Updated: Jul 7
Created in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme is responsible to tackle environmental issues within the system of the United Nations such as climate change, marine management and the improvement of green economics. While keeping in mind their goal of an environmentally-friendly and sustainable world, the committee is active all around the globe and develops international environmental agreements, supports environmental science and aids national governments with their own environmental goals.
For the OLMUN 2021 the UNEP talked about the issue of maritime pollution through waste while focusing on the newfound problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chairs of the UNEP were Lisbeth Ritterhoff and Kian Assent, who were able to chair the committee in-person.
The two main problems with maritime pollution are trash and chemicals so the delegates tried to find solutions on how to relieve the ocean from this burden.
Another topic was whether emerging countries should be subsidized by industrial countries for them to be able to protect their environment. Furthermore, it was discussed how organizations or startups could play a part in the process.
On Wednesday the committee started lobbying. The general conflict concerning different views on environmental protection was seen in the committee. About 90% of the delegations wanted strict policies whereas the delegation of China wanted to not have any restrictions at all. During lobbying three groups were formed: China alongside two other industrial nations, a group consisting of East Asian countries, and Canada with a few other more liberal industrial nations. In the end there were three resolutions with many different ideas drafted.
The first resolution being discussed on Thursday was submitted by the delegation of Canada. It mainly dealt with the technical and economic aspects behind the protection of the environment. With only few amendments handed in, the resolution passed. Next the committee talked about the resolution of China. In contrast to the first, the resolution was more radical and proposed ideas such as shooting garbage to the moon and into space to get rid of it or cutting down the rainforest to have more space for us humans. A huge debate about the ideas took place and many delegations proposed amendments, so that in the end the resolution failed.
On Friday the third resolution, drafted by the delegation of Costa Rica, was discussed. Surprisingly, out of the three resolutions this was the most radical and drastic one regarding the question of how to deal with maritime and environmental pollution. Due to that many amendments were handed in, especially from China and other big industrial nations. In the following discussion many of the original points were changed such as, for example, that the resolution supported the extraction of oil and didn’t tax companies for their CO2 emissions anymore.
Eventually the resolution was changed so much in favor of the industrial countries that the delegation of Costa Rica itself voted against their own resolution. The resolution then passed, because many industrial countries voted in favor.
All in all, there were many interesting debates about the issue of maritime pollution and environmental protection, but the debates weren’t the only fun thing in the UNEP. Being an in-person committee, many delegates could be punished and had to do embarrassing dances in just dance or played games such as Mario Kart or Badminton against each other!
Because of China’s outgoing debating style there were many Memes about it and the most frequently used sentence was probably “clapping is not in order “- an insider joke only the OLMUN delegates may understand.