Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the Earth Summit (UN Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels. The “21” in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st Century. It has been affirmed and had a few modifications at subsequent UN conferences.
Structure and contents
Agenda 21 is a 700-page document divided into 40 chapters that have been grouped into 4 sections:
- Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions is directed toward combating poverty, especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making.
Development and evolution
The full text of Agenda 21 was made public at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), held in Rio de Janeiro on June 13, 1992, where 178 governments voted to adopt the program. The final text was the result of drafting, consultation, and negotiation, beginning in 1989 and culminating at the two-week conference.
In 1997, the UN General Assembly held a special session to appraise the status of Agenda 21 (Rio +5). The Assembly recognized progress as “uneven” and identified key trends, including increasing globalization, widening inequalities in income, and continued deterioration of the global environment. A new General Assembly Resolution (S-19/2) promised further action.
The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, agreed to at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2002), affirmed UN commitment to “full implementation” of Agenda 21, alongside achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other international agreements.
Agenda 21 for culture (2002)
The first World Public Meeting on Culture, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2002, came up with the idea to establish guidelines for local cultural policies, something comparable to what Agenda 21 was for the environment. They are to be included in various subsections of Agenda 21 and will be carried out through a wide range of sub-programs beginning with G8 countries.
In 2012, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development the attending members reaffirmed their commitment to Agenda 21 in their outcome document called “The Future We Want”. 180 leaders from nations participated.
The Commission on Sustainable Development acts as a high-level forum on sustainable development and has acted as preparatory committee for summits and sessions on the implementation of Agenda 21. The UN Division for Sustainable Development acts as the secretariat to the Commission and works “within the context of” Agenda 21.
Implementation by member states remains voluntary, and its adoption has varied.
The implementation of Agenda 21 was intended to involve action at international, national, regional and local levels. Some national and state governments have legislated or advised that local authorities take steps to implement the plan locally, as recommended in Chapter 28 of the document. These programs are often known as “Local Agenda 21” or “LA21”. For example, in the Philippines, the plan is “Philippines Agenda 21” (PA21). The group, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, formed in 1990; today its members come from over 1,000 cities, towns, and counties in 88 countries and is widely regarded as a paragon of Agenda 21 implementation.
In other countries, opposition to Agenda 21’s ideas has surfaced to varied extents. In some cases, opposition has been legislated into several States limiting or forbidding the participation and/or funding of local government activities that support Agenda 21.
Europe turned out to be the continent where LA21 was best accepted and most implemented. In Sweden, for example, all local governments have implemented a Local Agenda 21 initiative.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division for Sustainable Development monitors and evaluates progress, nation by nation, towards the adoption of Agenda 21, and makes these reports available to the public on its website.
Australia, for example, is a signatory to Agenda 21 and 88 of its municipalities subscribe to ICLEI, an organization that promotes Agenda 21 globally. Australia’s membership is second only to that of the United States. European countries generally possess well documented Agenda 21 statuses. France, whose national government, along with 14 cities, is a signatory, boasts nationwide programs supporting Agenda 21. The French activist group Nouvelle Force announced in March 2012 that they viewed Agenda 21 as a “sham”.
In Africa, national support for Agenda 21 is strong and most countries are signatories. But support is often closely tied to environmental challenges specific to each country; for example, in 2002 Sam Nujoma, who was then President of Namibia, spoke about the importance of adhering to Agenda 21 at the 2002 Earth Summit, noting that as a semi-arid country, Namibia sets a lot of store in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Furthermore, there is little mention of Agenda 21 at the local level in indigenous media. Only major municipalities in sub-Saharan African countries are members of ICLEI. Agenda 21 participation in North African countries mirrors that of Middle Eastern countries, with most countries being signatories but little to no adoption on the local-government level. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa generally have poorly documented Agenda 21 status reports. By contrast, South Africa‘s participation in Agenda 21 mirrors that of modern Europe, with 21 city members of ICLEI and support of Agenda 21 by national-level government.
The national focal point in the United States is the Division Chief for Sustainable Development and Multilateral Affairs, Office of Environmental Policy, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State. A June 2012 poll of 1,300 United States voters by the American Planning Association found that 9% supported Agenda 21, 6% opposed it, and 85% thought they didn’t have enough information to form an opinion.
The United States is a signatory country to Agenda 21, but because Agenda 21 is a legally non-binding statement of intent and not a treaty, the United States Senate was not required to hold a formal debate or vote on it. It is therefore not considered to be law under Article Six of the United States Constitution. President George H. W. Bush was one of the 178 heads of government who signed the final text of the agreement at the Earth Summit in 1992, and in the same year Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Eliot Engel and William Broomfield spoke in support of United States House of Representatives Concurrent Resolution 353, supporting implementation of Agenda 21 in the United States.
