UVU Contributes to the 12th Session of the United Nations Open Working Group
The 12th session of the Open Working Group (OWG) was held during June 16-20, 2014. During this session participants drafted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which will replace Millennium Development Goals as the United Nations time-bound and quantified targets in 2015.
Mountain Partnership secretariat sent a message before the session informing its members that “ Despite…collective efforts, mountains have almost disappeared from the text” in the preliminary draft of SDG.
It was a top priority for UVU to respond to the appeal with concern from the MP secretariat. As per request from Dr. Rusty Butler, the Mountain Partnership (MP) focal point at Utah Valley University (UVU) and with support from the MP secretariat, I represented UVU at OWG12 during June 16-19, 2014.
UVU is a member of the Mountain Partnership (MP) a coalition of institutions worldwide that promotes the United Nations Sustainable Development (SMD) – agenda. As an advocate for this cause UVU regularly hosts the international Women of the Mountains Conferences. In addition, UVU offers its support of major initiatives and actions of the MP secretariat.
During the last several years UVU contributed to the Third and Fourth Global meetings of the MP. The third meeting convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012 and the fourth in Erzurum, Turkey in 2013 respectively. UVU was able to participate in forums, which MP gathered at the United Nations to promote mountain indicators as well as help in the drafting of the SDG since the fall of 2013.
UVU and its Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy provided the necessary funds for me to participate at the OWG. This was a part of a UVU tradition to support the promotion of the SMD – agenda in the Rocky Mountains and globally and it was established since UVU joining MP in 2006. When UVU expressed a desire to be a part of the MP team during the 12th Session of the OWG, it received full support from the MP secretariat and F.A.O. in getting accreditation and a pass to the United Nations during my June 16-19, 2014 trip.
Even though, UVU doesn’t have a permanent presence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the university has several long-term projects with focus on the promotion of the SMD agenda, which contributed to the efforts of the MP secretariat during OWG12.
For our advocacy campaign, we used the already established project by the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy, titled “Distinguished Lecturers” series that focuses on bringing foreign dignitaries and accredited United Nations diplomats in particular to UVU. UVU hosted Permanent Representatives of 15 nations during 2012-2013, including envoys from such mountain countries as Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Greece etc. among others.
Personal letters from Dr. Rusty Butler, a focal point for MP at UVU urging intervention and support to the efforts of the MP secretariat were sent in advance of the OWG12 session to Permanent Representatives of 13 nations at the United Nations, including H.E. Simona Mirela Miculescu, Permanent Representative of Romania to the U.N.; H.E. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the U.N., H.E. Ferit Hoxha, Permanent Representative of Albania to the U.N.; H.E. Carlos Michelén, Permanent representative of the Dominican Republic to the U.N.; H.E. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the U.N.; H.E. Libran N. Cabactulan, Permanent Representative of Philippines to the U.N.; H.E. Pajo Avirovikj, Permanent Representative of Macedonia to the U.N.; H.E. Paul Seger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the U.N.; H.E. Andrei Dapkiunas, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the U.N.; H.E. Talaibek Kydyrov, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.N.; H.E. Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, Permanent representative of Botswana to the U.N.; H.E. Vitaliy Churkin, Permanent representative of Russian Federation to the U.N.; H.E. Michel Spinellis, Permanent representative of Greece to the U.N. among others.
Another important initiative used by UVU during OWG12 was a joint effort with the Permanent mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to rally support from diplomats to the MP secretariat effort. It was based on ties established since 2005 with the Permanent mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations as well as the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States as a key institutions in order to promote cooperation between the Rocky Mountains and Central Asia with focus on SMD-advocacy. UVU hosted Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations in March 2013 and Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States Muktar Djumaliev in June 2013. The Kyrgyz Mission to the U.N. last fall hosted Joseph McCain as the first intern from UVU and now prepares to have more UVU students. Both diplomatic missions are now actively involved in preparations to the Fourth international conference Women of the Mountains in Orem, Utah during October 7-9, 2015. UVU also works very close with several institutions in Kyrgyzstan, members of the MP in order to pursue joint projects with SMD-promotion. International University of Kyrgyzstan is a co-sponsor of the mentioned above the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference.
This model UVU currently expands in order to develop similar ties with Latin America (probably Peru or Argentina) and Africa (probably Kenia, Lesotho or Morocco).
Major activities on behalf of UVU during the OWG12 session, June 16-20, 2014 included:
- Follow up suggestions from MP secretariat representative to work jointly with diplomat from Romanian mission to the United Nations, who coordinated actions to support a joint statement from mountain states advocating the inclusion of mountain indicators to the SDG draft;
- Follow up with getting responses to the letter of Dr. Rusty Butler from 13 Permanent Missions;
- Establishment of contacts with diplomats from different missions in order to get an additional support from their states;
UVU was able to contribute to joint efforts from MP secretariat team during OWG12 and statements and actions in support of the mountain indicators from such nations as Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Greece, among others speak for themselves. All correspondence was always copied to both representatives of the MP secretariat and to diplomat from Romania. Not all diplomatic missions responded to the letters from Dr. Butler and to my inquiries. It gave us more incentives in order to think how for UVU to build stronger and longer lasting ties with those diplomats and their respected nations.
UVU appreciates involvement from MP secretariat in such important forums, like OWG12. At the same time, we hope to do much more further in order to mobilize support from North America to the mountain cause and this is one of our major priorities.
It will be important if MP secretariat will continue to get involved willing to contribute MP members to work jointly at the United Nations. Joint efforts on inclusion of the mountain indicators to the SDG draft represent just one of the steps in long-term actions of the MP.
As a part of the visit to the United Nations headquarters I was able to meet representatives of F.A.O. liaison office at the United Nations and introduce to them activities and programs at UVU with focus on SMD-agenda promotion.
During the meeting with Sylvia Hordosch from the office of UNWomen we discussed plans of joint activities as a preparations to the fourth International Women of the Mountains conference, which UVU will co-host together with the International University of Kyrgyzstan during October 7-9, 2014 in Orem, UT.
Baktybek Abdrisaev, Advisor, Utah International Mountain Forum