On March 17-20, 2020, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, will participate in the 64th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) in New York City to advocate for women and girls living in mountainous communities globally, as well as highlight how Utah Valley University’s (UVU) developed student engaged learning model (SEL) constitutes best practices for empowering youth and other learners to contribute to implementing the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
CSW64 marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, considered by many to be the first comprehensive global agreement on gender equality. The priority theme of CSW64 is to assess the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and how to fully realize gender equality as part of the 2030 Agenda.
Given the priority theme and in continuance of its important advocacy of sustainable mountain development (SMD) topics, the delegation’s goals for CSW64 are to:
- Raise awareness about mountain communities and families as the most neglected groups at the national and international levels and most vulnerable to modern challenges such as climate change, outmigration, food insecurity, etc.;
- Urge the members of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries to include language about mountain women and girls in the CSW64 final document, as well as reporte about measures to empower mountain communities and families in national review reports;
- Urge the CSW64 audience to implement three mountain targets, designated by the UN among 17 SDGs as a roadmap for mountain communities to be in the focus of 2030 UN Agenda for sustainable development;
- Host a parallel event titled “Mountain Women Empowerment Through the Inclusive Student-Engaged Learning Model” under co-sponsorship of RANS and UIMF at the Salvation Army Auditorium on March 19, 2020 at 6:15pm;
- Promote Utah as the one of the examples of sustainable mountain development (SMD);
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of the student engaged learning (SEL) model to advocate for mountain communities and Utah as the SMD example;
- Deliver an oral statement and intervention from the floor during CSW64 about the above topics.
Along with sponsorship of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (Utah China F.I.S.H. D&C)—two NGOs under consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)—the delegation includes for the first time Project Work Groups, a company that works to find global sustainability projects related to food security, agriculture, and the environment and provide services and support for such projects from various stakeholders, including UVU and other Utah academic institutions.
Since the fall of 2019, UIMF members have worked closely with Mr. Uday Teki, founder and CEO of Project Work Groups, and other delegation members to make all preparations to attend CSW64 under SEL, which gives students the primary responsibility of solving problems related to SMD implementation by working together as a grout with faculty serving as mentors. Under SEL, the delegation has accomplished the following preparations:
- Wrote and submitted with RANS, Utah China F.I.S.H. D&C, and Project Work Groups a written statement highlighting UIMF’s implementation of SEL to solve problems related to advocating for SMD, mountain communities and families, nontraditional students, and other sustainability issues. The statement was published by ECOSOC as official document E/CN.6/2020/NGO/91 on November 20, 2019;
- Contacted permanent missions of various UN member states, including members of the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries, to have meetings about building a coalition within the UN system to ensure mountain women and girls are not neglected by the UN;
- Set up continuing partnerships with UVU Rotaract, a student club sponsored by Rotary International, to address SMD issues locally, as well as the UVU Foreign Affairs Club, to mobilize student members of the delegation;
- Contributed language about SMD, mountain communities, nontraditional learners, and SEL to the NGO Recommendation document for the priority theme of CSW64
Under SEL, the delegation is also finalizing plans for a parallel event mentioned above in order to share best practices related to advocating under SEL for mountain communities and families, empowering all learners—including nontraditional ones—to implement the 2030 Agenda under SDG target 4.7, as well as to highlight Utah as the best model for addressing local, regional, national, and global SMD issues.
Michael Hinatsu, UIMF Vice President
UIMF delegation members/statements:
Samuel Elzinga, UIMF President
Jon Downs, Sustainable Mountain Development Club Vice President
William Gum, Foreign Affairs Club Vice President
Michael Hinatsu, Foreign Affairs Club President
Mizuki Olivares, Foreign Affairs Club Vice President
Megan Raines, UVU Adjunct faculty, UIMF Alumni
Bethany Raines, High school student
Kyle Warren, Rotaract Club President
UIMF delegation advisers:
Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, lecturer, History and Political Science, UVU ; mentor, UIMF
Dr. Ross E “Rusty” Butler, RANS focal point at the United Nations
Ms. Wendy Jyang, founder, Utah China F.I.S.H. D&C
Mr. Uday Teki, Project Work Groups founder/CEO