Terms such as Smart Growth, urban boundaries, greenbelt, brownfield, infill and open space lace the literature of sustainable development. Rarely, however, is the term “Agenda 21” found in this literature, even though it is the document through which the concept of sustainable development entered the world. Americans don’t want to hear that domestic policy is being dictated by the United Nations.
Our land-use policies have been dramatically influenced by the Untied Nations. The United Nations policy on land use says that “… public control of land use is indispensable.” For a generation, government has been tightening its control of land use. In the early 1980s, the term “wetlands” entered the vocabulary, to describe what for centuries were called swamps, bogs and marshes. We were fed a steady diet of the value of wetlands to a healthy environment. The EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, devised regulations to protect wetlands, based on the 1972 Clean Water Act, which did not contain the word wetlands.
The National Wildlife Federation was not satisfied with the severity of the restrictions, so they filed a “friendly” lawsuit, in which the EPA agreed to re-write the regulations to the satisfaction of the NWF in order to reach an out-of-court consent agreement. Consequently, the federal government took control over more than 200 million acres of privately owned wetlands – with no thought of compensation.
U.S. wetland policy flows from the U.N. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed by the U.S. in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.
The snail darter introduced us to the Endangered Species Act, but it was the spotted owl that demonstrated the power of the law to lock up land, prevent land use, and displace thousands of people who derive their livelihood from resource use. Now, the Endangered Species Act is the weapon of choice, used by environmental organizations and government agencies, to designate vast stretches of both public and private lands off limits for human use – again, with no thought of compensation.
The Endangered Species Act flows from the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The reason for the government’s taking control of land is buried deep (page 993) within an 1,140-page U.N. document called the “Global Biodiversity Assessment,” the instruction book for implementing the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. The Wildlands Project is identified here as “central” to the successful implementation of the treaty.
The Wildlands Project seeks to set aside “… at least half” of the land area in the lower 48-states as “core wilderness,” off limits to humans. Most of the rest of the land is to be managed by government, in public-private partnerships with non-government organizations, for “conservation” objectives.
People are to be squeezed into “sustainable communities,” that are defined extensively in “Agenda 21,” and other sustainable development documents. Urban boundaries will prevent people from living in the suburbs. Single-family houses are “unsustainable,” according to Maurice Strong, secretary general of the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development – as are air conditioning, automobiles and convenience foods.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development, meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, is negotiating ways to speed up the implementation of “Agenda 21,” and to bring all nations – especially the United States – under the rule of the United Nations.
The Clinton-Gore administration was strongly supportive of this global agenda. The Bush administration has been less supportive, but Secretary of State Colin Powell has been sending mixed signals about the U.S.’ willingness to become “sustainable.”
In an article prepared especially for distribution to the delegates at the WSSD by the United Nations Environment Program, Powell seems to be trying to redefine sustainable development, using terms such as “sustained” development, and by pledging more foreign aid, not to U.N. agencies, but to a new special fund to be administered by the U.S. He also says “We will also invite developed and developing nations to join us in providing freedom, security and hope for present and future generations.” Freedom is not a part of the usual “sustainable” literature.
There should be no ambiguity. The United States cannot be “the land of the free,” and “in compliance” with sustainable development goals at the same time. The United States must lead the world toward freedom, if there is to be any hope for future generations.