How Agenda 21 Trumps Planning

Agenda 21, a nonbinding United Nations resolution signed in 1992 by 170 world leaders, was developed to encourage "sustainable development." Now it’s a political talking point that kills planning efforts all over the country.

1 minute read

February 27, 2014, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Dendodge / Wikimedia Commons

Don Terry begins this examination of Agenda 21’s influence over planning by telling the story of Horizon 2025, “a comprehensive development plan” for Baldwin County, Alabama.” The Baldwin County Commission killed the plan, prompting the mass resignation of the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission. According to Terry’s article: “The plan was killed…’on a pretext so devoid of relevance and merit as, in our opinion, to elicit only ridicule on the part of any serious knowledgeable observer.’” That pretext was Agenda 21.

Here’s how Terry sums up the impact of Agenda 21 on planning efforts around the country: “In recent years, Agenda 21 has become an effective rallying cry used by right-wing groups to beat back everything from bike paths to smart meters on home appliances. The attacks have caught city councils, planning commissions and smart-growth advocates across the country off guard, leaving them scrambling to mount a defense. Collateral damage to date includes a light rail system in Tampa, Fla., a federal ‘blueway’ program that would have protected rivers, and a road improvement project in Maine.”

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