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Dear Delegates, A warm welcome to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) at YMUN XL! I’m Emily Harris, a junior in Branford College at Yale University, and I am thrilled to be one of your senior staff members. This will be my third time staffing for YMUN—I previously served as a staff member for the Arab League and the Commission on the Status of Women—but this is shaping up to be my favorite committee yet. I am originally from Northern California, but spent a lot of my childhood in Connecticut. I love travelling, and I am currently majoring in Political Science and East Asian Studies. I spent last summer in Hong Kong interning at an NGO dedicated to the advancement of women’s rights, and I spent the previous summer in Beijing studying Mandarin, so I am excited to bring my personal experiences to the committee room for UNESCAP! Outside of YMUN, I serve on the board of ReadySetLaunch, a community service organization that provides free college counseling to underserved high school students, and perform in a dance group. I also have a legendary sweet tooth and love cooking and baking in my free time. I hope you are all as thrilled as I am to be a part of YMUN XL. Best of luck on your research, and I look forward to meeting you all in New Haven in January! Please feel free to contact me by email if you have any questions or concerns. - Emily Harris, Yale ’15 ( Welcome to YMUN XL! I am Emily Hirsch and I’m a sophomore in Branford College at Yale University. This is my second year staffing for YMUN and I am so excited to work with all of you in UNESCAP! I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where I was a member of my high school’s Model United Nations team. I love American history and am planning on being a history major, with a potential double major in American Studies. I spent this last summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Yale’s Bulldogs Across America program working with high school Hmong students in St. Paul, and I am looking forward to bringing my passion for history and education to UNESCAP! Alongside YMUN, I tutor at New Haven Reads, teach health classes in New Haven city schools with Community Health Educators, and I am a Public School Intern at a local charter school. I am also an enthusiastic Netflix fan and, like Emily, an avid baker. I cannot wait for YMUN XL to start! Good luck on all of your research, and please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns. See you in January! - Emily Hirsch, Yale ’16 ( !



TABLE OF CONTENTS History of the Committee 5 Strengthening Mechanisms for Gender Equality Topic History 6 Current Situation 9 Questions to Consider 15 Promoting Sustainable Development and Green Infrastructure Topic History 15 Current Situation 21 Questions to Consider 25 Role of the Committee 26 Structure of the Committee 27 Suggestions for Further Research 28 Footnotes 29



History of the Committee !

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) was established in 1947 in Shanghai, China, as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE). Intended to assist in post-war reconstruction, the Commission originally consisted of only four Asian countries (China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines), as well as Australia, France, the Netherlands, the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The ECAFE moved its headquarters to Bangkok in January, 1949, and the name was updated in 1974 to reflect both the economic and social aspects of development and the geographic location of its member countriesi. UNESCAP's mandate was broadened in 1977 by the General Assembly; the regional commissions have since then been the main UN economic and social development centres within the five different regionsii. Strengthened by over 60 years of experience as a regional think-tank, UNESCAP's activities today are increasingly focused on spreading the growth momentum from its more dynamic member countries to the rest of the region. UNESCAP prides itself on giving a greater voice to least developed countries, small island states, and landlocked countriesiii. Currently, UNESCAP is the UN’s largest regional body, consisting of 53 member states that represent over two thirds of the world’s population. UNESCAP aims to help its member states in several core areas, including macroeconomic development, trade and investment, social development, and environmental protection. Its greatest challenge


lies in bringing the region's 680 million poor into the economic mainstream, enabling everybody to achieve a better standard of life as envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations.


Strengthening Mechanisms for Gender Equality Topic History !

Gender inequality affects nearly every other pressing issue of our time: from world hunger and poverty, to the global AIDS crisis, and globalization and economic policy. Discrimination and violence against women is not simply an accumulation of random, unrelated acts; rather, it is the manifestation of millenniaold societal norms and deep-seated systems of structural oppression. As such, its solution presents one of the most difficult challenges of our time. With over 4.2 billion people living in UNESCAP member nations, this body is charged with the important task of helping countries in this region create meaningful changes at the national level to ameliorate discrimination and violence, and promote gender equality"#. While the effects of patriarchal oppression still impacts women worldwide, Asian and Pacific nations have unique social and cultural legacies


that continue to affect the status of women to this day. In East Asia, the influence of Confucianism continues to permeate society. Beginning in China in the 6th century BCE, the philosophy and way of life promoted by Confucius spread across Asia, most notably to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. While some of the more celebrated aspects of Confucianism include a great scholarly tradition and equal opportunity in education, Confucian ideals of filial piety and the home as microcosm of the state enforced strict gender roles and female subservience that continue to shape societal expectations for women in East Asia today#. Similarly in South Asia, the interpretations of sacred Hindu texts by male scholars and Brahmins encouraged female subservience in the home, widow immolation, child marriage, and bans on widow remarriage #". The influence of culture and


religion on gender roles and expectations, from Islam in central Asia to the orthodox church in Russia and Confucianism in the East, combined with a plethora of other distinct and unique societies throughout the diverse regions that are now UNESCAP bodies, have all contributed to the worldwide epidemic of gender inequality, discrimination, and violence against women. In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW is commonly regarded as an international bill of rights for all women, and is the most broadly endorsed human rights treaty within the United Nations. As of August 2012, only eight member nations have refused to ratify the bill: the Holy See, Iran, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tonga, and the United States. CEDAW specifically addresses the social and political mechanisms that have encouraged discrimination and inhibited attempts at gender equality, and reaffirms the basic human rights women are entitled to under the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948#"". When CEDAW was adopted, almost all nations expressed their concerns and reservations with the bill, including UNESCAP members, many declaring themselves not bound by certain articles of the Convention. However, many nations also stated their support for the Convention and expressed interest in establishing governmental bodies and enacting legislation that would serve to address the issues of gender inequality articulated by CEDAW#""". The affects of CEDAW and other mechanisms to ensure global inequality have been substantial, but still


fall short. Women around the world, in both developing and developed nations, continue to suffer from gender-based violence and discrimination.

