Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in opposition to LD 161,
“An Act to Ban the United Nations Agenda 21 in Maine”
April 9, 2015
Senator Burns, Representative Hobbins and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As you may know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit non-partisan organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance the quality places that make Maine unique. You may also know that my professional background includes serving in the 121st through the 124th Maine Legislatures as well as about fifteen years working for private landowners large and small as a professional licensed forester and nearly twenty years as co-owner of a Maine family farm.
As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine advocates for legislation that empowers Mainers to implement economic, community revitalization and environmental protection strategies within their communities. In this case, we are opposing LD 161 because it does the exact opposite. GrowSmart Maine evaluates legislation from several perspectives as we consider the relevance to our mission. We review the benchmarks highlighted in the Measures of Growth in Focus Annual Report, released each year by the Maine Economic Growth Council, under the Maine Development Foundation. For this specific bill, you’ll find not a single benchmark that will be strengthened if this bill passes. In fact, they will be weakened.
With my testimony I present three pieces of information.
– What is smart growth?
– What is Agenda 21?
– What are these organizations from which all levels of government in Maine would be banned from, according to the bill language, “enter into any agreement with, expend any sum of money for, receive funds or contract services from or give financial aid to.”
Smart growth, as you can see in my testimony, is quite simply an effort and a set of principles to allow for more choices in how communities grow, so that we are making most effective use of existing infrastructure and encouraging demand away from rural lands for which the “highest and best use” truly is NOT development, but rather farming, forestry, and rural living. I’d ask you to review the ten principles listed below – these are compatible with our mission, just as I expect they fit with your view of how Maine should grow.
This certainly isn’t something that should be banned in Maine.
We want Mainers to continue what we’ve been doing for generations; working together to find common, unifying values that are important to their communities and help direct us in how to effectively manage, plan, and invest in making our community and economy vibrant and successful.
Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks, and I firmly urge you to withhold any support for this legislation.
What is smart growth?
In April 2012, the American Planning Association adopted the following language in its definition of smart growth: “Smart Growth supports choice and opportunity by promoting efficient and sustainable development and redevelopment patterns that optimize the investments already made in public and private infrastructure, and consume less land that is otherwise available for agriculture, open space, and rural lifestyles.”
Ten Principles of Smart Growth
1. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
2. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
3. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
4. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions
5. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
6. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
7. Create walkable neighborhoods
8. Take advantage of compact building design
9. Mix land uses
10. Provide a variety of transportation choices
Source: “This is Smart Growth,” International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), September 2006
What is United Nations Agenda 21?
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, the United Nations sponsored an international conference, The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit. The conference included a 12-day intergovernmental meeting and a separate Global Forum sponsored by and for non-profit organizations. The formal intergovernmental UNCED process yielded five documents signed by heads of state, including George H. W. Bush. These included:
1. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, a statement of 27 broad principles to guide nations conduct on environmental protection and international development.
2. Two treaties, one on climate change and one on biodiversity.
3. A statement of forest principles.
4. Agenda 21, a massive document presenting detailed work plans for sustainable development, including goals, responsibilities, and estimates for funding.
Agenda 21 is a non-legally binding document, also known as “soft law”. Implementation of Agenda 21 by member countries of the United Nations was and remains voluntary. Most recently, the Rio+20 Conference was held in Rio as a twenty-year follow up to the Earth Summit. The Rio+20 Conference was considered largely unsuccessful in terms of tangible outcomes.
Organizations Accredited by the United Nations
• American Association of Engineering Societies
• American Association of Jurists
• American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
• American Association of University Women
• American Bar Association
• American Cancer Society
• American Civil Liberties Union
• American Cleaning Institute
• American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
• American Conservative Union
• American Correctional Association
• American Fisheries Society
• American Indian Law Alliance
• American Jewish Committee
• American Life League
• American Oil Chemists Society
• American Planning Association
• American Psychological Association
• American Society for Engineering Education
• American Society for Training and Development
• American Society of Criminology
• American Society of Safety Engineers
• Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
• Association of American Railroads
• CARE International
• Catholic Relief Services (United States Catholic Conference)
• Central Florida Earth Alliance and Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice
• Child Welfare League of America
• Christian Children’s Fund
• Christian Legal Fellowship
• Church World Service
• David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies
• DARE America
• Drug Free America Foundation
• Foundation for the American Indian
• Foundation for the Child and the Family
• Girl Scouts of the United States of America
• Habitat for Humanity International
• Helen Keller International
• Humane Society of the United States
• Hunter College Center for Community and Urban Health
• International Chamber of Commerce
• International Higher Education Academy of Sciences
• International Police Commission
• League of Women Voters of the United States
• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
• National Association of Home Builders of the United States
• National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
• National Association of Realtors
• National Audubon Society
• National Bar Association
• National Congress of American Indians
• National Council of Negro Women
• Natural Resources Defense Council
• Nature Conservancy
• Oil Companies International Marine Forum
• Oxfam America
• Planned Parenthood Federation of America
• Pro-Life Campaign
• Rotary International
• Save the Children International
• Sierra Club
• Special Olympics International
• United Way International
• World Evangelical Alliance