UNESCAP: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Topic A: Water Security in Asia and the Pacific

The Asia and Pacific region has witnessed a remarkable transition in the past two decades. From 1990 to 2012, more than one billion people in the region were lifted out of extreme poverty. However, this region faces massive water insecurity problems. As of now, 1.7 billion people lack access to basic sanitation and studies estimate that by 2050, 3.4 billion people could be living in water-stressed areas throughout Asia. It is also projected that by 2050, the region’s water demands will increase by 55% due to increased industrialization and economic transformation. Water security refers to more than simply the issue of water scarcity among a civilian population. It also refers to a broader systemic view of water management and delivery. Richer countries in the region tend to show higher levels of water security while poorer countries struggle according to similar metrics. To address issues of water insecurity, significant infrastructural investment is required, necessitating international involvement in the issue. As climate change continues to affect the world, delegates must note that the Asia-Pacific is a region especially prone to water-related disasters, turning the debate into an issue of regional stability in addition to one of economics and trade.

Topic B: Addressing the Digital Divide in Asia and the Pacific

Currently, Asia and the Pacific is the most digitally divided region in the world, with less than 8% of the population connected to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet. As of 2014, there were only 8.7 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people, below the global average. This divide is especially apparent when two countries in particular are examined: the Republic of Korea and Timor-Leste. While 99.6% of the young people in the Republic of Korea have been active on the Internet for at least five years, less than 1% of Timor-Leste’s youth have had access. This points to a larger divide that delegates will need to address, as regional broadband growth is primarily driven by high-income countries such as the Republic of Korea and China. Access to the internet is also dependent upon developed broadband infrastructure that is continually maintained, a key factor that delegates must consider in their debate on this topic. Debate on an issue as multifaceted as the Digital Divide in the Asia-Pacific promises to be fast-paced and nuanced, requiring delegates to demonstrate awareness of the interplay between the economic and social aspects of the topic, as well as technical details relevant for realistic policy solutions.