UIMF will contribute to the UN DPI Conference in Utah in 2019

Meeting about preparations for the UN DPI/NGO conference in 2019

On August 28, 2018, Andrew Jensen and I participated at the meeting about the results of the Utah delegation visit to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI/NGO) Conference during August 21-24, 2018. It was a meeting of students and faculty engaged in the UVUN initiative which means a partnership between UVU and the UN, established in November 2017.  Dr. Baldomero Lago, head of the UVU office of Global Engagement informed us that Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski announced last week at the UN that Salt Lake City will host the 68th UN DPI/NGO Conference in August 2019.  (See: https://www.slc.gov/mayor/2018/08/23/salt-lake-city-selected-to-host-2019-united-nations-ngo-conference/). Mayor Biskupski encouraged the UN to make Sustainability Goal 11 the focus of the 2019 Conference. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 lays out a series of targets for cities to reach by 2030, including access to safe and affordable housing, transportation, and green and public spaces. Goal 11 also encourages cities to adopt and implement plans to reduce the environmental impact of cities, particularly air quality.

The effort to bring the UN DPI/NGO Conference to Utah began with the UVU Office for Global Engagement. As the first step, Dr. Lago was able to secure for UVU in November 2017 affiliate membership status with the UN DPI with an important task to educate the UVU and larger community on the 17 UN SDGs. Then, Dr. Lago approached Mayor Biskupski about the possibility of hosting the Conference. “Given Salt Lake City’s mission of building a sustainable and resilient city,” as press-release of the Salt Lake City Mayor make reference on Dr. Lago, “it made perfect sense to approach the City to help make this dream a reality.” The 2019 Conference is expected to take place in late August with events hosted at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Downtown Salt Lake City.

(L to R): Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga and Professor Ryan Vogel during the meeting

Dr. Lago informed all of us about several steps in preparations for the next year UN conference: in October 27, this year several high-level representatives of the UN DPI will come to UVU to hold a training seminar for NGOs from the state of Utah. This will be an exciting event for us, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which focuses on the advocacy and implementation of mountain targets in the State of Utah and globally.

Participants of the meeting informed about their activities to be contributed to the agenda of the UVUN initiative during entire year as preparations for the UN Conference. For example, representatives of the UVU Women’s Success Center focused on the celebration of the International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2019, while we, as UIMF members will host annual International Mountain Day commemoration at UVU on December 11, 2018.

One of the important priorities for our coalition would be to work with Dr. Lago to ensure that the agenda of the UN conference will include activities to promote the sustainable mountain development topics and implementation of mountain targets, as we preliminary discussed those issues in October 2017 with Dr. Andrew Taber, Chair of the Mountain Partnership Steering Committee at that time and with a newly elected Chair of the MP Steering Committee, Mr. Grammenos Mastrojeni during recent visit to the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development of ECOSOC on July 16, 2018.

We were grateful to Dr. Lago and his staff for support to UIMF activities during our visits to the UN and this meeting was another example of student engagement from his office in preparations to the unique UN conference which will be hosted for the first time in the wstern part of the United States.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU