UIMF Advocated for Mountain Targets at the 68th UN Civil Society Conference

From August 26th to the 28th, 2019 members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), participated in the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference (UNCSC) in Salt Lake City, Utah. This conference was the first time the UN hosted a meeting in America outside of New York City since the UN was formed in San Francisco in 1945.

UIMF members advocated for mountain targets implementation at the UNCSC by hosting:

1) UIMF’s exhibit #124 titled “Student Engaged Learning to Advocate for Mountains “ from August 26th to 28th and;

2) a workshop titled “Student Engaged Learning to Advocate for Mountain Women and Targets at UN ECOSOC forums “ on August 28th.

Initially UIMF applied and was approved to host three workshops at the UNCSC, but one month before the conference it was asked to consolidate it in one because of too many requests from other institutions around the world. As a result, that one workshop was comprised from representatives of UVU, UIMF, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, and the government of Kyrgyzstan.

Most importantly, however, several UIMF members lead by Michael Hinatsu focused and were able to secure language in the outcome document of the (UNCSC) that specifically states the importance of promoting sustainable mountain development. This is the first time such language has been included in a final document of a major UN civil society conference.

(L to R): Mr. Sam Elzinga, President UIMF and William Gum, member, UIMF  during the workshop at UN Civil Society Conference

UIMF was one of the only organizations at this conference that had a youth-led workshop as well as a youth-led exhibit. This made UIMF a key organization at this conference due to its strong youth presence. What truly made UIMF unique among all of the youth-led exhibits and workshops, however, was its inclusion of non-traditional students. UIMF places special emphasis on including non-traditional students due to the unique perspective they provide when conducting advocacy efforts at the United Nations. One such UVU student, Mr. D. William Gum-Causey , was able to present his research regarding violence against Native-American women and its impact on the sustainable mountain development agenda.

Group photo after the UIMF workshop at UNCSC 

During the workshop on promoting the sustainable mountain development agenda, I moderated while presenters shared their findings with the audience. Mr. Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev, the President’s Representative to the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan, presented on Kyrgyzstan’s implementation of the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda; Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, faculty mentor of UIMF, presented on behalf of Dr. Rusty Butler, the UN focal point for the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences on the RANS/UVU/UIMF partnership and how that has impacted advocacy efforts at the United Nations; Dr. Sara Ulloa, the Chair of the languages and cultures department at UVU, addressed gender equality as it relates to the SMD agenda in Peru;    Dr. Alexander Stecker,  former Political Science Coordinator at UVU, presented on a history of UVU’s involvement with both Kyrgyzstan and the UN to support the SMD agenda; Mr. Jesler Molina, former UIMF President, presented on his role in advocating for the SMD agenda by participating in the Open Working Group on the SDGs to include three mountain targets; Mr. Michael Hinatsu, the Vice-President of UIMF, discussed the dire importance of implementing the SMD agenda as it relates to other UN initiatives like food insecurity; Ms. Rebecca Bindraban, the editor-in-chief of the Youth and the Mountains journal, discussed about the contents of 2018 and 2019 issues and how the journal helps highlight UIMF activities at the United Nations; and Mr. Carlos Alarco from the UVU Office for Global Engagement discussed his involvement with the Women of the Mountains Conferences and managing its web-site in particular.

(R to L): Tyler L. Jaynes, B.Sc., UVU alumnus; Mr. Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev, official from Kyrgyzstan; Michael Hinatsu, Vice-President of UIMF; and Tokona Dyikanbaeva, wife of Mr. Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev; at the UIMF booth during the UN Civil Society Conference

The exhibit of the UIMF was prepared with professional help from the UVU Marketing: we were provided with a backdrop for our booth and leaflets  about UIMF activities.  It was maintained and handled during all three days of the UNCSC by Tyler Jaynes, Viktoriia Bahrii, Rebecca Bindraban, Michael Hinatsu, Kyle Warren,  and William Gum.

(L to R): Mr. William Gum, Mr. Michael Hinatsu, Ms. Julie Kofoed and Mr. Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev  during the UN Civil Society Conference

By the initiative of William Gum, UIMF members  were able also to successfully host Mrs. Julie Kofoed, Senior Manager for Social Sustainability with UN Global Compact, who provided excellent insight into how to prepare for the 64th Commission on the Status of Women, as well as how the UN system works with the private sector to promote and implement the SDGs.

Austin Melina, UIMF member contributed to hosting the delegation of the Global University System comprised from five scholars from the United States.

Overall, UIMF’s advocacy and participation in this conference was a great success. We were not only able to be one of the only youth-led organizations at the conference but also to complete our advocacy goals by getting language into the outcome document. Participating in this conference was certainly the highlight of my undergraduate career, and I look forward to continuing promoting the SMD agenda at the United Nations in future conferences.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Utah International Mountain Forum





Mr. Kurmanbek Dyikanbaev   Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev

Dr. Sara Ulloa                                    Dr. Alexander Stecker  

Mr. Jesler Molina                                     Mr. Michael Hinatsu

Mr. D. William Gum-Causey        Ms. Rebecca Bindraban

Mr. Carlos Alarco


Video of the event




In building sustainable and inclusive communities, Utah’s youth will lead the way


Youth group UIMF puts mountains on the map at UNCSC


Kyrgyzstan promoted sustainable mountain development during the UN conference in the State of Utah, USA


Students and teachers represent UVU United Nations Civil Society Conference




Michael Hinatsu-68th UNCSC Outcome Document Focuses on Mountain Communities


Kyle Warren-Representing UVU Rotaract at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference


Tyler Jaynes – My Contribution to the 68th UNCSC Conference Activities


Viktoriia Bahrii – Attending Thematic Session on Peaceful Societies at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference