IGMUN VIII Theme: Sustainability
The topics below are among the most important and timely problems facing our world today. Each topic will be discussed through the simulation of a real United Nations body.
Universal Access to Vaccine Research and Development
World Health Organization (WHO)
Vaccines are a key component in combating infectious disease and preventing global transmission. Does advancing intellectual property rights impact access to vaccines? In accordance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights there should be flexibility in order to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all. However patents create a monopoly that raise prices of patented vaccine since they will not experience any true competition. While there exist mechanisms to facilitate access to patented vaccines, including bulk purchasing, compelling and voluntary licensing. Should such means be necessary, or is vaccine research a public domain necessary for public health and equal accessibility that should be protected.
International Regulation and Management of E-Waste
International telecommunications Union (ITU)
What new policies or amended programs are needed to ensure mutually international trade that benefits all countries’ development, and their goal to alleviate poverty, create employment, “E-waste”, “electronic waste”, “e-scrap” and “end-of-life electronics” refers to the used electronics that are not being used anymore. The Environmental Protection Agency gives a lot of value to the e-waste, as it can be reused, recycled, or refurbished, so that it does not overcrowd the landfill, contributing to the growth of garbage islands. A lot of the e-waste is exported from developed countries to the developing countries, many of which do not have proper ways to handle it, which results in public health and environmental problems. Particularly, the most vulnerable are the workers at the recycling facilities, as they are permanently exposed to harmful substances, like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. The EPA is also concerned about the toxic leaks into environments that are caused by e-waste. The amount of e-waste is growing, as well as the problems related to that, including loss of the precious metals that cannot be recovered unless the electronics are recycled. There is a lot of research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the program of the EPA UNU-Step on defining major challenges and finding possible more sustainable solutions and ways to better management.
Current Events Myanmar and Yemen
United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
Transboundary Cooperation for Sustainable Water Resource Management
The 263 transboundary lake and river basins around the world cover almost half of the Earth’s surface, supplying water, power, and transportation for billions of people. As climate change increases global water scarcity, many have voiced concerns about the future of these waterways and the conflicts that may develop over their control. Issues range from local overexploitation and increasing population to international power dynamics that leave poorer countries with inadequate water resources. As seen most apparently in the Middle East, intranational water conflicts can contribute to existing tense situations between countries. Yet there is a great deal of hope. Since 1948, there have been 37 incidents of acute conflict over water, but 295 international water agreements have been negotiated and signed in the same period. Since 2003, the Water Convention has served as a framework for water resource management around the world. UN-Water plays an important role in monitoring and studying transboundary basins and making sure water issues have a place in international law and policy. With a changing climate and political tensions building around the globe, how can UN-Water continue to support nations in managing their transboundary waters sustainably and peacefully?
International Energy Agency (IEA)
The International Energy Agency defines renewable energy is a less carbon-intensive and more sustainable alternative to traditional energy production systems. Utilization of renewable energy has been increasing in the past few years, with major spike in solar photocoltaics and wind power, which lowered the average prices. The IEA project a rise in generation by about one-third by 2022. Partnerships are important for generation of larger increases in renewable energy production; therefore, the IEA unites governments and industry NGOs and launches IEA’s Technology Collaboration Programmes. China is a prominent leader in the industry, accounting for 40% of the overall solar PV capacity growth. China has proved that costs of generation of energy by solar PV can fall lower than by coal or gas power plants from a government policy change.
Mobility – the ability to get from one place to another – is a fundamental human need. Whether for work, travel, or obtaining necessities like food and water, sustainable transportation is a vital part of everyday activities across the globe. But transportation today faces many challenges. In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for over a quarter of carbon emissions, mainly due to the continuing dominance of single-occupancy vehicles. Transportation can be a major benefit to economic activity, but wasteful spending on ineffective infrastructure can drain the resources of governments. Transportation is particularly important for marginalized populations, such as low-income and disabled individuals, but current systems often do not cater to their needs. Yet there are also exciting innovations that have the potential to drastically change transportation as we know it. The sharing economy has brought on-demand access to cars and bicycles to cities from China to France. Increasing advances in electric vehicles and driverless cars have many theorists predicting radically new sustainable transportation systems in the near future. Across the globe, nations are building new highways, railways, and airports to accommodate growing populations and a growing international economy. The question is: how do we provide effective transportation to the world’s population, while ensuring affordability and limiting harm to the environment?