Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development!

My name is Klaus Ashorn, and I am a sophomore at Harvard College studying Economics. I am originally from Helsinki, Finland, though I have also lived in Hong Kong before coming to the U.S. I was first introduced to Model UN while attending high school in Hong Kong, and it has been a major part of my life ever since. Here at Harvard, I’m on the Intercollegiate MUN (ICMUN) team that competes on the collegiate circuit, and have staffed both HNMUN and HMUN. I will also be directing the OECD at our high school conference next spring in Beijing, China.

I am incredibly excited to direct the OECD and see how you will tackle the topics! As an ECOSOC committee, the OECD will be a perfect mix of substance and real-world applicability, while keeping the committee slightly smaller and more dynamic.

You will be addressing two major issues: how to bring private capital and companies into efforts to reduce climate change (Topic A) and how to respond to sovereign financial crises (Topic B). My interest in Topic A comes from the rather simple observation that climate change needs to be solved within the next 30 to 40 years. If we want this to happen, we will need solutions addressing the issue from all angles, including economic markets. Topic B is similarly important, and I hope that researching and debating the topic will allow each of you to form a well-reasoned opinion regarding if, when, and on what terms countries or their financial institutions ought to be bailed out.

We will be trialling some new elements in the OECD to further enhance your experience. As a delegate in the OECD, you will write a strategy paper in lieu of a traditional position paper. In the strategy paper, you will identify key policy goals for your country, anticipate points of contention, and lay out a strategy for achieving these goals. You will also have the possibility of sending an update paper to your government during the conference – more on these in the background guide. The purpose of these reforms is to realign debate on policy issues and reassure delegates that their contributions will be recognized. Diplomacy has very little to do with the kinds of power delegate strategies sometimes seen in MUN, and we hope to narrow this discrepancy by shifting the committee’s focus to substance.

I hope you will enjoy preparing for the conference as much as I have, and I look forward to meeting you in February!

Klaus Ashorn
Director, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

Topic Area A: Fostering Markets for Sustainable Development

In order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, we will need to cut carbon emissions by half each decade. By 2050, we will need to achieve zero net emissions from land use and figure out how to remove five gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually. The scale of these challenges is enormous, but their timeline is even more sobering. In a very concrete sense, our generation is the one responsible for solving climate change.

The purpose of this topic is to explore ways to build markets for climate action. One of the current problems facing climate efforts is that public actors are unwilling to invest sufficiently while private actors are neither financially incentivized nor legally compelled to pick up the slack. The possible solutions could range from legally mandated off-setting schemes to mitigation banking to expanded cap-and-trade programs – the focus will be on innovation.

Topic Area B: Addressing Sovereign Financial Crises

Following the 2008 financial crisis and the Eurozone crises, there is a wealth of new information on how different policies work for struggling countries and financial institutions. Given this new information, it would be timely to form a new consensus on how to best respond to such situations.

This topic challenges delegates to tackle both technical policy questions and ethical considerations. For example, only 5% of Greece’s bailout money went to the government budget, with the other 95% going to the country’s debtors, primarily large German and French banks. Some see this as an example of an unjust transfer of wealth from citizens to banks, whereas others see it as a necessary step towards economic recovery. The committee’s goal will be to establish a shared understanding of how to best assist countries in financial crises, who should bear the cost, and on what conditions will outside help be provided.