Ecology and Environment Briefing

BMUN 5 Ecology and Environment Committee Briefing

 1.    The Question of Protecting Oceans and Fisheries for Future Generations

Introduction:

Oceans are a vital method by which the Earth regulates and sustains an average environmental temperature. They are also fundamental to the livelihood of many, providing them with a steady income and a source of energy and transportation.

Key facts:

  • 50% of all species on the planet are found in oceans
  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water
  • 50% of global population lives within 60 km away from the coast.
  • 90% of the planet’s living biomass is found in the oceans
  • Artisanal fishing communities are seeing their livelihoods threatened by illegal, unregulated or subsidized commercial fleets.

Background knowledge:

Overexploitation is defined as: ‘harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource.’

During the Rio 1992 Conference On Environment and Development The Rio+20 agreement was created.

Important organisations:

  1. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002)
  2. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  3. The Millennium Development Goals

Help to prevent activities which may threaten the health and productivity of the oceans. This may be caused by the overexploitation of fish stocks, devastation of the fragile marine ecosystems linked to a steady decrease in biodiversity. This then may cause a threat the food security, economic stability and put the livelihoods of tens of millions of people in jeopardy

  •  During a committee in UNCSD in 2011, negotiations continued towards the creation of Rio+20. Strengths and weaknesses of The Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were also discussed
  • UNEP’s Global International Water Assessment Report from 2005 (GIWA) recognized overexploitation of fisheries as one of the most significant damaging effects on the environment
  • The FAO in 2005 suggested that 52% of the fish stocks have already been fully exploited. They also believe that 17% are currently being overexploited, finally 7% minimal stock remaining.
  • WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) target to restore fish stocks to their maximum sustainable yields by 2015
  • There is a global governance framework for a sustainable management of the oceans

Causes:

  • Over fishing
  • Unregulated activities
  • Loss of biodiversity

Solutions:

  1. Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
  2. United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
  3. Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
  4. Ad Hoc Open‐ended Informal Working Group
  5. International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments
  6. Resolution 61/105 on sustainable fisheries
  7. Resolution 65/150, entitled “Protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development”
  8. Marine protected areas (MPAs)
  • In 1995, after two years of negotiations, the UN further adopted the ‘fish-stocks agreement’ to the UNCLOS. These proved ineffective due to the ‘free-rider problem’ combined with the over use of shared resources.
  • The creation of the Rio+20 attempted to correct the problems caused.

Useful Links:

Questions to consider:

  • What is the condition of the surrounding oceans and fisheries associated with your country?
  • How feasible is it for your country to repair the damage they have caused to oceans and fisheries?
  • To what extent should an international body like the UN be involved in a problem which is more nationally oriented

 

2.    The Question of Sustainable Development in energy resources

Key facts:

  • Increase seen in the energy consumption of the world population by 2.5% over 2011
  • China alone accounts for 71% of energy consumed by the world population
  • Crude oil prices peaked in April  to $108.74 a barrel following the unrest in Libya
  • Oil is the world’s most consumed fuel amounting to 33.1% of global fuel consumption

Background knowledge:

  • UNEP was designed in 1972 to be the, “leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and promotes the integration of the environmental aspects of sustainable development in the work of the United Nations system.” UNEP focuses it work on developing environmental law at the national, regional, and global levels.
  • The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED), created Agenda 21 in 1992. It suggested a plan to not only synchronize international efforts but promote sustainable development http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/
  • At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), reiterated the 1992 commitment with emphasis on the importance of an effective overseeing body
  • 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development brings the importance of sustainable development to the attention of the UN. The conference aimed to modernize the global system for environmental governance.
  • The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in 1992. Its main intention was to oversee the follow-up of UNCED. By enhancing international cooperation, and to implement Agenda 21 at the national, regional, and international levels.
  • Institutions like the World Trade Organization, United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank are beginning to incorporate sustainable development into their daily activities.
  • Chapter 11 of JPOI, states that Rio+20 attempts to develop a more effective method for the operation of Agenda 21
  • Reform to the CSD and UNEP has been demanded

Solutions:

  • Encourage governments to increase their nation’s consumption of renewable energy resources

Useful Links:

Questions to consider:

  • There are currently 44 UN agencies officially responsible for environmental matters. Should there be a single body oversees the work of organisations to reduce their impact on the environment?
  • What are the most sustainable sources of energy that can feasibly be used to reduce consumption of fossil fuels?
  • What is more important for LEDCs, economic growth or decreasing their carbon footprint?