What's with Newt Gingrich and Agenda 21?
November 18th, 2011
08:12 PM ET
10 years ago

What's with Newt Gingrich and Agenda 21?

(CNN) - If you weren't listening closely to Newt Gingrich at the last GOP debate, you might have missed it.

"I would adopt a very strong policy towards the United Nations of dramatically taking on its absurdities," the former House Speaker said. "I would explicitly repudiate what Obama has done on Agenda 21 as the kind of interference from the United Nations," he then added.

Did you catch that? Agenda 21. What exactly is Agenda 21?

The United Nations adopted Agenda 21 as part of a global initiative to combat climate change at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil.

According to the U.N.'s website, "Agenda 21 is 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."

Even though the U.S. government is not legally bound by the initiative, local governments across the country have implemented some of its strategies for sustainable development. Smart growth, transportation planning, and limited rural development are all Agenda 21 goals.

But some tea party groups see the potential for abuse. Conservative activists have petitioned local governments to scrap their Agenda 21 plans out of fear the initiative could one day interfere with personal property rights.

Fears of Agenda 21 cropped up at a meeting of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in Maryland in August.

"Everywhere I go today people, particularly in the tea party, are very worried about Agenda 21," Gingrich told a tea party crowd in July.

"It's part of a general problem of the United Nations and other international bureaucracies that are seeking to create an extra constitutional control over us. And I reject that model totally," he added.

The former speaker's comments are posted on his YouTube page. He tweeted out a link to the video after Saturday's South Carolina debate, co-sponsored by CBS News and National Journal.

Gingrich warned the crowd Agenda 21 could potentially be used to seize the private property of American citizens.

"It's a United Nations proposal to create a series of centralized planning provisions where your local city government can't do something because of some agreement they signed with some private group who are all committed to taking control of your private property and turning it into a publicly controlled property," Gingrich said.

The rising GOP contender promised another tea party crowd in September he would take quick action to block the initiative if he's elected president: "That's probably going to be one of the first executive orders and that is to cease all funding for any kind of activity for United Nations Agenda 21."

But Agenda 21 detractors have critics of their own. Phil Stoddard, mayor of the tiny city of South Miami in Florida, says Gingrich is playing on conservative fears.

"I think they're out of their minds," Stoddard said.

A passionate believer in the threat of climate change, Stoddard said his city adopted Agenda 21 to ease traffic congestion and cut down on pollution. Stoddard added local governments also learn from one another based on the results of Agenda 21-inspired smart growth initiatives.

"This is just a way for us to share information to combat climate change and promote sustainable development," Stoddard said.

On the campaign trail in Iowa earlier in the week, Gingrich acknowledged to reporters Agenda 21 is not legally binding.

"It is part of a treaty that has never been endorsed by the (U.S.) Senate and I don't think the federal government should be in the process of implementing something that the Senate has not approved," he said.

So why bring it up?

"Because it's being implemented at the local level," Gingrich responded.

Climate change is a touchy subject for Gingrich. In 2008, he appeared in an ad with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver a call for national action to combat global warming. In his run for the GOP presidential nomination, Gingrich has told reporters the ad was a mistake.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • United Nations
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. SPQR

    Newt Gingrich shouldn't be allowed 500 yards from Washington D.C.

    I can't wait for his new book to come out.

    "The Art of Schwindleling"

    November 18, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Newt flip-flopping for votes.....big surprise there. Voters(citizens) need to watch and listen to the candidates carefully and sort out the political BS from reality.

    November 18, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. SPQR

    One more thing.

    If I could describe the corruption that is happening in Congress in two words they would be

    1. Newt
    2. Gingrich

    November 18, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. SPQR

    God bless The United States of America.

    President Obama 2012 !

    Ask Congress to pass The Monetary Reform Act that would replace the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

    Watch Money Masters.

    November 18, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. gg

    this guy is scary–he,ll do and say anything to keep the 1% happy

    November 18, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. Keith in Austin

    @Jim Acosta: what a SCOOP you've discovered for the left-wing
    environmentalists and Liberals just itching to trash the GOP once more! Are the DNC payroll checks coming on time each week Jimmy? When was the last diatribe you've written on the Democrat Party crooks controlling Government right now? (Holder, Chu, Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Frank, Dodd, Kerry and of course, Obama et al). Your hack political bias is only exceeded by your lack of fair play and most politically-informed Americans can see right through you!

    November 18, 2011 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. meeples

    NWO in the works. Yes, I have my tin foil hat on.

    November 18, 2011 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. Ray

    The GOP symbol of Hypocrisy

    November 18, 2011 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Global warming is a reality. You can argue whether it's man made or not, but the only people in the world that doesn't believe in global warming is Republicans. Enough said.

