Ninth International Mountain Day Celebration at Utah Valley University

On December 5, 2018, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) hosted the Ninth International Mountain Day (IMD) event at Utah Valley University (UVU). This was an opportunity for UIMF to highlight the achievements of students, faculty, and the community in promotion of mountain targets within the year of 2018. These people were recognized with an official certificate from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). This year’s event ran along with the theme of #MountainsMatter. During the event four guest speakers shared on the importance of mountains and what they had accomplished within the past year. The audience also heard from UIMF President Mr. Samuel Elzinga, who spoke first.

Samuel Elzinga speaks before the audience

Mr. Elzinga started by talking about all of the achievement that UIMF was able to accomplish in 2018. One of these being the opportunity that Mr. Elzinga himself and two other UVU students had to speak for three minutes at the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development in July 19, 2018 on advocacy for mountain targets. He then spoke about all of the foreign dignitaries that UIMF was able to co-host in coordination the UVU Office of Global Engagement. He referenced the Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to UN, His Excellency Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, who visited UVU earlier in the year. Guest from Tajikistan then famously said that “if the mountains go, everything else will go to.” Mr. Elzinga also announced his recent invitation from the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to speak at the UN on December 11 in New York City in commemoration of the International Mountain Day. He will be attending with Mr. Andrew Jensen, who also spoke at the HLPF in July and is a student at UVU. After Mr. Elzinga’s presentation, Ms. Megan Davis presented him with an official certificate from the FAO-UN commending his advocacy for mountain targets in 2018. After this, a video clip was played of the three students speaking at the HLPF.

Dr. Baldomero Lago speaks before the audience

Mr. Andrew Jensen, a student at UVU and President of the Model UN Club, introduced the next guest speaker, Dr. Baldomero Lago. Dr. Lago is the CIO/Vice-Rector for Global Engagement at UVU. He plays the key role in bringing the United Nations DPI conference in August to Utah, which UVU will co-host with the Salt Lake City. Dr. Lago spoke about the conference that will be coming to Utah next August and how it came to be. He also spoke a great deal on the UVU student’s involvement in all of these activities. Without student engaged learning, none of this would be possible. Dr. Lago emphasized that students are the future and will pick up everything that is happening now. So being involved at such a high level now will result in great progress when students in the audience will graduate and start to take over. Finally, Dr. Lago spoke on how popular Utah is becoming at the United Nations. He answered questions for hours during a teleconference discussing details of the UN DPI conference coming to Utah. He read a letter of invitation to Mr. Mastrojeni and the Mountain Partnership to be part of the side event on mountains during the next year conference. After his presentation, Dr. Lago was presented with a gift on behalf of the UIMF and a FAO certificate presented by Ms. Megan Davis, for his contributions to the 2018 International Mountain Day campaign.

Mayor Richard Brunst speaks before the audience

Mr. Michael Hinatsu, who is studying political science at UVU and is a member of UIMF, introduced the Mayor of Orem City, Mr. Richard Brunst. Mayor Brunst’s presentation focused on why mountains matter. He gave examples of how almost everything we have either comes from mountains or is connected to them. He advocated for the protection of mountains, especially for water, lumber, and clear air. Finally, he commended UIMF and UVU for the progress made in 2018 and committed Orem to helping in UIMF goals and in the future. Mayor Brunst also received a gift from UIMF and was presented with a FAO-UN certificate from Ms. Megan Davis.

Mr. Joseph Lloyd, Vice President of UIMF and student at UVU, introduced the next speaker at the event, Dr. Ross Butler. Dr. Butler is the main representative at the United Nations for the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS). RANS is an NGO in general consultative status under ECOSOC since 2002. Dr. Butler discussed the importance of NGO involvement at the United Nations. He also recognized the role that students have in working with his NGO, RANS. He addressed the example of letting the three students speak at the High Level Political Forum in August, instead of himself. He mirrored some of Dr. Lagos’s points about youth involvement. He stressed how important it was to allow the youth to be able to participate and have a voice on issues that matter. He stated that himself and RANS would continue to work with the students at UVU, in particular UIMF, to bring them to the UN and give them a chance to have their voices heard. Dr. Butler was also presented with a gift from UIMF and an official certificate from the FAO-UN, recognizing his contribution to the 2018 International Mountain Day campaign and advocating for mountain targets.

