United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

Co-Chairs: Alejandro Cruz Atoigue, Naomi Nakajima

Email Contact: stamununep@gmail.com

What is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)?

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is the voice for the environment in the United Nations system. It is an advocate, educator, catalyst and facilitator, promoting the wise use of the planet's natural assets. UNEP's mission is "to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations."

Topic A: The Ongoing Threat of Ocean Acidification

The term ocean acidification refers to the process of the world’s oceans becoming more and more acidic. The pH value of the oceans is becoming lower; this means it’s getting more acidic. The acidification of the ocean causes many problems as destroying coral reefs. Coral reefs are formed out of calcium- and carbonate-ions. When carbon dioxide diffuses into ocean water, it becomes difficult for coral reefs to grow, because there are less carbonate-ions in the water. Coral reefs in the pacific as well as Asia have already begun to die as a result of ocean acidification (i.e. The Great Barrier Reef). If the ocean becomes even more acidic, it can dissolve already existing coral reefs. Which is why ocean acidification poses a threat to coral reefs. The increase of carbon dioxide in the air is mainly caused by the industrial sector and traffic. The current acidity has already fallen 0.1 points on the pH-scale. If current emission trend is continued, by 2050 the ocean will be the most acidic it has been since 2 million years ago. In STAMUNPARC will discuss on ways to curve this trend to protecting the balance of pH values in the ocean by setting limits and regulations on carbon dioxide emissions that make the ocean more acidic.

Topic B: Combating Non-Native Invasive Species

The term “non-native species” characterizes an animal, plant or other organism introduced into a new environment. Non-native species are also referred to as alien species. “Invasive species” denotes the fact that this species affects the environment into which it is introduced. Non-native invasive species have been recognized as a problem on the international spectrum for more than five hundred years. Introducing non-native species brings about a series of consequences to the country in which they arrive, mostly related to health, economic and labor issues. Non-native invasive species become competitors with natural predators, become vectors of disease, and modify habitats. Changes in a natural setting put native species at a disadvantage and alter the overall dynamic of the environment. Thus, biodiversity is threatened. This is a major problem, considered second in consequence to only habitat loss. For example, the brown tree snake on the island of Guam was introduced as a result of WWII and since then the number of Ko’ko birds has declined significantly.  STAMUNPARC will discuss on the issue of regulating the introduction of invasive species as well as finding ways to reverse the damage caused by the introduction of invasive species.