    November 18, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  10. yamlor63

    Gingrich flip flop flip flop Make up your mind

    November 18, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  11. Publius

    More fear mongering from a snake

    November 18, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  12. Larry L

    Gingrich needs to play on the fears of the Tea Party folks who fear everything – especially those things requiring an understanding of science. It's low-hanging fruit and has been since the dawn of time. Gingrich knows he'll be dead before the worst of global climate change creates chaos across the globe. He also knows he'll be a rich man exempt from the plight of the common people – even if he loves long enough to see the disaster. Unlike Rick Perry, who also shares these views, Gingrich isn't stupid. He's just evil.

    November 18, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. angryoldguy

    This guy (Gingrich) is supposed to be the "intellectual" in this race for the nomination. Considering his past deceptions, his "relationship with Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae, his multiple wives, his multiple affairs and add to that his pandering to the fears of the right wingers & tea party types, how can anyone trust this man? Oh yes, he knows Washington & how things are done there, he's been there & done them! I would not, no could not believe this guy if he stood on top of a stack of Bibles!

    November 18, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  14. Don Jones

    This slime ball probably belongs in Jail- A fitting passenger in the front seat of the GOP Clown Car.

    November 18, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  15. roro

    Typical Republican fear mongering. If you tell a lie over and over, the Tea Party morons will believe it, because they can't research or think for themselves, or maybe they're just too lazy. Stop watching Faux News and look up the facts yourselves.

    November 18, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  16. strayaway

    Agenda 21 type planning was implemented in every federal department by President Clinton by executive order. I live in a rural area and Gingrich is essentially correct. In my community, the planner inserted a line into our comprehensive plan that the County government's Land and Water Conservation Department's plan would be considered part of our township plan. That meant that County bureaucrats could do whatever they wanted to modify our Township zoning because everything the Township does has to be consistent with the plan. Also, a sentence was included in our land use plan saying that one of the goals of our plan was to improve morals. I did a Google search and found this same wording in comprehensive plans all over the English speaking world. It was just too creepy, Gingrich is right on this one. With or without a UN connection, Agenda21/smart growth/comprehensive land control planning transfers power from land owners past local governments to bureaucrats and other unelected officials. President Obama just gave a pile of money to regional planning commissions. Every local plan has to be included in the regional plan and now the regional planning commissions are beholden to their federal paymaster.

    November 18, 2011 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. focusonjobs1

    He is like all the other GOP presidential candidates….they say whatever the current audience wants to hear.

    November 18, 2011 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  18. m

    Tea Party loons see a bogeyman behind every tree.

    November 18, 2011 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  19. Scott

    Gingrich is a curmudgeon. The Bible clearly says that we are to preserve and take care of the Earth. Not trash it. Gingrich doesn't care because he spent most of his time snorting coke and buying bling for his third trophy wife since he left office to become a high paid government lobbyist.

    November 19, 2011 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  20. opus512

    Gingrich is a liar and an idiot.

    November 19, 2011 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  21. suresh

    Gingrichs inconsistent and crzy remarks suggests he is desprately trying to align with tea party. This old dog will do anything to try to grab the nomination. Newt is neither ethical. Moral nor moral. His past history is stained. He is not electable. He needs to give uop soon after he loses primaries in NH.

    November 19, 2011 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  22. Saul Quinn

    Whatever Newt likes I am against it. He is for big business and is hates the UN, and can't stand our the thougth of our government supporting any group giving hand outs to the poor, needy and in medical needs. He loves the thought of privatization of government so corrupt government corporations feed by lobbists like himself. Newt behaves like greedy sin merchants grafting, taking money under the stable for favors you know like Halliburton and Black Water in Iraq. He spends all his money on jewelry at the worlds most expensive stores. He gets his highs from helping himself to the collection plate of live. He is immoral.

    November 19, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  23. J.V.Hodgson

    Hello America. We are members of the Un and have a veto, but apparently an agreement made by a republican then contolled government is now wrong.
    This is a clear example of American xenophobia at its worst.
    You stumping for votes man??

    November 19, 2011 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  24. skarphace

    Why is Gingrich bringing it up? Because it sounds good. 'Agenda 21' sounds like a NWO conspiracy, and the Tea Party is full of conspiracy nuts. He is playing this tune to make them dance some more, and it is working. No surprise there.

    November 19, 2011 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  25. tcaros

    As another Republcian disintegrates, we now step up (or back) to Newt. As the pizza man is left with just crust we have the book hustler and Fannie Mae "historian" Newt step up to the plate. Bet he strikes out too.

    November 19, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
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