Committee Overview

In the first decades after the formation of the United Nations in 1945, concern for the environment was neither a serious issue nor part of the global agenda. It was not until the 1960s that oil spills and maritime pollution spurred debate about protecting the environment; subsequent research proved that the environment was deteriorating at an alarming rate. Around that time, the United Nations recognized the environment as another global issue that needed to be addressed. In 1972, at the UN Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Convention), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) became the environmental conscience of the United Nations. As environmental issues have become more and more important in multilateral discussions, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was created in 2012 as a biannual forum for world leaders to discuss and deliberate on these issues.

Topic A: Sustainable Urban Development in Megacities

By 2030, there will be over 40 megacities with populations over 10 million residents. While these cities play a crucial role in the economy, society, and politics, they face unique challenges. Large structures trap heat, increasing the temperature and exacerbating climate concerns. This urban heat island effect not only affects the environment but worsens the health of its citizens. However, green spaces like parts, city trees, and green roofs can help solve these issues. They cool the city, clean the air, and manage stormwater, reducing the need for air conditioning, lowering energy costs, and preventing floods. To ensure equitable access to this smart technology, governments, municipalities, and international organizations must collaborate to allocate resources effectively for sustainable urban growth. The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) must implement innovative solutions, strategic planning, and foster community involvement to create sustainable cities for future generations.

Topic B: Mitigating the Impacts of the Oil Industry on Biodiversity

Since the onset of modern oil wells in 1850, this industry has made strides in global economies and development. However, the processes involved contaminate air, soil, and water, deteriorating global biodiversity levels. The industry harms species from frogs to birds to wolves. Vegetation is also damaged due to land clearing and chemical pollution, which prevents ecological growth and oxygen flow. The loss of mangroves and other similar oxygen-producing species harms air quality and filtration, water quality, and natural habitats. These impacts are obvious, as more than one-fifth of the global mangrove population has died. This is especially concerning as around 40 percent of the world’s population relies on coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Constant water pollution due to oil pollution exacerbates water inequality, as half of the world’s population lives at least one month in a year with severe water scarcity. Delegates of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) must collaborate with governments and private companies to promote sustainable development for future generations. Without tangible action, the oil industry will continue to plague biodiversity, touching life on land and in the sea, harming human health, and reducing access to food and water.