In the United States, over 528 cities are members of ICLEI, an international sustainability organization that helps to implement the Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 concepts across the world. The United States has nearly half of the ICLEI’s global membership of 1,200 cities promoting sustainable development at a local level. The United States also has one of the most comprehensively documented Agenda 21 status reports. In response to the opposition, Don Knapp, U.S. spokesman for the ICLEI, has said “Sustainable development is not a top-down conspiracy from the U.N., but a bottom-up push from local governments”.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry successfully lobbied against an anti-sustainable development bill in 2012, arguing “It would be bad for business” as it could drive away corporations that have embraced sustainable development.
During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels. The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party platform stated that “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.” Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21. Alabama became the first state to prohibit government participation in Agenda 21. Many other states, including Arizona, are drafting, and close to passing legislation to ban Agenda 21.
Activists, some of whom have been associated with the Tea Party movement by The New York Times and The Huffington Post, have said that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy by the United Nations to deprive individuals of property rights. Columnists in The Atlantic have linked opposition to Agenda 21 to the property rights movement in the United States. In 2012 Glenn Beck co-wrote a dystopian novel titled Agenda 21 based in part on concepts discussed in the UN plan.
- Jump up ^ “What is Agenda 21?”. ICLEIUSA. Retrieved 8 Dec 2012.
- Jump up ^ Agenda 21 for culture
- Jump up ^ Manchester Metropolitan University
- ^ Jump up to: a b c Kaufman, Leslie; Kate Zernike (3 February 2012). “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot”. New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- ^ Jump up to: a b Newman, Alex (4 June 2012). “Alabama Adopts First Official State Ban on UN Agenda 21”. The New American. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Jump up ^ Smardon, Richard (2008). “A comparison of Local Agenda 21 implementation in North American, European and Indian cities”. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal 19 (1): 118–137. doi:10.1108/14777830810840408. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
- Jump up ^ Jörby, Sofie (2002). “Local Agenda 21 in four Swedish Municipalities: a tool towards sustainability”. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 45 (2): 219–244. doi:10.1080/09640560220116314.
- Jump up ^ UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “Areas of Work – National Information by Country or Organization”. United Nations. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- ^ Jump up to: a b ICLEI. “ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability: Global Members”. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Jump up ^ Laporte, Sébastien (12 March 2012). “Agenda 21 : l’opposition n’y voit qu’une ” imposture ““. l’Union: Champagne, Ardenne, Picardie (in French). Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Jump up ^ “Namibian president calls for implementation of Agenda 21”. Xinhua News Agency. 2 September 2002. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Jump up ^ “United States of America”. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. United Nations.
- ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g “Tea Party Activists Fight Agenda 21, Seeing Threatening U.N. Plot”. Huffington Post. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Jump up ^ “Senators attack sustainable development, Agenda 21”. The Courier-Journal. 20 February 2013.
- Jump up ^ “Secret agenda at city hall?”. Wyoming Tribune Eagle. 4 November 2012.
- Jump up ^ Nancy Pelosi Support for Agenda 21
- Jump up ^ Agenda 21 – United States
- Jump up ^ Missouri Senate Bill No. 265
- Jump up ^ Jamison, Peter (August 30, 2012). “Fears of Agenda 21 go mainstream in the Republican Party platform”. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
- Jump up ^ “Republican Platform 2012” (PDF). Republican Party (United States). Retrieved October 23, 2012.
- Jump up ^ Tennessee House Joint Resolution 587
- Jump up ^ Kansas resolution HR 6032
- Jump up ^ Colfax City Council Resolution 12-2012
- Jump up ^ New Hampshire HB 1634
- Jump up ^ Fischer, Howard (21 March 2013). “Arizona Senate OKs bill rejecting UN declaration on environment”. Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
- Jump up ^ Hinkes-Jones, Llewellyn (29 August 2012). “The Anti-Environmentalist Roots of the Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory”. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Jump up ^ “Agenda 21 By Glenn Beck, Harriet Parke”. USA Today. 2012.
- Jump up ^ Cypher, Sarah (November 19, 2012). “I got duped by Glenn Beck!”. Salon.com.
- Jump up ^ “Best Sellers”. The New York Times. December 9, 2012.
<img src=”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:CentralAutoLogin/start?type=1×1″ alt=”” title=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”border: none; position: absolute;” />