Ecosoc topic a, topic b and committee background


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Ecosoc topic a, topic b and committee background

  1. 1. Committee: ECOSOCECOSOC was established under the United Nations Charter as the principalorgan to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UNspecialized agencies, functional commissions and five regionalcommissions. The Council also receives reports from 11 UN funds andprograms. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as thecentral forum for discussing international economic and social issues, andfor formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States andthe United Nations system. It is responsible for: • Promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress; • Identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems; • Facilitating international cultural and educational cooperation; and • Encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.It has the power to make or initiate studies and reports on these issues. Italso has the power to assist the preparations and organization of majorinternational conferences in the economic and social and related fieldsand to facilitate a coordinated follow-up to these conferences. With itsbroad mandate the Councils purview extends to over 70 per cent of thehuman and financial resources of the entire UN system.In carrying out its mandate, ECOSOC consults with academics, businesssector representatives and more than 3,200 registered non-governmentalorganizations. The Council holds a four-week substantive session each July,alternating between New York and Geneva . The session consists of theHigh-level Segment, Coordination Segment, Operational ActivitiesSegment, Humanitarian Affairs Segment and the General Segment.
  2. 2. The High-level segment serves as a forum for Ministers and executive headsof international institutions and high-ranking officials, as well as civil societyand private sector representatives to discuss key issues on the internationalagenda in the area of economic, social and environmental development.A new feature of the ECOSOC, mandated by the 2005 World Summit, arethe Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum ,.At the end of the High-level segment, a Ministerial declaration is adopted,which provides policy guidance and recommendations for action.Topic A) Utilizing and implementing sustainable agricultureDiscussions about sustainable agriculture are apt to be lively, emotional,and sometimes controversial. Those who have sustainable agriculture as astated goal sometimes feel that those who don’t mention it directly are notconcerned about it. At the same time, those who don’t mention it directlyoften claim they have it as an assumed goal or feel that short-run economicnecessity prevents giving it the attention it deserves. Indeed, a commonlyheld view has been that increasing the productivity of agriculture wascompatible and largely synonymous with sustainable agriculture. However,there is mounting evidence that one of the major ways of increasing farmproduction, through use of chemicals on-farm, can accelerate ecologicalproblems. Unfortunately, many researchers still do not openly concernthemselves much with sustainability issues and have the common attitudethat "everything we do is sustainable." Many advocates of sustainableagriculture would not agree and argue that success in moving towardsustainable agriculture depends on using the limited nonrenewableresources (e.g., fossil energy fuels, certain chemicals) as sparingly aspossible and getting maximum return from their application by using thebiological cycles that exist in nature and are largely ignored in present-dayagriculture.A sustainable agriculture is one that, over the long term, enhancesenvironmental quality and the resource base on which agriculturedepends; provides for basic human food and fiber needs; is economicallyviable; and enhances the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.Development of sustainable agriculture not only depends on the potentialof technology to meet the objectives of farmers and its appropriateness forthe site-specific ecological and economic conditions. Other factors, likefarmers capacity to adapt their farm systems to changing conditions, thecapacity of research and development organisations to support farmers,policy makers capacity to create favourable conditions for agriculturaldevelopment, the capacity of agribusiness to distribute products and inputs
  3. 3. efficiently and the capacity of educational institutes to transfer appropriateknowledge and skills are important as well. There are many external andinternal forces that influence agricultural change. Ecological, economic,social, cultural and political conditions differ widely. Therefore, there is aclear need for different approaches to agricultural development. Beforediscussing opportunities and constraints to development of sustainableagriculture it is necessary to analyze this need for differentiation.Some people believe that the terms organic and sustainable are the same.In fact, the word organic refers to particular farming practices that havebeen followed and certified by a third-party inspector. This organiccertification is found on the product in the marketplace, indicating toconsumers that it has been grown in a specific way. Briefly, organicguidelines have been written in an attempt to be as sustainable as possible(using the definitions above), while assuring the consumer that the amountof pesticide residue on the food product is minimized.Although ultimately the decision as to whether or not to practicesustainable agriculture is the made by the farmers and their families, theease and practicality of doing so are affected