September 21th, 2019 has marked the 20-year anniversary of the conception of the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. This day is honored around the world by the United Nations member states as a reminder of the unanimous commitment and devotion to “strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” (via www.un.org ).
This commitment has even more meaning in light of the adoption of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). SDGs are focused on economic and social development for countries around the world in a variety of different areas including gender equality, sanitation, education, climate change and more.
Utah Valley University (UVU) students had the opportunity to participate in celebrating and honoring this international commitment through an event sponsored by UVU’s reflection center in conjunction with UVU’s Peace and Justice Studies program.
This event brought together students of different races, economic backgrounds, religions, and interests to communicate their personal definitions and applications of the idea of peace.
Utah Valley University students discussing the role different theology plays in social ideals
After introductions, each student was provided the opportunity to express a portion of their personal identity or cultural affiliation. This provided a pathway for positive dialogue between people with different views and beliefs. Students were able to effectively communicate with others and discuss distinctions in identity.
On the wall of the Reflection Center on campus where the event was held there were seventeen posted pictures, one for each of the UN’s seventeen SDGs. Each person in attendance was invited to view and ponder these displayed goals. Despite each individual’s unique culture, beliefs, values and identity, the room agreed unanimously upon the validity and importance of the necessity and importance of taking action in order to achieve this specific set of goals.
United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals Displayed in UVU Reflection Center
Representing the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at UVUI was able to introduce our mission in relation to the UN’s goals and sustainable mountain development. The interest of several students in bringing about positive change for suffering women in mountain communities was touching.
The event really impressed upon me the power in bringing together people from all backgrounds to work towards the common good. Each student or represented organization (such as environmental activists or non-denominational Christian groups) in attendance had a different advocated cause, each of which could be placed inside one of the seventeen goals of the UN. Through collaboration with other groups, larger, multi-dimensional objectives can be accomplished. It lent itself to the idea that small changes on local levels leads to larger change within communities.
UVU students participating in reflection and dialogue about UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
The ideas and possibilities presented at the International Day of Peace event represent the construction of an inclusive model for increasing sustainability on many different levels here on campus. This model we are creating as UVU students can be used on many larger scales as we refine and work towards the accomplishment of the goals we have set that define and defend the idea of peace we seek for all to have the opportunity to obtain. It is reflective of the larger goals we have for all countries and humankind.
Yana Andersen, UIMF member