United Nations Environmental Program


Topic Summary

Stereotypes and mischaracterizations of the urban slum have prevailed for centuries. Often lacking key utilities and resources in the absence of government regulation, informal settlements also function as dense networks of commercial and social activity, featuring their own industries and economic hierarchies. In cities across the globe, past attempts to “improve the slums” have prioritized the interests of governments or developers interested in desirable urban land, uprooting its residents and infrastructure through destructive urban renewal projects. The results of these interventions include the displacement of low-income people from their close proximity to opportunity-rich urban centers, the disruption of key local industries, and the dissolution of urban communities with few, if any, nearby employment and affordable housing options.

How should we proceed in promoting justice for these communities through sustainable, inclusionary, and accessible urban development? Who are the key stakeholders, and how should they shape this initiative? We will consider examples from Bogotà, where market-rate developers have gained control over the affordable development of peri-urban land; from Mumbai, where community groups have lobbied for greater involvement in the planning of development projects; from Johannesburg, where a failure to define stakeholders and actors in redevelopment projects has stalled much-needed progress; and from other cities across the world. Important considerations will include models for possible collaboration between public and private entities, approaches to community participation in redevelopment planning, and the unique needs of the community that might influence principles of design and policy.

Director’s Letter

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the United Nations Environment Programme (yes, spelled the British way). My name is Kendrick Foster, and I am excited to be your Director this year!


I am a sophomore at Harvard College in Winthrop House studying Government with a secondary in Medieval Studies and a language citation in Spanish. (Si hablan conmigo en español fuera del comité, estaré muy feliz.) I grew up in Houston, Texas, where I did Model UN for all four years of high school. We never went out of state for conferences, though, so I’m excited to be directing a much more diverse group of delegates here at Harvard! Outside of MUN, I was heavily involved in debate, where I competed mainly in extemporaneous speaking but also dabbled in Student Congress and World Schools.

In college, I’m heavily involved in the Harvard Political Review, where I’m the Associate Covers Editor. I also write for the International Review, teach Boston high schoolers about international relations, and contribute to the Institute of Politics policy team. Last summer, I interned at a NGO in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was an amazing experience, especially as they geared up for elections in the fall!

I am very excited to be returning to UNEP, where I served as Assistant Director last year for the venerable Jack Nugent. Over the past few semesters, I’ve investigated questions of food and food policy, from the role of urban agriculture in Boston to the interesting cultural phenomenon of entomophagy. (That means eating bugs, and yes, I’ve eaten some.) Everyone must eat, so food security impacts every country in the world. I look forward to hearing your innovative solutions to this policy dilemma.

Best of luck in conference, and I look forward to meeting each and every one of you.


Kendrick Foster

Director, United Nations Environment Programme

Harvard Model United Nations 2020