Congressman from Utah recognizes student contribution to the mountain targets implementations at HLPF 2018

Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), made a statement at the U.S. House of Representatives on September 4, 2018 with recognition of members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University for their advocacy of the mountain communities and the promotion of the Utah model of sustainable mountain development.

Damon Ashcraft, Samuel Elzinga and Andrew Jensen, UIMF members participated at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York on July 16-19, 2018. They made an oral statement during general debates of the HLPF on Sustainable Development on July 19, 2018.

Below is the statement of Congressman John Curtis (R-UT): 


Mr. CURTIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend Samuel Elzinga, Damon Ashcraft, and Andrew Jensen, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University,  on their recent success at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of ECOSOC on July 19, 2018 in New York. During general debates at that global forum, they highlighted the importance of advocating for mountain communities, who are among the most impoverished and forgotten communities globally. They demonstrated student engaged learning, one of UVU’s core philosophies, by planning every aspect of the trip, while Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, a UVU faculty member served them as a mentor to guide them through their endeavors. Through this engaged learning model, Samuel, Andrew, and Damon engaged also such non-governmental organizations registered with the ECOSOC as the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mountain Institute and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Cooperation. As a result, those NGOs provided them an opportunity to make an oral and written statement, highlighting the state of Utah as a model for sustainable mountain development. Utah is consistently ranked as one of the best states for doing business and has some of the fastest growing communities in the country. I am very proud they highlighted how students are able and have to be counted as contributors to sustainable development both in Utah and mountain communities worldwide. Below is their oral statement, which was presented during ECOSOC’s general debate on July 19th, 2018

Mountain Targets Implementations Through Student Engaged Learning

We thank the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences for allowing us to speak in support of mountain communities, who are among the poorest and most-neglected globally. Climate change and migration make their living conditions even worse. According to a recent study by the FAO-UN and the Mountain Partnership (MP) Secretariat, an estimated 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries are vulnerable to food insecurity. From 2000 to 2012, there was a 30-percent increase in the number of mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity, with their population only increasing by 16 percent.

Two SDGs under the review of this forum contain three mountain targets and it must address the challenges facing mountain communities: Target 6.6: by 2020, protect and restore water related ecosystems, including mountains, …; Target 15.1: by 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular….mountains and drylands….; Target 15.4: by 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

Since 2007, Utah Valley University, with the support of the Mountain Partnership, involves students, including non-traditional ones, in the implementation of mountain targets. Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, gain professional skills through an engaged learning model by addressing real-world problems of mountain communities with a faculty serving them as a mentor.

UIMF members have already advocated for the mountain women during the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Students, jointly with their Kyrgyz peers, reported about hosting the International Women of the Mountains conferences as an implementation of the UN Resolution “International Year of Mountains, 2002.” The 2016 UN Secretary-General’s Report on Sustainable Mountain Development featured recommendations provided by UIMF in the latest conference document about the role women play in implementation of two mountain targets.  Through the model students raised and contributed $250,000 to the mountain targets adoption and implementation.

The model demonstrates that students are able and must play an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It can be used by universities in rural and mountainous states worldwide to provide similar benefits to students, and to transform mountain communities towards sustainable and resilient societies.

Congressional Record, September 4, 2018, P. E1189


Mountain Partnership about UIMF members recognition by Congressman John Curtis (R-UT)