Sustainable Development Comes to Maine

R.O. Voight

October 15, 1998

Agenda 21 has never been debated or adopted by the Congress of the United States. Nevertheless it is being vigorously implemented by the Clinton Administration. More than 150 nations are participants in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). America's participation is not the result of a treaty, ratified by Congress. It is the result of President Bush signing Agenda 21 at the 1992 United Nations Convention on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the Clinton Administration's green desire to implement Agenda 21 objectives. Led by the President's Council on Sustainable Development, not by elected representatives in Congress, the federal government is leading the way toward transforming society around Al Gore's central organizing principle of protecting the environment - as dictated by the United Nations.

Sustainable Development is defined by the U.N. as "meeting today's needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable Development is, in fact, the process by which societies are being reorganized around the central principle of protecting the environment. It is a process that originated in the international community and is now sweeping across America, encompassing small towns and large cities, without legislative authority or legal definition. Congress has never defined, debated nor approved a national policy of sustainable development. Nevertheless, the Executive Branch of the federal government is promoting and implementing the principles of sustainable development through each of its agencies.

In almost every state and in most communities, activities are underway to impose the principles of sustainable development. In only a few communities are citizens told that the ideas being advanced are coming directly from the United Nations. Santa Cruz, California openly admits that its vision for the community's future is sponsored by the United Nations and is named the "Local Agenda 21". In Florida, the Department of Community Affairs vehemently denies that its Sustainable Community Program has anything to do with the United Nations or the President's Council on Sustainable Development. Nevertheless, many of the requirements for participation in the program mirror the recommendations of both.

More often than not, the "visioning" process in local communities tries to avoid any connection to the UN or Agenda 21 by adopting positive sounding names such as "Environment 2000" in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, the Sustainable program is called "Economic Renewal”. All sorts of names are used to camouflage the UN's influence on public policies that are being developed for every American city. Regardless of names used to describe the process, the end result looks very similar, whether in Santa Barbara or St. Louis.

More often than not, the participants in the "visioning" process are unaware that they are being led through the "collaborative consensus process" to conclusions that were reached in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Professional facilitators are used to lead selected individuals through a process that is intended to validate the recommendations advanced in Agenda 21, while appearing to be the ideas and conclusions of the participants.

The President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) issued their final report in mid-1996. It is titled Sustainable America. Since then, activity in every state has proceeded and many states now have their own Sustainable (name of state) report. A quote from Chapter 3 of the PCSD says, "Key to this strategy is managing information better, expanding access to the decision process, measuring progress toward societal goals more comprehensively, and incorporating accounting measures that educate and enable decision makers and individuals to make decisions that are more economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable”. Inherent in this statement is the assumed position of superiority by the federal government to formulate, in excruciating detail, the compliance plan for every citizen in every aspect of his life.

In Chapter 4 the report discusses "sustainably designed communities". It says, "Because many design issues such as transportation, land use, and growth management transcend political boundaries, sustainable community design calls for coordinated regional design". Translated that means that political boundaries and elected officials will be by-passed by stakeholder partnerships with non-government (NGOs) in building these new communities. In Chapter 5 it says, "…an ethic of stewardship built on collaborative approaches, ecosystem integrity, and incentives in such areas as agriculture resources management, sustainable forestry, fisheries and biodiversity conservation ”.

The major concept of the PCSD is to orient and control every aspect of human life around the "natural" environment, under the guidance of federal authority. Every posited action is based upon federal standards, policy, control and enforcement. Throughout the document they urge Sustainable county, community and citizen participation in "discussion" and "collaboration" to put the plans in place. But nowhere do they permit or suggest ideas are permissible that deviate from the policies developed by the feds in partnership with the NGOs. They just want workers supporting the plans and policies, and they will "facilitate" that agreement or acceptance. "Facilitate" is the current psycho-buzzword that is used to get people into "consensus" rather than "conflict". Conflict is not now politically correct.

The underlying thesis of this PCSD is to base our society on "nature", controlled from above, rather than on individual freedoms and liberty and rights as we now exist. Maurice Strong, a U.N. world leader in the eco-religion, the 1992 earth summit, and the U.N. Agenda 21, said, " A shift is necessary toward life styles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns. This shift will require a vast strengthening of the multi-lateral system, including the United Nations”. Strong went on to say, "Isn't the only hope for this planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?"

Here in Maine the PCSD is active. The ECO/ECO Forum is cosponsoring a series of regional meetings from 28 October to 10 December (1998) in Rockland, Portland, York County, Lewiston, Hancock County, Bath, Bangor, and Machias. The name they have created for this round is, "Smart Growth for Our Communities”. Among other things, they plan to discuss “collaboration between communities, reduction of the cost of growth, and the preservation of things (i.e. resources)”. They have invited stakeholders (real estate developers, business men, land trusts, sportsmen, farmers, woodlot owners, municipal officials) and NGOs (Natural Resources Council, Maine Audubon Society).

This Maine activity is identical to the effort to change our society that is occurring across our country. It is up to you whether or not this change in national mores goes on.

R.O. "Bob" Voight is a founding member of the Maine Conservation Rights Institute.

"Courtesy of Scott Fish,"