ICLEI, established in 1990, acts as a vehicle through which to deliver its Agenda 21, which followed in 1992. The city of Edmond has been an ICLEI member since 2009, and like many communities, decided to join in order to utilize data-calculating and -converting software used to determine energy savings, emissions, and technology effectiveness. But the city began to see that membership has a dark side. Govern Edmond Locally (GEL), a grassroots effort whose mission statement is to “restore Constitutional governance at the local level in Edmond, OK,” opposed the city’s involvement in ICLEI and was instrumental in persuading the city to reverse its decision. In an interview with The New American, Robert Semands, spokesman for GEL, recounted the story of Edmond’s participation in ICLEI.
After a press release announcing that a public forum would be held in December called “Sustainability in Edmond,” Semands and other concerned residents learned the meeting agenda would be anything but a public forum. What was planned was not a public forum-style meeting, but a scenario of dividing the attendees into small groups to discuss various sustainability issues, depriving those attendees of the forum by which to make their opposition known. GEL began contacting Edmondites about the hidden well, agenda, of Agenda 21 and ICLEI, and a large number of citizens showed up at the meeting to oppose the measure. It was so large a turn-out that the facilitators were unprepared and slightly disarmed. It turns out that people living in Edmond are almost universally opposed to having anything to do with the U.N. in their city.