Figure A: UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet Commemorating International Women’s Day in Liberia, 2011 (

In 1995 the United Nations met in Beijing, China at the Fourth World Conference on Women and produced the Beijing Declaration and Platform for action, asserting women’s rights as human rights and outlining specific actions that need to be taken to ensure those rights. The Platform for Action continued to emphasize that entrenched attitudes and practices are in large part responsible for perpetuating gender inequality, regardless of state policies. Thus, implementation of the Platform for Action calls not just for legislative changes and protection, but also changes in the fundamental attitudes, priorities, values, and practices towards women at all levels of society"$. Nations must actively continue to address gender inequality and “[remove] all the obstacles to women's active

UNESCAP 8 participation in all spheres of public and private life through a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making� $. The Beijing Platform for Action upheld CEDAW, while acknowledging the need to reassess the mechanisms that still promoted gender inequality in the wake of political, social, and cultural changes that had developed since the adoption of CEDAW in 1979 and the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held at Nairobi in 1985. With Beijing playing host to the Platform for Action, Asian and Pacific nations asserted their pivotal role and interest in addressing the issues of gender inequality. In 2009, UNESCAP members met in Bangkok to review the successes and failures of regional implementation of the Platform for Action. The Bangkok Declaration for Beijing +15 acknowledges the gender inequalities that currently face UNESCAP nations, including the economic disparity between men and women, the lack of economic opportunities for women despite better access to education, the continued permeation of cultural norms such as son preference and female infanticide, and the refusal of all member nations to ratify CEDAW. The Bangkok Declaration asserts the need for UNESCAP members to strengthen institutional


mechanism to promote the advancement of women, including the promotion of policies to encourage female participation in the economy, protect the rights of female workers, and ensure the protection of women and girls against sexual violence $". However, there is still much work to be done in addressing and finding solutions to these problems outlined in and omitted from the Bangkok Declaration, including access to basic healthcare services and reproductive healthcare services; violence against women, including domestic violence, human trafficking, and female infanticide; women’s disproportionately low level of political representation and high-level government positions; and women’s predominance in industries in which they are subject to dangerous working conditions and low wages.


Current Situation Despite much progress in women’s political, social, and economic equality worldwide, discrimination and violence against women continues to persist on a global scale. Mechanisms on the state and international level, including CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action, serve to inform and guide nations on the actions to take to further gender equality, but UNESCAP nations must take active roles in addressing and solving the continuing issues women face. Violence Against Women The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines violence against women as “any act of genderbased violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.$"" Violence against women affects women of any and every class, race, and religion, and can occur in the home as well as in public and private institutions, including the workplace, schools, universities, and state institutions. Violence against women includes domestic violence, rape, human trafficking and forced prostitution, female genital mutilation, and honor killings. Currently, the most widely accepted paradigm for solving gender-based violence and discrimination is the “3-Ps”: Punishment, Protection, and Prevention$""". All major conventions and statelevel legislation since the Act have urged reforms on all three levels; however, implementation is typically only successful in punishing offenders, and not at a rate high enough to make a significant dent in the root causes of the


problem$"#. Unfortunately, the status of women is far too often tied to political and economic situations that are outside of the control of international governing bodies. In China, government efforts at population control through the one-child policy have elevated rates of female infanticide and the incidence of abandonment of female infants, while economic reforms have led to inflation, unemployment, and a conspicuous rise in prostitution$#. Furthermore, the current global financial crisis has decimated many of the investment opportunities for women in developing nations. Many experts conclude that crises such as political upheaval, armed conflict, economic crisis, or natural disaster, as well as systemic issues such as inadequate legal recognition and protection, discriminatory attitudes toward women, and a lack of educational and job opportunities for women and girls can all serve to put a nations’ women at higher risk for sexual violence. Violence against women absolutely cannot end while it remains culturally acceptable or legal. Many acts of violence against women are protected and even encouraged by the state: the aforementioned one-child policy in China has led to a rise in female infanticide, and marital rape is still legal in 127 countries$#". Even in countries where specific acts of violence are illegal, the government lacks the control or the interest to protect women from violence. In Afghanistan, the practice of baad, the kidnapping of a girl from her family as payment for a family member’s misdeeds, is illegal, but still continues in rural and tribal regions.$#"" In order to end these traditional practices, including but not limited to female infanticide, female genital mutilation,

UNESCAP 10 honor killings, kidnapping for payment, and honor killings, protection of women and education of families, particularly in rural regions, needs to be implemented.

