But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. You probably have never heard of ICLEI. If you have heard of it, the chances are it was through some right-wing channel that views it as part of a worldwide conspiracy to impose socialism, herd you into cities, confiscate your guns and pickup trucks, and force you to use contraception and abortion to control population growth. Or something like that.
After the jump, let ICLEI introduce itself to the rest of us.
You really ought to know a little something about organizations like ICLEI so you don't let the conspiracy theorists define them for you. From ICLEI's website:
What is ICLEI?
ICLEI--Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading global network devoted to local governments engaged in sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy initiatives. The organization was formerly known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
What does ICLEI do?
In the United States, ICLEI USA works to help local governments achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and tangible improvements in local sustainability. To help local governments to meet their self-defined goals, we provide software tools, trainings, technical assistance, guidebooks, as well as vibrant peer networks where local government staff can share challenges and best practices.
According to the conspiracy theorists, ICLEI is complicit in the UN's plan to invade Lubbock, part of its global conspiracy known as Agenda 21. ICLEI's response? Well, not so much. But you'd expect them to deny everything, wouldn't you?
Is ICLEI part of the United Nations?
ICLEI is not a United Nations agency or controlled by the U.N. in any way. We are an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit association. In the United States, ICLEI USA is overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of local elected officials -- American mayors and county executives from across the country.
What is Agenda 21?
Agenda 21 is a voluntary action plan developed by the United Nations and national governments at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. At the Summit, governmental leaders around the world agreed on the need to become more sustainable -- to meet today's needs without sacrificing our future. Agenda 21 presents a vision for how all levels of government -- especially in the developing world -- can take voluntary action to combat poverty and pollution, conserve natural resources and develop in a sustainable manner. One-hundred-seventy-eight nations adopted the agenda, including the United States under the Bush Administration.
Agenda 21 is not a treaty or legally binding document and does not infringe upon the sovereignty of any nation, state, or local government. Agenda 21 does not advocate for abolishing private property or have any bearing on U.S. local and state land-use decisions. In other words, it isn't being forced on anybody, anywhere, by any organization.
What is ICLEI's relationship to Agenda 21?
At the Earth Summit, national governments, including the United States under the Bush Administration, negotiated and wrote Agenda 21. Yet every sector of society was invited to give input into the Agenda 21 document, including church/faith organizations, business interest organizations, indigenous peoples' organizations, scientific associations, trade union organizations, and local government organizations.
In this context, ICLEI served the role of technical representative for a range of local government organizations, including the International Union of Local Authorities, the United Towns Organization, Metropolis, and others. ICLEI took input from these organizations regarding their key positions in areas pertinent to local government, such as urban development, water resources, and waste management, and presented these positions to UN representatives and national government representatives, who included them into the final text.
The State Department representatives of the Bush Administration encouraged local governments and ICLEI to provide input so that Agenda 21 reflected local realities.
ICLEI's view was that the only way to sensibly pursue more sustainable development was to fully engage the citizens and stakeholders of cities and local communities in defining their own plans for development. ICLEI's philosophy has always been that local democracy is key.
There you have it. I assume that Richardson dropping its ICLEI membership doesn't mean that Richardson is scaling back or abandoning its initiatives for sustainable development. I assume it also doesn't mean that Richardson thinks a go-it-alone approach is best. I assume it just means that Richardson felt that the money spent on ICLEI membership dues can be better spent on other sustainability initiatives. I admit that's a lot of assumptions. But I prefer that to the scary alternative that Richardson is caving to the Agenda 21 paranoia that seems to have poisoned the drinking water in the Texas Panhandle.
P.S. For another report on the fearless foes of Agenda 21, this time in Georgia, check out "Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot" from Mother Jones.