Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), has been participating in online conference calls led by the NGO Commission on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) to prepare the Zero Draft Outcome Document for the 63rd Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in 2019. The Zero Draft consists of policy recommendations relating to the priority theme of CSW63 (social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) that member states agree to support and is the foundation for their negotiations on agreed conclusions at Commissions on the Status of Women.
Since November 2nd, 2018, UIMF has made substantial contributions to the document by adding specific language about mountain women and citing important UN documents, agreements, and studies showing the need to include mountain women specifically in global forums on sustainability. At the first online session, UIMF added multiple references about mountain women and sustainable mountain development (SMD), but only one of UIMF’s contributions—a reference to a 2015 FAO-Mountain Partnership Secretariat study showing how mountain communities are more vulnerable to food security—was kept by the Zero Draft committee.
Realizing the importance of citing UN documents, agreements, and other studies and documents from civil society, UIMF came more prepared to the second online session on November 16th and added references to UN Secretary-General reports A/64/222 and A/68/307 about how education can help sustainable mountain development. UIMF also cited UN documents E/CN.5/2018/NGO/71; E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37/Rev.1; E/2018/NGO/17 and a presentation given by the UIMF delegation at CSW62 describing Utah Valley University’s student engaged learning model, as well as the importance education plays in implementing SMD. By providing detailed language and citing important sources such as UN documents, studies, and official statistics, UIMF was much more successful in this session with contributing in a meaningful way to the potential Zero Draft document.
At a third online session on November 29th, UIMF added references to UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/71/234 describing the vulnerability of mountain ecosystems to climate change, natural disasters, and land use; the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 about the fragility of mountainous ecosystems regarding climate change, and a UN Secretary-General report describing the unique roles of mountain women and their neglect from education, policies, and other measures that would improve their lives. UIMF was also able to direct the attention of session moderators to UIMF’s additions.
On December 7th, UIMF added references to the Paris Agreement at COP21 which, while not having specific language about mountain women, contains language asserting the importance of approaches to address climate change among vulnerable groups and communities, especially of women. UIMF also referenced a Declaration on Mountains and Climate Change for COP21, in which a number of civil society participants specifically called for Paris Accords mechanisms to specifically address mountain areas and concerns relating to climate change and SMD.
UIMF’s participation in these online sessions are important in bringing mountain women into the focus of high-level forums and for implementing the mountain targets into the 2030 Development agenda. UIMF will continue to work with other participants who have similar concerns about empowering women and advocating for often-ignored groups of women, particularly through education. UIMF will continue to attend subsequent sessions to contribute to the Zero Draft, which will be crucial in making sure that mountain women are included in the negotiations for both the agreed conclusions of CSW63 and global sustainability efforts.
Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member