How the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Affects Kootenai County, Idaho

//How the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Affects Kootenai County, Idaho

How the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Affects Kootenai County, Idaho

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

But thanks to the efforts of the Larry Spencer wing of the local Republican Party, a long-overdue overhaul of local land use codes is in jeopardy because of irrational fear of an obscure and utterly irrelevant international document.

First, some background. For the 85% of Americans who will have no idea what this uproar is about, Agenda 21 is a 20-year-old document produced at the so-called “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 as a non-binding resolution. The broad principles were reaffirmed the general direction at a similar international summit in Johannesburg in 2002.

The gist is captured in the preamble:

Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can – in a global partnership for sustainable development.

The pie-in-the-sky document contains a long list of potential approaches and implementation strategies to protect the environment and promote global economic development.  And like most U.N. documents, it essentially ages on an ever-growing report-shelf, gathering dust.  Global action on global warming anyone?

In the last couple of years, however, the document has been pulled off the shelf by far-right activists in the U.S. and waved around like a religious relic, an icon of everything wrong with international cooperation, environmentalism, and well, all sorts of liberal ideas.  The Agenda-ists claim that the very words “sustainable development” are suspect, and practically any effort to protect the environment can all be traced back to the U.N.  So very fearful of all this, the state of Alabama has actually banned regulatory action “as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to ‘Agenda 21.'”

However, as one observer puts it, “Usually when you listen to complaints like those of Tea Party members, there are different inflections, a much wider variation. But this isn’t organic and local, the same talking points come up everywhere. They are being played and used.”

You see, it is no accident that this line of thinking has taken hold. Playing on black-helicopter gullibility, and xenophobic paranoia, a cottage industry in selling Agenda 21 snake oil has suddenly popped up. The anti-Agenda 21ers are driven by an industry of anti-regulatory propagandists funded by resource extraction corporations and their patrons.  The long-discredited John Birch Society was an early leader of the anti-Agenda 21 efforts, and now their cause has been picked up by organizations like the “American Policy Center” and “Americans for Prosperity” and “Freedom Advocates” and “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.”

The American Policy Center, for example, is essentially a personal vehicle for Tom DeWeese, a right wing property rights advocate (whose emails to and from Bonner County officials are subject to a KEA lawsuit). Raising close to $1 million in 2010, the “Center” appears to have paid much of it to DeWeese, his wife, and “The DeWeese Company.” But hey, you can buy your discount anti Agenda 21 “action kits” for as low as $159!

The common thread is that these organizations are heavily funded by oil companies and the usual-suspect right-leaning foundations and donors. Of course, it isn’t difficult to understand why global polluters would be interested in discrediting a global sustainability initiative.

But leave it to North Idaho to cite to Agenda 21 to scuttle their own local best interests. You’d think that Republican county commissioners in North Idaho of all places would be the last people on earth to succumb to the pressures of U.N. directives. But now, a simple exercise in re-writing out-of-date land use codes is now under attack as an example of the sinister reach of the overarching and all-consuming U.N. Agenda 21.

Protect water quality in Couer d’Alene and Hayden lakes? Not if the U.N. is behind it.

By |2012-07-09T08:17:10+00:00July 7th, 2012|Land Use|10 Comments


  1. bluezguise July 11, 2012 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Perhaps Mr. DeWeese’ organization earns money because he practices the one skill that seems to elude KEA. He actually researches his subject rather than authors articles on topics about which he knows little. Your description of Agenda 21 is analogous to reviewing Foucault’s Pendulum following an intense study of the jacket cover.
    As if your shoddy practices are not damning enough, you insult the name of activism by trivializing information about which you know virtually nothing, misinforming the public with half-baked conclusions, and then seek to change the topic by ferreting out some way to sue the offender of your parched sensibilities. Congratulations to you and your dubious club.

    • Terry July 11, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

      And yet, bluez, you fail to point out a single inaccuracy or even a single “half-baked conclusion.”
      For what it’s worth, I’m relatively confident that I know a lot more about Agenda 21 than DeWeese knows about Kootenai County or Idaho. True enough though, if it were a money-raising contest, you’re right, DeWeese wins.

