Mitigation of Large Reservoirs

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#116: Mitigation of Large Reservoirs

Category: Environmental
Proposed By: Mikitivity
Industry Impacted: All Businesses
Status: Passed
Adopted: Mon Aug 8 2005
Votes For: 8,949
Votes Against: 4,807

This resolution is the fourth resolution sponsored by Mikitivity to be adopted by the United Nations, and like the previous three Mikitivity resolutions, the majority debate on the resolution focused not on the content of the resolution, but rather on the length of the resolution itself. Interestingly though this resolution is longer than the average NationStates United Nations resolution, it is clearly not the lengthiest resolution.

This resolution is also important because in addition to the UN Secretariat pinning the topic in order to focus the debate into a main discussion thread, a forum poll was attached to the debate. By comparing the results of this poll with the official UN vote outcome, the recurring question: "Are UN forum debates representative of UN voting trends" can be addressed.

Resolution History

Draft proposal

The proposal originally began in late June 2005, when Mikitivity was talking to Frisbeeteria about changes in NationStates demographics and the steady decline in nations and UN members. Frisbeeteria suggested that some of this seasonal decline might be associated with the large number of educational / classroom based regions in NationStates. It was then that Mikitivity decided that it would be interesting to take a complex real-life international issue and attempt to create a resolution so that the educational / classroom regions could later debate and discuss the subject of sustainable development.

Proposal Campaign

The proposal campaign for this resolution started by Howie T. Katzman's presentation of a first draft, titled Anadromous Fish Protection (in many places Anadromous was mispelled), to other International Democratic Union ambassadors on Jul 2 2005. The basic idea was met with enthusiasm by the region, which is known for its international advocacy of sustainable development and humanitarian aid issues. Grosseschnauzer and the visiting ambassador from Ecopoeia, but suggested that the title of the proposal be changed, pointing out that some ambassadors might not know what anadromous meant.

The proposal was renamed and revised before being circulated to the North Pacific, the East Pacific, the West Pacific, Anticapitalist Alliance, and Texas. After a week in which the draft proposal received very few comments on these regional forums, Katzman then submitted a new draft titled Mitigation of Hydroelectric Plants to the United Nations forum.

The new draft then received comments from Myopia and Yelda, both of whom presented compeling arguments that the proposal should include language to indicate that one of the negative impacts associated with large-scale reservoirs is the production of greenhouse gases. At first Katzman was a bit wary about including the provision, but upon reading information those two governments provided to Mikitivity the Myopian amendment was added with enthusiasm. Mikitivity continued to make minor edits to the proposal as well as requested additional comments, but none were forthcoming.

On Jul 27, the proposal was submitted to the proposal queue, and Mikitivity began a moderate telegram campaign, focusing on just contacting nations the government thought to be political allies. The proposal failed to achieve quorum on its first pass through the proposal queue, so Mikitivity again asked for any constructive comments on the proposal. Based on questions from UN Delegates during the first telegram campaign asking if the proposal impacted all reservoirs, Mikitivity changed the name of the proposal to Mitigation of Large Reservoirs, to emphasis that the mitigation measures suggested in the proposal applied primarily to larger reservoirs.

The second telegram campaign was joined by several of the UN Delegates that had endorsed the proposal on its first pass. Riding on the popularity of Ecopoeia's Freedom of Conscience resolution, proponents of the proposal were able to find enough UN Delegates that felt that the issue should be put before the UN for a vote and achieved over 155 endorsements by the proposals last day in the queue.

UN Debate

The resolution received more critical comments once it actually reached the UN floor. The UN Debate was characterized by several themes: (1) nations asking the resolution proponents questions, (2) nations that were opposed to the resolution on the grounds that it was an environmental proposal and went too far in setting domestic environmental policy, (3) nations that were opposed to the resolution on the grounds that its suggestions were recommendations and did not go far enough to protect the environment.

Ambassador Otterby of Compadria focused his comments to the finanical impact of the resolution and its long-term benefits. In particular, Otterby showed concern for the resolutions provisions promoting wetland restortation and flood by-pass construction. His comments were echoed by Emperor Mothy from Mothy, who took the time to engage Mikitivity's Ambassador Katzman in a series of telegrams. Eventually both nations lended their support for the resolution.

Arch-Primate Casmeer from Thermidore spoke in favour of the resolution by pointing out that the short-term costs associated with researching some of the mitigation measures mentioned in the resolution were outweighed by the long-term benefit of having sustainable resources.

Civilus Maximus Pontificus of Dersaaded argued that the resolution didn't accomplish anything that didn't exist in prior UN resolutions such as the Sustainable Energy Sources resolution, which focused primarily on wind, wave, and solar power.

Other nations decided to attack the quality of the resolution itself, stating it was poorly written and too legalistic in its nature. In response to accusations that the resolution had no coherent organization, Mikitivity defended the resolution itself as actually having an organized structure. Katzman stated, "I've always been taught and believe that resolutions should (1) state why this is an international issue, (2) provide a few examples of the importance of the issue, (3) define the context of the problem, (4) make a recommendation on how to address the problem." The ambassador then provided an outline of the resolution in the context of this generalized structure:

(1) International Scope?

  • The first clause introduces the international character of waterways.
  • The second clause reaffirms there is an international benefit to fish.

(2) Examples of Importance?

  • The third clause takes about dietary importance.

(3) Context of the problem

  • The fourth clause highlights that electricity is important.
  • The fifth clause shows that it is tied to large reservoirs, small ones are not mentioned -- problem refined.
  • The sixth clause lists a few examples of the problems from large reservoirs.
  • The seventh clause ties this into the international scope: fish are impacted by the problems *from the sixth clause.
  • The eight clause (Myopia's amendement) is another problem related to climate change.

