equity: Develop measures of any disproportionate environmental burdens (such as exposure to air, water, and toxic pollution) borne by different economic and social groups.”(19) Other objectives of St. Louis 2004 that are prescribed by the United Nations and the PCSD include: Race and difference summit; Safe places for kids; Employer commitment to education; Downtown revitalization; Regional Park and Greenway system; New industries; Land trusts; and Minority and women-owned business expansion.
It is possible that the non-elected individuals who worked “collaboratively” to identify the objectives of St. Louis 2004, accidentally reached the same objectives set forth by the United Nations. Indeed, is is likely that few of the participants ever heard of Agenda 21, or Sustainable America: A New Consensus. It is certain, however, that the facilitators of the “collaborative censensus process,” are quite familiar with both documents.
Similar “Visioning Councils” and “Stakeholder Councils” are at work across America. In Florida, the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is implementing a “Demonstration project” consisting of five “Sustainable Communities.” A spokesman for the DCA denied that the program had anything at all to do with the United Nations. The program’s objectives, however, are nearly identical to those of St. Louis 2004. In Santa Cruz, California, the plan is actually called “Local Agenda 21,” and the objectives are a mirror-image of St. Louis 2004. Such is the case across America.
Elected officials should be concerned about both the substance of such “visions” or plans, as well as about the process by which such plans are devised. All such plans are justified by the desire to create a “sustainable future.” Americans should demand that above all, any plans for the future must protect and preserve the bedrock principle on which America was founded: government is empowered by the consent of those who are governed. It is that principle, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that guarantees individual freedom, private property rights, free markets, and national sovereignty. Neither the bedrock principle, nor the fundamental freedoms it provides, are mentioned in Agenda 21, or Sustainable America: A New Consensus. Existing government processes are said to be “intractable,”(20) while the President’s Council on Sustainable Development calls for “a new collaborative decision process.…”
The “consensus-building” process is designed to by-pass the intractability of elected government officials and the process set forth in the U.S. Constitution. It is a “top-down” policy development process that was initiated with the adoption of Agenda 21, nationalized through the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, and is now being implemented by an army of NGOs (non-government organizations), largely coordinated by federal government agencies and the international NGO leadership.
The World Resources Institute (WRI), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Maurice Strong’s Earth Council (EC), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), represent the international NGO leadership. The WRI, IUCN, and WWF are largely responsible for the development of Agenda 21 and the United Nation’s social and environmental policies. The EC and ICLEI are largely responsible for implementation. According to Jeb Brughmann, Secretary-General of ICLEI, the organization was actually created by the UN.(21) The WRI publishes a newsletter called NGO Networker, which reports the status of various NGOs’ progress toward the implementation of UN policies.
At the local level, NGOs that initiate the consensus process rarely identify themselves with Agenda 21, or any of the international NGOs. The process is designed to appear to be a purely local initiative resulting from the demands of the local community — ostensibly, the people who are governed. Rarely, however, does the community at large –the actual people who are governed — even learn of the process until it is well underway. Typically, the individual or organization that initiates the consensus process in a local community is affiliated, and often funded, by one or more of the international or national NGOs. The first step is to identify other individuals and organizations in the community known to be sympathetic with the goals of Agenda 21. Those individuals are invited to participate in the organization of the effort. A “Visioning Council” will emerge, consisting of individuals selected because of their predisposition of support for the aims of the effort, and to reflect “representation” from across the community spectrum. The Council then holds a series of meetings to solicit input from the community.
Two important problems arise from this process: first, the participants who provide input are often carefully selected, especially in the formative stages; and second, the input solicited is in response to a predetermined agenda. Often, the participants are not aware that the agenda has been predetermined. The facilitator at these meetings is often a trained professional, hired for the purpose. The facilitator’s purpose is to “build consensus.” Consensus is not agreement; it is the absence of expressed disagreement.(22) As the process continues, the local media is recruited to report the wonderful work of “citizens” of the community to develop a “vision for the future.” Occasionally, professional public relations consultants are used to develop a positive community context for the unveiling of the vision document. By the time the final document is presented, local elected officials have little choice but to support the program. Politicians, as well as individual citizens, who express concerns about the program are labeled as “anti-environmental,” or worse. The consensus process is an ingeniously designed and skillfully implemented process to by-pass local elected governing bodies and the larger community of people who are governed.
