Special Conference : Focus on Islands

Taking place in the General Assembly room, the Special Conference concentrates on one part of the theme for ILYMUN each year, this year being Islands, for the theme of water. It is two to three times larger than the usual committee. Over the three days, the committee worked towards the creation of resolutions regarding challenges such as rising sea levels, sustainable tourism and access to freshwater sources.

On Friday, the committee debated the following motion submitted by the Marshall Islands :

Acknowledging the Convention on Biological Diversity;

Alarmed by the decrease in marine ecosystems;

Being fully aware that tourism is essential to the island’s economy;

This house :

  1. Proposes to fix attractive prices at usual hollow periods to encourage people to come at a different period of the year to lower massive tourism by: a) Lowering airplane ticket prices in hollow seasons; b)Lowering hotel prices in hollow seasons;
  2. Suggests hotel labeling based on their “eco-friendly activities” that could be revoked over a time period of 4 years, such as but not limited to: a)Based on the emissions by the hotel, correct usage of water; b)Impose taxation on hotels that would be label “red”
  3. Endorses the closing of some areas to tourists in order to protect biodiversity such as but not limited to: a) endangered areas unsustainable tourism; b) places where wildlife is vulnerable
  4. Promoting the authenticity of the ethnicities of the islands advertising in order to: a) Get locals involved to be in charge of the economic and tourism model; b)raise awareness on how “luxury holidays” are determined to these islands
  5. encourage the building of eco-lodgers which can still be considered as “luxury” but have a much lower impact on the environment

On Friday, in the Special Conference on islands, the Marshall Islands submitted a resolution helping to increase sustainable tourism by lowering prices during hollow seasons, rating hotels according to their carbon emissions, imposing a tax on hotels whose carbon emissions are too high, closing certain areas such as those where wildlife is endangered, and encouraging local populations to get involved in the island’s tourism activities. To this Tanzania suggested an amendment adding a fifth clause to ‘encourage the building of eco-lodgers which can still be considered as “luxury” but have a much lower impact on the environment’, which was passed and added to the resolution. The delegate for the Seychelles then took the floor, and expressed her concern about the first clause of the resolution, which guaranteed lower transport and accomodation during hollow season. She argued that this would increase the amount of flights around the world and over longer distances, causing higher carbon emissions, which made this part of the resolution economically rather than environmentally oriented. She therefore argued that lowering the prices didn’t seem to be the right solution for sustainable tourism. The house then moved to voting procedures, when the resolution was passed as a whole.

Voting procedures: resolution passes

Motion: submitted by Seychelles

  1. calls upon member states to enforce fishing bans in areas of biodiversity hotspots which have a high concentration of coral reef structures, specifically the inclusion of stricter sentencing on fishermen caught using the harmful “blast fishing technique”. a) Supports the creation of designated fishing areas to offset any economic loss from fishing bans
  2. Encourages the active restoration of coral reefs by: employing aquaculture techniques such as those used on the coast of Dar es Salaam to restore 5000 square meters of coral reef, and artificial reef habitats
  3. Endorses the further estalishment of information networks such as the global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, to provide accurate scientific information on the status and trends
  4. Urges islands and coastal countries to consider, in exchange of a large amount of its national debt be written off, opening two large marine parks (after discussing with the country they have debt to).

On Saturday morning, the Special Conference discussed what could be done to reinforce sustainable tourism on islands. The conference focused on three different aspects of the problem: how to raise awareness about the dangers the coast line faced, the possibility of having contributions for the sustainability of the islands, and what was to be done with dangerous behaviour regarding the matter. The resolution was to inform people of the dangers “by suggesting the implementation of UN tour guides who would inform tourists visiting natural coastal areas about the importance of sustainability in the tourism model” and “by suggesting the implementation of UN Sustainable Tourism information Centers in which local people would be employed from villages and cities near natural coastal tourism sites”. The contributions to sustainability were to be found by “suggesting the implementation of a small fee that tourists pay to visit natural coastal areas in order to contribute to the sustainability of tourism and the preservation of the coastal wildlife” and “suggesting the creation of Regional Sustainable Contribution Redistribution Centers in order to effectively redistribute the contribution paid by the tourists”. Finally, dangerous behaviours would be dealt with by “suggesting a global criminalisation of dangerous behaviours towards wildlife, nature and natural sites when the individual is caught in the act. This could go from a simple to an important fine, especially when it comes to detritus left on the beach”. Also by “suggesting an increase of this environmental fee mentioned in the first clause for individuals that would have already had a dangerous behaviour” and “ in this continuity, suggesting the restriction on to one’s country access if too many violations have been registered in it”. While a few delegates questioned the effectiveness of such resolutions, such as Somalia, the Marshall Islands or Iran who argued that campaigning and raising awareness isn’t enough for the current situation, and bolder actions must be taken, the majority agreed this was the first step in the right direction, towards a more eco-friendly, sustainable future. The resolution passed with a large majority of votes in favor.

Clara Larsen, Anna Felappi, and Claire Dominici

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Ed Yong
Mar 25 · 22 min read


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