Montana Model United Nations 2000
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(United Nations Environmental Programme)


Topic 1: Land Degradation and Sustainable Agriculture (Topic CHANGED from Cleaning Up Space)

As we enter the twenty-first century the environment has become a major topic of debate. One of the biggest crises is the issue of sustainable agriculture. Over the past century the agricultural industry has changed a great deal. No longer is the farmer simply providing for himself and perhaps a minority of the population who live in cities. Now farmers are producing more for other people than their own families. In their zest to feed the world the soil has become overtaxed, and over-fertilized, the groundwater has become polluted by fertilizers and pesticides, and aquifers have been depleted. Steps must be taken to reverse these actions as well as provide for future generations to be able to grow crops.
One of the major focuses of sustainable agriculture is on water usage and conservation. Poor irrigation has led to droughts, salinization of ground water, and erosion. Attempts are being made to implement the planting of drought-tolerant crops, and using reduced-volume irrigation. Another problem is finding different methods of fertilization and combating pesticides. The use of fertilizers has led to overproduction of the land and the degradation of the soil’s nutrients. Likewise pesticides over the years have poisoned land and wildlife.
The major obstacle to implementing policies to support sustainable agriculture is the cost. Development of better irrigation techniques and then implementing them costs a great deal of money. Likewise switching crops or decreasing the amount produced on a plot of land results in a lot of costs on the farmers. Developing programs to research more effective agricultural methods as well as programs to teach farmers how to use these new methods. Funding for the implementation of sustainable agriculture is another obstacle that needs to be tackled.

Some websites that may help in your research:

Topic 2: Implementing the Kyoto Accords

The Kyoto Accords, or Kyoto Protocol, was adopted as the third meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC). The convention was first formed in 1992 to deal with the issues surrounding global warming. The main issues being the recognition of the problem, possible solutions to the problem, and possible funding for those solutions.
Specifically, the Kyoto Protocol contains the additions and amendments agreed upon in Kyoto in December 1997, all which centered around the reduction of emissions in developed countries. The document calls for all the developed members to reduce their emissions levels to 5% below those of 1990 by between the years 2008-2012.
As of September 9, 2000, 84 countries have signed the protocol, but only 29 have ratified it. Before the protocol can become legally binding, 55 countries must ratify it within their own countries. 55% of those must be from the developed countries that bear the bulk of the burden to reduce emissions. Once those numbers are reached, the protocol will go in effect 90 days later.
But problems still exist with the protocol in its current form. Although it calls for reduction of emission, the exact manner with which to accomplish that has yet to be defined. Furthermore, the protocol itself needs further refining to be considered a completely legal and viable document. One of these problems lies in the mechanism stated within the protocol for the possible financial strain of meeting the standard. Although it sets out three mechanisms that deal with a credit system for meeting standards or helping other countries meet standard, the specifics of those programs are not yet defined.


Topic 3: Nuclear Reactor Safety

The Chernobyl incident looms large in the minds of environmentalists as an example of the
ultimate disaster. Yet there are many countries either just beginning to use or trying to run under-funded
reactors that pose similar risks. As critical source of energy worldwide, how can these technologies be
properly used for civil means? Many nations react strongly to this issue due to the dual use
nature of some nuclear technology for the creation of weapons of mass destruction.

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