    • Libertarian HIppie April 15, 2015 at 9:14 am - Reply

      I wouldn’t doubt you are from California – another liberal wanting to invoke ‘chnage’ in N Idaho while it was quite happy the way it was. We don’t need change agents here, or liberals. Agenda 21 has brought enough negative change to the area.

      It does not help the environment, FYI is is a depopulation plan. You watch, they are going to be making us very ‘diverse’ so get ready, California has fornicated N Idaho

      • That's Enough April 26, 2015 at 8:57 am - Reply

        Agenda 21 is no obscure or irrelevant document. The Rio+20 conference reaffirmed Agenda 21 as the working document of the 21st century. Rio+20 refers to the Rio Earth Summit that brought in Agenda 21 in 1992. Rio+20 took place 20 years later and reaffirmed the relevance of Agenda 21.

  2. Jo July 12, 2012 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Terry I beg to differ that is just the hard right or the Tea Party that are talking about Sustainable growth/Agenda 21. I already posted this on another one of your blog posts, but I highly suggest you research and read Roise Koire’s book, Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21. Not only is she a liberal democrat and a fellow Californian, she also is a forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation. Her twenty-eight year career as an expert witness on land use has culminated in exposing the impacts of Sustainable Development on private property rights and individual liberty.

    Boy these attacks on Agenda 21 sound like something right out of the APA’s (American Planning Association) Boot camp webinars.

    As stated before in my previous post Agenda 21 can be part of the conversation for some, but the Comprehensive Plan and ULUC has to be reviewed by the Kootenai County citizens and then arguments and alternative options must be presented from there from concerned citizens.

  3. County Centinel July 12, 2012 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I posted this in another thread here on KEA, but it seems much more pertinent to this discussion, forgive the duplication…

    There are some very compelling, and absolutely legitimate reasons why we should be very concerned about the Agenda 21 archetype, ICLEI, and how they do affect us here in Kootenai County.

    Actually Terry, the UN first began developing its Agenda 21 policies in the 1970s, however it got its legs in so far as it impacts us here in the US in 1992 when at the United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil the then US President Bush signed it, as did 178 other countries.

    It was immediately implemented by President Clinton as he formed the PCSD or President’s Council on Sustainable Development. The PCSD consists of nonprofits like the Sierra Club, business leaders, and cabinet level appointees. They in turn came up with millions of dollars for the American Planning Association and directed it to write a comprehensive legislative guide that is used as a template for cities, counties, and states across the United States to implement the UN’s model as expressed in Agenda 21.

    The United Nations is responsible for Agenda 21 coined the very terms sustainable development and smart growth. In fact today in the United States, Agenda 21 and ICLEI for all intents and purposes ARE the sustainable development movement.

    Please go read the Agenda 21 book for yourself at the United Nations Website – http:/// Be sure to see Chapter 7 in Section 1 about Human Settlements, it is essentially the core of Sustainable Communities, then take a look at the last chapter in Section 4 about its implementation.

    What you will find there is a plan that calls for nothing short of the government ultimately taking control of land use, while leaving little decision making in the hands of the private property owners themselves. It more or less implies that common people are not good enough to make use of their own land and that government would do a much better job of it for them.

    In a nutshell individual rights are subordinated to those of the communal group as envisioned by the UN, which has no allegiance to the US whatsoever and is more interested in a general homogenization of all wealth on the planet and it becoming the worlds governing body.

    Despite the Idaho Legislature passing into law Title 67 Chapter 65 Local Land Use Planning Act in 1975 with the purpose of protecting property rights and the environment while promoting development, and Idaho code (I.C. 67-6508) having been revised in 1995 to require that planners “ensure that land use policies, restrictions, conditions and fees do not violate private property rights, adversely impact property values or create unnecessary technical limitations on the use of property.”, Kootenai County as a matter of routine ignores this requirement.

