Just put "Agenda 21" into your computer's search engine and you'll find hundreds of pages of information on the topic -- ranging from the very bizarre conspiracy theories to very real comprehensive environmental polices adopted by local communities.
The United Nation's global plan for "sustainable development" might not sound nefarious, but many of its opponents say it threatens the very fabric of American life. The policy signed by 179 world leaders in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, has largely stayed under the radar, but it has never gone away.
Since President George H.W. Bush first signed onto Agenda 21, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI, has been established to help local governments across the globe implement the group's environmental and development policies. More than 450 U.S. cities and counties in 46 states have become members, according to the organization's website. Additionally, more than 1,000 major cities around the globe are also members. While Congress has never approved Agenda 21, both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama signed executive orders supporting the initiative.
TheBlaze TV's For The Record takes an in-depth look at how Agenda 21 is being implemented in communities throughout the United States in Wednesday night's new episode, "The Agenda" (8:30 p.m. ET).
Opponents of Agenda 21 told "For the Record" it's something every American should understand because it guts property rights and civil liberties in an effort to establish a socially-engineered global society.
Some San Francisco Bay Area residents are battling city planners on the implementation of "Plan Bay Area and Senate Bill 375," which is designed to reduce the environmental impact of transportation and housing. In the Bay Area it's known as a "smart growth" program and it means to move people from rural communities into the city's urban sprawl where the government would have more control over how they impact the environment. It would reduce the need for vehicles and tighten up the space that people use when they purchase single family homes or farmland.
Rosa Koire, a former forensic appraiser and the founder of Democrats Against UN Agenda 21, believes the smart growth plan isn't so much about environmental impacts but making the people live closer together in areas where the government would have more control over them.
Koire said these plans are "kind of the justification for restriction on land use and anything but the dense city centers."
"That's what smart growth is about is moving people out of rural and suburban areas into the city centers," she said.
Support for the global implementation of Agenda 21 regulations comes not just from members of the United Nations but wealthy donors like billionaire George Soros, whose Open Society gave ICLEI a $2.1 million grant in 1997 to support its local Agenda 21 Project. The financing was used to promote the project in the United States.
Prior to the implementation of Agenda 21 and smart growth programs, California was working on similar plans for sustainable management of "open spaces." After the push for smart growth, defining open space clearly become a point of contention between city planners who support environmental policies established in Agenda 21 and citizens who don't want their rights to own single family homes and property rights taken from them.
The definition of what is to be considered an "open space" has sparked some heated exchanges between those directing the planning meetings and citizens who want private property rights to be respected and protected.
There is reason to worry, opponents say. The U.N. describes the plan as a "comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups, in every area in which human impacts on the environment.”
That means almost every aspect of your life, including single-family homes, private property, farmland and vehicle ownership and individual travel choices.
Opponents hold that the United Nations plan will slowly co-opt the sovereignty of nations and private ownership rights under the guise of environmental protections.
In 2011, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. put together a report warning that not only is Agenda 21 a problem, but smart growth programs being developed in the U.S. also present very serious problems.
The Heritage report, written by Wendell Cox, Ronald D. Utt and Brett D. Schaefer, states that although Agenda 21 "unabashedly calls on governments to intervene and regulate nearly every potential impact that human activity could have on the environment" it is non-binding and depends on governments for implementation.
"If opponents focus excessively on Agenda 21, it is much more likely that homegrown smart-growth policies that undermine the quality of life, personal choice and property rights in American communities will be implemented by local, state, and federal authorities at the behest of environmental groups and other vested interests," the authors wrote.
"Preventing American implementation of Agenda 21 should therefore be viewed as only one part of a broader effort to convince U.S. government officials to repeal destructive smart-growth programs and prevent the enactment of new ones," the wrote. "They should recognize that Agenda 21 is simply another facet of smart growth and not allow it to divert them from opposing the more ubiquitous, overarching agenda of homegrown environmental extremists."