Sustainable Development and Alternative Energies

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Hello, my name is Brian Umanoff and I am your Head Chair for the ECOSOC Committee at
Laimun, 2008. I am a senior at Mira Costa High School and this is my fourth year in MUN. I
understand that this will be the first MUN conference for many of you and thus I will be willing
to answer any questions you have about the upcoming conference. Feel free to email me any
time at Hopefully we will have an extremely productive conference and I
look forward to meeting all of you in the future. The best of luck to all the delegates and
remember, come prepared to debate.

Topic 1: Sustainable Development and Alternative Energies

Background Information

       As the human race has progressed into the 21st century, we have been faced with some of

the newest and most complicated problems in our history. Most notable is the human races

consumption of Earth’s resources at a staggering and uncontrollable rate. Current estimates state

that we are consuming 20% more natural resources than the earth can reproduce. If this trend

continues within the century, the earth may no longer be able to support the entire human

population. Examples of our over consumption of the earth’s resources can be seen in our 700 %

increase in the consumption of fossil fuels since 1961, or the loss of 40% of all marine species

since 1970 due to over fishing.

       Sustainable Development and the use of alternative energies is the solution to this

rampant problem of over consumption within our planet. Sustainable Development refers to the

use of nature’s resources in a way that preserves the environment, while providing the human

race with its economic needs, at the present and in the future. Sustainable development has three
specific parts that all intertwine and must be balanced to create the most beneficial result. They

include the combination and balancing of environmental, social, and economic issues into one

entity for the betterment of humanity. Thus the key to sustainable development is finding a

system in which earth’s resources are not used up unnecessarily, the economy of the nation

remains the same or benefits, and social groups feel limited to no negative effects. The difference

between Sustainable Development and other systems such as Green Development is that the

three different aspects of Sustainable Development are weighed equally. The economy of a

nation is seen as equal to the environment and systems implemented under Sustainable

Development look to benefit a nation environmentally, economically, and socially rather than

simply working to protect the environment.

       One of the key aspects of Sustainable Development is the use of newer and cleaner

energy sources rather than the continued burning of fossil fuels. Across the globe nations of the

world are beginning to implement new technology to replace the less efficient and dirty fossil

fuel power plants. Leading alternative energy systems include wind and solar power, geothermal

energy, nuclear energy, and the use of natural gas. While each of these systems have their own

setbacks such as the unpredictably of wind and solar energy, through the use of a variant of

different alternative energy sources a solution can be found that will benefit the world according

to the goals of Sustainable Development.

       As the world continues to progress into the future we not only have the ability to better

our own life’s, but also to have drastic effects on the place that we call home. It is our

responsibility to manage our planet and ensure that it remains viable and capable of supporting

life for the duration of mankind. All the tools are in our possession, but if we do not change our

current habits for the better, the results will be devastating to the future generations of the world.
United Nations Involvement

       The United Nations has been extremely influential in pushing for the adoption of

Sustainable Development and has introduced a variety of programs in the hopes of achieving that

goal. Most notable is the adoption of Agenda 21 by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The document signed by 179 nations commits the world to adopting the ideals of Sustainable

Development and confirms their desires to better the world. This document specifically

addresses issues such as poverty and promoting world health, combating deforestation and

controlling pollution, the use of the earth’s populations to its greatest potential, and the use of

new technologies to end the mass pollution of older technologies. In 2002 the nations of the

world met again and signed the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development; it

committed the world to the fufilling the goals set in Rio de Janeiro and added new goals that

were necessary to combat the issues of the 21st century.

       In addition to the creation of Agenda 21 the United Nations has a vast amount of agencies

who are devoted to the realization of the goals of Sustainable Development. These organizations

include the Commision on Sustainable Development, the United Nations Division for

Sustainable Development as part of ECOSOC, and both the UNEP and the UNDP. In addition

the U.N. NGO Committee on Sustainable Development has been influential in combating this

issue. Over the past years these organizations have collaborated together in the hope of

combating the many different aspects of Sustainable Development, that range from deforestation,

to desertification, to the use of alternative energies. Sustainable Development also runs hand in

hand with the the Kyoto Protocol, in which 182 nations pledged to cut Carbon Emmisions and

combat the problem of global climate change. Due to the huge scope of Sustainable

Development it is combated directly and indirectly by a plethera of U.N. bodies and NGO’s
throughout the world. The actions of these organizations have had great results, yet we are a long

way from achieving Sustainable Development.


