Vision 2025: Sustainable Development Comes to Greenville

By [post_author] –

“Vision” programs are everywhere. What are they and where did they come from? In short, a “vision plan” is a Sustainable Development program designed to transform a system of private property into collective land management and centralized government. Don’t be fooled by the smiles and cookies at your communities visioning sessions! Dr. Steven Yates reports from South Carolina.

Published in the Times-Examiner, Greenville, S.C., November 17, 2004, pp. 1, 12.

Just to look it over superficially, Vision 2025 looks good. But how many people involved with this vision for Greenville’s growth over the long term know who they are really working for, and what the real goal is?

Who are they working for? The United Nations. What is the goal? To end local control over resources such as land and over the economy, as part of a larger and much more sweeping agenda aimed at ending national sovereignty. Global government is the intended replacement. Individuals and businesses will be even more tightly regulated than they are now.

The sustainable development movement started in Europe in the 1980’s with the Brundtland Commission. Named for socialist Norwegian Prime Minister Harlem Brundtland, the Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Again, it looks good. But if we read between the lines, questions should quickly emerge. Who decides what the “needs of the present” are, or determines what would compromise the “needs” of future generations?

The Brundtland Commission was instrumental in organizing the UN’s Rio Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro back in 1992. This summit was an important milestone for the UN, which clearly sees itself as an emerging world government. It was there that alleged climate change – global warming – became a tool used to promote large scale economic change. Marxist socialism having gone down in flames, global socialists have turned to environmentalism as their last, best hope. The Kyoto Protocol also got its start at the Rio Summit.

Perhaps the most important event of that confab was the unveiling of Agenda 21, the bible of the sustainable development movement. A book-length document, Agenda 21 offers a very detailed blueprint for use of “soft law” to gain top-down control of the world’s natural resources: land, forests, seas, rivers, oil, minerals, and so on. “Soft law” consists of agreements signed by various nations that do not have the building force we normally associate with real law, but are devises governments can use to encourage desirable mass behavior. Some 187 national leaders signed on board, including then-President George H. W. Bush. His successor, Bill Clinton, formed the President’s Commission on Sustainable Development in 1993. (At the highest levels of policy, of international agreements involving governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations affiliated with the UN, it has been a long time since there were significant differences between Republicans and Democrats.)

This is not a “conspiracy theory.” Agenda 21 is the UN’s website. You can read it at

Two years ago, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (also known as the Earth Summit) was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, to measure how well nations were doing in complying with Agenda 21.

One of the most interesting facts about sustainable development is that it seldom called that. It encounters opposition whenever it becomes clear how much control it gives to bureaucratic and corporate elites. Thus as the sustainable development agenda makes its way from community to community, it goes by many names. Down in Columbia, it goes by the name of Town & Country. In Greenville, S.C., it is called Vision 2025.

You can identify sustainable development by its language. If you encounter terms like biodiversity, conservation zones, open spaces, urban ecology, smart growth, habitats, or our global village, you are dealing with a local branch of the sustainable development movement. The movement conveys an impression of being locally controlled. It is only local to the extent that it can enlist people in government or in the business community whose mindsets are either sold on globalism or who believe they will profit from it. (In short term, they probably will.)

What is wrong here, some might ask. Shouldn’t we be concerned about how growth impacts the environment? Moreover, isn’t the reality of climate change pretty much established by science?

These are trick questions. Of course we should be concerned about how growth impacts the environment. But the issue is one of means, not ends. Are we more likely or less likely to protect the environment by protecting private property rights? What you own, you are more likely to take care of. What is owned by the state, as in socialism, isn’t taken care of by anybody. This was dramatically confirmed when we learned that the most polluted rivers and streams in the world are in the Soviet Union, which was also the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident (Chernobyl). In their capacity to protect the environment, free markets win over command economies hands down.

Regarding climate change, even if the climate is getting warmer, it is a large logical leap to claim that “unsustainable” growth is responsible. The earth’s climate has warmed and cooled repeatedly in both the distant and more recent past for many reasons having nothing to do with industrial activity. The latter didn’t as yet exist.

More and more communities are embracing sustainable development regardless of what they call it. Local business leaders in particular like the language, see opportunities, and appear oblivious to the larger goals. If this trend continues they will be sorry. Agenda 21 heralds the end of our legal capacity to make the best and most economical use of our own property and resources. As it grows in strength in combination with unlimited immigration and international “free trade” agreements, the sustainable development movement will undermine our sovereignty as a nation. At present, the federal government must at least pay lip services to Constitutional checks on government power. If the “global governance” of the UN becomes a reality, these will disappear. The Constitution will be trumped by international agreements and the legions of unelected bureaucrats they will spawn.

We will then see the growth of unlimited government, unlimited taxation to support it (including a global tax), and the consequent undermining of all our economic liberties and what is left of middle class prosperity. If sustainable development achieves its goals, the future generations its promoters profess concern about will come of age in a declining third world nation.

Deleted: President George W. Bush decided not to send a representative to this meeting. To his credit, President Bush has hesitated to go along with openly globalist movements that threaten U.S. Sovereignty

Steven Yates has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has taught the subject at a number of colleges and universities including Clemson, Wofford, and the University of South Carolina, from which he was “excommunicated” in 1995 for refusing to bow to steadily encroaching political correctness. He is author of Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (1994), co-author of The Free Person and the Free Market (2002), author of Worldviews: Christian Theism vs. Modern Materialism (forthcoming), and of numerous articles and reviews that have appeared in places ranging from refereed academic journals to commentary sites on the World Wide Web, especially He has recently started the Worldviews Project and has been giving lectures to private groups on the central themes of Worldviews. He currently lives in Greenville, S.C.


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