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"Sustainable Development"--The New Code-Word for Stealth Marxism

A Brief History & Description of Agenda 21

By —— Bio and Archives--August 1, 2012

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Whether there is such a thing as a world plan for socialist domination must be answered by individuals pondering recent, sometimes strange confluences of world events. But if there were such a plan, would it appear in any clearer form that the United Nations Agenda 21 program?

Agenda 21 is a plank of UN policy encouraging the globe to embrace Sustainable Development, which conservatives understand as a code word for global Marxism:

Sustainable development sounds like a nice idea, right? It sounds nice, until you scratch the surface and find that Agenda 21 and sustainable development are really cloaked plans to impose the tenets of social justice/socialism on the world. At risk from Agenda 21; Private property ownership; Single-family homes; Private car ownership and individual travel choices; and Privately owned farms.

Agenda 21 remains to many, classic Marxism which must be rejected—as the Alabama legislature did recently.

I. Evolution of Agenda 21: Journey to Sustainable Development

The following is a brief evolution of Agenda 21, the UN program designed to help save the planet.

A. Ramsar Convention (1971)

According to the site for ANPED, the Northern Alliance for Sustainability, there were a number of International Environmental Agreements (IEA’s) which came before Agenda 21. Of the 1131 listed Agreements and Modifications, ANPED singles out a handful as significant before Agenda 21, starting with the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat). Another site, Texans Against Agenda 21, also states that the seed agreement for Agenda 21 was Ramsar:

The movement behind Agenda 21 has a long history and isn’t limited to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It began in 1971 with the Ramsar Convention On Wetlands, a treaty which was later put into force in 1975 and adopted by the United States in 1987. Ramsar is not officially affiliated with the United Nations, however, it works with the United Nations and many UN accredited NGO’s.

B. Earth Summit (1972)

This meeting turned into… “the launchpad for what would become known as Sustainable Development.” Here are some details (out of which later developed Habitat I):

“It is Recommended that the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies should provide increased assistance to Governments which so request in the field of family planning programmes without delay.

It is further recommended that the World Health Organization should promote and intensify research endeavor in the field of human reproduction, so that the serious consequences of population explosion on human environment can be prevented.”

Yet many did not embrace the concept. Writes one journalist:

The entire history of the Earth Summit, from Stockholm in 1972 to Rio in 1992, is one of socialist conniving and conspiring against basic, God-given economic and political rights. The first “Earth Summit,” the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, Sweden, was hosted by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, a member of the Socialist International. Out of that summit came a socialist-environmentalist manifesto called the Stockholm Declaration and the Stockholm Plan of Action.

C. United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) (1973)

The stated mission of UNEP is:

To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

But according to Front Page Magazine, UNEP is a tentacle of socialism, as revealed in a recent report:

The UNEP report, known as “Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development (GEO-4)”, covers not just global warming. It covers all dimensions of environmental deterioration that UNEP claims are imminently putting “humanity at risk”. The report warns that we are in mortal danger of passing “unknown points of no return” on climate change, the rate of extinction of species, loss of fertile land through degradation, unsustainable pressure on resources and the challenge of feeding a growing population. The report places primary blame on over-population and the “the rising consumption of the rich”. The solution requires “fundamental changes in social and economic structures, including lifestyle changes.” UNEP is serving up repackaged socialism, which one could call eco-socialism. Essentially it is saying that we have to choose between the capitalist free market or a habitable planet.

D. United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I) (1976)

The Habitat I agreement was ostensibly about human living space, but really sought to control ownership of land. Here is an excerpt:

Land is an essential element in development of both urban and rural settlements. The use and tenure of land should be subject to public control…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; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable….

Again, socialist dogma appeared at root of another UN conference, reports Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh:

The 65-page socialist document released from the Conference on Human Settlements (1976) declared private land ownership and wealth as primary reasons for “social injustice.” Its recommendations that were later incorporated in UN Agenda 21 are:

  • Redistribution of population according to resources
  • Government control of land use in order to achieve equitable distribution of resources
  • Land use control through zoning and planning
  • Government control of excessive profits from land use
  • Urban and rural land control through public land ownership
  • Developing rights must be held by public authorities

E. World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) (1983)

The Bruntland Commission called for a further meeting to promote sustainable growth, named after the Chairman, Gro Harlem Brundtland, a socialist from Norway. This became the Agenda 21 conference of 1992, a meeting of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janero, Brazil. The commission boasted 21 representatives from 21 countries, including William D. Ruckelshaus former head of the American EPA and Maurice Strong, who chaired the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

Strong, a socialist, senior adviser to the Commission on Global Governance was the driving force behind promoting the concept of “sustainability”, said when introducing the term at the 1992 Rio Conference (Earth Summit II):

Industrialized countries [Americans] have “developed and benefited from the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption which have produced our present dilemma. It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption pattern of the affluent middle class—involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning and suburban housing—are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns.”

