‘Where is the local agenda to strengthen our communities?’

January 1, 2016

 

Agenda 21

GLOBAL AGENDA: The Local Agenda 21’s motto is to “think local and act globally’ – to meet the world’s present needs without compromising future generations.

 

Thatched House

RURAL CRAFT: Is this thatched cottage in Sturminster Newton I’m pictured outside what constitutes as sustainable development under the Local Agenda 21 programme?

 

IS anyone aware of what the aims and plans of Agenda 21 are and what it means for rural and suburban communities in the South West?

Many people will be aware of the Paris Climate Change conference that took place after the terrorist attacks carried out by Daesh. It was all about “changing the way we live” and copious references were made to “climate change”, “green energy” and being “eco-friendly”.

The Local Agenda 21 plan began back in Oslo in 1987 when world leaders thrashed out a co-ordinated policy of “sustainable development” which is in layman’s speak carrying out development that is meets the world’s present needs without jeopardising the future of generations to come.

This apparently well-meaning idea is to “think local and act globally” and that if we acted responsibly locally, global problems will eventually be mitigated and reduced, eventually being eliminated.

I have campaigned for strengthening regional economies and a community-based capitalist economy based on helping each individual maximise their potential and value l as opposed to being treated as a disposable commodity by certain corporate brand names. Let’s say I have some personal experience of this.

Firstly I have done this in the press through reporting and columnist work for 13 years and more recently on-line for the past three.

In Dorset and Somerset, there will be Local Agenda 21 groups putting their investment in local community projects and whilst they on a county or regional level may be working to that end, what is the reality of the impact at the same level?

As long ago as 1999 the Transformational Learning for Individuals and Organisations said this about allotments in Somerset when campaigning for allotments in edition 14 of their newsletter.

It read: “Local authorities parade their Agenda 21 documents, but seem happy to allow allotments to fall into disuse, so that they can sell of smaller sites, and remove the remaining allotment holders elsewhere.

“At a time when food safety, food miles and public health are increasingly seen as important, local authorities are burning their bridges; build on allotments and you can never regain them; sever a person’s contact with the land, and it is unlikely to be reforged.”

Fast forward to now and the disconnection between food and how it is produced and nature and how the countryside is managed has never been so wide, particularly when some children and young adults get confused on seasonality of fruits and vegetables because they see them on the shelves of Asda or Tesco all year around. Shouldn’t have this improved, not got worse?

In a parliamentary report in the decline of post offices nationally, it shows how the combined total of urban and rural post offices reduced from 18,393 in March 2000 to a paltry 11,634 by March 2015.

Having campaigned on this subject vigorously, I know it was done by encouraging people to renew documents like TV licences and DVLA licences on-line rather than at the post office and more recently to encourage pensions and benefits to be paid into their bank account and in all cases, it took business away from the post office, thereby undermining local life.

If we look at the number of pubs across the country, there is another downward trend. There were 60,600 in 1997 and this was reduced to 51,900 last year.

When I visited the New Forest Show in 2014, a figure high up in the management of the well-known conservation area was complaining about asset-rich individuals with no connection to the area buying houses in the New Forest villages as a quaint investment without having a clue how it was managed, ie the work of the commoners, farmers and associated bodies looking after the ponies and livestock.

Traditional skills are dying out or undervalued but surely won’t they be needed if there was suddenly a world economic crisis and we had to go back to basics?

He put it like this: “They come here and buy up properties and tell the commoners you go and live in the poor areas on the edge of the forest, you come in and do the hard work of conserving the forest, and we will be the beneficiaries of that view.”

The observation is if you want nice-looking landscapes and other designated areas, you can’t have it by making villages the equivalent of Sandbanks and Studland and not allowing those who put the infra-structure in place to live there, where is the “thinking locally”? There seems to be more “acting globally”. What I am saying is that it seems those are the top of the pile are benefiting off the sweat, labour and toil of those at the bottom and not giving them respect.

If you talk about being a Local Agenda 21 promoting sustainable development, where has been the assertive campaigning in that name?

Perhaps the controversial words of a prominent opponent of Local Agenda 21 called Rosa Koire will prompt them to react and call out their support for self-sufficiency and sustainable community life and reverse this unnerving silence.

Rosa Koire said: “It is the blueprint, it is the action plan, to inventory and control all land, all plants, all water, all minerals, all construction, all animals, all means of production, all energy, all information and all human beings in the world. It is a completely comprehensive plan, it’s global and implemented locally. It is in every single town across the UK, the United States and across the world.”

Whilst I accept the honourable intentions, the reality for many is an alternate one.  The uncomfortable truth is small farmers and craftsmen are losing their independence and power and wealth is becoming centralised and EU regulations in the UK sometimes get gold-plated to the detriment of small business? This is Local Agenda 21’s stage to come onto the world scene and prove their critics wrong, right?

What is the local agenda if there are all staring at our tablets, I-phones and Tablets rather than conversing face-to-face? How can a community be sustained if the root cause of the problems aren’t dealt with?

It is all well talking about environmental agendas, it is best to see the situation as it really is in order to change it rather than living in a caustic bubble of how we would like it to be.

May I take the opportunity to wish anyone reading my blog a Happy New Year for 2016.

 

 

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