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General Assembly Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

The General Assembly Second Committee addresses the economic development of Member States and the stability and growth of international financial and trade networks. The Second Committee deals solely with the economic development of Member States and State-to-State assistance. It does not set or discuss the budget of the United Nations, which is addressed only by the Fifth Committee. The Second Committee also does not address social issues that affect development; such issues are considered by the Third Committee. The Second Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Sustainable Development Goal 7 is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 and build on the progress of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed to promote sustainable development—economic and social progress with minimal long-term negative effects—across the globe. By 2030, SDG7 strives to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services; increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; enhance international cooperation and promote investment in clean energy research and technology; and expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries. As of 2016, 87 percent of the global population had access to electricity, yet there is a wide divide between regions. For example, North America and Europe have 100 percent access to electricity, while Sub-Saharan Africa averages at 44 percent. Only 59.7 percent of the global population has access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. As of 2015, only 17.5 percent of total final energy consumption globally was produced from renewable energy. Conversely, 70 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy consumption comes from renewable energy, while only 12 percent of total energy consumption in North America and Europe is produced by renewable sources. 

Energy use is inextricably linked to development. Member States have long wrestled with the issue of ensuring access to sustainable energy, however historically these efforts were through domestic programs with little regional or global cooperation. Concern over pollution, especially from coal, date as far back as the 13th century. The Industrial Revolution led to the increase of energy resources extraction, usually for heat or electricity, to improve the quality of life and increase economic output. Rural electrification programs have long been a staple of countries’ development plans, ever since the first efforts in the mid-1930s in the United States and Europe. With a rise in environmental activism and a series of oil crises in the 1970s, the international community finally began to work towards improving the energy situation on an international level. In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment met and agreed upon the Stockholm Declaration, which outlined principles that attempted to balance development with environmental protection. Additionally, on recommendation from the Stockholm Declaration, the General Assembly also established the United Nations Environmental Programme. Shortly afterwards in 1974, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) formed the International Energy Agency to coordinate energy policy among OECD Members. In 1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development released the report Our Common Future, commonly called the Brundtland Report. The report defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

Modern international environmental policy largely derives from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, often referred to as the Earth Summit. More than 100 major world leaders recognized the need for sustainable development to be an international priority, and the conference produced five documents: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Forest Principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Rio Declaration includes 27 principles to guide Member States’ thinking about sustainable development and future energy use, while the UNFCCC established non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries. In 2000, the MDGs were established and committed to eradicating poverty worldwide by 2015, which included promoting energy access to all. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg and assessed the progress since the Rio Declaration. The Johannesburg Summit led to commitments on sustainable consumption and production, water and sanitation, and energy.

The United Nations has worked to address the energy crisis in the past through the UNFCCC and the subsequent 2005 Kyoto Protocol. Both documents strive to enable affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, while promoting sustainable development and stopping climate change. The UNFCCC adopted three goals in 2011 to be accomplished by 2030: “ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.” Working toward this goal, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) established the Pathways to Sustainable Energy Project, which took a holistic approach to accomplishing peace and prosperity for the people and planet. The project proposed that UNECE Member States investigate and assess pathways for the region to attain sustainable energy and identify early warning indicators if objectives are not being met. The project has three components: development of sustainable energy policy and technology option, the facilitation of energy expert and policy exchanges, and the development of an early-warning system to alert if the sustainable energy objectives were not on track. In 2018, the General Assembly provided an overview of the progress made towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and highlighted actions undertaken by Member States to accelerate the achievement of that objective. The report also included key messages from the first review of SDG7 in July 2018.

Addressing energy poverty and climate change together is a crucial challenge for the international community. Access to electricity is still far from universal, as about one billion people globally live without electricity, and many more with unstable access. As the world attempts to mitigate the severity of climate change and prepare for fossil fuel shortages, the way energy is produced has become increasingly important. Developing nations face a distinct challenge in choosing between cheaper and more available fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. Currently, 84 percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels, with oil as the leading source of global energy consumption, followed by coal, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, and non-hydroelectric renewable resources. In 2016, 42 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions came from the energy and heating sector. Yet implementing clean energy sources is an expensive task to undertake for many developed and developing nations when there is still the cheaper fossil fuel options readily available. Access to clean cooking fuels and technologies is another large challenge SDG7. To mitigate the adverse impacts, switching to clean cooking technologies and fuels, such as biogas, advanced biomass cookstoves, electricity, LPG and solar cooking, is necessary. Women predominantly do the cooking in the developing world, so clean cooking technologies must be fit to their needs. Quality of energy sources is also a health issue. Over three billion people commonly use wood, coal or other polluting energy sources for domestic heating and cooking, leading to nearly 4 million premature deaths worldwide. This degrades air quality globally, which is why air pollution exposure contributes to one in eight global deaths. Steps to advance clean cooking, energy efficient mass transit, and the electrification of rural clinics all address this global issue. 

Questions to Consider: 

  • How can countries be encouraged to use sustainable energy sources where fossil fuels remain more economically viable?
  • How can clean cooking fuels and technologies be made available in an affordable, reliable, and sustainable way? What innovation is needed to make this happen? 
  • How can Member States improve air quality and combat pollution exposure-related health issues? 
  • What can the international and national civil societies and corporations, do to promote affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy? How can the United Nations empower these organizations?

Bibliography Bibliography

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International Migration and Development International Migration and Development

Migration is as old as humanity itself, forming a notable part of every culture’s history, and in the modern world migrants’ effects are nearly universal. The number of international migrants has been steadily growing in recent years: in 2017, the number of international migrants reached 258 million worldwide, representing a 21 percent increase since the year 2000 as a share of the global population. Today, migration across international borders has taken the center stage in political debates all over the world and its perceived relationship to social and economic development is often skewed and subject to misunderstandings. The causes of international migration can be broadly split into “push” factors—aspects that encourage people to leave, such as conflict, poverty and natural disasters—and “pull” factors that invite people to immigrate, such as high wages, available employment and education opportunities. Migration is an inevitable outcome of economic development. States must decide whether and how to regulate the flow of these movements. Conversely, international migration also impacts development, as migrants often fill jobs and services in their host countries that would otherwise be vacant. Many also send substantial aid to their home countries in remittances. Remittances to developing countries totalled $413 billion in 2016. However, migration is often viewed very negatively among local populations today—a 2017 Ipsos survey of 25 countries reported that over 40 percent of people believe immigration is causing their country to change in ways they do not like.

Migration has long received attention from the United Nations. The Economic and Social Council’s third-ever resolution created the Population Commission in 1946 to advise on migration and related topics. In 1951, the United Nations formed the International Organization for Migration, which remains the leading inter-governmental agency dealing with issues involving migration, but it was not until the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 that international migration and development were formally discussed together. That same year, the General Assembly renamed the Population Commission to be the Commission on Population and Development, and in 1995 passed its first resolution on this topic, highlighting the boons of orderly migration for development. Despite this, policymakers and conventional wisdom still often considered both immigration and emigration as domestic problems, rather than international development opportunities. In 2006, the international community held the first High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in order to build consensus on the issue and connect policymakers with experts to improve the ability of States to take advantage of international migration. Through this meeting, States founded the Global Forum on Migration and Development as a State-led voluntary effort to connect States at varying levels of development on this issue. The second High-Level Dialogue in 2013 further highlighted the importance of international migration to development by acknowledging the role it played in the progress achieved in the Millenium Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015, reflect the increased attention on international migration by including targets related to migration in nearly two-thirds of the goals. According to the United Nations Development Programme, migrants from low-Human Development Index (HDI) countries often have improved access to health care and factors that influence good health such as potable water and higher wages in their destination country. This is not to say that migrants uniformly have better experiences in their destination countries than in their homelands. In 2016, Member States adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, calling for increased protections for the human rights of refugees and migrants, from the broad threats of sexual and gender-based violence and xenophobia to specific governmental practices, such as detaining children for the purpose of determining their migration status. 

International efforts on international migration and development have been hamstrung by insufficient data acquisition and dissemination from Member States. Additionally, Member States must answer to their citizens. International opinion polls in many host countries have consistently found strong majorities in support of reducing immigration. The New York Declaration called for cooperation in capacity building and technical assistance in order to improve the quality of data. A joint report from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the International Organization for Migration, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recommended several policy changes with respect to migration data, particularly looking towards the national censuses that will take place over the next couple years, and in 2018 held an International Forum on Migration Statistics to help stakeholders realize these goals. Additionally, Member States have shown great interest in regional training programs on how to estimate migration statistics and progress on the Sustainable Development Goals—a 2018 report from the Secretary-General indicated that a global program could be useful in fulfilling demand for training at all levels of governance. While this information will help the international community develop smarter migration policies, Member States also have a responsibility to respect the basic human rights of migrants. Towards this end, while the various conventions and treaties regarding migration have significant support, not all Member States have signed or ratified them. 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective include:

  • What role does migration play in your country’s development? What factors limit its impact?
  • How effectively do existing migration treaties and conventions address the major issues surrounding migration, and where do existing agreements fall short? How should the international community address these concerns?
  • How can States work to better address migration at the regional level? 
  • How effectively are States working together to track the status of migrants? What circumstances make gathering this information difficult?

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Bibliography  Bibliography 

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