May 9, 2011
If you are looking for some clarity regarding the confusing cacophony surrounding “Sustainability” efforts in Oklahoma, you should read this.
In 2004 The Oklahoma Academy set their sights on “Oklahoma’s Environment: Pursuing A Responsible Balance”, a 208 page compilation of essays, opinions and ideas given by experts covering sustainability issues mostly in the context of gaining acceptance for Sustainable Development practices.
The Oklahoma Academy report addresses the definition of sustainability in the second essay, Moving Toward Sustainable Progress by Will Focht
The most commonly cited definition of sustainability was offered in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The Brundtland Commission is the unofficial name of the World Commission on Environment and Development, which was chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland , a former prime minister of Norway. Created as an independent commission in response to a United Nations General Assembly resolution of 1983, the body was given the general mandate of proposing ways in which the international community could achieve sustainable development that would both protect the environment and fulfill the aspirations of the poorer countries for economic development. From Answers.com
For the truth about Sustainable Development, I recommend Understanding Sustainable Development For the People and their Public Officials by Freedoms Advocates
Sustainable Development has become a “buzz” term that refers to a political agenda, rather than an objectively sustainable form of development. Specifically, it refers to an initiative of the United Nations (U.N.) called Sustainable Development Agenda 21. Sustainable Development Agenda 21 is a comprehensive statement of a political ideology that is being progressively infused into every level of government in America.
Taken from Understanding Sustainable Development For the People and their Public Officials
Further into the Oklahoma Academy report, the problem of private land ownership is addressed. The problem is, according to this report, is that too much of it is privately owned in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma, which ranked number forty-two in 1995 among the fifty states in percentage of land owned by Federal and State governments (National Wilderness Institute 1995). Only eight states had more land under private ownership than Oklahoma. “
Beth Schaefer Caniglia, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sociology at Oklahoma State University and member of the Board for the Oklahoma Sustainability Network gives her advice to overcoming the “long-standing sentiments regarding private property rights as symbols for democracy and freedom” held by Oklahomans.
“Many landowners resist the perceived slippery slope of conservation mandates and retreat behind constitutional takings provisions, . . .”
The Constitution protects property rights mainly through the Fifth Amendment’s Takings or Just Compensation Clause: ‘‘nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.’’
Drawing upon her experience as a “consultant for the NGO Steering Committee to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development”, Ms. Caniglia offers some suggestions to overcome the problems that arise from the friction between sustainable development goals and the rights of property owners.
“These recommendations flow from my scholarly and professional experience as an environmental sociologist studying sustainable development policy making at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and in various sectors of society. They are also informed by my involvement in Oklahoma sustainability-related organizations and initiatives”
Oklahoma, according to Ms. Caniglia, need some work on its “cultural framework”, noting that
“Recent decades have witnessed increasingly heated debate over efforts designed to harmonize environmental protection mandates with private property rights.”
Ms. Caniglia comforts sustainable development enthusiast by pointing out that,
“Oklahoma is not unique in its need to reconcile sustainable ecological management with private property rights, since Texas, Nebraska and Indiana, among others have even higher percentages of land under private ownership.”
Specifically she recommends work in three areas to aid in adjusting Oklahoma’s faulty cultural framework.
Recommendation #1:Facilitate Place-based Environmental Education for All Citizens in Oklahoma
Recommendation #2: Increase the Scope and Authority of Citizen Engagement in the Creation of Oklahoma Sustainable Land Management Policies
Recommendation #3: Calibrate the Creation of Collaborative Comprehensive Plans and Implementation of Land Use Standards
But education alone is not enough…
“Unfortunately, education alone is not enough to overcome the adversarial character that often pervades discussions of private property rights and sustainable ecosystem management trade-offs, . . .” (See some of Ms. Caniglia’s other work below)
Understand that “citizen engagement” is not for the purpose of giving you a voice-you already have one. It’s called the US Constitution which guarantees your natural right to own your property. This is the law (bastardized though it has been)
Citizen engagement is to give them the chance to change your mind.