heavily by a number offactors, some of which they can influence, but some of which arecompletely out of their control.Topic B) The overpopulation´s repercussions and effects of on theenvironmentThroughout history, the world’s population has expanded in an extremelyexponential fashion-- taking over three million years to achieve a one billionperson benchmark, it then only took 130, 30, 15, 12, and 11 years to reachsubsequent billions, respectively. (Southwick, 159) Such a massive and stillincreasing population, combined with the environmentally detrimentalrepercussions of industrialization (as a result of the need to sustain such alarge population), namely pollution from fossil fuels, has begun to take aserious toll on our planet’s ecosystem. Moreover, “some scientists havecalculated that an optimal human population on earth in terms ofreasonable living standards is no more than 2 billion people.” (Southwick,161) Already, we are well over this “optimal” population level at more than6 billion people with projections of growing by another 2 to 4 billion in this
  4. 4. century. Still, with the advent of modern technologies, primarily in the areasof medicine and agriculture, humans.Incessant human population growth is viewed as the leading cause of mostof humanity’s scourges, such as poverty, war and starvation. While thewildlife-conservation movement is valiantly attempting to save the world’sremaining diversity of life, this effort is overwhelmed by the demands ofmounting numbers of people. The obvious solution of birth control andfamily planning remains largely unknown or ignored -- a heritage of ourancient customs and religious beliefs.Under the onslaught of an ever-increasing human population, it hasbecome clear that humanity and the world’s environments and ecosystemsare under serious threat. In their landmark books, Ehrlich and Ehrlich (1970)and Wilson (1992) demonstrated with overwhelming evidence thatreducing the human population, and hence lessening demands on naturalecosystems, is the over-riding factor in the struggle to conserve the naturalworld.The current frenzy for exploiting natural resources and the escalatingenvironmental degradation by the world community are in stark contrast totraditional beliefs of Aboriginal Peoples about Mother Earth. The spiritualinter-relatedness of earth, water, plants, animals and people demandedthat great respect be shown to each part of this unity of life. Theyappreciated (as few people do today) that their very survival depended oncaring for the natural world.However, in past times and present, when people are in desperate need,they have little choice but to exploit Nature to the fullest of their abilitiesand technologies. Witness the rapid extinction of hundreds of species oflarge animals in North America, Europe, Madagascar, Australia and NewZealand, shortly after early people arrived and populated these landmasses. The American Great Plains region formerly supported a fauna oflarge animals as rich as that found today in Africa. In the last 18,000 years,rapid climatic changes, ecosystem dislocations, and particularly over-hunting by early people, have left a decimated assemblage of largeanimals. Over 73% of large mammals and large birds in North America werewiped out (Martin and Klein 1984) before the arrival of Europeans and theassault process has continued ever since -- witness the almost-completeelimination of the Tall-grass Prairie Community, which formerly stretchedfrom Manitoba to Texas. Dedicated wildlife conservationists valiantly try tomanage ecosystems and wildlife populations by conducting researchprojects, establishing large natural preserves, signing cooperativeagreements with landowners, maintaining genetically diverse captive-
  5. 5. breeding programs, developing education programs, and many otheractivities. But increasingly, all these positive efforts are being overwhelmedby the demands of an ever-growing human population. As a biologist andeducator, I find it disheartening how infrequently the critical topic of birthcontrol and family planning are stressed in society. We feel justified and safein discussing human overpopulation and the resulting habitat loss andenvironmental degradation, but fear to tread further to the logicalconclusion. True, family planning is a taboo subject fraught with public-relations risks, and it may challenge dearly held concepts about individualrights and family, however, it is ultimately the most important message ourleaders and educational institutions can champion in saving the Earth’secosystems, their treasury of wondrous life forms, and for our very survival.The discovery of agriculture around 9,000 years ago changed everything,generating a giant leap in human birth rate and survival. Starvationlessened as an ever-looming factor in limiting population numbers, as it hadlikely operated effectively over several million years of human evolution.During the period of the Egyptian Pharaohs, the world’s population passed100 million, 250 million at the time of Christ, 500 million by 1650, and 1 billionby 1850 (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1970). With improving technology for foodproduction and distribution, medical care, and social programs, numbersclimbed to 2.5 billion in 1950 and 6 billion in 1999. Over 78 million people arecurrently added each year, and the population-doubling time continues todrop dramatically. I find it appalling that the human race has more thantripled (2 to 6.7 billion) in just my life time, and may quadruple before theend of my life. Obviously this rate of growth cannot continue indefinitelywithout severe repercussions, which are becoming more evident everyday(e.g., acidification and pollution of the oceans, global warming).