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Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Agenda: Ensuring Sustainable Development and Regional Cooperation in the Implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” -John F Kennedy

 


Behold the power of the Belt and Road Initiative — an umbrella term for China’s ambitious undertaking in 2013, promoting connectivity and economic cooperation between South-East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This proposal, encompassing over 2,600 projects across the globe, includes spectacular strategic infrastructure developments that offer China regional hegemony, and schemes like the tremendous China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a nexus of coal, hydro-power plants, and a high-speed railway from Peshawar to Karachi. These routes seamlessly link the continent’s economically valuable ports, impacting a staggering 60% of the world's population.

Yet, delegates, amidst this tapestry of opportunities, we must confront a pivotal question: do the drawbacks of the Belt and Road Initiative outweigh its benefits?

As we develop this line of enquiry, we find ourselves crossed by the elusive negative social impacts of the BRI, like forced displacement and labour exploitation, that threaten to undermine its very essence. Governments should engage with local stakeholders such as civil society organizations and trade unions to address their concerns, involving them in the decision-making process. Moreover, investments in social infrastructure like medicine and education can contribute to long-term sustainable development. Recognizing large infrastructure projects’ environmental impacts like deforestation and habitat destruction is also essential. Let us prioritize environmental assessments and renewable energy projects to ensure a well-preserved planet for future generations.

A key drawback of the BRI is a potential increase in political controversies arising from deals made between corrupt politicians. A cautionary example is Djibouti, where the term "debt distress" has become synonymous with the country's plight. Sri Lanka, burdened by a debt reaching a staggering 70% of its GDP, serves as a haunting reminder, too. Its sovereignty is compromised by its inability to repay multiple Chinese loans. Delegates, tread cautiously as you navigate the treacherous terrain of geopolitical entanglements. Unmask China’s true intentions—neighbourly aid or the sly trapping of economically vulnerable nations in debt?

To systematically assess the lack of regional cooperation, regular dialogue platforms like forums or summits facilitate information exchange, promote understanding and build trust between countries. Moreover, establishing mechanisms to resolve disputes and deal with legal and regulatory issues can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the BRI. Involving international organizations, banks and other stakeholders also contributes to better coordination and cooperation, the primary goal for ECOSCAP.

We approach the climax, where transparency, responsibility, and debt sustainability take center stage. The spotlight shines on financial practices that guard against excessive debt burdens. Only by facilitating public participation and access to information can we engender trust and empower local communities. Delegates, we implore you to ensure that the economic benefits of this endeavour do not come at the expense of human rights and fair labour practices.

The stage is set, and the world eagerly awaits your insights, ideas, and resolutions. The fate of over 50% of the world's economy hangs in the balance. Unleash your passion, ignite your intellect, and together, let us script a future that marries progress with fairness, connectivity with compassion, and ambition with accountability.

Letter from the Director

Dear Delegates,


It is my privilege and honour to welcome you to the 27th Session of the Cathedral Model United Nations. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is a regional body that aims to foster sustainable development and regional cooperation in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. As we engage in thoughtful discussions concerning the intricate matters at stake, I look forward to seeing introspective debate, inventive solutions and unique communiques, to drive progress towards our shared goals.


The Belt and Road Initiative is a compelling and gripping topic that demands our immediate attention in the 21st Century. Propelled by China in 2013, this audacious endeavour strives to revolutionize connectivity and foster economic cooperation across Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. With a staggering 2,600 projects spanning the globe, China wishes to ascend as a hegemony on the global stage. Yet, hidden beneath the glimmering facade of economic promise lies a tumultuous labyrinth of sustainability and regional collaboration challenges. Will the Highways of Serbia, the Port City in Sri Lanka, and the Forest Cities of Malaysia all pave the way to prosperity - or unravel into a web of exploitation and ecological ruin? Can we forge a new era of regional cooperation through steadfast dialogue, robust dispute-resolution mechanisms, and the unwavering involvement of international organizations? Brace yourselves, for this committee promises riveting revelations and profound transformations that will shape the destiny of a plethora of nations and generations to come.


As delegates, you will face an ever-evolving array of challenges and crises that demand quick thinking and the ability to devise innovative yet practical solutions. Success in this committee hinges on your capacity to adapt swiftly, maintain composure under pressure, and collaborate effectively with others. Additionally, as representatives of your respective countries, you will grapple with the challenging choice between advancing self-interests and prioritizing the greater good of your people. As your Director, supported by an exceptional executive board, we aim to keep you engaged and on your toes, fostering the highest level of debate throughout our three days together. Our goal is not only to pass out-of-the-box and constructive resolutions but also to create unforgettable memories.


I, Anika Shah, am a Grade 12 IBDP student with interests in biology, chemistry, and politics, allowing me to understand the importance of patterns in our day-to-day lives, as they play a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of the world and guiding our actions. Beyond MUN though, my interests lie in competitive swimming, music and napping (at the worst times, of course – I do not encourage this). This will be my 4th  and final CMUN conference, my 2nd  as a member of the executive board, and I am eager to ensure that this experience will be as memorable for you as it has been for me.


The stakes are high, and the challenges are real, but I am confident that together we can rise to the occasion and achieve our shared objectives. Let us work together towards a brighter future for the region and the world. I encourage delegates to generate novel and creative ideas, express their viewpoints with clarity and conviction, and, above all, endeavour to seek diplomatic and practical middle-ground solutions.


I am very excited to be your director, and I look forward to the enriching experience that lies ahead. If you have any queries, please feel free to reach out to our Executive Board at ecoscap.cmun2023@gmail.com.


Until August,


Anika Shah,
Director,
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

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Anika Shah

Director

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