“There is an oft-heard adage that planning is neither a highly respected nor a politically powerful field in our state. Such an argument deserves consideration, since comprehensive planning is cited by the World Health Organization, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 as central to the achievement of sustainable development, including public health, profitable industrial growth, and ecosystem integrity.”
Ms. Caniglia correctly recognizes that due to the high percentage of private property ownership in the great State of Oklahoma, there is no way around the citizens.
“With the ownership of our lands predominately private, we can best foster sustainable ecosystem management by engaging our landowners in the process.”
Ms. Caniglia proposes to “surmount the radical flanks of private property rights” by educating, visioning, dialoging, and facilitating the people of Oklahoma into a more “balanced” perspective of their natural and legal right to ownership of property which really means behaviorally engineering you into fatally compromising an essential human right that undergirds all others-the right to work, acquire and own and use and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
“Given that citizen landowners continue to be engaged in the comprehensive planning process more than many other citizen engagement opportunities, they should be a focus of our efforts to harmonize private property interests with sustainable land management.”
Here is what the proponents of sustainable development always seem to miss;
“One of the most fundamental requirements of a capitalist economic system—and one of the most misunderstood concepts—is a strong system of property rights. For decades social critics in the United States and throughout the Western world have complained that “property” rights too often take precedence over “human” rights, with the result that people are treated unequally and have unequal opportunities. Inequality exists in any society. But the purported conflict between property rights and human rights is a mirage. Property rights are human rights.”
I encourage everyone to read Ms. Caniglia’s short article. It begins on page 74 of the Oklahoma Academy’s Town Hall publication of 2004.
You may also want to become familiar with the Oklahoma Academy as they are involved in many interesting projects aimed at policy development and have been since the 1980’s.
The Oklahoma Academy’s paper came out in 2004. Overall, I would bet that they are pleased with the progress on “sustainability” since then. The federal government is working hand in glove with non-government organizations all over the state giving the whole movement in Oklahoma a real boost.
Here is just one example;
ACOG Association of Central Oklahoma Governments
ACOG is one of 11 Councils of Governments in the State of Oklahoma, and one of several hundred planning organizations across the country.
Board of Directors
“. . .regional sustainability planning is ACOG’s latest project!”
Grassroots to massroots
OKC Downtown Monthly – October 2010
. . It takes brave, fearless leaders to tread into the collaborative world of sustainability planning. One such remarkable group is the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG). ACOG is a voluntary association of city, town and county governments within the central Oklahoma area, including Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Logan Counties
. . .This kind of coordination among so many member municipalities is really very cool. Also, ACOG’s structure, functions and level of partner participation make it the perfect mechanism for coordinating regional sustainability efforts. And regional sustainability planning is ACOG’s latest project!
. . .In the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress provided a total of $150 million to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a Sustainable Communities Initiative.
. . .But how do we get some of that $100 million, you might ask? Well, ACOG is writing a grant application, of course! ACOG’s regional sustainability planning will mean that citizens from ACOG member cities such as Luther, Jones, Nichols Hills, Oklahoma City, Moore, Slaughterville and Newcastle will leave their comfortable city “bubble” to meet and greet citizens from other municipalities to collaborate in developing sustainable plans to benefit us all.
. . .ACOG’s work on these planning efforts folds perfectly into the ongoing efforts of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and our municipal sustainability commissions.
ACOG is a member of the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC)
“The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) serves as the national voice for regionalism.”
National Associations Congratulate HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Awardees
WASHINGTON, DC (October 14, 2010) – The National League of Cities (NLC), National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), Smart Growth America (SGA), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) congratulate the cities, towns, communities and regions which today were awarded Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
One last thought.
“The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.
Other works of Ms Caniglia;
Informal Alliances vs. Institutional Ties: The Effect of Elite Alliances on Environmental TSMO Networks http://www.mobilization.sdsu.edu/articleabstracts/061caniglia.html
“Caniglia found that transnational environmental organizations with informal ties to international agencies played more central roles in transnational social movement networks by helping channel information and pressure among disconnected social actors.”
Handbook of Social Movements Across Disciplines pg 47
Globalization and Resistance: Transnational Dimensions of Social Movements
(As a contributor)