F. Earth Summit II (1992)

The Rio Earth Summit produced several documents including: The Rio Declaration (here); Statement on Forest Principles; UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD); and Agenda 21. But Earth Summit II had a core of socialism:

Bicycles instead of cars? Dense apartment clusters instead of single homes? Community rituals instead of churches? “Human rights” instead of religious freedom?

The UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) which met in Istanbul, painted an alarming picture of the 21st century community. The American ways-free speech, individualism, travel, and Christianity-are out. A new set of economic, environmental, and social guidelines are in. Citizenship, democracy, and education have been redefined. Handpicked civil leaders will implement UN “laws”, bypassing state and national representatives to work directly with the UN. And politically correct “tolerance”-meaning “the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism” as well as “appreciation” for the world’s religions and lifestyles-is “not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement.

III. Agenda 21

Agenda 21 is the innocuously named 40-part United Nations plan to help promote global “sustainable development.” The Agenda was later ratified by the US House in the October 2, 1992 session, as HC 353, “a resolution calling for the U.S. to assume a strong leadership role in implementing the sustainable development recommendations of the Rio Earth Summit including Agenda 21.” (video) Agenda 21 encapsulates a truly awe-inspiring list of leftist shibboleths. For the Rio Declaration conference the Agenda 21 team sent out this press release:

On 22 December 1989, the United Nations General Assembly called for a global meeting that would devise strategies to halt and reverse the effects of environmental degradation “in the context of increased national and international efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally sound development in all countries.”

Underlying Agenda 21 is the notion that humanity has reached a defining moment in its history. We can continue our present policies which serve to deepen the economic divisions within and between

countries; which increase poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy worldwide; and which are causing the continued deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for life on Earth.

Or we can change course. We can improve the living standards of those who are in need. We can better manage and protect the ecosystem and bring about a more prosperous future for us all. “No nation can

achieve this on its own,” states Mr. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of the Conference, in the preamble to Agenda 21. “Together we can in a global partnership for sustainable development.”

IV. Analysis of Agenda 21

There are 27 “Principles,” and 40 chapters which comprise the Agenda 21 manifesto. The tenor of all these are summed up as a call for international government which defers to poorer states at the cost of richer ones, as human populations are reduced to save the environment while private property rights are canceled.

Another writer gives his summary:

Agenda 21 is the global blueprint for changing the way we “live, eat, learn and communicate” because we must “save the earth.” Here everything is heavily controlled by the government: water, electricity and transportation are just some of the areas of concentration that are targeted. So what exactly does Agenda 21 entail? It consists of 115 specific programs designed to facilitate, or to force, the transition to Sustainable Development. The objective, clearly enunciated by the leaders of the Earth Summit, is to bring about a change in the present system of independent nations. Agenda 21 is broken into 8 sections: Agriculture; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management; Education; Energy and Housing; Population; Public Health; Resources and Recycling; Transportation, Sustainable Economic Development.

One author describes how 600 US land use bodies already use Agenda 21 standards to make…

Governments take control of all land use

  • Decision making NOT in the hands of private property owners
  • Individual rights give way to the needs of communities
  • Needs of the community determined by the governing body
  • People packed into human settlements, islands of human habitation, close to employment centers, and transportation
  • Wildlands Project tells how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans


Socialism is defined as a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production, according to the Library of Economics and Liberty. The whiff of socialism is strong in Agenda 21. First is the doctrinaire, self-righteous tone of the elites scorning the ignorant capitalists who destroy the earth and the poor. Second is the staggering ignorance which claims global lands would be better organized by bureaucrats. Third, the claim that the rich owe the poor their wealth—which is the central idea of Marxism. And fourth, that the earth is unstable because of capitalism and progressives must battle to save our planet or we are all doomed. Because of the failed nature of socialism and Marxism in history, Agenda 21 will be as successful as the passenger pigeon in advancing “sustainable growth.”

Kelly OConnell -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. He was born on the West Coast, raised in Las Vegas, and matriculated from the University of Oregon. After laboring for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland, he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia, where he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government. He spent a stint working as a researcher and writer of academic articles at a Miami law school, focusing on ancient law and society. He has also been employed as a university Speech & Debate professor. He then returned West and worked as an assistant district attorney. Kelly is now is a private practitioner with a small law practice in New Mexico.

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