       The range of different solutions that can be applied to Sustainable Development are as

vast as the oceans are large. Technological advancements in the last 30 years have made the goal

of Sustainable Development achievable and now our only obligation is to implement the ideas

that we have already come up with. The most notable area in which we can move toward

Sustainable Development is through the use of newer and cleaner energy production methods. In

the year 2005 it was estimated that 86% of the world’s energy needs are met by dirty and

insufficient fossil fuels. Another 12% of the world’s energy needs are met by systems such as

nuclear and hydro-electric. This means that only 2% of the world’s energy needs are met by

sustainable and non-harmful systems such as wind, solar, and geothermal sources. While the

nations of the world continue to rely on harmful sources such as fossil fuels the most readily

available sources of energy, wind and solar power get little attention on the world stage. Both

systems have the ability to meet a large portion of our energy needs through a variant of different

applications such as off-shore wind energy and small-scale solar energy. In addition to these

sources there are many other energy technologies including geothermal energy, the use of

biomass, and newly developed technolgies in the form of wave power.

        Despite the application of new energy souces there are an array of other solutions that

can help move the world popluation toward a state of Sustainable Development. Firstly, a major

factor of waste in the world is the inneficiency of the majority of automobiles. They are a key

contributor to problems such as global warming and the adoption of more efficient transporation

systems are necessary. The usage of hybrids and the creation of mass transit systems in major
urban areas such as light rail would greatly diminish wastes in the area of transportation. In

addition there are a variety of other problems that need to be adressed in the field of Sustaianble

Development. They include issues such as deforestation from logging or desertification due to

massive consumption of resources. To combat such issues steps need to be taken such as the use

of conservation tactics to ensure that forests are not depleted. The availability of solutions to this

massive problems is endless and through the application of already available technologies and

the use of conservationist tactics, we can move the world closer to our goals of Sustainable


Block Positions

Western European/North American Block: The burden of making Sustainable

Development possible and feasible in our world today will fall upon these nations. You not only

have the resources to make Sustainable Development possible, but also, due to the rising costs on

resources, expecially that of oil, it is in your best interest to find new means to supply your

populations. Any large scale gains in the future will have to be made with the full support of

these nations.

African/Asian Block The majority of these nations do not have the economic ability to move

towards Sustainable Development, but are still an intregal part of the process. These nations most

prevent the depletion of their resources by the 1st world nations and look to take steps towards

Sustainable Development when economically possible. In addition nations such as China and

India in the Asian Block must look to make contributions similar to that of Western European

and North American Nations.

Middle Eastern Block While Sustainable Development on a small level may be an important

goal of these nations there are several goals of Sutainable Development that may be harmful to
these nations. Most specifically is the damage that Sustainable Development will have on these

nations economies. The majority of these nations are members of OPEC and the move of the

world from fossil fuels to cleaner energy would greatly damage these nations economies.

South American Block A majoirty of nations in this country will fall into similar categories

as the African and Asian Block due to limited economic abilties. Exceptions in this block include

the realtively economically sound nations of Brazil and Argentina. In addition Venezuela is an

OPEC member and will be less inclined to move toward Sustainable Development.


Topic 2: Combating Poverty

Background Information

       Since the beginning of time every civilization has been forced to deal with the hardships

of Poverty. Poverty is an issue so vast that its factors are endless, stretching from balance of

trade to the availability of resources. Yet in the end poverty can easily be summed up into one

word: Lack, lack of production, lack of consumption, lack of everything. To define those who

fall into this category, the World Back sets the poverty line at families who earn two or less

dollars a day. This is the international poverty line, but on a national level, the poverty line is set

much lower. Poverty is when a family does not earn enough to obtain the necessities of survival.

