the United Nations
By Henry Lamb
President of The Environmental Conservation Organization, Inc.
www.freedom.org - August 3,
See also Local Agenda
21- The U.N. Plan for Your Community
Agenda 21 is a 300-page, 40-chapter,
“soft-law” policy document adopted by the delegates to the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The
document is not legally binding; it is a set of policy recommendations designed
to reorganize global society around the principles of environmental protection,
social equity, and what is called “sustainable” economic development. At the
heart of the concept of sustainable development, is the assumption that
government must manage society to ensure that human activity conforms to these
The idea that government is inherently empowered to manage the affairs of
society is diametrically opposed to the idea that the just power of government
is derived from the consent of the governed. As these conflicting principles
collide in the arena of public policy, the people who are governed are losing
the ability to limit the power of government. Consequently, government power
over people is expanding.
Nowhere is this transformation more dramatic than in the policies governing
private property rights and the use of land and its resources.... This right is
being usurped by government, which now dictates to private property owners how
their land may - and may not - be used....
This transformation is not the result of a deliberate decision made by elected
representatives after fair and public debate. It is the result of years of
subtle influence and obscure processes relentlessly imposed through the United
Nations’ agencies and organizations, and a multitude of non-government
organizations accredited by, and sympathetic to the United Nations’ agenda.
Among the most influential non-government organizations are the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Worldwide Fund for Nature (
formerly the World Wildlife Fund, and still known as the WWF), and the World
Resources Institute (WRI). These three organizations, together with various
United Nations agencies and organizations, shaped the policies that are now
being implemented in the United States, and around the world, under the banner
of sustainable development.
These three organizations participated in the preparations for the United
Nations Conference on Human Settlements in 1976, where the first formal policy
on land use was adopted by a U.N. agency. Many of the land use restrictions now
imposed on land owners across America arise directly from the policy
recommendations adopted at this U.N. conference. The preamble to the conference
report on land use sets the tone for more than 50 pages of very specific land
use policy recommendations:
"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...."
Here is an example of the policy
recommendations that follow:
(b) All countries should establish as a matter of urgency a national
policy on human settlements, embodying the distribution of population...over
the national territory.
(c)(v) Such a policy should be devised to facilitate population
redistribution to accord with the availability of resources.
(a) Public ownership or effective control of land in the public interest
is the single most important means of...achieving a more equitable
distribution of the benefits of development whilst assuring that
environmental impacts are considered.
(b) Land is a scarce resource whose management should be subject to
public surveillance or control in the interest of the nation.
(d) Governments must maintain full jurisdiction and exercise complete
sovereignty over such land with a view to freely planning development of
The recommendations contained in this
report are remarkably similar to the conclusions reached in three publications
financed by the
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, compiled and edited by William K Reilly. The
first, The Use of Land: A Citizen's Policy Guide to Urban Growth, was
published in 1972. The second document, entitled The Unfinished Agenda,
was published in 1977. ...
The third publication of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund was entitled Blueprint
for the Environment, which was 1500 pages containing 730 specific
recommendations delivered to President-elect, George Bush on November 30,
William K. Reilly was responsible for the development of each of these
publications. He was also one of the U.S. delegates to the 1976 U.N. Conference
on Human Settlements who signed the document on behalf of the United States.
This same William K. Reilly, left his job as head of the World Wildlife Fund, to
become the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, appointed by
George H.W. Bush.
This same William K. Reilly, while serving in the Bush Cabinet, accompanied
then-Senator Al Gore, to the U.N. Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. There, he publicly urged
President Bush to sign Agenda 21, and the Framework Convention on Climate
Change, and ridiculed the President for not signing the Convention on Biological
Agenda 21, Chapter 37.4(a) recommends that:
(a) Each country should aim to
complete, as soon as practicable, if possible by 1994, a review of capacity
- and capability-building requirements for devising national
sustainable development strategies, including those for generating and
implementing its own Agenda 21 action programme;
On June 29, 1993, President Bill
Clinton complied with this recommendation by appointing Vice President Al
Gore to conduct a National Performance Review, and by issuing Executive
Order Number 12852, which created the
President’s Council on Sustainable
Its 25 members included most Cabinet Secretaries, representatives from The
Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and other non-government organizations, and
a few representatives from industry.
The function of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development was to find
ways to implement the recommendations of Agenda 21 administratively. Al
Gore’s National Performance Review resulted in overhauling the Departments of
Interior and Agriculture to implement what he called the “Ecosystem Management
Policy.” This policy embraced many of the recommendations found in Chapters 10
through 18 of Agenda 21, all of which deal with management of land and
At the 11th meeting of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, Ron
Brown, then Secretary of the Department of Commerce, reported that his
department could implement more than 60 percent of the recommendations of Agenda
21 through the rule making process, without additional legislation. Similar
reports came from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
These two departments were primarily responsible for funneling more than $5
million in grants to the American Planning Association for a project that
resulted in the publication of Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook: Model
Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change.