(4) Recommendation / Solution

  • The ninth clause (preamble still) talks about balance ... this is a justification for having several solutions advocated for.
  • CLAUSE 1: solution is to look for local solutions to on by addressing the large-reservoirs themselves or their downstream impacts.
  • CLAUSE 2: solution is to reduce the need for large-reservoirs, indirectly be tackling electricity demand.
  • CLAUSE 3: solution is to investigate trade off between power and wildlife and try to optimize the above CLAUSE 1 and CLAUSE 2, to hopefully find something that is a win-win solution for both.
  • CLAUSE 4: solution is to again look downstream and fix other things.
  • CLAUSE 5: additional direction on CLAUSE 4.
  • CLAUSE 6: solution is to look into other power sources.

In defense of the large number of recommendations for addressing the environmental problems associated with large reservoirs, Groot Gouda pointed out "Environmental resolutions are never unnessecary, because the environment is a common good and therefor nobody takes responsibility for it, resulting in degradation of the environment to the point where action has to be taken because it's really threatening the lives of people, and then it's too late. Resolutions like this help to create awareness of the issue."

Some nations, such as Menachos stated "UN can't tell to your country what to do with your water suply, with your water sources. You should decide how to use the water: to transform it into energy or save the fauna and flora." Other nations had similar remarks with the similar theme being an opinion that this resolution took too heavy of an approach and violated national sovereignty.

Other opponents to this resolution claimed that the resolution didn't go far enough, as evidenced by the statement from Agnostic Deeishpeople, "This resolution is not bold enough, it doesnt enforce any nation to do anything. If its going to affect the business, than it should demand some actions to be taken."

After a couple of days of debate, the resolution discussion quieted down and eventually the resolution passed with approximately 65% of the votes cast in favour, making this resolution one of the least supported environmental resolutions in the history of the United Nations. Clearly the resolution had alienated both more conservative governments (for its advocacy of environmental migitation) and more liberal governments (for its lack of enforcement measures), but managed to achieve support from a variety of nations. Groot Gouda described one of the international justifications for this resolution when its ambassador said, "neighbouring countries who are suffering the negative effects of a nation's large reservoirs can use this resolution when negotiating about water management."

Resolution Text

Mitigation of Large Reservoirs
A resolution to increase the quality of the world’s environment, at the expense of industry.

Category: Environmental Industry Affected: All Businesses Proposed By: Mikitivity

The NationStates United Nations,

RECOGNIZING that many large watersheds and river systems cross international boundaries, and thus represent a shared resource between riparian and coastal nations;

OBSERVING the international nature of the economic benefit to ocean and freshwater commercial fisheries of abundant and healthy anadromous fish populations, such as salmon;

AWARE that salmon represent an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids, though farmed salmon tend to have higher concentrations of dioxins and PCBs than wild salmon;

NOTING the desire to increase the maximum electrical output of existing hydroelectric plants by increasing the height of reservoirs or to design new hydroelectric power plants in order to meet growing electricity demands;

FURTHER NOTING that electrical power generation is often one of several uses of the water stored in multi-use reservoirs;

BEARING IN MIND that the operation of large-reservoirs alters the unimpaired (i.e. natural) flow, water temperature, nutrient availability, and sediment load in the water downstream of the reservoir, which has led to the decline in many native species' populations;

CONCERNED that methane emissions from decomposition in reservoirs could contribute substantially to global warming;

CONVINCED that in order for hydroelectric power to be of net beneficial use, that the environmental and commercial impacts of reservoir releases must be managed or mitigated in a sustainable way;

1. APPROVES of continued research into various large-scale reservoir mitigation measures including the design and operation of temperature control devices, construction of fish passage structures (such as fish ladders), use of pulse flows during migration and other critical periods, and maintenance and restoration of wetlands (which are important nutrient sources);

2. CALLS UPON nations to investigate and promote water supply and electrical demand reduction strategies, such encouraging energy efficient equipment, telecommuting and alternative work weeks, and operating large-scale industrial equipment during off-peak electrical demand periods;

3. SUGGESTS that adaptive management techniques such as timing reservoir releases to periods that are beneficial to both riparian wildlife and power users can minimize some of the impacts associated with large-scale reservoir releases;

4. RECOMMENDS the restoration of flood plains and seasonal wetland habitats, including designing flood bypass areas and seasonal agricultural easements;

5. FURTHER RECOMMENDS that these wetlands and flood bypasses be used to offset the need for dedicated flood storage in large multi-use reservoirs; and

6. EXPRESSES ITS HOPE that other alternative energy sources will be considered as supplements or alternatives to hydroelectric power generation, with the understanding that a sustainable power supply needs to be diverse and manageable in order to accommodate long-term economic stability.

Votes For: 8,949
Votes Against: 4,807
Implemented: Mon Aug 8 2005

Voting Analysis

A poll asking nations if they voted yes, no, or abstained was attached to the official resolution debate on the UN floor. With 137 responses by the time debate had closed it is possible to compare the results of the UN forum poll to the official vote totals to address the question: "How representative is the UN forum of UN votes?"

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Though a few nations indicated in the UN forum that they had changed (both against to for, and for to against) their vote in the forum poll, the raw UN forum poll results are presented above. On the UN forum, 76 nations voted for the resolution, 54 against, and 7 nations abstained. The abstentions are not included in calculating the percentage of votes.

The final overall UN ("official") vote was 65% of the votes cast being in favour, while the UN forum vote was 58% of the votes cast (for or against) being in favour. In this particular case it appears that the UN forum debate and poll were reasonably representative of the entire UN vote.

Gameplay Impacts

This resolution had no significant impacts on changing the way NationStates is played.

Additional Materials