Figure B: Afghan women at a cemetery in Kabul, 2012 (

According to the 2005 WHO MultiCountry Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, the percentage of women who have ever suffered from physical violence by a male intimate partner ranges from 13% in Japan to 61% in Peru. Across all countries, between 20% and 75% of women had experienced one or more acts deemed “emotionally abusive” at the hands of an intimate partner, most within the past 12 months xviii. Despite these alarming statistics, state policies addressing domestic violence vary widely from country to country, and enforcement of the policies


vary just as widely from village to village, city to city. In 2003, WHO published international guidelines for medico-legal care for the medical, psychological and forensic needs of sexual assault survivors. The frameworks’ three major aims are to ““promote policy measures that will support the provision of comprehensive and ethical services to persons who experienced sexual violence; to assist in evaluating current policies and practices relevant to sexual violence, identifying existing gaps and setting goals for future policy strategies; and to promote the co-ordination of efforts of police departments, health services, prosecutors, social welfare agencies, and non-governmental service providers, such as rape crisis centres.”xix Also in 2003, UNESCAP organized a “Sub-regional Training Workshop on Elimination of Violence Against Women in Partnership with Men” in New Delhi for government officials and civil society representatives to take initiative on ending violence against women. In particular, this training workshop aimed to help end violence against women by recognizing the obvious role men play in violence against women, and showing that the end of violence against women is of vital interest to menxx. Ultimately, the success of such initiatives is dependent both on nations’ willingness to cooperate as well as on the cultural shifts necessary to ameliorate the underreporting of domestic abuse and violent sexual crime.


Figure C: Protest against sexual harassment in Cairo, 2012: “I wish I could walk around without being harmed by inappropriate words” ( )

Political and Economic Representation The empowerment of women in politics and the economy is key to gender parity worldwide. The increasingly pivotal role of UNESCAP nations in the global economy has made it necessary for women to operate as business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, and workers; a country cannot achieve economic success by not taking advantage of half of their country’s potential workforce. Although women have seen great improvements in access to and encouragement in education, they still fall steeply behind men in political and economic representation. Between 1980 and 1996, female participation in the labor force increased in a majority of UNESCAP nations, but still behind male participation. In Thailand, female participation increased from 49.5%, to 55.2%, with male participation increasing from 54.8% to 63.%. However, Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, all experienced decreased female participation in the labor force between in those sixteen years$$". Economic empowerment is necessary to improve the status of women for many reasons. Access to


income raises a woman’s position in her own household, improves her self-esteem, and allows a woman to not feel trapped in a situation because she has her own income and skills. By proving women’s importance to economy, the subservience of women expected in many countries can be undermined and transformed. Small businesses are an especially significant way for women to achieve economic empowerment, and should be encouraged by policies and programs that provide women with access to financial resources, technology, and business networks.$$"" By promoting equal-opportunity employment, enacting and enforcing antidiscrimination laws, and providing access to business and technology training, women in UNESCAP regions can continue to participated in the burgeoning economies of Asia at even higher rates than before, improving the region’s general economic well-being.

Figure D: Woman at well in Bangkok, Thailand ( )

Women participating in the decision and policy making process at the local, state, national, and international level is necessary to enact legislative change to protect women and promote

UNESCAP 12 women’s rights. As of 2013, only 20.9% of national parliamentarians were female, and only 8 women have served as head of state. In Asia specifically, only 18.3% of parliamentarians are women.$$""" Women, who comprise of about half of the UNESCAP region’s 4.2 billion person population, are being represented in the government at dismal numbers. Women not only need to participate in government to address women’s issues, but to also change the societal expectations of what women can achieve. The importance of female political participation is reaffirmed by research on local councils in India found that the number of drinking water projects in female-led councils was 62% higher than those in male-led councils.$$"# By giving women the means to participate in politics, the number of people passionate about making positive change in their communities and having the ability to do so increases, providing innumerable benefits to that community. The UNESCAP Country Reports on the State of Women in Urban Local Government found that local government is an important and accessible level of government for women to enter into: costs to campaign are low, the local issues are known by women, and it can serve as a stepping stone to higher levels of office. Although some countries in the UNESCAP region


have taken steps to encourage this participation, nowhere is there proportional representation. Women are discouraged from seeking office due to patriarchal social systems, societal expectations that relegate women to the household, lack of access to information and technology, along with generally discriminatory attitudes.$$# In order to promote the participation and representation of women in government, solutions need to be found that address the structural barriers such as discriminatory laws and practices, and the capacity gaps, meaning the problem that women have less access to education, contacts, and resources of men.

Figure E: Asia-Pacific Summit of Women Mayors and Councilors, 2001 ( )


Bloc Positions Central/Eastern Europe Domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and human trafficking are all extremely prevalent problems in Eastern and Central Europe. Widespread ignorance about these issues, coupled with a lack of legal protection of victims, severely curtails the effectiveness of the region’s states in bringing perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Central and Eastern Europe are main sources of, and the transit and destination points for, trafficked persons. Central/Western Asia The states of Western Asia are all majority Muslim nations, which has influenced the conservative cultural norms in the region. Tribal rule and the power of fundamentalist groups like the Taliban provoke gender oppression with the threat of violence and even death. Strict interpretations of sacred Islamic texts, coupled with a rigid patriarchal society, leave women in this region vulnerable with no means of redress. Basic access to education and health services can be impossible for many women, along with a lack of political and economic representation and a culture that condones and even encourages violence against women. In Central Asia, women are less restricted by cultural and religious expectations, but still suffer from domestic violence, and a lack of political and economic access. Many of the mechanisms that encouraged gender equality under Soviet communist rule have decayed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Most Central Asian countries have instated gender quotas, including Uzbekistan, which has a 30% quota for women in parliament (versus the US and Russia, who


respectively have 17% and 14% of women in their legislative bodies).$$#" East Asia All states in East Asia are legally bound by the norms of equality and non-discrimination against women as defined by international human rights instruments. Although minimum standards of equality are enforced in the public sphere, many women are still oppressed by social and familial expectations, influenced by religious traditions, customs, and practices. These “personal laws” sanction discrimination against women by limiting their rights to marriage, divorce, custody, reproductive freedom, and inheritance. Political representation, economic access, and protection from violence are still problems many women face, especially rural and minority women. Middle East Women throughout the Middle East face immense discrimination and violence, rooted both in legislation and cultural norms. These conservative cultural and social norms, coupled with a conservative interpretation of Islamic law, have created a dangerous environment for many women. The secular legal systems that accompany Sharia law are intensely patriarchal, especially regarding family and sexuality. While women’s rights movements have helped facilitate gender reform, many of which promote the ideals of gender equality while using the support in Islamic texts, cultural and legal barriers to equality are still pervasive. Many Middle Eastern countries, despite adopting CEDAW, are wary of the convention and do not abide by its provisions.

UNESCAP 14 Women are barred from political and economic participation in many of these countries, and even from any participation in the public sphere at all. Violence against women is also common, especially as punishment or retribution. The key to beginning reformation in many of these countries is to reconcile religious beliefs and laws with the acceptance of gender equality. North America and Western Europe Western European states are regarded as the nations with the most gender equality in the world, and generally dominate the Global Gender Gap Index, published by the World Economic Forum.$$#"" Western European nations are looked to as donor nations for non-profit and multi-national efforts to end global violence against women. While the United States similarly has a high rate of gender equality, the United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and several other major conventions on the topic. Although women in the nations of North America and Western Europe have high rates of political participation and economic access, in all of these nations violence against women continues to be a common offense.


Pacific Island The Pacific Islands region has extremely high gender equality; both the Philippines and New Zealand were in the top ten of 2013 Global Gender Gap Index.$$#""" The Gender Equality in Political Governance Programme (GEPG) works to serve Pacific Island countries that have low gender equality, including Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.$$"$ However, Palau and Tonga are two of the few countries that have not yet ratified CEDAW. South/Southeast Asia The gender gap in Southeast Asian has dramatically decreased in the past decades. Access to education and female participation in the labor force have both grown, and in Cambodia and Vietnam nearly 70% of women are paid in work (compared to the 53% global average). However, women in Southeast Asia still face many of the issues women in East Asia face, such as cultural and religious based norms that encourage patriarchal oppression. On the other hand, in South Asia nearly half of the adult women are illiterate and less than 35% do paid work.$$$ Women in South Asia are also subject to intense cultural and religious expectations; in India, rooted in the interpretation of sacred Hindu texts.


Questions to Consider! ! ! 1 In the midst of the global financial crisis, how can UNESCAP encourage governments to invest in projects aimed at ending gender-based discrimination and violence? 2 Should incentives be put in place to encourage gender parity in the workforce? What would these incentives be? 3 How should UNESCAP address the concerns of women who are also ethnic minorities? What unique challenges do these women face, and how can the government protect them? 4 To what extent should religious and cultural considerations be taken into account when implementing changes for gender equality? Is it possible to achieve gender equality while respecting religious and traditional practices? At what point does this amount to cultural imperialism? 5

What are the most effective ways to promote change in rural regions versus urban regions?

6 What role should NGOs play in this process, and what, if any should their limitations be in promoting cultural change?



Promoting Sustainable Development and Green Infrastructure Topic History ! In the past several decades, humankind’s understanding of our environment has evolved tremendously. Understanding pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource management remains key not only to the continued advancement of global development, but also to the survival of life as it is known on Earth. Simultaneously, the world is facing a development crisis: nearly 1 billion people find themselves in extreme poverty, and progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been hampered my myriad global crises$$$". At the same time, the UN has found itself increasingly marginalized in terms of international economic development despite the fact that it remains the only international organization with the legitimacy and comprehensive mandate needed to tackle these issues$$$"". Asia and the Pacific, as home to over two-thirds of the world’s population and as a key


region for global economic development and natural resources, has a particularly challenging role to play in the shift toward a greener, more sustainable future. In Asia, the history of environmental issues is closely tied with its remarkably rapid economic development since the 1960s. While colonialism had introduced varying levels of industrial infrastructure in many of these nations, vast areas of Asia and the Pacific remained markedly undeveloped through the end of World War II. East Asian countries have grown faster than the rest of the world in the past 50 years, with many experiencing annual GDP growth rates of over 7% for several decades in the late 20th century.$$$""" Beginning with Japan, followed by the Asian “tiger economies” of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, and finally Mainland China following the “Reform and Opening Up” policies of the 1980s, East Asian