    The document I referred to in my earlier comments that was commissioned by the PCSD is called Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook: Model Statutes for Planning and the Management of Change. It contains sample rules and regulations, ordinances and statutes, and even legislation, as well as a plan addressing its implementation over US Regions, States, Counties, and Cities, and it is all designed to be incorporated into General Plans throughout the United States.

    In fact any planning department in the US that governs land use has a copy, as well as every university and college in our nation is using Growing Smart in its curriculum. Go to the website and see it for yourself –

    Kootenai County is beautiful, one of the most desirable places on earth to live in the minds of its residents to be sure, and the commissioners need to keep that in mind themselves as they exercise their responsibility to plan for the future, and be cognizant of not endeavoring to plan the future itself.

    Its true that some of the county zoning ordinances have become increasingly more restrictive and complex, and unfortunately the result is some properties have become “non-conforming” as regulations have expanded over the years, not surprisingly the proposed solution for this is additional regulation.

    The county commissioners came to the conclusion that we do not have the local ability to plan for our own future or even write our own land use codes. We would certainly have a reasonable expectation that we could manage our own affairs if we were not so inclined to introduce the litany of smart growth code into the law.

    The commissioners hired, and we the taxpayers are now paying the price for an outside planning firm called the Kendig Keast Collaborative. They have assigned a Mr. Messenger who himself has never even written the Unified Land Use Code for any county before now.

    Mr. Messenger undoubtedly thinks our county is poorly planned, of course he does, as he has his own ideas for shaping the future, and it is exactly ideas like his that will ensure that Kootenai County eventually will end up looking just like every other “properly planned community”.

    Well, I say no thank you Sir, we are individuals, we love our rural landscapes, and many of us enjoy a simple, non cosmopolitan, dare I say non conforming way of life, and that’s precisely why we live here.

    I also noticed there have been several “Advisory Committees”, all of which included special interests such as developers, realtors, environmentalist groups, and the like, but a curious absence has been the average landowner who has enjoyed little to no representation, and why is that, after all its we who will be affected by the new zoning laws.

    Then there is the matter of ICLEI?

    Spokane is a major urban center and is a member of ICLEI, why is that a concern, and just what is ICLEI?

    Well, its an organization called the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, and it is interested in one thing and one thing only, implementing the goals of Agenda 21 on a local level.

    ICLEI was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York.

    Somehow many of the cities and counties that the Kendig Keast Collaborative have worked with…seem to become members of ICLEI.

    Edinburg, TX Arvada, CO Monroe County, FL Nantucket, MA Dane County, WI Oswego, IL Chatham County, GA Savannah, GA Town & Country, MO Chicago, IL Franklin, TN Cincinnati, OH Davie, FL Flagstaff, AZ Groton, CT Houston, TX Miami-Dade County, FL Milwaukee, WI

    Go to the ICLEI website and see what it is all about for yourself –

    To fight for sustainable development, or smart growth is your prerogative, and an honest open dialogue is welcome by all, but you are distorting the facts, and resorting to straw-men arguments and ad hominem attacks to make your case.

    Lets make our cases on their merits shall we.

    • anonomous says August 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

      You are so right. Wait till you get your new smart electric meter, smart water meter, gas meter and rfid chips in all your appliance. All our info to the billion dollare grid building in utah. Have you checked out the space port in las cruces,nm

  4. Alex Gomelsky February 3, 2013 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Iam so glad that most people of Idaho do not buy the kind of stuff the above article is talking about.The agenda 21 is areal threat to the USA and the civilized parts of the world.When I retire,Iam planning to move to Idaho,because people there have not lost thier minds yet.

  5. Éowyn April 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    “Larry Spencer wing of the Republican Party”? He’s a Demorat now, just like he always acted.

  6. […] If we are paying attention, we can catch public officials and media pundits additionally telling on themselves by their perpetual use of disinformation. One common bit of disinformation used to mislead the public is the repeated statement that Agenda 21 is an outdated and nonbinding document. You can always tell a trained operative when statements similar to this come out of their mouth. Here is an article displaying this strategy: How the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Affects Kootenai County, Idaho. […]

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