Ms. Hannah Bieker, a member of UIMF who is studying national security at UVU introduced the fourth speaker, Ms. Wendy Jyang, the President of the Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce. Her organization was granted the special consultative status of NGO with ECOSOC in 2015. Mrs. Jyang focused on the family as a factor in lifting people out of poverty. She also used the power of education as a salient factor in doing this. Her organization takes people from all over the world, provides them the opportunity to come to the US to pursue higher education and teaches them the importance of family. Mrs. Jyang shared stories from her experiences and had pictures to go along with them. Her NGO, along with RANS, played a key role in UIMF advocacy at the UN in 2018. Mrs. Jyang received a gift on behalf of UIMF and an official certificate from the FAO-UN, presented by Ms. Megan Davis.

The final guest speaker to present was Ms. Rebecca Bindraban, a current student at UVU and vice president in UIMF. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Youth and the Mountains journal, an on-campus journal that highlights students’ work on sustainable mountain development topics. Ms. Bindraban gave a brief presentation on this year’s journal issue and presented journal copies to William Crist and Derk Horlacher, student authors in the issue. Ms. Megan Davis presented Ms. Bindraban and both authors with official FAO-UN certificates for their contributions to mountain target advocacy.

After the guest speakers presented, the event moved to presenting certificates to students and faculty at UVU that advocated for mountain targets and causes in 2018. The ceremony was started with those who participated and helped with the 62nd Session on the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. All of these people received official certificates from the FAO-UN. Next, certificates were presented to faculty and staff who contributed to the mountain agenda. The first in the list was Dr. Alexander Stecker, who was faculty at UVU and one of the main organizers of the first Women of the Mountains Conference in 2007. His contribution to the advocacy of mountain sustainability was recognized through the Honorary Professorship at the International University of Kyrgyzstan. After Dr. Stecker received his certificate, the rest of the faculty who contributed were given certificates as well. Finally, the event was ended with the presentation of FAO-UN certificates to students who contributed to the mountain sustainability targets.

UVU faculty and students during IMD 2018

This year’s International Mountain Day was a great success. This was my first time organizing an event like this and it was a great learning experience. This event did a great job of honoring all of those who contributed this year and can be used a springboard into next year, which will also be a fantastic year for UVU, UIMF, and the sustainable mountain development goals. The focus of UIMF will be on advocacy of mountain targets at UN forums in New York City and during the UN NGO conference in Salt Lake City in August 2019.

Hagen Isaackson, member, UIMF

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Rebecca Bindraban – Presentation

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Photos of the IMD2018 celebration at UVU

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Letter of invitation to Mr. Mastrojeni and the Mountain Partnership  

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Brochure

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Task List – International Mountain Day 2018

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An announcement about IMD Celebration at UVU

STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Michael Hinatsu – Reflections on UIMF Celebration of International Mountain Day

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Mark Driggs-UIMF and IMD A Celebration and Reminder of Why Mountains Matter

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Kyle Williams-Ninth celebration of International Mountain Day at UVU

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Cory Levin-UIMF celebrates the ninth International Mountain Day

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Laila Mitchell – Ninth Annual IMD Celebration at Utah Valley University

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Hailee Hodgson – My contribution to the ninth International Mountain Day Celebration at UVU

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Taylor Bell Ninth International Mountain Day celebration at UVU

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Mary Nelson-IMD at UVU recognizes Youth and the Mountains journal

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Mary Nelson-UVU IMD hosts Wendy Jyang

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Victoria Bindrup-International Mountain Day at Utah Valley University

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Joseph-Lloyd-United Nations Ninth International Mountain Day at UVU