growth has been largely built on a combination of neoliberal policies, such as relatively free trade, convertible currencies, macroeconomic stability, and innovative institutions, such as export processing zones, duty exemption schemes, and incentive packages for foreign direct investment, that have cemented their place as key financial and trade centers.$$$"# However, rapid industrialization and urbanization, along with a heavy reliance on coal power in China, have produced unprecedented levels of air pollution and heavy strains on water and sanitation infrastructure. Since 2006, China has been the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide from fuel use$$$#, though it has also become a leader in investing in alternative energy sources, especially wind.$$$#" In Western Asia (which is often coterminous with the Middle East), the period from 1965-1985 represented a time of tremendous economic growth, facilitated by the dramatic rise in oil prices surrounding the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the 1979 Iranian Revolution.$$$#"" As oil prices rose to new highs, oil-producing states (including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar) enjoyed high export earnings and a dramatic rise in job opportunities, both in the energy sector and in an increasingly large service sector. The non oilproducing Middle Eastern states also reaped some of the same benefits, as migrant "guest" workers sent home earnings to be spent in their home location—boosts their national economies$$$#""". During this period of economic growth these non oil-producing states also received increased levels of foreign aid from their oil-producing neighbors. Put simply, the economies of Western Asia fundamentally rely on


the world’s continued dependence on fossil fuels.

Figure A: Heavy reliance on the manufacturing sector and increased density of motor vehicles have produced dangerous levels of smog in many Chinese cities ( )

South Asia has also achieved impressive economic development and poverty reduction in the past several decades, despite conflict, corruption and high fiscal deficits in some countries in the region.$$$"$ While economic reforms in the 1990s accelerated growth, there remain concerns about income inequality and persistent deficits, which may act as a constraint to higher growth in the future.$% In comparison with East Asia--a region that has sustained 7-10 percent growth rates-- South Asia's export orientation, inflows of foreign direct investment, workers’ skill levels, infrastructure and ease of doing business are substantially less developed. South Asia also remains the least integrated region in the world, and as such can benefit from regional cooperation in trade, water and energy.$%" Concurrent with these economic developments in Asia Pacific, a global environmental movement began to form. As

UNESCAP 18 universal concern about the healthy and sustainable use of the planet and its resources continued to grow, the UN convened the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. Its final Declaration contains 19 principles that “represent an environmental manifesto for our times.” In addressing the need “to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment”, it laid the groundwork for the new environmental agenda of the United Nations system.$%"" The momentum generated from this conference led to the creation of several international mechanisms, most notably the United Nations Environment Program.$%""" Over the next 20 years, the connection between development and the environment became a key focal point of UN work. In 1992, the UN Conference of Environment and Development met in Rio de Janeiro and adopted Agenda 21, a detailed blueprint for moving the world toward a more sustainable model of economic growth. While areas for action included the established issues of protecting the atmosphere, combating deforestation, soil loss and desertification, preventing air and water pollution, and promoting the safe management of


toxic wastes, Agenda 21 went beyond purely environmental issues to address the patterns of development causing stress to the environment.$%"# These patterns included poverty and external debt in developing countries, unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, demographic stress, and the structure of the international economy.$%# This agenda also led to the 1992 formation of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which works “to achieve sustainable development by promoting sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.” $%#" Perhaps the most remembered outcome of this period is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The treaty, which was negotiated in December 1997 at the city of Kyoto, Japan and came into force February 16th, 2005 is a “legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990” (representing a 29% cut from predicted


Figure B: The 1992 Rio “Earth Summit” marked a major turning point for the international environmental agenda. ( hats_in_a_n.html)

levels without the Protocol).$%#"" The Protocol targeted emissions from six greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, and PFCs - calculated as an average over the five-year period of 2008-12. National targets ranged from 8% reductions for the European Union and some others to 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, 0% for Russia, and permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland.$%#""" Under the protocol, most UNESCAP nations are considered “developing nations,” and as such have no binding targets. The Protocol has been criticized as being an inadequate solution for global warming, as it does not cover the world’s two largest emitters: the United States (who signed but did not ratify the treaty), and China (which maintains developing nation status).$%"$ Citing such concerns, Canada notably withdrew from the treaty in 2011.% The UN’s dual focus on poverty eradication and sustainable development perhaps reached its climax when world leaders meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000


committed themselves to attaining the Millennium Development Goal 7: “Ensure environmental sustainability.” The sub-goals included, inter alia, to “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies,” as well as to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” %" This goal was of particular consequence to UNESCAP member nations; as of 2000, more than 830 million people in the Asia Pacific region did not have access to safe drinking water, and over two billion people lacked sanitation facilities.%"" While the international community has taken several steps to tackle such issues, regional cooperation has also played an increasing role in establishing a pattern of sustainable development. In Asia, the Seoul Initiative on Green Growth was proposed by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific 2005 (MCED 2005) and was endorsed by the 61st Commission Session of the UNESCAP, held in May 2005.%""" The Seoul Initiative “provides a regional cooperation framework for Green Growth, taking into account the economic, social, cultural, and geographical features of the region.” %"# Furthermore, it provides a framework for policy consultations, capacity-building, and networking for the promotion of sustainable development and green infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region.%# Another important regional mechanism has been the Asia Pacific Water Forum (APWF). Founded in 2006 at the Fourth World Water Forum in Japan, the APWF works as an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan network aimed at “boosting investments,

UNESCAP 20 building capacity, and enhancing cooperation in the water sector at the regional level.� %#"!

Figure C: Population without improved water source by region in 2004 (in millions) (

Figure D: Population without improved sanitation by region in 2004 (in millions) (


Of course, it is impossible to ignore the role of macroeconomic crises when discussing questions of international development. In Asia, which was the epicenter of the 1997/1998 financial crisis, the 2008/2009 global financial crisis has proven to be a more dramatic setback, especially in terms of the completion of the Millennium Development Goals.%#"" Whereas the 1997 crisis primarily resulted in a brief, sharp decline in wages, the most recent crisis has caused higher levels of unemployment and underemployment, with specifically drastic effects on women, migrants, and young educated people.%#""" The history of climate change, sustainable development, and poverty eradication, both in Asia Pacific and around the world, is still very much in the making. Technological advancements, increasingly globalized markets, and changing access to natural resources will continue to inspire and incentivize change.


Current Situation Asia is now home to 71 per cent of the global population that lacks access to improved sanitation and 58 per cent of those without access to safe drinking water.%"$ In the decades to come, a growing population and increased urbanization will require Asian countries to build the water, energy, waste management, and transport infrastructure that will support their needs. At the same time, “Green Growth” calls for continued economic growth while ensuring the responsible use of natural resources. However, environmental infrastructure remains insufficient, and resultantly, environmental carrying capacities throughout the region are being overwhelmed. In many Asian countries, institutional, technological, and financial insufficiencies present roadblocks to further infrastructure development. As a committee, UNESCAP is focused on several key topics related to environmentally sound development. What follows is a brief summary of some of the most pressing topics facing our member nations, though it is certainly not exhaustive or equally applicable to all nations. Delegates should research what topics are of greatest concern to their country, and not limit themselves to the problems and potential solutions discussed below. Water, Food, Energy Security Nexus Energy, water and food are the most basic resources needed to sustain life on earth. The three resources are also tightly interconnected, forming a “policy nexus.”%$ For decades, rapid economic growth in Asia Pacific has required expanding amounts of energy. While such staggering numbers for energy demand would have been praised as a sign of economic development several decades ago, today it is cause for grave concern.


Because of their continued reliance on fossil fuels, countries in the Asia Pacific region accounted for almost half the world’s CO2 emissions in 2008.%$" The security of water, energy and food resources thus hangs in a delicate balance. Emerging scientific research suggests that humans may have already reached the environmental carrying capacity for life on earth. Among other indicators, the lack of undeveloped resource zones and preserves, which is driving the pursuit of vital materials in the Arctic, the deep seas and other resource frontiers. This realization has also encouraged countries to “dematerialize” their economic development by reducing and circulating resource usage (examples include China’s Circular Economy and Japan’s Low Material Society policies.)%$"" In terms of energy security, the UN Environment Program report, “Global Tends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2012,” enthusiastically notes that investment in sustainable energy totaled an all-time high of $257 billion last year, with the fastest growth in investment coming from India.%$""" China and the United States remain leaders in green energy investment, though they also remain leaders in greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, positive trends have included a fall in the price of solar technology and onshore wind turbines, bringing them into closer competition with traditional fossil fuels; however, policy support for green energy has also weakened in the same period.%$"# While global competition over fossil fuels often takes the media spotlight, water scarcity is perhaps an even more pressing concern in Asia Pacific. At just 3,920 cubic meters per person, Asia has less fresh water per capita than any other


Figure E: UNESCAP’s Environment and Development Division has focused on the centrality of water resources to other development concerns. (

continent; increased urbanization and industrial pursuits, as well as increasing trends toward meat-based diets, are pushing personal demand for water to ever-higher levels.%$# Furthermore, the increased frequency of extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts and flooding, as well as the rise of ocean levels, are likely to spur greater migration from delta and coastal regions to the hinterland.%$#" As such, some predict the danger of interstate conflict in Asia in the coming years could be “driven by competition not so much over political influence as over scarce resources.” %$#"" For this reason, it is important to maintain mechanisms, such as the Asia Pacific Water Forum, that enhance regional cooperation.


Sanitation Infrastructure Of the world’s approximately seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, many in rural areas, do not have access to proper sanitation.%$#""" Among those, it is estimated that 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open. The countries with the highest rates of open defecation also have the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities. Indeed, as a development issue, sanitation is highly linked to other development concerns such as public health, environmental management, education, gender equality, tourism, and economic growth. It also offers several significant, but largely unexploited, advantages to provide a testing ground for new and innovative development models. Building an enabling policy and knowledge background for improved sanitation development is increasingly becoming a focus in both international and national circles. At the same time, the potential business opportunities in sanitation are significant, and the increased entry of the private sector into this realm will introduce new opportunities to improve both rural and urban sanitation conditions.


solutions across Asia and “will pilot innovations in sanitation and septage management, provide grant funds for innovations in ADB’s sanitation projects, and support policies on septage management and sludge treatment to meet the needs of low-income urban communities who lack access to piped networks or safe wastewater disposal systems.” %$$

Figure F: New solutions will be needed to enhance sanitation in the face of dwindling water resources. ( DG-infographic-7.jpg)

