United Nations Environmental Program


Topic Summary

In 2018, the United Nations painted a grim picture: almost a quarter of children worldwide live in conditions of chronic malnutrition, while a further 7.5% of children in conditions of acute malnutrition despite decades of progress on this issue. Famines rock the globe in regions such as South Sudan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa. As the world’s population grows even larger (and the threat of climate change threatens to destroy even more of the world’s arable land), one long-term question stands out: Can the world feed its growing population?

As a result, the question of food security deserves even greater scrutiny, and world leaders need to address short-, medium-, and long-term solutions to this crisis. The developed world often sends aid in the form of food surpluses to famine-wracked countries, but developing countries often protest that this “aid” actually hurts their agriculture industries and makes them even more dependent in the future.

In the medium-term, questions have emerged about the role of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with some countries strongly advocating for their use and others worried about their impact on the environment and their concentrations in the hands of agrobusiness. However, other solutions to growing more food on less land may be hard to come by.

In the long-term, the world is looking for innovative questions to answer this very question, with solutions ranging from aquaculture to vertical farming and everything in between to use the world’s land more efficiently. Each of these questions is contentious, and debating this topic will call upon delegates to dig deep for new and innovative answers to them.

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