Why Rewrite Agenda 21

There are two primary reasons we chose to adopt and rewrite Agenda 21 as the People’s Agenda 21. The first reason was because we saw the comprehensive nature of the original document as a perfect template and foundation for a website dedicated to sharing individual and local-level action items for people interested in sustainability. The second reason was to create a structure that our open source sustainability project, One Community, could use to organize the open source content our non-profit organization is creating while interacting with the global community to identify where additional content from us and others is needed most.


My first introduction to Agenda 21 was actually via a friend who sent me an e-mail titled “You Owe it to Yourself to Know about Agenda 21,” suggesting enough negativity to arouse my concern and curiosity. I started doing some of my own research to see what I could turn up and I eventually came upon the original document and read it page by page for myself.

Surprisingly, the document actually read as a forward thinking (albeit in legalese) approach to creating global sustainability. It covered everything from cultural diversity to migratory paths of animals to alternative energy with industry and global economy sensitive approaches for implementation. Over 350 pages of specific approaches to maintaining our planet and building the foundations for the eradication of poverty, homelessness, global sustainable energy availability, starvation, and several sustainability topics I’d never even considered.


Amazed that a document this comprehensive even existed, I started making calls to see what other people knew about Agenda 21 and ended up finding out Debra Olson, a friend of One Community, actually had me on a conference call just two weeks prior to discuss the One Community project with Hanne Strong, the woman who hosted the original Agenda 21 Earth Summit with her husband in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Debra then coordinated a conference call with me and Hanne where Hanne shared the entire story of the challenges of bringing together a sustainability think tank to write Agenda 21 and then organize the largest assembly of global leadership ever to convene; 179 world leaders purposed to agree upon a bold new approach to cooperation, collaboration, and the most comprehensive and progressive environmental strategy ever written: Agenda 21. Hanne shared her frustrations that nothing really tangible had come out of that Summit, or the host of other Summits and Forums since then, and it was on that phone call with Hanne that we decided to write The People’s Agenda 21.

Here’s an article titled “How the World Almost Stopped Climate Change in 1989” that goes into how and why support for such a comprehensive global sustainability movement was undermined before the 1992 summit.


It is with huge respect and appreciation that we extend our heart-felt thanks to the originators of the first Agenda 21 document that is, in our opinion, the most comprehensive and complete document about sustainability that we have ever read. With that in mind, we have engaged rewriting Agenda 21 as the People’s Agenda 21 with three primary purposes:

● Simplify it and make it readable and understandable
● Remove government involvement, sponsorship, and implementation
● Outline strategies that regular people with modest means can implement on their own

With these three goals as our focus, we are building this site based on the comprehensive nature of the original chapters of Agenda 21 and calling it the People’s Agenda 21. As an open source resource and action item guide for regular people, we aim to maintain this site as a way to empower people on the individual and community level with accessibility to information related to social and environmental solutions for the betterment of all.