Freedom 21 offers alternative to 'sustainable development', Agenda
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the United Nations put forward a
comprehensive plan for so-called "sustainable development,"
entitled "Agenda 21," that is designed to be a roadmap for
the world for the 21st Century. In response to this and other attempts
to advance command-and-control measures in the United States, and
the international community, the Freedom 21 campaign was established
to promote freedom as the guiding principle for the 21st Century.
Over the past two years, a committee of public policy experts from
a diverse group of think tanks and public interest organizations brought
together the first draft of Freedom 21's alternative to the U.N.'s
"Agenda 21" program. This draft alternative was publicly
released to coincide with the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg, South Africa in August, 2002. It can be read in its
entirety at www.freedom21.org/alternative/
Freedom 21's first draft opens with a broad discussion concerning
principles of governance, comparing and contrasting the philosophies
of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It argues that Locke's emphasis
on individual rights, which was a cornerstone of the founding of the
United States of America, is far superior to that of Rousseau's emphasis
on the "general will," and that Locke's philosophy has led
to unparalleled prosperity, freedom and environmental protection.
It further discusses how environmental policy in the United States,
and at the international level, is closely following Rousseau's model
of command-and-control governance, and undermining the very foundation
of freedom in the U.S. and abroad.
The document then discusses five broad areas of human and environmental
concern: namely, 1) population and poverty issues; 2) land issues
and property rights; 3) air and water issues; 4) chemicals and management
of waste; and 5) energy and food. Each section offers a factual overview
of the particular issues, followed by specific principles and policy
Among the key principles:
· Global Warming is poorly understood, and human factors are
likely to play an insignificant role. Contrary to assertions by the
United Nations and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is unlikely
that global warming is caused by man, but represents a recovery from
the Little Ice Age in the 1700s.
· Population growth does not necessitate depleted resources,
and there are currently no shortages of food, raw materials or energy.
Nor is there anything to prevent increased production, other than
· High population densities do not cause poverty. There is
no correlation between population density and poverty.
· A vibrant, free market economy, not big government programs,
reduces poverty. Hernando de Soto, in his book The Mystery of Capital,
identifies the true pillar of wealth; property rights, fully transferable
and secured by a legal system free of corruption and over-regulation.
· The biggest obstacles to greater [crop] yields in the developing
nations are poverty, war, corruption, restrictive societies that stifle
creativity and initiative, and an absence of private property rights,
and legal institutions that enable and encourage entrepreneurship.
Yet Agenda 21 proposes a controlled society, exactly the opposite
of what is needed
· Government agencies tend to lump real and potential chemical
hazards into one group. Not all hazards contain the same risk under
· There is more than adequate space for solid waste disposal.
The problem is political, not physical, and centers on legitimate
· Economically available, known supplies of oil and gas keep
increasing faster than oil is being used. In 1939, and again in 1951,
only a 13 year supply of oil was known to exist. Today, the known
supply would last for 40 years. At prices greater than $40 a barrel
there could be a 5,000 year supply.
· Current land use solutions contained in various international
treaties and United Nations goals are often based on incorrect biological
principles, and will threaten, rather than help species and ecosystem
heath. This is because they depend upon a central command and control
system of protection and management which is diametrically opposed
to time-proven application of private property rights.
· Sustainable development practices calling for vast tracts
of wilderness and a reduction in human activity are usually not necessary,
and can actually be harmful and counterproductive. There is little
basis for creating vast tracts of interconnecting wilderness, as most
current sustainable development practices recommend. Biodiversity
and habitat health can be optimized using existing scientifically
proven management practices.
· Almost all air and water pollution results from the Tragedy
of the Commons. Common ownership of resources, such as the air or
water, provides no incentives to care for them.
· Emotional reactions to perceived toxic chemical threats can
invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences. Applying an environmental
"solution" without first determining its consequences can
create cataclysmic problems that are much worse than the original
problem the solution is supposed to resolve.
This Freedom 21 Alternative to Agenda 21 provides not only a basis
for challenging policy recommendations confronting local, state and
federal government, it also provides valid reasons for assuring that
the principles of freedom are the foundation of, and incorporated
into every policy adopted at every level of government.