During October 12-15, 2012, a Utah Valley University delegation visited Aspen, CO by invitation of the Aspen International Mountain Foundation and the Telluride Institute. The main goal of the visit was to discuss the future of the United Nations-affiliated Mountain Partnership (MP), coalition of the global institutions, promoting the agenda of sustainable mountain development and to create a hub of the MP in North America. This delegation was comprised of Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Lecturer at the History and Political Science Department at UVU and representatives of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), coalition of UVU students clubs Jesler Molina, Jordan Giles and me.
During the meeting local hosts gathered key MP members from North America, who were promoting the initiative for the creation of a North American MP hub over several years and especially during the international conference Women of the Mountains hosted by UVU in Orem, Utah during March 7-9, 2011. The Mountain Partnership members in attendance through adopting a special declaration supported the decision of the secretariat of the MP from Rome, Italy made in 2011 about creation of a regional hub in Colorado jointly by AIMF and TI and defined major priorities and goals for the activities of the hub in promoting SMD-activities both in the region and globally. As a part of the final document of the gathering in Aspen, CO participants discussed a variety of ideas, joint initiatives and projects, which they were willing to contribute to the activities of the global MP network with a major aim to advocate the SMD-agenda locally, nationally and internationally in addition to networking, knowledge sharing and exchange of the best practices in SMD-areas. UVU delegation and students UVU in particular contributed its expertise and knowledge to the several areas of discussion related to the activities of the hub at this conference, including collaborative organization efforts, event planning, web design, and social media. Meeting was comprised in addition to delegations of AIMF, TI, UVU, also representatives from the Mountain Institute, VA, Vista 360, WY, the City of Aspen, CO, the Utah Russian Institute, UT and members of the Rocky Mountains Sustainability and Science Network (RMSSN).
Upon its creation, the North American hub would represent MP members from this continent, and will coordinate its work with the central hub under the umbrella of the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. The final document of the gathering will be submitted to the MP headquarters in Rome at the end of October, when major donor institutions will be developing a new strategy and structure for the MP during its emergency meeting in Rome, Italy.
Members of Utah International Mountain Forum (from left to right): John McClure, Jordan Giles and Jesler Molina with Rebecca Wallace, from Aspen International Mountain Foundation (third from left) discuss the final document of the meeting
UVU as a MP member since 2006 and the UIMF has already made significant contributions to the activities of the regional hub and MP in general: they raised substantial funds in promotion of the gender agenda as a part of SMD and co-hosted three international Women of the Mountains Conference during 2007, 2011 in Orem, Utah and in 2012 in Puno, Peru. UVU also focuses its efforts on raising funds elsewhere to be able to further co-host those gathering on annual basis with alternating places between Utah and mountain nations overseas and to create a permanently functioning unique forum for global mountain communities on gender and family issues. UVU and UIMF also were able to raise funds in order to send their delegation to take part at the Third Global Meeting of the MP members as a part of the RIO+20 gathering of the United Nations in Brazil last summer. Currently the students of UVU are raising money for the trip to Rome, Italy in order to contribute to the agenda of the Fourth Global Meeting of the MP members at the end of January 2013.
During the trip to Aspen, members of our coalition of UVU students clubs were able by contributing to the crafting of official documents of the international organization, related to the United Nations both to make a history and to grow as professionals. And we are sure that we will be able to contribute in the same meaningful way to the MP members meeting next year in Rome.
John McClure, President, UIMF