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Model United Nations

General Assembly Topic 1

Sustainable Development Goal 14 

In 2015, the United Nations created a call to action, which recognized that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests. They did this through the creation of 17 goals that combat all issues presented by the negatives of the aforementioned topics. The goal discussed in this committee is goal 14: Life Below Water. 

These development goals were introduced in 2015 after spending three years in  production to create a group of universal goals to meet the urgent environmental, political, and  economic challenges facing the world. Ocean pollution, specifically plastic pollution, was first noticed in the 1960s and 1970s by scientists studying plankton (“Plastic  Pollution in Oceans and on Land”). Since then, plastic and other trash have formed floating garbage patches that now cover 40% of the world’s oceans (“Plastic Pollution in Oceans and on  Land”). By 2018, microplastics had been found in the organs of more than 114 aquatic species, including some species found only in the deepest ocean trenches” (“Plastic Pollution in Oceans and on Land”). Another critical issue facing the world is ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is caused by the water’s uptake of carbon dioxide from the air which results in a decrease of ocean pH. This acidification directly impacts coral and other marine life. Ocean acidification became a problem at the start of the industrial revolution and the increase in the release of pollutants into the atmosphere (“Ocean Acidification”).  Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30% (“Ocean Acidification”). The final issue that Goal 14 focuses on is overfishing. The earliest instances of overfishing can be seen in the 1800’s when the whale population was decimated due to the world’s desire for blubber oil (“Overfishing”). Atlantic Cod, Herring, and California Sardines were fished to the brink of extinction by the mid 1900’s (“Overfishing”). Overfishing is highly disruptive to food chains including the species involved (“Overfishing”).

Sustainable Development Goal 14 proves important in the protection of our planet due to  the vital role oceans play. Oceans remove carbon dioxide from the air, while sea life produces  large amounts of oxygen rivaling that of land vegetation (“Ocean Resources”). Water, with its  high specific heat, regulates the Earth’s climate. Additionally, fishing provides about 16% of the world’s total protein and constitutes a market which many coastal economies depend on  (“Ocean Resources”). The importance of preserving the oceans and wildlife within them is a task which is vital for the preservation and care of the oceans and many human endeavors. 

As the General Assembly, you are tasked with creating resolutions which will provide a framework that UN member states can follow to achieve Goal 14. The Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted by a great number of countries, and while they are not legally binding, they have had an active effect on the agendas of those adoptive nations. Since these were put in place by the United Nations and with the adoption of over 193 countries, many countries are expected to be on track and reach their goals of sustainability by the year 2030. More recently, Sweden announced that it was about 85% of the way to achieving all 17 goals, with Finland, Norway, and Denmark close behind (Willige).

Your task is to develop a plan for meeting Sustainable Development Goal #14 by 2030.

Questions to Consider: 

  • What is your country doing to ensure that SDG 14 will be reached by 2030?
  • What can your country do better to ensure that they will be working toward achieving Goal 14?  
  • How does your country stand on each of the individual issues (ocean acidification,  overfishing, and pollution)? 
  • Has your country adopted the sustainable development goals? 

Resources to Consider: 

  • https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/
  • https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/
  • https://www.globalgoals.org/14-life-below-water
  • https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/overfishing

Bibliography:

“Ocean Resources ~ MarineBio Conservation Society.” MarineBio Conservation Society, 2 May  2021, https://www.marinebio.org/conservation/ocean-dumping/ocean%20resources/#:~:text=The%20ocean%20is%20one%20of,transportation%E2%80%94both%2%200travel%20and%20shipping 

“Overfishing — National Geographic.” Environment, National Geographic, 3 May 2021,  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/critical-issues-overfishing  

“Plastic Pollution in Oceans and on Land.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica,  Inc., www.britannica.com/science/plastic-pollution/Plastic-pollution-in-oceans-and-on-land  

“Ocean Acidification.” Ocean Acidification | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationwww.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/ocean-coasts/ocean-acidification 

Willige, Andrea. Senior Writer. “Which Countries Are Achieving the UN Sustainable  Development Goals Fastest?” World Economic Forum.