Recent developments in sanitation have shown an increased propensity for such cooperation. In July 2013, the UN adopted the “Sanitation for All” initiative, which “calls on countries to approach sanitation in a much broader context that includes hygiene promotion, the provision of basic sanitation services, and sewerage and wastewater treatment and reuse in the context of integrated water management.” Drawing on the momentum and success of MDG Goal 7.2, the United Nations initiative is also expected to enhance the role of NGOs and the private sectors in providing sanitation assistance. Another notable development, announced in September 2013, is the creation of a new Sanitation Financing Partnership Trust Fund, with an initial investment of $15 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.%$"$ The Trust Fund will leverage more than $28 million in investments from ADB by 2017 to expand nonsewered sanitation and septage management


Sustainable Urban Development The past several decades have produced unprecedented demographic transformation across Asia. As such, much of the world’s future will depend on how well Asia’s cities function. Currently, 1.6 billion people or 40 percent of Asians live in urban areas.%$$" By 2030, a majority or 2.7 billion people will live in cities and towns.%$$"" Post-industrialization, cities have become the engines of economic growth, centers of social development, culture, creativity and innovation, producing over 80 percent of the region’s GDP. At the same time, cities are a window into growing socioeconomic inequality— currently, over 40 percent of Asia-Pacific’s urban residents live in slums, where access to sanitation, education, and healthcare can be weak to nonexistent.%$$""" As centers of production and consumption, cities also have an enormous impact on the environment, accounting for 75 percent of all energy use and for 80 percent of all greenhouse gases emissions.%$$"# While no nation has been able to sustain economic growth without urbanization, Asian cities and towns are facing a fast-closing window of opportunity to make them inclusive and sustainable. For example, in China, urban sprawl has outpaced the implementation of transport


Figure G: Asia Development Bank predicts that another 1.1 billion people will live in the region’s cities in the next 20 years. (

infrastructure, leading to increased motor vehicle use (and thus, increased motor vehicle emissions). And China is not alone in this problem—some predict that in many places, “cities will merge together to create urban settlements on a scale never seen before…[forming] mega-regions, urban corridors and city-regions.” %$$# It is estimated that Japan’s Tokyo Nagoya-Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe megaregion will have a population of 60 million by


2015. The city region of Bangkok in Thailand will expand another 200 kilometers from its current center by 2020.%$$#" The challenges facing UNESCAP nations, today and looking ahead to future years, are novel both in scale and in content. Any solution will need to implement innovative and replicable solutions, as well as catalyze high-level, highvisibility policy dialogues on the national and regional level. In such a large and diverse regional body, cooperation will be both our greatest challenge and our greatest potential strength. While issues of infrastructure and development can often be seen as domestic concerns, climate change and resource management are global issues that must remain part of all regional and international dialogues.


Questions to Consider! ! ! 1 How should nations prioritize their development and environmental goals? Should targets limiting emissions and pollutants be implemented at the expense of economic growth and poverty elimination? 2 How do we encourage the growth of green energy in nations whose economies are primarily driven by the export of traditional energy resources such as oil and coal?

3 Are efforts to mainstream environmental perspective into development policies realistic? In the face of a changing landscape for international development assistance, how can the public and private sectors work together to finance and deliver successful infrastructure projects? 4 UNESCAP member nations comprise most developed, developing, and least developed nations. In a time when the assertive pursuit of national interest seems to dominate the dialogue between nations, how can we better promote the open exchange of ideas and resources?



Role of the Committee! The Commission on the Status of Women is a policy-making body focusing on identifying challenges and finding solutions through proposing policies that advance the rights of women worldwide. The CSW encourages members to determine worldwide reproductive health and sex trafficking issues and recommend solutions or policies to separate regional problems. These solutions may include local policy changes or a united international policy effort. Members of the commission should focus on: 1. Identification of women’s struggles both in specific regions and internationally as a whole. 2. Establish an outline and guidelines for steps to relieve women of their struggles. 3. Partake in cohesively finding agreeable solutions through policy changes or suggestions with working with separate organizational entities. Since its establishment, the CSW has successfully advocated for women’s rights and promoted policy measures that varying countries have cooperated with. To continue with this success, participants must carefully define and recommend approaches to ameliorating problems in a collaborative manner.



Structure of the Committee The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is a regional body that consists of 53 member states and nine associate members. Together, the region comprised by UNESCAP member states is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes UNESCAP the most extensive of the United Nations regional bodies, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 stafflxxvii. The Commission meets annually to provide a forum for governments to review and discuss economic and social issues and to strengthen regional cooperation. Debate will follow the standard rules of parliamentary procedure – the Speaker's List, moderated and unmoderated caucuses, and suspensions of the rules will be entertained as appropriate. In lieu of resolutions, UNESCAP will produce a statement of “agreed conclusions.” While similar in structure to a resolution, agreed conclusions are presented only as recommendations. As in any committee, it is important that delegates understand the limitations in the Commission's powers when drafting these documents. Position papers are required for this committee and should be one to two pages per topic in standard format. Examples can be found on the YMUN website. Papers submitted before January ??? can expect feedback from the Dais, and papers must be submitted by the first committee session in order to be eligible for awards. Working papers and agreed conclusions should not be planned in advance, though delegates are encouraged to discuss their position papers in committee. Voting on procedural and substantive issues will follow standard rules of parliamentary procedure. To submit your position papers and for all questions, please contact either member of the senior staff: Emily Harris ( Emily Hirsch (



Suggestions for Further Research! Strengthening Mechanisms for Gender Equality Edwards, Louse P. and Mina Roces, eds. Women in Asia: Tradition, Modernity, and Globalisation. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 200. Print. Penn, Michael L., and Rahel Nardos. Overcoming Violence Against Women and Girls: The International Campain to Readicate a Worldwide Problem. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print. Edwards, Louse P. and Mina Roces, eds. Women in Asia: Tradition, Modernity, and Globalisation. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 200. Print. Sarkar, Sumit and Tanika Sarkar, eds. Women and Social Reform in Modern India: A Reader. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. Print.