The final step is implementation. No policy document developed by non-elected officials carries the weight of law. Therefore, it is necessary to find ways to get the policies written into enforceable law. Early in the process, federal, state, and local administrative officials are brought into the process at the local level. Federal agencies have long ago found ways to reinterpret existing legislative authority to allow for the implementation of Agenda 21 objectives. Ron Brown, then-Secretary of the Department of Commerce, told the 10th meeting of the PCSD that his Department had determined that they could implement 67 of the PCSD’s 154 recommendations within the framework of existing legislative authorities. The Department of Interior is implementing the Ecosystem Management Policy, by reinterpreting existing legislative authority. The EPA is implementing Agenda 21 objectives, and the objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, by revising existing Clean Air Standards through the rule promulgation process. Using the carrot-or– stick method, federal agencies are using incentives or penalties to encourage state and local agencies to do the same. Where existing authorities cannot be stretched enough to accommodate the objectives of Agenda 21, new incremental legislation is proposed, or administrative rule changes are initiated.
To ensure overall compliance with the community vision developed by the local Visioning Council, a favored technique is to develop a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Visioning Council, or a quasi-public entity created to succeed the Council, and the various governing bodies within the multi-jurisdictional area embraced by the plan. The MOA typically requires any development approval by any of the local governing agencies to be approved by the Council as a means to coordinate implementation of the plan throughout the plan area.
The local plan often takes several years to complete, but when complete, the transformation of society around the central organizing principle of protecting the environment is well established. The central organizing principle of government empowered by the people who are governed is effectively relegated to the ash heap of history.
1. “We Believe Statement number 8,” Sustainable America: A New Consensus, President’s Council on Sustainable Development, February, 1996, p. vi.
2. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992), pp. 269–274.
3. Agenda 21, Paragraph 2.4, p. 19.
4. The World Commission on Environment and Development, (The Brundtland Commission), Our Common Future, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 43.
5. Missouri Department of Conservation, “The Big Picture: Questions and Answers About Coordinated Resource Management,” p. 2.
6. Missouri Department of Conservation, Outdoor News via MissouriLink, Product ID: 352, March 27, 1997.
7. United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT I), Agenda Item 10, “Preamble,” Vancouver, British Columbia, May 31-June 11, 1976.
8. Andrew Euston, Community Sustainability: Agendas for Choice-making & Action, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, September 22, 1995.
10. Sustainable America:, Op Cit., Chapter 10(7)(1), p. 136.
11. Agenda 21, Op. Cit., Chapter 15.5(f), p.132.
12. Sustainable America:, Op Cit., Chapter 4(1)(2); 4(3)(1), pp 91–95.
13. Agenda 21, Op. Cit., Chapter 7.4, 7.9(h), 7.16(a), pp. 52–54.
14. Revised Charter, President’s Council on Sustainable Development, April 25, 1997, p. 7.
15. The Leipzig Declaration, adopted in Leipzig Germany, November 9–10, 1995, published in its entirety (with all signers as of December, 1997), in cologic, November/December, 1997, p.12.
16. Agenda 21, Op. Cit., Chapter 9.12(b); 9.15(a), p. 79.
17. Michael Shelby, EPA Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation memo, “More Tons One-Pagers, May 31, 1994, (on file).
18. Agenda 21, Op. Cit., Chapter 20.21©, p. 201.
19. Sustainable America: Op. Cit., Chapter 1, Goal 3, p. 16.
20. “Community Sustainability,” HUD, Op., Cit., p. 5.
21. Joan Veon, “Earth Council: Rio+5,” ecologic, March/April, 1997, p. 17.
22. Richard H. Graff, Techniques of Consensus, reported in ecologic, March/April, 1997, p. 13. Graff says: “A well-crafted question provokes thought and elicits no response.”
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The Cost of Sustainable Development by Henry Lamb
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more than 2,000 pages and accumulated since 1994, located at Sovereignty