Novice UNEP- Recap

Written by Samantha Wolf

After two long committee sessions, the Novice United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is hard at work to solve environmental crises.

Currently, the committee is working to define and help climate refugees. According to the delegates, climate change refugees are not considered true refugees under the UN definition. Refugees are individuals who have been forced out of their homes due to oppressive governments, domestic or social violence, or war. Argentina, among others, would like to expand this definition to include “individuals who are forced to leave their homes because of uninhabitable living conditions” which include flooding, hurricane damage, or agriculture failure.

Argentina has allied with Japan, the United States, South Korea and Portugal to draft a resolution addressing this definition. “If we don’t include all of [the refugees], they’re not going to receive the same protection and the same rights as a regular refugee who is escaping persecution, abuse, etc.” says a delegate of Argentina.

The Russian Federation agrees with the issue of climate refugees, but has unique perspective on climate change in general. For Russia, climate change and global warming could be a good thing. “As you know, we are located in the northern hemisphere, so a lot of the northern part of the land is under permafrost or solid ice,” says a delegate.“With the melting of that, we see land clearing up for agriculture.”

Hot-button topics from delegates include defining areas of risk, proposing ways to reduce CO2 emissions, and declaring problems that arise from an excess of climate change refugees. Also, nations seek to help refugees gain asylum from climate change, since now they are only considered “migrants.” Several countries have proposed moderated caucuses to address these issues.

The Kingdom of Norway plans on being proactive, and has proposed a three-step plan to address climate refugees on the statistic that “since 2009, one person every second is displaced due to disaster.” Norway has already established taxes and national emissions quotas to curb global warming. Their three-step plan includes changing the definition of refugees to include those affected by climate change, hosting a summit on climate change to support the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Accords, and creating a UN emergency response team to environmental disasters. This plan is backed by both Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands.

To incorporate solutions in real time, Greece has encouraged nations to adopt forms of green energy. These methods included solar, hydro and wind power and evacuation of citizens from danger areas. Though Greece is not able to house refugees, they suggest that “countries that have a stable or growing economy host these climate refugees.” However, there are many different ways to address climate change. The Republic of Korea, for example, stresses the importance of providing “wise transportation choices” to reduce pollution.

The Novice UNEP is already making diligent decisions to enact real change. We can expect some detailed and proactive implementations of these solutions in the future.