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Agenda 21

Agenda 21
Cover of the first edition (paperback)
Author United Nations
Cover artist United Nations (1992)
Country United States
Language English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher United Nations
Publication date
April 23, 1993
Media type Print (Paperback) & HTML
Pages 300 pp

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the


  • Structure and contents 1
  • Development and evolution 2
    • Rio+5 (1997) 2.1
    • Rio+10 (2002) 2.2
    • Agenda 21 for culture (2002) 2.3
    • Rio+20 (2012) 2.4
  • Implementation 3
    • Local level 3.1
  • National level 4
    • Specific countries 4.1
      • United States 4.1.1
        • Support
        • Opposition
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

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.
  • Section IV: Means of Implementation: international institutions and financial mechanisms.

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.

Rio+5 (1997)

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.

Rio+10 (2002)

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.[2] 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.

Rio+20 (2012)

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.

Local level

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".[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Europe turned out to be the continent where LA21 was best accepted and most implemented.[6] In Sweden, for example, all local governments have implemented a Local Agenda 21 initiative.[7]

National level

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.[8]

  • Agenda 21 text
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

External links

  • Lenz, Ryan (Spring 2012). "Antigovernment Conspiracy Theorists Rail Against UN's Agenda 21 Program". Intelligence Report (  
  • Strzelczyk, Scott; Rothschild, Richard (October 28, 2009). "UN Agenda 21 - Coming to a Neighborhood near You". American Thinker. 
  • Earth Summit 2012

Further reading

  1. ^ "What is Agenda 21?". ICLEIUSA. Retrieved 8 Dec 2012. 
  2. ^ Agenda 21 for culture
  3. ^ Manchester Metropolitan University
  4. ^ a b c Kaufman, Leslie;  
  5. ^ a b Newman, Alex (4 June 2012). "Alabama Adopts First Official State Ban on UN Agenda 21". The New American. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  6. ^ 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.  
  7. ^ Jörby, Sofie (2002). "Local Agenda 21 in four Swedish Municipalities: a tool towards sustainability". Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 45 (2): 219–244.  
  8. ^ UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. "Areas of Work - National Information by Country or Organization". United Nations. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  9. ^ a b ICLEI. "ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability: Global Members". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "Namibian president calls for implementation of Agenda 21". Xinhua News Agency. 2 September 2002. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "United States of America". Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. United Nations. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "Senators attack sustainable development, Agenda 21".  
  15. ^ "Secret agenda at city hall?".  
  16. ^ Nancy Pelosi Support for Agenda 21
  17. ^ Agenda 21 - United States
  18. ^ Missouri Senate Bill No. 265
  19. ^ Jamison, Peter (August 30, 2012). "Fears of Agenda 21 go mainstream in the Republican Party platform".  
  20. ^ "Republican Platform 2012" (PDF).  
  21. ^ Tennessee House Joint Resolution 587
  22. ^ Kansas resolution HR 6032
  23. ^ Colfax City Council Resolution 12-2012
  24. ^ New Hampshire HB 1634
  25. ^ Fischer, Howard (21 March 2013). "Arizona Senate OKs bill rejecting UN declaration on environment".  
  26. ^ Hinkes-Jones, Llewellyn (29 August 2012). "The Anti-Environmentalist Roots of the Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory". Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  27. ^ "Agenda 21 By Glenn Beck, Harriet Parke".  
  28. ^ Cypher, Sarah (November 19, 2012). "I got duped by Glenn Beck!".  
  29. ^ "Best Sellers".  


See also

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.[4][13] Columnists in The Atlantic have linked opposition to Agenda 21 to the property rights movement in the United States.[13][26] In 2012 Glenn Beck co-wrote a dystopian novel titled Agenda 21 based in part on concepts discussed in the UN plan.[27][28][29]

During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels.[18] 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."[19][20] Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21.[4][13][21][22][23][24] Alabama became the first state to prohibit government participation in Agenda 21.[5] Many other states, including Arizona, are drafting, and close to passing legislation to ban Agenda 21.[25]


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.[13]

[13] 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".[17] The United States also has one of the most comprehensively documented Agenda 21 status reports.[9] In the United States, over 528 cities are members of

[16][13] Concurrent Resolution 353, supporting implementation of Agenda 21 in the United States.United States House of Representatives spoke in support of William Broomfield and Eliot Engel, Nancy Pelosi and in the same year Representatives [15][14] 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


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.[12] 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.[13]

United States

Specific countries

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).[11] 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.

[10] 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".[9]

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