All posts by paxmundi

Assisting Dr Rusty Butler in Preparation for ECOSOC Forum

On 25 May 2016, I was able to meet at the United Nations in New York with Dr Rusty Butler, who was Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at Utah Valley University (UVU) during 1992-2016 and Director of the Utah-Russia Institute at Utah Valley University.

1   (L to R) Dzhukev and Dr Butler meet in front the UN HQ
(©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

Dr Rusty Butler served also as a focal point (coordinator) of the Mountain Partnership under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) at UVU during the last 10 years. He was able to transform UVU into a leading institution in North America advocating the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and advancing the gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda in particular of the UN. One of his unique initiatives was to arrange visits to Utah and provide for UVU students an opportunity to host Permanent Representatives of many nations accredited to the UN. During visits, high-level foreign guests had a chance to be acquainted with the hospitality of the officials and local communities in Utah and to learn more about the model of sustainable development in Utah, one of the best SMD models in the US.

Dr Butler was recently appointed as main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). RANS was registered as a NGO with Consultative Status under ECOSOC since 2002. Dr Butler visited the UN headquarters to prepare for the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The event will take place on 11-15 July 2016, followed by a three-day ministerial meeting of the Forum on 18-20 July 2016. The theme of the 2016 session will be ‘Ensuring that no one is left behind,’ as decided in an ECOSOC plenary session on 14 March 2016.

Dr Butler kindly invited me to dinner on May 25th to talk about my activities as the first UVU intern at the United Nations. Furthermore, he was interested to know about my contribution to the event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru to the UN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York and Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS). Gathering discussed the findings of a MPS study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity.” It was important for him to know that the majority of mountain communities are still vulnerable to hunger and other challenges related to food insecurity.

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(L to R) Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Moldoisaeva and Dr Butler  (©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

As one of the assignments, Dr Butler asked me to arrange a meeting for him with the newly appointed PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Mirgul Moldoisaeva. Dr Butler has extensive connections with many officials at the Kyrgyz Republic. His wife Danielle was the Honorary Consul of the Kyrgyz Republic to the state of Utah during 2003-2011.

This was a great experience for me to learn protocol and to be able to arrange such a high-level meeting on such a short notice. However, Her Excellency Ambassador Moldoisaeva met Dr Butler in the late afternoon on 27 May.

During the meeting, the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic was impressed by Dr Butler’s background of working with many diplomats, including from her own nation and the fact that he was an Honorary Consul of Russia to Utah for 16 years. Dr Butler invited Ambassador Moldoisaeva to visit Utah on behalf of an organization called “Utah Ambassadors Hosting” to lecture at one of the universities in Utah, to meet with officials, as well as talk about the advantages of the nations that they represent and the need for establishing beneficial partnerships.

In addition, Ambassador Moldoisaeva was glad to know that UVU is the only undergraduate university in the US, which is a member of the Mountain Partnership and actively advocates SMD during last 10 years, in addition to applying the important aspect of the SDGs implementation into the undergraduate student curriculum. Ambassador Moldoisaeva stated: “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” She was also impressed when Dr Butler informed her that as part of the Open World Program, sponsored by the US Library of Congress, UVU has hosted seven Kyrgyz delegations of young leaders, in addition to numerous delegations from Central Asia and countries of the post-Soviet era in particular.

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(L to R) H.E. Peter Thomson, PR of Fiji to UN and his wife;  Irina Churkina, wife of H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to UN; H.E. Ms Katalin Annamária Bogyay, PR of Hungary to UN and her husband (seated), Dr Rusty Butler and H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to the UN (©Rusty Butler)

In addition, on the evening of 27 May, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations Her Excellency Ms Katalin Bogyay hosted an official dinner in honour of Dr Butler’s visit.  The gathering at her residence was attended by H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and his wife. Ambassador Thomson has a high chance to be elected as the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2016-2017 period. In addition, the dinner was attended by H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN and his wife. The distinguished guests, close friends of Dr Butler, gave wonderful tributes to him, his family and wonderful hospitality, provided to each of them by the people of Utah, both on official level and among the general public, students and faculty included. During the evening, the diplomats also discussed some UN agenda items, SMDs and the SDGs.

