Lecture by His Excellency Ambassador Martin Sajdik at UVU.
The lecture by Ambassador Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations gave insight in to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the goals are a result of the move to adopt the post-2015 development agenda by the General Assembly. Ambassador Sajdik, is President of the Economic and Social Council, a fifty-four government member organization whose key responsibilities are to review and make recommendations to the United Nations for sustainable development goals. Distinguished guest made a presentation before the faculty and students at UVU on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at the Sorensen Center of Utah Valley University. Title of his presentation was “A new global strategy for sustainability; the post 2015 development agenda of the United Nations – will it make a difference?”
Ambassador Martin Sajdik during presentation before UVU faculty and students
Ambassador Sajdik emphasized the new Sustainable Development Goals will expand on the previous Millennium Goals which have run from 2000-2015. The previous eight goals focused on an end to hunger, preventable disease and extreme poverty. The new seventeen goals maintain those goals but include sustainable development, which includes environmental sustainability as well as economic growth.
The means of implementation of these goals could be difficult especially for developing nations with limited money. Ambassador Sajdik stressed the importance of richer, developed countries’ investment in structures to implement these goals. The European Union has been a major contributor in promoting these goals, $76 billion in 2013, in relation to the United States, $30 billion. Nations like China and India are becoming greater investors and donating more money to support implementing these goals.
Ambassador Sajdik emphasized also the importance of Goal 16 among the Sustainable Development Goals which stresses the promotion of “peaceful and inclusive societies” and the importance of providing “access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. He stressed the importance of good governance to fight corruption and how crucial rule of law is. Young people play an increasingly important part in holding governments responsible, and in fighting corruption, “Young people don’t have money to bribe”.
The mechanisms of implementation are not yet in place, and it may prove more difficult to implement seventeen new Sustainable Development Goals verses the previous eight Millennium Goals. But it is crucial that governments support and promote these goals and hold one another accountable so that we can globally achieve sustainable development.
At the end of the presentation VIP guest answered to several questions from the audience. One of the questions was asked by Lisa Shepherd, UVU student about who will play a role of watchdogs in monitoring implementation of the goals inside nations. Another question was asked about importance of fighting corruption and situation with corrupted practices in Mongolia. Ambassador Sajdik who was once Ambassador of Austria in Mongolia responded to Munkhbat Batmunkh, student from Mongolia that his nation presents an example of the country which was able to achieve a remarkable success in its transition to the market economy and open society.
In general, it was very interesting and comprehensive presentation of the President of ECOSOC about which direction international community is moving during the next decade and why it is important for all of us not only to focus on new indicators in sustainable development nationally and globally, but also to make sure that SDGs will be implemented.
It will be important to mention that the visit of Ambassador Martin Sajdik to UVU was organized by Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU under the leadership of Dr. Rusty Butler, who is also the focal point for the Mountain Partnership at our university. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Butler students and faculty at UVU were able to get involved in a number of interesting projects and initiatives with focus on the promotion of the United Nations sustainable mountain development agenda in the state of Utah and globally. Ambassador Sejdik was impressed by UIMF member’s contribution to the celebration of the International Year of Family Farming, to the promotion of gender agenda among others.
Deena Ainge, President of Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU
Megan Raines, UVU student, member of the organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains Conference
In recent years Utah Valley University has been no stranger to visiting dignitaries from prominent international bodies and countries. Thursday, February 12, 2015 was no exception. His Excellency Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations (UN), and President of one of the six primary organs of the UN called the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), came to UVU to present the goals of ECOSOC in the next fifteen years with regards to sustainable global development.
Before his presentation to the larger student population Ambassador Sajdik met with students and faculty from Utah International Mountain Forum, (UIMF), a coalition of various clubs at the university focused on sustainable mountain development (SMD). At this meeting Mr. Sajdik engaged these students on how their organizations could work in conjunction with ECOSOC to facilitate sustainable mountain development right here in Utah, and how Utah can network with other mountain regions to communicate best practices.
UVU is gaining increasing attention from the UN by successfully hosting conferences in 2007, 2011 and 2012 on women’s issues in mountain areas. UVU is also planning on hosting its fourth conference this fall. Furthermore, UVU has participated with students and faculty at other international forums in years past that focus on sustainable development, and especially in mountain areas.
At the beginning of the meeting Jesler Molina, President of UIMF introduced a handful members of coalition to the distinguished guest, Mr. Sajdik and his wife. He briefly described main goals and initiatives of UIMF since its creation in 2011.
Distinguished guests and the audience then watched a short documentary video about UIMF and its main achievements in the advocacy of SMD agenda both in the state of Utah and globally.
Then Ambassador Sajdik spoke of the upcoming goals of ECOSOC. He addressed the framework for goals laid out in Rio + 20, as well as how ECOSOC is adjusting to implement those goals. He expressed the importance to have strong stakeholders, especially in the United States who will encourage the government to join these vital international coalitions, and than hold them accountable afterward. The United States has a lot to offer to other nations when it comes to sustainable mountain development, and also may learn a lot from successful practices of other mountain nations.
Mr. Sajdik expressed his enthusiasm to see where sustainable development lands in the next fifteen years. He also went on to explain that ECOSOC is the vehicle for which countries may work together to brainstorm and implement sustainable development goals. ECOSOC is then responsible for facilitating an international platform that will allow for the bilateral and multilateral agreements to grow and succeed.
Towards the conclusion of the meeting Ambassador Sajdik took questions and ideas from students. He was impressed to see that UVU, for example, contributed to the promotion of the international year of farming.
Distinguished guest heard from one student named Kiersten Dumas, about her experience growing up on a farm and family farming in Utah, and in the United States. Ms. Dumas also informed Mr. Sajdik about engaging high school students in an essay writing contest this fall in conjunction with UVU’s Women of the Mountains conference, and experiences on hosting a similar one during 2014 on the topic of family farming in Utah. Hailey Eggleston, another UVU student shared with Ambassador Sajdik her excitement with organizing the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference in Utah and asked to find interested partners and individuals in Austria. Other students also had the opportunity to ask questions and engage Mr. Sajdik directly concerning topics of sustainable development.
Dr. Bob Palais, one of the advisors for UIMF, also informed guest with joint activities and contribution from the prominent mountaineers in the United States and from abroad, Austria included in SMD advocacy.
It was a great event and a vivid example of engaged learning for UVU students on a global level.
Visit of dignitary from the United Nations took place thanks to the efforts of the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy and personally Dr. Rusty Butler, who is a head of that office and also a focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU.
Jesse Gray, UVU and Vermont Law School alumni
Austria – Newsletter