United Nations Development Programme
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to the 64th Session of Harvard National Model United Nations! During our time together, I hope to challenge you to develop realistic, actionable solutions to address the evolving issues and tensions that face the developing and developed worlds. In the process, I hope that we will share a transformative experience delving deep into the nuances of complex problems, upholding the spirit of diplomacy and cooperation, and realizing the unique agency that we, as students, have over critical global concerns.
By way of introduction, I am a senior at Harvard majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. A Bay Stater at heart, I have laid childhood roots in Cincinnati, Hong Kong, and, most recently, Massachusetts. Outside of the classroom, I spend much of my time in public service. I lead a student-run homeless shelter, provide case management services to underserved patients at a nearby hospital, and oversee the student-run volunteer programs at Harvard's largest public service organization. I was drawn to Model United Nations by its passionate, outgoing community and its challenging, rewarding work. In contrast with the many MUN veterans at the helm of this conference, I staffed my first MUN conferences ever this past spring, leading conference logistics as a Business Director at HNMUN and an Administration Director at HMUN, our sister conference for high school students. In the coming year, I am thrilled to return to HNMUN to contribute to the substantive side of the conference alongside my dear friend and Co-Director, Selena.
I'm so excited to serve as your Co-Director for the United Nations Development Programme. As you may have guessed, I am passionate about socially, economically, and environmentally responsible development. My love of sustainable development began when I took an introductory class about global health as a sophomore, and my interest in development has only grown since that time. In college, I have led a student group with a dual mandate of promoting environmental sustainability in American hospitals and distributing unused supplies abroad to under-resourced hospitals in developing countries. Accordingly, my choice of committee and topics harmonizes two of my strongest passions within sustainable development: the environment and global health. By directing this committee, I hope to shed a spotlight on two frequently-overlooked areas of international development. In this guide and in committee, we will grapple with the effects of globalization—free markets, sweatshops, migration of humans and goods—on health. Together, we will also explore the changing needs of agriculture in the face of climate change. This will be my first and last opportunity to direct a MUN committee at Harvard, and I am so honored to live this dream with Selena and with each and every one of you.
I can't wait to meet you in committee. Please feel free to reach out to Selena or me with any pre-conference questions or concerns — we'd be thrilled to hear from you!
Co-Director, United Nations Development Programme
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018
Welcome to the United Nations Development Programme! My name is Selena Zhao and I’m so excited and honored to serve as one of your directors, along with my dear friend Jonathan You, for the 64th Harvard National Model United Nations.
First, I’d like to introduce myself a bit—I was born in Seattle and grew up figure skating competitively. Although I moved to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, throughout high school, I still consider myself loyal to the Pacific Northwest at heart. Here at Harvard as a sophomore, I study Political Science with a secondary in Integrative Biology. To further pursue these interests, I assist in research for a professor in the Government Department as well as in the Evidence for Policy Design program at the Harvard Kennedy School. In addition, I am involved in the conservation society and volunteer at the Harvard Zoological Museum’s Mammalogy Collection. Lastly, to keep in touch with my love for skating, I am the Co-President of the Harvard University Figure Skating Club and am also actively involved in An Evening with Champions, an incredible figure skating fundraiser show that brings in Olympians, Harvard athletes, and local skaters to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute.
Although I did not discover my passion for Model UN until freshman orientation week, it has quickly ignited my passion—I served as an Assistant Director in the ECOSOC organ at both HMUN and HNMUN this past year, and am now a Comptroller Director for HMUN 2018 as well. Through my experiences, I have come to value Model UN as a unique educational opportunity where delegates can not only gain a greater understanding for current global issues but also a deeper appreciation for the spirit of diplomacy and cooperation.
Therefore, I am incredibly excited to explore my academic interests through the lens of Model UN by examining the impacts of climate change on agriculture and the consequences of globalization on global health. These two issues have both arisen from forces currently shaping and changing our world, and are incredibly pressing in the degree to which they heavily impact developing nations. I hope that through the course of committee discussions, we can both examine the nuances of these topics and then develop clear and concrete methods to combat the negative consequences of two of the largest forces shaping the developing world: climate change and globalization.
As Director, I am here to serve you—please do not hesitate to reach out and email me about the committee topics or anything else of interest! I cannot reiterate how much I am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you at conference next February. I truly hope you will have a transformative, educational experience while meeting inspiring new people.
Co-Director, United Nations Development Programme
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018
Topic Area A: The Effects of Globalization on Global Health
Globalization and international trade present both threats and opportunities to public and global health. Communicable diseases may enter a country via imported products; multilateral trade agreements may influence affordability of imported medical equipment; evolving international patent laws may affect access to generic drug access. In several nations, private enterprises have flourished at the expense of public health, affordable treatments, and social equity. Fluctuating food prices in global markets, influenced by trade agreements and environmental conditions, affect not only the availability of food but also the quality of nutrition, aggravating global issues of both malnutrition and obesity. Sweatshops, a means of mobilizing cheap labor in developed countries, may be an effective strategy for poverty reduction, but they may also expose workers to unhealthy work conditions, severe psychological stress, and restricted personal freedoms. Catalyzed by globalization, an influx of digital/social media technologies in developing countries has contributed to disordered eating, body dysmorphic disorder, antisocial beliefs, aggressive behaviors, and other unhealthy habits, particularly among youth.
Health may be defined as the state of being free from illness or injury, but health also encompasses the ability to adapt to physical, mental, and social challenges. When health is considered in this holistic context, it becomes clear that health outcomes worldwide are intimately tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and furthermore, that sustaining health on a global level must go far beyond merely treating or preventing disease. Leveraging the SDGs, delegates will address inequities in social determinants of health, such as poverty, discrimination, and poor living and working conditions. To advocate for health in the face of globalization, delegates will also discuss means of improving healthcare access, promoting healthy lifestyles, and incentivizing innovation in health via international trade mechanisms, for instance, by reducing international trade barriers while respecting domestic industries or protecting intellectual property while maintaining affordability of care.
Topic Area B: Agriculture and Climate Change
One of the most pressing concerns brought about by climate change is the impact of changing seasonal timing on the viability of agricultural and pastoral lifestyles. Especially in regions of the world more heavily impacted by seasonal changes, erratic and unpredictable weather patterns have intensified issues of land degradation, clean water access, and livestock disease, creating humanitarian crises in food security and health. Even in more developed nations, farmers have struggled to adapt previously reliable crops to the progressively warmer and more extreme climate, impacting both domestic consumption and the export economy.
Although the United Nations has been active in implementing adaptation plans, particularly for developing nations, the process has been slow and costly. Especially concerning is the lack of state intervention. Because most governments in developing nations are focused primarily on industrialization in urban areas, there is little incentive for the state to invest in sustainable agriculture programs, and even in nations where there is a greater focus on agricultural development, state capacity is often too weak to provide substantial support. Without state assistance, it will be very difficult for temporary adaptation plans funded and implemented by the UN and NGOs to develop into viable long-term solutions. As the UNDP is the primary international organization focused on working with developing nations, we believe there is no committee better suited to helping those members of the world population in most need of assistance.