UN Environment Programme

Gabrielle Headhsot.JPG

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the United Nations Environment Programme! My name is Gabrielle Schultz and I am so excited to be serving as your Director for HNMUN 2019.

I am a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating (majoring) in Social Studies with a secondary (minor) in Global Health and Health Policy. I’m from Wolverine, Michigan, a small town near the top of the “mitten.” I was tangentially involved in Model United Nations in high school but have always had an interest in and passion for international relations. I never thought I would participate in Model UN at university, but I am so glad that I chose to pursue it. In addition to directing for HNMUN 2019, I also assistant direct for HMUN and serve on the Secretariat for Harvard WorldMUN. Besides my involvement in MUN, I volunteer and teach basketball to local elementary schoolers twice per week, I’m a member of several groups offered through Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and I intern for a podcast called “Ministry of Ideas” (shameless plug!). Outside of my scholastic activities you can usually find me in one of the many coffee shops in and around Harvard Square, practicing yoga, or perfecting my Instagram feed. I also love to run, watch Netflix, hang out with friends, and sample the various food offerings of Cambridge.

I am so looking forward to meeting all of you next February! I cannot wait to discuss the topics with such globally minded and diverse peers. As always, the expectation in every committee session will be that you are mindful of your fellow delegates and continually uphold the values of Model UN: diplomacy and respect. I hope to see this committee work together to create comprehensive solutions through substantial and informed dialogue.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me at unep@hnmun.org with any and all questions or concerns.

Best,

Gabrielle Schultz
Director, United Nations Environment Programme
Harvard National Model United Nations 2019


Topic Area A: Refugees in Relation to the Environment

For many years the world has been watching the Syrian conflict and subsequent civilian exodus with wary eyes. But throughout the entirety of the Syrian civil unrest there have been much smaller migrations all over the world due to rising temperatures and sea levels, drought, and famine. These climate driven migrations will only increase with time, and thus need to be met with substantive policy and care. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has released a statement regarding and outlining the intricacies of the humanitarian response, but this committee will focus on proactive solutions that can be implemented in environment-at-risk communities in order to help combat the problem at its source. What role should the countries who are accepting these refugees play? Does the burden fall entirely upon the at-risk countries and their infrastructures? What are practical and cost effective interventions?

On the opposite end of a refugee’s journey is their eventual resettlement into a new environment. Resettlement areas are designated to large, open areas often on or near protected forests, reserves, or national parks. Some countries nearest the conflict have been inundated with refugees and are therefore unable to accommodate the large influx of people. The waste from these camps often contaminates the very water sources the camps depend upon, which can not only spread disease, but also have detrimental impacts on fish and wildlife. How heavily should a country weigh the preservation of its natural resources against the need to resettle thousands of people? Once these refugee camps are established, what measures can be taken to ensure the protection of the host environment?

Topic Area B: Ecotourism

While ecotourism began with the environmental movement of the 1970s and 80s, it has since been a largely unregulated industry. After years of continuous travel and exploitation, many ecotourism sites and local environments are now facing the detrimental effects of this misuse. Take for example the island of Boracay in the Philippines. After decades of tourists exploring its white sand beaches and beautiful coral reefs, the island will soon close to tourists for six months in an effort to restore and repair its overtaxed sewage and disposal systems. And Boracay is not alone in its plight, there are several UNESCO World Heritage sites that the UN is considering adding to its list of “World Heritage Sites in Danger,” including Machu Picchu.

It is time for us to assess what type of impact humans should be able to have on naturally beautiful and often visited sites- is the pursuit of knowledge or the thrill of adventure worth the environmental impact? We must approach this solution from a multi-faceted lens, considering and weighing the livelihood of those who work in this industry with the obvious damage to the environment. How do we begin this regulation? What are practical and efficient solutions that cater to both large and small countries (both in land mass and GDP)?