       The causes of poverty have long been debated and include many answers ranging from

economics to religious beliefs. One common cause is corrupt leadership mixed with unfavorable
economic factors. Often, finances are not used for moral purposes; rather governments use

national funds for personal benefit over national need. This commonly leads to several

outcomes: no infrastructure can be built and the economy cannot grow, or the country goes

deeper into debt and further into poverty. Clearly, there are many factors that can lead to

poverty: geography, failure of the governing body, and technological advancements, and though

each regional case is different, they share similar causes and outcomes.

       Poverty is an extremely widespread issue and causes a vast amount of problems. Firstly,

poverty prevents many families from having a proper life style including: insufficient health

care, hunger and starvation, a lack of education, and will often lead to death. UNICEF states:

“that around 26,500-30,000 children die every year due to poverty”. Also, poverty is a

contributor to many global issues such as: child labor, HIV/AIDS in rural areas, and even the

arms trade. There are very few global issues that poverty isn’t involved in.

UN Actions

       The UN has been working towards the eradication of poverty for some time, and their

efforts have led to the creation of several specialized UN bodies. One is the UN Economic and

Social Council, who looks for ways to improve the international community’s economy and

relationships. A second UN body is the UNDP or United Nations Development Programme,

which works to assist all countries in creating stable infrastructure and bringing proper resources

to all communities. Both bodies are greatly involved in helping families and communities rise

above poverty.

       Working together as one, the UN has created a comprehensive solution against poverty:

the UN Millennium project. Assigned by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2002, its

purpose is to create and then implement a “plan of action” against poverty and to reduce the
populations of those affected by poverty in half. A set of goals has been made and the

Millennium Project hopes to see them fulfilled by the year 2015. It recommends completing the

set tasks through international cooperation, such as partnerships being created between

developed and undeveloped nations. This program has been very popular and effective. Through

increased interaction between nations and the acquisition of aide by impoverished nations, we

have made great headway. In addition to fighting poverty, the Millennium Project also hopes to

bring primary education to towns, empower women, and combat diseases like malaria and


Possible Solutions

       It is clear, that with every day, the need for an effective solution becomes essential. What

many countries require is economic reform that concentrates on stabilizing the economy within

the country first, before branching out and selling to foreign industries. Countries should find

strategies that work on getting money and services to the people so that the final outcome will

raise their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Several solutions have been created for this such as

micro-loans that help entrepreneurs begin their own small businesses, and the creation of more

jobs by the government.

       Another possible solution concerns increasing communication between countries,

especially those in rural areas. First, some countries are at a technological disadvantage and

cannot produce goods efficiently. Through “partner programs” developed nations could equip

third world nations with the tools they need to successfully increase production. These

advancements can be as simple as better farming techniques such as using plants that replenish

the soil or the use crop rotation. Secondly, the transportation system must be improved in many
nations across the globe. Some nations are isolated due to natural boundaries: this in turn makes

it difficult for them to sell their goods and trade for other necessities. By improving their

transportation systems, nations affected by poverty will be able to increase their trade prospects

and will be able to obtain goods that were not available to them beforehand.

       An important thought to keep in mind is how to successfully implement any and all

solutions on poverty reduction. A report by the Department for International Development

(DFID), a section of the UK government, has determined that many families do not receive the

benefits of poverty reductions because they are “socially excluded” or discriminated against. A

solution cannot be successful if it is not designed to meet the needs of the intended parties. Due

to this, solutions will need aimed at a variety of different cultural groups in order to form a

comprehensive resolution paper.

Block Positions

African/Asian Block This area is affected most by poverty and needs the most assistance.

These countries need to look for solutions that steadily lower the poverty line without upsetting

the economy in a negative manner. Another common issue they face is corruption, so loans and

monetary assistance must be monitored carefully.

Central/Southern American Block These areas are not as severely affected by poverty, but

it is still an issue that needs to be addressed. These nations should look towards solutions that

will strengthen their infrastructure and provide more effective health care and education to their

Eastern European Block This area of the world contains both developed and undeveloped

nations. Capable nations in this region should look to assist less capable ones through systems

such as the “cooperation” program; a program highly endorsed by the Millennium Project.

European Block and Northern American Block This region contains the most wealthy

and influential nations in the world. These countries should not only be looking to maintain their

economic stability, but also looking to aide nations who are in need of assistance.

Sources (only for radical countries),,contentMDK:201