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. Greg

    The ad with pelosi was a mistake, but what do you call taking dozens of millions of dollars to work as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and large drug companies? Gingrich sold his conservative soul many times over in the name of personal enrichment. The $300k fine levied against him as Speaker of the House because of 80+ ethicsl violations shold tell you all you need to know. The highest such fine ever to be given to a speaker....

    November 19, 2011 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  2. Marry

    It is sheer unbelievable what the GOP/TP have planned (with their masters) to bring the country to its knees, to destroy the future of our people, the world community, the world economy, the world climate, promoting war (..next: Iran! But be sure, they think of more!) Because there is more sort term profit to destroy than to rebuild… just according to their own statements. Anyone voting in “that direction” is guilty of the same thing: Malice and greed no matter what the consequences for all!

    November 19, 2011 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  3. tjlnsd

    And all this time I thought "Agenda 21" referred to his match.com website and the preferred age he used in the search engine while looking for wife number four?

    November 19, 2011 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  4. Kareny

    I thought the Republicans are all for states rights & local control. Since the US government isn't legally bound by the initiative & the federal government isn't implementing any part of the initiative, what's the problem? If the local governments want to implement parts of the initiative isn't that up to the local governments? After all, the republicans keep saying let the local governments & states decide regarding these types of issues.

    November 19, 2011 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  5. Kodes100

    Newt Gingrich the so-called intellectual proves once again that he is an idiot!

    November 19, 2011 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  6. G.W.Bush

    Republicans like "Order 66" better anyways...

    November 19, 2011 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  7. kenny

    His "Agenda 21" means simply that he has no agenda for any woman under the age of 21 when it comes to finding his next wife.

    November 19, 2011 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  8. markfortytwo

    "your local city government can't do something because of some agreement they signed with some private group" like raising taxes and Norquist?

    November 19, 2011 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  9. CTYank

    Are newts chameleons? At least one is- the obese one with the big mouth. Mr. Gimmee Money.

    November 19, 2011 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  10. Michael Hobart

    Newt continues to have been on all sides of all issues, he just doesn't reverse course as fast as Mitt does. This year, however, he has done so more rapidly. Another difference is that while Mitt simply denies having flip-flopped, Newt gets surly with anyone who dares to state that he has flip-flopped. Trying to deny it is absurd in this information age. Another thing which is starting to come out is how much money Newt has collected from industries he consults "as a historian" while at times publicly denouncing the industry either earlier or subsequent to their money.

    What a self-inflated hypocrite.

    November 19, 2011 06:11 am at 6:11 am |

    Newt and the teabaggers. Pompous know it all hanging with the low IQ sheep harping about their latest FoxLies created boogeyman. Ever heard of imminent domain you small government sheep?

    November 19, 2011 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  12. mogran

    Agree, Agenda 21 is dangerous to our country...it's a private property land grab. Get us out of the UN, the only thing they want from us is our money and then they want to take control of governments worldwide...we should not be giving them one penny...they've done nothing to help us with the money we give them every year, and every year we hear outrageous stories about political corruption and theft of UN funds. I sure hope Newt is the GOP candidate for president...he's smart, he speaks his mind (and most of the time I agree with him). It's time to get us out of the UN.

    November 19, 2011 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  13. Greg Gilbert

    "playing on conservative fears"? The "environmental" movement plays upon fear pushing solutions that don't really effect the environment in any significant way. We got too many people on the planet, and nearly every solution offered has very little impact because it doesn't address the main problem. Granted if it can be done with little effort it might very well make sense to do, but having America influenced by UN bureaucracy isn't necessary.

    November 19, 2011 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. diridi

    Another Reagan Idiot with no brain....o.k, None...

    November 19, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  15. Bill

    Perry could not remember what department he wanted to eliminate, Cain knew nothing about Libya even though in the news day and night. Romney feet are stuck in the mad, not going up or down in the polls. Other than Gingrich, the rest are just cast members. You can ask Newt any question about international or domestic and he will answer, you might not agree with him but you can not deny that he knows what he is talking about. Unless some dirt on him are exposed, he is the front runner.

    November 19, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. azmary

    I guess Mr. Gingrich is not aware that all over this country local government can condemn and claim private property. They have been doing it for years to build roads, bridges, and shopping centers. Why is this any different? I guess smart growth is bad policy for some. I would rather have some common sense, pollution reducing, planning for new roads, etc, and not just placement based on where the local commissioner's nephew owns some land.

    November 19, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  17. anonymous

    More Ron Paul please, the public speaks–if you know how to listen.

    November 19, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. sensible

    yeah, yeah.....death panels!!! At least Palin has nice legs to look at!!!

    November 19, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. sensible

    ...'cause you can do anything you want on your property....tell that to the homeowners association!!!

    November 19, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  20. us1776

    Nice flip-flop Newt.


    November 19, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. sensible

    '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.'

    Oh boy, another flip-flopper!!! It's ok though, he is NOT a democrat, so he is allowed!!! He had to fit in to the teabagger mentality!

    November 19, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  22. The Greedy Old Pigs are insane idiots

    Newt apparently is unfamiliar with the "tragedy of the commons" and why local solutions do not work on national and international problems like pollution. So much for being the "smart one" in the GOBP deathcult's crazy clown car. That's like being the best hitter on the Pee-Wee little league team.

    November 19, 2011 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. RKN

    "Why bring it up?"
    Because it is one way to get press and sound like you alone are combatting some huge global conspiracy.
    ... someone, some day may try to take your land away... yeah, and it could be that huge multinational corporation paying Newt all those fees for "advice" as they want to take over a nice location.
    Please don't miss the part where Newt admits it is not legally binding. His objection is that it's "being implemented at the local level."
    What happened to the smaller government ideas of the GOP? or is it okay to get involved when the GOP doesn't like what you are doing?
    Where are the jobs the GOP promised in 2010? Let's get rid of these losers.

    November 19, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. felixelgato

    If I have never heard of Agenda 21, the Tea Party sure as hell as not.

    November 19, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. awriter

    Pure glossing over of the FACTS. Anyone who has actually read the terms, conditions, and goals can clearly discern the real intent of Agenda 21 and its MANY means of ingress into our government, communities, and the world in general. dare we reference depopulation or the path toward a new world order. Does the U.S. dare to yield more and more power and control to the U.N.? What of their plans for nutrition and sustainability a la the Codex . What about private parperty, farms, and home ownership? You better think!....and investgate.

    November 19, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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