United Nations Environment Programme
My name is Cami Rincon and I will be serving as director of the United Nations Environment Programme at HNMUN-LA 2014. This will be my third time directing for a MUN conference, and I am very excited to have this amazing opportunity.I have put great effort in this project with the sole goal that you all enjoy the conference and are left with a great memory of the weekend that awaits us in January.
I was originally born in Bogota, Colombia, but I immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. Having lived near Miami for more than 10 years, I am accustomed to warm, tropical weather and I cannot wait to spend some time in sunny Natal in January. But beyond the beautiful weather of Natal, I am drawn to HNMUN-LA because of my academic interests. At Harvard College, I am a rising junior concentrating in Economics with a secondary in Government. I enjoy studying the development of Latin America, and I look forward to implementing the knowledge I have acquired in college to contribute to Latin America’s development. Therefore, HNMUN-LA could not be any more compatible to my academic passions. I see in HNMUN-LA the opportunity to make meaningful change in Latin America, by motivating discussion of relevant political, economic and social issues among the next generation of leaders of the hemisphere.
Besides my devotion to HNMUN-LA, I am also serving as a Crisis Director for HMUN 2014 and Business Director for HACIA Democracy 2014. As you can see, I really believe in the mission of MUN conferences! I am also serving as the Vice President of Latinas Unidas, a women’s group on campus dedicated to empowering and creating a support community for young Hispanic women. In addition, I am the Co-captain of the Harvard Middle Eastern Dance Company, a belly dance group on campus, because like any true Colombian, I love dancing and shaking my hips like Shakira.
I look forward to improving my dance moves in Brazil and maybe learning a little bit of Samba. I cannot wait to see you all at HNMUN-LA 2014!
Director, United Nations Environment Programme
Harvard National Model United Nations – Latin America 2014
We are in the year 2020. The Brazilian firm Norte Energia S.A. has just completed building a hydroelectric dam in the Xingu River. The Xingu River was one of the main tributaries of the Amazon Forest in Belo Monte, Brazil and the dam is the third largest in the world, providing 10% of Brazil’s energy. The project began in 2010 in response to an increasing demand for electric energy due to Brazil’s growing population. The dam would provide an environmentally friendly alternative to thermoelectric contaminants that were commonly used at the time, such as diesel and coal. Nevertheless, despite the positive intentions of the project, much controversy arose regarding its construction. Indigenous rights activist groups as well as environmental activist groups protested the severe
impact the dam would have on the Amazon forest, depleting the resources upon which the indigenous populations and several endemic animal species depend on. The protesters took the case to court and succeeded in stalling the project. During its trial, Norte Energia S.A. was criticized for not conducting appropriate environmental studies to estimate the impact of the construction of the dam and for not implementing strategies to mitigate those
Regardless of the controversy, the government of Brazil eventually permitted that Norte Energia S.A. to continue the construction of the dam. Today, less than a decade later, 1,500 square kilometers of the Amazon Forest have been devastated by the diversion of 80% of the Xingu River’s flow of water. Not only has the quantity of water decreased, but its quality has worsened, impacting the species that live in the Xingu as well as the indigenous communities that live along the river. In fact, some species that are exclusive to the Xingu have not survived the diversion of the river and gone extinct. In addition, the
forest area around the river has lost biodiversity since it has stopped receiving seasonal floodwaters. But the effects of Belo Monte are not simply results of construction of the dam. The project has also attracted great migration of workers to the area – workers who have built their homes in the Amazon and contributed to deforestation through illegal logging and cattle ranching. To make matters worse, Belo Monte’s construction has lead to an increase in decomposing vegetation, which has emitted methane, the greenhouse gas. This gas is estimated to be 25-50 times stronger than carbon dioxide and has seriously
exacerbated global warming.
Although the detrimental effects caused by the Belo Monte dam cannot be completely reversed, the 2020 meeting of the UN Environmental Programme seeks to find
diplomatic and significant solutions to what has become an environmental catastrophe. We cannot turn the clock back, but we can work to slow down the depletion of the world’s largest tropical forest.