Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck recently talked about the "Agenda 21 Conspiracy", which is a UN initiative that he says targets individual property rights, individual freedoms, and even seems to support radical global population controls:

Reading through the pages [of Agenda 21], it becomes clear "sustainable development" is just a really nice way of saying "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth."
[Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/15/11]

Here is the actual text of Agenda 21 from the UN Division for Sustainable Development, and some links of the conspiracy for your perusal:

Other than the standard objections we could make against any conspiracy theory, have there been any detailed review/debunking of these conspiracy claims? What does "Agenda 21" actually do or mean?

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    I keep expecting Jon Stewart from The Daily Show to weigh in here in the form of an on-screen pop-up (he's a big Glenn Beck debunker and satirical imitator). Commented Aug 22, 2011 at 19:45
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    I can tell you that Scott county Iowa recently adopted a measure that will enact these provisions over the next 20 years. It will basically not allow new development or redevelopment of existing areas. It sets limits for certian "nongreen" activities such as reproduction, construction, mining, and manufacturing as set not by any US body but by the UN. And variances can only be granted by the UN or a body established by the UN.
    – Chad
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 15:51
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    You have a link to the full text of Agenda 21. Read it! Does it read to you like a programme for taking over the world? Beck is assuming that most people won't read the material he's talking about, and the rest will look at it with the same prejudices he has. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 17:48
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    @DJClayworth... yes it does. They are talking about regulating absolutely everything about our lives. They are talking about redistubting wealth and population control. What else can we assume?
    – Chad
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 19:37
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    @BradC the problem is not what they are doing right now. It is what they could possibly if the proposal was enacted as law. History is full of great leaders who with this kind of power over people reigned in their natural urges and resisted the temptation that power presents... ohh wait no its not. But still this topic is just to big to be tackled here unless you narrow the scope.
    – Chad
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


The Media Matters link you provide actually speaks to the Agenda 21 document. The other links are notable in that they don't make any refutable claims about the Agenda 21 plan itself, they just take "Agenda 21" as a jumping-off point for their contentions that conspiracies exist.

The Agenda 21 document contains the word "population" 11 times, none of which relate to population control or reduction. Most uses of the word are in the context of, e.g., "rural populations." The only time that the word is used in reference to magnitude is:

7.8 The objective is to achieve adequate shelter for rapidly growing populations and for the currently deprived urban and rural poor through an enabling approach to shelter development and improvement that is environmentally sound.

Which does not support a reading of population control.

The Media Matters link quotes Beck as saying:

BECK: Reading through the pages [of Agenda 21], it becomes clear "sustainable development" is just a really nice way of saying "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/15/11]

This is not true. The Agenda 21 document is rife with the phrase "All countries should, as appropriate, ..." a phrase that explicitly recognizes sovereign control. The word "should" is also normative and supports the contention of Tariq Banuri, also quoted at the Media Matters site, that:

Agenda 21 is not a binding treaty. It sets out a sort of common vision.

(A better criticism of the Agenda 21 document would be to claim that it is a non-binding collection of platitudes that achieves nothing.)

  • Removed unconstructive comments. Larry, please remember to include links to the documents you speak of (the question might be edited and your answer would thus lose context).
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 14:02
  • Chapter 5 un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_05.shtml says that "The growth of world population and production combined with unsustainable consumption patterns places increasingly severe stress on the life-supporting capacities of our planet". I can see how readers can deduce from this passage that population growth should be controlled. Though, the text itself does not explicitly mention population growth control. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 7:09

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