Let the birds fly free: a crisis in the UNDP

It seems only fitting that the United National Development Program presides over the third floor Prudential Center room titled ‘Commonwealth.’ After all, the issue they are tackling today does have to do with the common good – the preservation of biodiversity and how to best protect them from water pollution. Stepping into the room is to witness delegates firmly locked in debate over how best to solve the issue of water contamination. All the delegates agreed that the preservation of clean water was of the utmost importance, especially as, as the delegate of Turkey so simple put it, chemicals have the great power to “disrupt and destroy biodiversity.” Polluted water has the capability to do ever-increasing harm to precious species, which these delegates are fighting to protect.

Delegates proposed a range of solutions: from the delegate of Belgium came the idea to “update factory equipment that deals with fresh water;” from the USA came the proposal to utilize the process of reverse osmosis – a system that uses semipermeable membranes to remove large particles from water; from France came the motion to implement “froth flotation” – which separates water fearing (hydrophobic) materials from water loving (hydrophilic) ones.

These innovative ideas were cut short when suddenly, committee doors flew open to reveal an intricately dressed crisis committee, donning colorful, striped ponchos meant to represent endangered water fowl and declaring an urgent situation in Nepal. The crisis team of ‘birds’ tweeted futilely as retro viral drugs from the drug company Big French Pharma entered into water runoff and led to their demise. A bird researcher in the region lamented the loss of her study.

It is “very unfair to blame my company,” said the president of Big French Pharma (another crisis member). The president reminded the committee that what had happened was “completely legal,” and that his company had been working with the government the whole time, which sanctioned their actions.

To the consternation of the UNDP, a committee charged with preventing this very type of issue, crisis members representing Chinese and Indian civilians exclaimed how happy they were to have Big French Pharma providing them jobs, and how sad they would be to see the company be punished for their legal actions. Providing a contrasting view, the delegate of Nepal remarked that the crisis “could have been avoided” if actions such as these had serious consequences.

Their crisis was a stark reminder to UNDP delegates of the struggle between industry and the protection of biodiversity. The delegate from Switzerland aptly stressed that “economic pursuit [such as that of the Big French Pharma] has benefited the job industries but harmed research.”

Unfortunately, due environmental pressures such as water pollution, the endangered birds of the world may not have the opportunity to pick up and fly away like the birds of the crisis committee. It is up to the UNDP to figure out how to give all species a safe, clean future.

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