Agenda 21

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Agenda 21 is a set of hopeful guidelines for environmental action and social justice established by the United Nations in 1992 at a conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[1] It sets out a variety of goals for public policy at all levels and for civic action by non-governmental organizations. These include fair trade practices, sustainable energy and urban development (i.e. more efficient zoning), and debt reduction for the developing world. Like most such sets of guidelines, it was happily agreed upon and happily ignored for many years, except for ne'er-do-wells like Sweden.[2]

Agenda 21 was frequently cited by conspiracy theorists, such as the John Birch Society, during the 1990s as a purported blueprint for implementing the New World Order and population control, then forgotten by them for a number of years. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, several conspiracy theorists again brought up and repopularized the general idea. The most well-known among them may be Glenn Beck and David Icke. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of people have latched on to the repopularizing of the idea, often in connection with denialism and scaremongering concerning the COVID-19 vaccines.

The flaw with any vigorous political opposition to Agenda 21 is that "the U.S. government and no state or local government is legally bound by the United Nations Agenda 21 treaty," as the Republican National Committee (RNC) – the governing body of one of the two major American partiesaccurately asserted in a 2012 resolution even as they officially condemned Agenda 21.[3] Accordingly, it makes no sense to demand that it be repudiated: you can argue with it on the merits of what it recommends, but it's silly to savage a set of recommendations for merely daring to exist. It's tantamount to mounting a bombastic attack on the Food and Leisure section of your local paper just because you disagreed with a food critic's opinion of a restaurant: you might want a different columnist or different recommendations or even a different section editor, but attacking the section for its audacity in existing makes you seem like a raving lunatic.

Reaction to Agenda 21 outside the US[edit]

Outside the US, Agenda 21 is moderately known among "Green" types and there are even some local groups that want to implement Agenda 21 and pressure local and federal politics in that direction.[4] Apart from those groups and those dealing with them, basically nobody has ever heard about Agenda 21 nor cares about it — except conspiracy theorists and those who listen to them.

Glenn Beck's 2012 "exposé"[edit]

In 2012, an "exposé" by former Fox News host Glenn Beck seized upon Agenda 21 as an attempt by radical Nazi communist internationalistWikipedia homosexuals[note 1] to "put their fangs into our communities and suck all the blood out of it, we will not be able to survive."[5] This began an onslaught of paranoia that has continued ever since, with even such high-level American institutions as the Republican National Committee (RNC) officially condemning Agenda 21 as "a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control."[3] The general consensus among a certain segment of the American conservative movement seems to be that socialists and tree-huggers are using Agenda 21 as a template for an insidious contamination of all levels of society.[note 2] And our precious bodily fluids, no doubt.

Glenn Beck's Agenda 21 keyword list[6][edit]

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Ballot box planning
  3. Benefit of all
  4. Benefits-driven
  5. Buffer zones
  6. Cap & trade
  7. Choice
  8. Climate change
  9. Common Core Curriculum
  10. Common good
  11. Community protocol
  12. Comprehensive planning
  13. Consensus
  14. Conservation easement
  15. Direct instruction
  16. Downzoning
  17. Endangered species
  18. Environment
  19. Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
  20. Environmental justice
  21. Equity
  22. Facilitator
  23. Fair
  24. General plan
  25. Global warming
  26. Good Business Sense
  27. Grants
  28. Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions
  29. Greenways
  30. Growth management
  31. Habitat
  32. HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Communities
  33. Healthy Communities Strategy
  34. High speed rail
  35. Historic preservation
  36. Housing Element
  37. Inclusive
  38. Inter-disciplinary
  39. International baccalaureate
  40. International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
  41. Invasive species
  42. Jobs-Housing Connection
  43. Land Use Policies
  44. Lifelong learning
  45. Livable communities
  46. Local
  47. Local Governments for Sustainability
  48. Metropolitan Planning Organizations
  49. Mixed use development
  50. Modeling
  51. Multi-use dwellings
  52. New economy
  53. New urbanism
  54. New World Order
  55. One planet communities
  56. Open Space
  57. Outcome based education
  58. Outcomes
  59. Parking policy
  60. Precautionary approach
  61. Precautionary principle
  62. Preserve
  63. Priority conservation areas
  64. Priority Development Areas (PDA)
  65. Prosperity protect
  66. Public/private partnerships
  67. Quality of life
  68. Redevelopment
  69. Regional
  70. Resilient cities
  71. Responsible development
  72. Restoration
  73. Safe Routes to Schools
  74. Sanctuary
  75. Scenic views and vistas
  76. School to work
  77. Sensitive Lands
  78. Smart growth
  79. Smart streets
  80. Social justice
  81. Stack and pack housing
  82. Stakeholder
  83. Sustainable Communities Initiative
  84. Sustainable communities partnership
  85. Sustainable communities strategies
  86. Sustainable development
  87. Sustainable economic development
  88. Sustainable medicine
  89. Three "E"s of Sustainability-Equity, Economy, Environment
  90. Traffic calming
  91. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  92. Transportation justice
  93. Triple bottom line
  94. Upzoning
  95. Urban growth boundary
  96. Urban revitalization
  97. Vehicle mileage traveled
  98. Tax
  99. Vibrant neighborhoods
  100. Vision
  101. Visioning meetings
  102. Walkable communities
  103. Watershed
  104. Wetlands
  105. Wildlands

