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The Global Reporting Initiative: Yes, Your Grocery Store is Forcing You Into Agenda 21


By —— Bio and Archives--April 5, 2014

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The Global Reporting Initiative: Yes, Your Grocery Store is Forcing You Into Agenda 21

Agenda 21, the United Nation’s open plan for global sustainability, is widely understood to be voluntary. Critics of the scheme, however, insist the UN is engaging in double-speak, and that this so-called “volunteer” status is actually creating a world government through the interlinking of UN bureaucracies and international corporations.

It is appears now they may be right, this time involving a place most households in the Western world cannot avoid, the grocery store.

As it turns out, every item scanned at Wal-Mart, America’s top food reseller with an estimated 25% of market share, supports Agenda 21 through a little known organization called the Global Reporting Initiative.  The GRI, according to its website, is a non-profit entity which “promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.” Wal-Mart is one of the growing number of corporations who attach to the registry, “voluntarily” conforming to the policies of GRI, which is a “collaborating centre” with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The GRI functions as an over-the-shoulder manager, one that tracks compliance—through a school-style alphabet grading system—by companies who submit the proper paperwork and commit to managing their firms under the dictates of Agenda 21. UNEP, the executor of Agenda 21, is plain in its expectations and goals for the initiative, saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Wal-Mart, for its part, dedicates eight pages of the corporate website to explaining the company’s “global responsibility” values, including an explanation of the “live better” portion of the company’s current ad campaign, “Save money. Live better.” The phrase, according to Wal-Mart’s sustainability page, reflects a strong commitment toward “driving meaningful change in a way that no other company can.”

But Wal-Mart’s compliance is more than just a shallow public relations tactic. In fact, the economic powerhouse is in full submission to the GRI, promising “progress,” “engagement with external stakeholders,” and “making corrections as needed.” Pointedly, the company has added sustainability standards to what are already considered hard-core demands on suppliers. One mandate, for example, requires that “all direct import suppliers source 95 percent of their production from factories that receive one of our two highest ratings in audits for environmental and social practices.” Wal-Mart is only one of thousands of companies bringing its customers into compliance with Agenda 21, most recently promoted as the solution to the now debunked fear of catastrophic man-made climate change.  Last year Kroger, in second place for American grocery sales, produced a 69-page sustainability report for the GRI, touting it as “the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework.”  (For the sustainability rankings of major global corporations)

Because Agenda 21 is comprehensive in scope, this is only the first wave of the Global Reporting Initiative. Currently the Initiative is targeting mid-sized companies and locally-owned concerns around the globe,  pushing them to follow the track laid by 95% of world’s largest companies, who have already begun self-reporting.  According to GRI, “developing countries and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be given particular attention in progressing on sustainability reporting.” Rural areas are also being brought into the reporting fold, through efforts such as the Sustainable Rural Management project in Spain.

The focus on private enterprise is only one road of many leading toward full implementation of Agenda 21/global sustainability in the past two decades. Much of the progress thus far has been through laws and regulations enacted by governments around the world, including the United States. American citizens became yoked to the plan when President George H.W. Bush enthusiastically assented “by consensus” in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, where it was first publicly unveiled.  Recently the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) boosted the force of national governments with the formation of The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 [of Agenda 21], made up of heads of state from around the world, where “leading governments join together to commit to corporate sustainability reporting.”

Local governments have also been strongly directed to enter the collective through tendril organizations such as the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which began three years before the Rio conference in an effort to press small municipalities into helping stop ozone depletion. According to his online resume,  the founder of ICLEI, Jeb Brugmann, “conceived and led promotion of L[ocal] A[genda]21 scaling worldwide through ‘national campaigns’ led by national associations of local government.”

Also, a great many well-meaning citizens and local media are being drawn Pied Piper-style into compliance through “Transform” programs, where a trained organizer facilitates public input sessions with the purported purpose to improve communities.  Though promoted as grassroots, these efforts do not originate in the targeted cities, nor are participant’s comments used. Instead, the meetings are guided via the Delphi technique, creating a “consensus” in line with pre-set goals consistent with “Transforming America Under UN Agenda 21.”

Far from a glob of stagnant bureaucracy, in the past 20 years the United Nations has developed a formidable circle of “volunteers,” including presidents and prime ministers, CEOs of international corporations, titans of global finance, non-profit entities and religious organizations, state and provincial lawmakers and governors, local players and naïve shoppers. Together they are creating and complying with a system that will measure and manage everything from AC batteries to zombie Nerf guns. And the Global Reporting Initiative is bringing them all together “voluntarily” under a dark net of paperwork.

The UN is clear about why it continues building a web of human control unprecedented in recorded history: “An enabling global environment is a necessary condition for the post 2015 agenda to succeed, to set the global community on a course toward a 2030 which is more prosperous, more equitable, more peaceful and more just.”


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Gretchen Olson -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Gretchen Olson is a writer, and business owner an online information resource. She works from her home outside of Chicago.


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