Promoting Sustainable Development and Green Infrastructure Poverty and Sustainable Development in Asia: Impacts and Responses to the Global Economic Crisis, Asia Development Bank, 2010. Energy Security and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP, 2008. Harris, Paul G. Confronting Environmental Change in East and Southeast Asia: Eco-politics, Foreign Policy and Sustainable Development. London: Earthscan, 2005. Development Financing for Tangible Results: A Paradigm Shift to Impact Investing and Outcome Models, The Case of Sanitation in Asia, UNESCAP Discussion Paper, 2013. Daly, Herman E. Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development. Boston: Beacon, 1996. The State of Asian Cities 2010/2011, UNESCAP, 2011.


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NOTES i “History” UN ESCAP. Web. 22 Aug. 2013 <> ii Ibid. iii "About ESCAP." UN ESCAP. Web. 22 Aug. 2013. <> iv Gao, Xiongya. “Women Existing for Men: Confucianism and Social Injustice Against Women in China.” Race, Gender, & Class 10.3 November 2003. JSTOR. Web. vi Forbes, Geraldine, ed. Women in Modern India. vii viii ix “Women.” Global ISssues. United Nations. x xi xii xiii xiv U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, 2012.xv Walter, Lynn, ed. Women’s Rights: A Global View. Greenwood Press, 2001. xvi xvii xviii World Health Organization. WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Summary Report. N.p.: n.p., 2005. xix “Sexual Biolence: Strengthening the Health Sector Repsonse.” WHO. xx xxii Ibid. xxiii xxiv Ibid.xxv xxvi xxvii xxviii Ibid. xxix xxx xxxi Leimbach, Dulcie, and Brian Urquhart. A Global Agenda: Issues before the United Nations 2009-2010. New York: United Nations Association of the United States of America, 2009. P. 153 xxxii Ibid. xxxiii Radelet, Steven, Sachs Jeffrey, and Jong-Wah Lee. "Economic Growth in Asia." (1997): Harvard Institute for International Development. P. 2 xxxiv Ibid. xxxv Buckley, Chris. "Silver Lining in China’s Smog as It Puts Focus on Emissions." New York Times. N.p., 31 Aug. 2013. xxxvi Leimbach, Dulcie, and Brian Urquhart. A Global Agenda: Issues before the United Nations 2009-2010. New York: United Nations Association of the United States of America, 2009. P. 65 xxxvii "The Middle East." Center for Education Technologies, 2002. Web. 20 Aug. 2013. xxxviii Ibid. xxxix Devarajan, Shantayanan, and Ijaz NABI. "Economic Growth in South Asia: Promising, Un-equalizing,…Sustainable?" World Bank, June 2006. xl Ibid. xli Ibid. xlii xliii "United Nations Environment Programme." About UNEP: The Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013.


UNESCAP 30 xlv Ibid. xlvi The Future We Want. GA Res. 66/288, UN GAOR, 66th Sess., U.N. Doc. A/RES/66/288 (2012) "About the Kyoto Protocol." N.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. xlviii Ibid. xlix Gillies, Rob. "Canada Formally Pulls out of Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change."Canada Formally Pulls out of Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. Associated Press, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. "United Nations Millennium Development Goals." UN News Center. UN, Web. 01 Sept. 2013. lii UN ESCAP, Sustainable Infrastructure in Asia: Overview and Proceedings. 2007. liv Ibid. lv Ibid. lvi "About Asia-Pacific Water Forum." Asia-Pacific Water Forum. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. lvii Poverty and Sustainable Development in Asia: Impacts and Responses to the Global Economic Crisis, Asia Development Bank, 2010. lviii Ibid. lix Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2012 Update, UNICEF, 2012. Water, Food, and Energy Nexus in Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP, 2013. lxi Ibid. lxii Ibid. lxiii Global Trends in Energy investment 2012, UN Environment Program, June, 2012. lxiv Ibid. lxv Chellaney, Brahma. "Water Emerges as a Constraint on Asia's Rapid Growth." Sunday Guardian, n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2013. lxvi Ibid. lxvii Ibid. lxviii United Nations General Assembly Designates 19 November as World Toilet Day." UN News Center. UN, 24 July 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2013. lxix "ADB, Gates Foundation Partner to Tackle Asia's Huge Sanitation Needs." Asia Development Bank, 02 Sept. 2013. Web. 06 Sept. 2013. lxx Ibid. lxxi "Sustainable Urban Development." UNESCAP (Environment and Development Division). N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2013. <>. lxxii Ibid. lxxiii Ibid. lxxiv Ibid. lxxv “12 Things to Know in 2012: Urbanization in Asia,” Asian Scientist, April 22, 2012 lxxvi Ibid. lxxvii “About ESCAP.” UNESCAP. Web. 22 Aug 2013. <>



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