This publication provides model legislation for state legislatures which, when
adopted, writes into state law many of the policy recommendations set forth in
The Ecosystem Management Policy, coordinated with existing legislation
such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act, gave
the federal government the power to regulate land use in rural America. The
model legislation provided in the American Planning Association’s publication,
gave state governments the power to regulate land use at the state, county, and
municipal levels. The federal government encouraged states to adopt this
legislation by offering incentive grants to states and to local governments.
Consequently, the recommendations prescribed in Agenda 21 are being
systematically implemented across the nation.
This process is transforming America into the managed society envisioned in the
1976 U.N. Habitat document. This vision has been described in much greater
detail in subsequent documents published by both the U.N., and the federal
The Global Biodiversity Assessment, published by the United Nations
Environment Program, to be the instruction book for implementing the Convention
on Biological Diversity, describes a nation where most of the land is protected
for wildlife and biodiversity:
"This [protected areas] means
that representative areas of all major ecosystems in a region need to be
reserved, that blocks should be as large as possible, that buffer zones
should be established around core areas, and that corridors should connect
these areas. This basic design is central to the recently-proposed Wildlands
Project in the United States."
Wildlands project referenced
here has an even more vivid description:
"...that at least half of the
land area of the 48 conterminous states should be encompassed in core
reserves and inner corridor zones (essentially extensions of core reserves)
within the next few decades.... Nonetheless, half of a region in wilderness
is a reasonable guess of what it will take to restore viable
populations of large carnivores and natural disturbance regimes,
assuming that most of the other 50 percent is managed intelligently as
buffer zones. Eventually, a wilderness network would dominate a
region.... with human habitations being the islands. The native
ecosystem and the collective needs of non-human species must take
precedence over the needs and desires of humans."
Protection of these vast reaches of
land requires the removal, and redistribution of the population, as was
recommended in A (b) and (c)(v) of the 1976 U.N. Habitat Conference document.
The “National Policy on Human Settlements,” developed by the President’s Council
on Sustainable Development, has come to be known as “sustainable development.”
The islands of “human habitation,” described in the Wildlands Project,
are now called “sustainable communities,” which are defined in the model
legislation created by the American Planning Association.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development prepared a progress report for
the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements in 1995, which describes in great
detail the features of the “national policy on human settlements.” Here is a
Infrastructures [designed for] efficiency and livability that encourages:
in-fill over sprawl: compactness, higher density low-rise residential:
transit-oriented (TODs) and pedestrian-oriented development (PODs): bicycle
circulation networks; work-to-home proximity; mixed-use-development:
co-housing, housing over shops, downtown residential; inter-modal
transportation malls and facilities ...where trolleys, rapid transit, trains
and biking, walking and hiking are encouraged by infrastructures."
This report describes precisely what
the model legislation produced by the American Planning Association is designed
Most states have now enacted some form of comprehensive planning legislation,
which requires each county to develop a land use plan that conforms to the
recommendations that originated in the international community, and were
filtered through the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, and written
into law by state legislatures. Nearly every community in the nation is involved
in some form of “visioning” process designed to construct public
policies consistent with the recommendations set forth in Agenda 21. ...
Throughout the entire process, the role and influence of the U.N. is
minimized, or denied. Especially at the local and state level, even the most
active proponents of “sustainable development” are either unaware, or
deliberately deny, that the process is related to the United Nations....
Local Agenda 21- The U.N.
Plan for Your Community
. Information here cited
is from "Report of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements,"
Vancouver, 31 May - 11 June, 1976, (A/Conf.70/15), personally photocopied from
the archives of the U.N. Library at Geneva, Switzerland, December 6, 1996. (On
. A more thorough analysis of the policy recommendations from this conference
report was published in eco•logic, January/February, 1997 edition, page 8, and
is available on the Internet at http://sovereignty.net/p/land/unproprts.htm.
. The President’s Council on Sustainable Development ceased operations in
1999. Much of their work is preserved on this website. See:
. More detailed information about this publication is available here: http://www.planning.org/growingsmart/
. Global Biodiversity Assessment, Section 13, Page 993.
. Reed F. Noss, "The Wildlands Project," Wild Earth, Special Issue, 1992,
pp.13- 15. (Wild Earth is published by the Cenozoic Society, P.O. Box 492,
Canton, NY 13617).
. "Community Sustainability; Agendas for Choice-making and Action," U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, September 22, 1995. See also:
Please read the entire article is posted at
is the Executive Vice President of The Environmental Conservation Organization,
Inc. Mr. Lamb assembled the first meeting in Chicago in 1988, from which the
Environmental Conservation Organization grew. He is also chairman of Sovereignty
International, Inc., and writes a weekly newspaper column for WorldNetDaily and
other publications. Visit the eco-logic Powerhouse is at