David Icke's talk[edit]

A 2010 talk by David Icke,[7] uploaded to YouTube in 2016,[8] covers Icke's main ideas on Agenda 21 along with various conspirituality themes, and has played a part in popularizing a version of the conspiracy theory (its broadening of popularity later extending to COVID-19 denialists,[9] of which Icke also became one). Icke claims that Agenda 21 is a Trojan horse for world fascism, which uses concern for the environment as an excuse to justify de-industrialization, the end of democracy, a drastic culling of the world population, and more. He further compares its implementation with "a version of The Hunger Games".Wikipedia

Icke also connects it all to various other of his ideas, e.g. about secret societies (tied to a great Satanic conspiracy), chemtrails, weather modification used as a weapon against the people (to target farmers and rural populations so that big corporations can gain control of everything), and a planned grand economic collapse.

2030 Agenda[edit]

A newer UN agenda from 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development[10] (also referred to as Agenda 2030) has goals of a nature basically similar to those of the older Agenda 21. Far-fetched claims of a similar kind about the meaning of the text by conspiracy theorists have also been made similarly to those for Agenda 21. Indeed, the two agendas have come to be mentioned together in some conspiracy theories, viewed as part of the same conspiracy, and mentions of the newer 2030 Agenda have sometimes replaced mentions of Agenda 21 altogether.

For example, one depopulation conspiracy theory has it that the Luciferan nature of Agenda 2030 includes that Goal 12, "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns", is really a plan to exterminate six billion people worldwide. Nothing is quoted from the actual text for Goal 12 beyond the headline to back that up, and there is nothing in it to quote to back up such a claim. Quoted below, the actual text of Goal 12 is rather less exciting.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

12.1 Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries
12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses
12.4 By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
12.a Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production
12.b Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
12.c Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities

Role in COVID-19 conspiracies[edit]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the repopularized Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, in various variations including Icke's, has grown popular among anti-vaxxers and others viewing the pandemic as fake or a "plandemic" used as an excuse for a descent into totalitarianism and more.[9]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Yes, you read that right. Next time life is beating you up, try imagining what a "radical Nazi Communist internationalist homosexual" would sound like giving a speech. It won't solve all your problems, but you're guaranteed a good therapeutic laugh.
  2. It actually provides a great litmus test on the wackiness of right-wing candidates.


  1. Agenda 21, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development
  2. Växjö, Sweden: A Model of Sustainability, BuildingGreen
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Winter Meeting 2012 Resolutions", Republican National Committee
  5. Behind the Green Mask, Southern Poverty Law Center
  7. "Agenda 21 – The Plan To Kill You – David Icke (Speaking in 2010)",
  8. "Agenda 21, The Plan To Kill You - David Icke" (archived 2016 video upload),
  9. 9.0 9.1 "An Old Conspiracy Theory Known As "Agenda 21" Has Been Rebooted By The Coronavirus Pandemic", (Joey D'Urso, 4 Apr 2020)
  10. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development