LINK TO THE International Mountain Day AGENDA:
Official Statement of Dr. Butler, focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU during the IMD 2014 at the United Nations
STATEMENT OF DR. RUSTY BUTLER,
FOCAL POINT FOR MOUNTAIN PARTNERSHIP AT UTAH VALLEY UNIVERSITY,
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY CELEBRATIONS AT THE UNITED NATIONS,
DECEMBER 12, 2014
Happy International Mountain Day! It is an honor for me to be a part of the 2014 International Mountain Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters. I express my thanks to FAO–UN, the Mountain Partnership and other organizers of this splendid celebration of the mountains.
During a recent international conference call to discuss a potential joint mountain-related project in Central Asia, one of the callers made an interesting observation. He had done research on climate-change issues linked to changes in glaciers in a remote part of eastern Nepal. He was last there in the 1990s, and his expectations of change in the area were narrow and to a degree preconceived. However, what he found when he returned recently took him aback.
Indeed, glacial lakes had appeared as per his expectations but that is not what surprised him. What he found was an entirely new demographic: the migration patterns were very noticeable; cell phone usage was nearly universal and had altered the economy; a new resource, a native, natural aphrodisiac selling for significant amounts of money, had transformed the economic base; and other direct non-climate related changes were observable.
His experience was a striking confirmation to me that the issues of sustainable mountain development and the UN post-2015 agenda cannot be approached in a disjointed fashion: There must be a holistic effort where all the pieces, be they economic, climate, agriculture, education, forest, water, bio-diversity or health related, or any other issues, have to be put on the table and treated as a whole, not in isolation. And, the overall approach must also be altered.
To date, for the most part our current generation has carried the water on mountain issues. We in Utah and surrounding mountain state in the U.S. have deliberately engaged the next generation. In the attached paper you will see the keen interest and leadership that university students are taking specifically on sustainable mountain development as members of the Mountain Partnership. Not content with higher education efforts alone, they instituted a state-wide essay contest and organization of clubs among high school students, and are now reaching into the elementary schools.
Also, mountain proponents must become more pro-active and energetic in diplomatic ways to bring the mountain agenda to the attention of not just UN and other international leaders, but also to community and regional decision makers. We are strong believers in local action as a way to sway leaders at higher levels. As important as the head on our body is, it IS controlled by the neck! Our local and regional efforts are the necks. Our students and faculty, as well as others in the state have gone to city, county and state leaders with messages about sustainable development issues. This is also happening in Wyoming and Colorado where we work with like-minded friends.
On July 24, 1847, nearly 170 years ago, an advance band of settlers in wagons came through the rugged Rocky Mountains into a high, desolate desert valley where Salt Lake City now stands. This was the first wave of Mormon Pioneers who had been expelled from their homes in Illinois and Missouri states. There were no Wal-Mart, Target or Costco stores; they were self-reliant and had to build an entire civilization from nothing but will power and survival instincts. Crop, dairy and livestock production were the first things they worked on, simultaneously with dams, reservoirs and canals to bring water from the mountains for irrigation.
They did their work intelligently and in a sustainable manner, planning for their descendants and future generations. As one of those descendants I grew up on a working farm in the high mountain desert and know first-hand the importance of sustainability and growth. Today, Utah is the nation’s leading diversified economy, ranked in the top 5, if not number 1 by Forbes magazine in several categories including best place to do business, entrepreneurism, diversified job creation and economic opportunity. We now share the secrets of our success as enthusiastic, working partners with the world.
“Utah Valley University and Mountain Initiatives” LINK:
FAO-UN and the Mountain Partnership IMD 2014 in New York: