Holt It! Donna Digs into Sustainable Devopment

Donna Holt is working on stopping damaging sustainable development policies in VA. She covers the history of this movement and demonstrates how foreign policies find their way into US policy and implementation at the local level.

Here is a segment of her very well laid out research;

The History of Sustainable Development – Connecting the Dots

Sun, 10/17/2010 –  Donna Holt

Sustainable development was brought to America when President Clinton (initiator) initiated the President’s Council on Sustainable Development. This decision-making committee began with Agenda 21 as its proposal. Its goal was to translate Agenda 21 into public policy.

An early achievement of the council was the development of 16 “We Believe” statements among which is No. 8.

“We need a new collaborative decision process that leads to better decisions, more rapid change, and more sensible use of human, natural, and financial resources in achieving our goals.”

This new collaborative process is the “consensus process”.

The PCSD operated from 1993 – 1999. Their first major publication was “Sustainable America – A New Consensus”. It contained more than 150 policy recommendations taken directly from Agenda 21.

At the eleventh meeting of the council, after the recommendations had been developed, then Secretary of the Dept. Of Commerce, Ron Brown, said that his agency could implement 67% of the recommendations administratively using rule making authority. Other department secretaries reported similar numbers.

The recommendations covered a wide range of public policies. Among the most important are land use policies. Sustainable America says:

“Private land use decisions are often driven by strong economic incentives that result in several ecological or aesthetic consequences… The key to overcoming it is through public policies…(p.112).”

The 1990’s saw an expansion of government control of land use. In 1997, the federal government already owned about 1/3 of all the land in America. State and local governments owned another 10%. The federal government designated and expanded 21 National Monuments, designated 43 million acres of “roadless” areas, and appropriated millions in grants to states and local governments and land trusts for the purpose of acquiring more private property. These activities were promoted by the land management agencies, all members of the PCSD.

Millions in grants were awarded to the American Planning Association between 1997 – 2000. The EPA and other agencies issued millions more in challenge grants to local governments and organizations for “visioning” projects.

During the 1990’s there emerged a rash of visioning projects in towns and cities across the nation. They were typically called something like “Yourtown 2020”. They were all the result of the PCSD and funded by grants by an agency of the government who was a member of the PCSD.

The EPA, for example, would issue challenge grants for visioning projects to NGO’s (non-government organizations) and to local governments. The grant recipient would designate an initiator who would select the visioning council. Those selected would be politicians, agency bureaucrats, bankers, NGO leaders, and Businessmen. Those selected would be known in advance to support the goals of the initiator and most stand to gain financially from the implementation of the goals.

To spread this process across the country, the EPA coordinated a Smart Growth Network consisting of dozens of non-government organizations which included:

• American Planning Association
• The Conservation Fund
• The Natural Resources Defense Council
• The Sierra Club

All of these organizations have promoted government control of land use since the 1976 U.N. conference.

In each of the communities where visioning councils were established, their starting proposal was the recommendations of the PCSD. Their objective was to:

• Present PCSD recommendations as local goals for the community
• Through the consensus process, remove any objections that might arise
• Develop specific recommendations to achieve goals

The result became the “Yourtown 2020 Plan of Action”.

This process takes typically 12 – 18 months during which the local initiator begins to issue press releases and to involve local media to introduce the idea of building a sustainable community. The idea is to build so much public support for the sustainable community as defined by the “Yourtown 2020 Plan of Action”, that elected officials will have no choice but to rubber stamp it.

Funding continues to flow from government agencies to local governments and non-government organizations for the purpose of implementing sustainable development. For example, HUD’s Sustainable Community Regional Planning has recently awarded nearly $100 million for innovative regional planning proposals.

Hundreds of NGO’s were funded to launch the “visioning process” in communities across the country. An NGO (initiator) will begin the visioning process by carefully selecting representatives from various stakeholder groups (environment, business, education, agriculture, government) to serve as the visioning committee or council. Those chosen to serve on this council are well-vetted and known to support the goals of sustainable development.

Read the whole report

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