UIMF Discussed Mountain Targets and SDG’s with PR of Kenya to the UN, Ambassador Macharia Kamau
Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Ambassador Macharia Kamau visited UVU and lectured before the UVU faculty and students on the theme: “United Nations Post 2030 Development Agenda” on February, 9, 2017. Ambassador Kamau, in addition to many other roles, was the co-chair on the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, had the opportunity to host the Ambassador for a special session with a Q&A roundtable prior to his general lecture. In addition, we were fortunate enough to have former members of the UIMF who graduated in 2015 in attendance.
Prior to Ambassador Kamau’s remarks, Danny Davis, moderator of the session, introduced participants to the distinguished guest and in particular Tony Medina, President of UIMF (2014-2016), who addressed the VIP guest on how the UIMF has been working toward the mountain targets as part of the SDGs set by the UN, particularly in regards to gender since 2007.
Christian Jensen, UIMF President, shared with Ambassador Kamau the United Nations recognition of the UIMF’s efforts in hosting the Fourth International Women of the Mountains (WOM) conference under the umbrella of the FAO-UN in Orem in October of 2015. For the first time ever, such a high level United Nations forum was hosted through efforts of the students only, as part of the experiential model of student learning. This conference was gathered as a follow up event to the historic UN sustainable development summit in New York, which adopted the SDGs as a roadmap for human development in 2015. Christian emphasized that the WOM conference has been hosted since 2007 as a grass roots forum to promote gender and the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in North America.
Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President of UIMF, then shared how the UIMF coalition of clubs was featured in the 2016 United Nations Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development (SMD). UVU is the only university in North America which was mentioned in that United Nations document. The WOM conference in October 2015 addressed the critical issues faced by women and children living in mountainous regions across the globe and provided a forum to discuss gender issues. The report highlighted the UIMFs contributions to SDGs 5, 6, and 15, and their promotion.
As Vice President, SMD club, I was honored to thank Ambassador Kamau, as a co-chair of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs, for giving an opportunity to UVU student Jesler Molina to speak during the session of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs on December 11th 2013. The Ambassador was pleased to be reminded by that important fact of working together with UVU students during the adoption of mountain targets among SDGs. He was warmly greeted by Jesler Molina, President UIMF (2013-2014) who was also in the audience during the session.
Jesler Molina, and Ambassador Macharia Kamau during
Session of the UN Open Working Group
on SDGs in 2013
In addition to these accomplishments the UIMF shared with the Ambassador Kamau, Tony Medina informed the VIP guest, that he, Christian Jensen, Munkhbat Batmunkh, and myself will be attending the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this March. This will be an excellent opportunity to promote the work of the UIMF and its implementation of SDG#5 focusing on gender issues and mountain targets in particular, at the CSW61, and engage in the discussions and presentations taking place there. While there, Ambassador Kamau has extended an invitation for these students to meet at the Kenyan Embassy to further discuss the post 2030 development agenda.
In his response, Ambassador Kamau focused on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the importance of the goals that have been set for the next generation. He expressed appreciation to UIMF students for active involvement with the SDGs adoption and said that what was done at UVU gives him satisfaction, that the hard work of the OWG team was worth it. After the millennial development goals of 2015 were accomplished, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals set a new agreement as a successor. The new goals were to be a global framework rather than focused only in developing countries. This is due to a growth in population, technological advancements, economic prosperity coupled with income disparity, gender inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and global security challenges. With that being said, finding a sustainable path for closing the gap between the rich and the poor, the developed and underdeveloped is the priority of the 2030 Agenda. After three years of negotiations, the 2030 Agenda was adopted, in an unprecedented multilateral effort. The agenda consists of 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets to be met by 2030. And there are three mountain targets among them, for which UIMF and UVU made so many efforts in order to be adopted since 2013.
During the Q&A session, Ambassador Kamau encouraged participants to use the resources they have living in this century to reach out to students all around the world to work in partnership to reach their collective goals and promote the SDGs. Following which, questions of how these goals could be achieved even in times of political turmoil were posed and answered. Ambassador Kamau responded with the powerful words, “no matter who is in power, and what their agenda is, as long as the people stay engaged, our institutions continue to work towards good, and if history’s positive momentum stays behind us we can continue to point in the right direction despite political waves.” With that being said, the success of the SDGs is dependent upon partnership and sacrifices made by every government, international and regional institution, and every person. By doing this the world can be a safe, clean, sustainably joyful place for generations to come.
It was a very important and meaningful meeting with such a distinguished UN official which benefitted both sides and provided UIMF members with new experiences and energy in order to continue implementation of the post 2030 development agenda and mountain targets in particular.
Regan Warner, Vice President of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club.
Video of Presentation of Ambassador Macharia Kamau