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'Agenda 21' Sparks Lawmaker Concerns

A little-known United Nations plan adopted twenty years ago is now seen by some as a threat to the American way of life. The Florida Legislature is expected to address the issue when it convenes this coming March.

Back in 1992, the United Nations held a conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The 300 page document that came out of that meeting was something called “Agenda 21”.  It’s essentially a set of guidelines that promote sustainable living, conservation and resource management.  One hundred-seventy-eight governments, including the United States, say they support Agenda 21.  However, because it’s not an official treaty, the U.S. Senate never voted to ratify it.  In the past few years, this seemingly innocent initiative has become a lightning rod for many conservative commentators.

“What they’re going to do is, they’re going to control everything by the government.  They’re going to put all the people in housing in one spot.  We’re going to have to use mass transportation, not your own car.  They’re going to connect all the wilderness and pretend they’re saving nature and they love the earth.  What basically it comes down to is the abolishment of private property.  That’s what it’s all about, no private property, straight out of Karl Marx.”  

That’s Ann-Marie Murrell, one of the regular commentators on the www.Politichicks.TV web site.  Agenda 21 has also come under attack from Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Alex Jones and literally dozens of other pundits.   Incoming Florida Senate President Don Gaetz says those people aren’t the only ones talking about Agenda 21.

“I hear from constituents who tell me that they’re concerned when they learn that there may be efforts to compromise the sovereignty of American territory by turning over some rights to international organizations.”

Gaetz says he’s sympathetic to those worries.

“I certainly told them that I don’t believe that any international organization ought to have policy sovereignty or property sovereignty over any part or feature of the United States.”

That holds true especially, Gaetz says, for Florida.

“My understanding is that there probably will be legislation filed on this subject in the Florida Legislature during the next session.”

Although Gaetz says he has no plans to file or co-sponsor such legislation himself.  If legislation banning Agenda 21 provisions from Florida soil should become law, the state would join several other jurisdictions in this regard.  Seven other states and seventy-six localities have either passed or proposed resolutions against Agenda 21.  That’s in addition to the Republican National Committee, which adopted its own “protect U.S. sovereignty” language back in January of this year.   These views aren’t shared by environmental groups such as Earth Justice, the Audubon Society and Smart Growth America.  They insist Agenda Twenty-One is a benign set of voluntary suggestions nations, states and local governments may or may not use in support of sustainable growth and development.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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