While visiting New York City, Dr Butler also spent time with David Colton, UN Representative for LDS Charities with whom Dr Butler had dinner with H.E. Mr Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, a Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations.

Before returning to Utah, Dr Butler had breakfast with the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN H.E. Kaha Imnadze whom he hopes to host again in Utah this fall for an all-Georgian art exhibit at the Springville Art Museum, possibly with the head of Georgian delegation during the session of the U.N. General Assembly as the honoured guest.

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(L to R) H.E. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN and Dr Rusty Butler  (©Rusty Butler)

Dr Butler also had a scheduled meeting with the Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations H.E. Mrs Nguyen Phuong Nga. Unfortunately, she was out of the country but her personal assistant connected with Dr Butler for a productive exchange.

Dr Butler will visit United Nations on regular basis. His continued partnerships and friendship with many Permanent Representatives accredited at the UN will provide more opportunities for engaged learning experiences for many people in Utah and the successful implementation of the SDGs, achieving Agenda 2030 of the UN, including students and faculty efforts at Utah universities.

I will be in touch with Dr Butler to make sure that his attendance of the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on 11-15 July 2016 will be successful and he will be able to make an official statement about the importance of SMD being part of the SDGs implementation.

Yanko Dzhukev, an intern at the Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section Department, of the United Nations. 

UVU Attends Discussion on Sustainable Mountain Development at the UN Headquarters

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Yanko Dzhukev, a member of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), and currently the first UVU intern at the United Nations Secretariat, Office of Legal Affairs, on 6 May 2016 joined United Nations (UN) diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York, for a discussion to mobilize efforts to address the rising rate of food insecurity and malnutrition in the mountainous areas of developing countries.

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The event, organized by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru to the UN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York and Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) discussed the findings of a study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity”. Launched on the International Mountain Day 2015 by the FAO and the MPS, the study aims to provide the most accurate possible estimate of the vulnerability to food insecurity in mountain areas, based on the best technologies and data available.

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The study reveals alarming trend:  while food insecurity decreased at global level, in rural mountainous areas of developing countries, vulnerability to food insecurity increased to one in every two people between 2000 and 2012. As the 2030 Development Agenda pledges to leave no one behind and stresses the importance of reaching those furthest behind first. Among the groups that require special attention are mountain peoples.

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While presenting the study that gives a current picture of hunger in the mountains the Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator Thomas Hofer said: “Every third person in the mountains in developing countries is food insecure, a rate that is unacceptably high”.

In addition the Mountain Partnership Secretariat announced the launch of a Mountain Facility, or funding mechanism, to address the rising threat of hunger in the mountain areas of developing countries. The new funding mechanism has the goal to help empower vulnerable mountain communities, increase their food security and eradicate poverty.

The Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN invited all partners to contribute to the Facility. “Italy welcomes FAO’s initiative to launch a Mountain Facility as a new funding mechanism, linked to the Mountain Partnership, to address food security crises in mountain regions,” said Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who noted that Italy is one of the founding party of the Mountain Partnership and a major donor.

In addition H.E. Ambassador Mirgul Moldoisaeva, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN acknowledged the extraordinary work that the Mountain Partnership has accomplished: “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” Kyrgyz Republic has been active not on only on local level but globally in investing in institutional capacity, food security and resilience building.

In a statement, Yanko Dzhukev indicated that UVU is fully dedicated in continuing the tradition in advocating for sustainable mountain development and ready to fully incorporate the mountain indicators among the SDGs, and now proceed with laying foundation for the post 2015-development agenda, also known as “2030 Agenda” of the United Nations. In addition he indicated that “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity” highlights the current situation in the mountains and it is important to show the world the significance of the mountain regions and from the developing countries in particular.

UVU, as a Mountain Partnership member was the only educational institution that attended the event. The discussion was also attended by dignities such as the Mountain Partnership Ambassador Jake Norton, who made a statement on behalf of mountain peoples around the world. He proclaimed that “if we want a healthy earth, we have to have healthy mountains, and to have healthy mountains, we must have healthy mountain communities”.

The discussion was also attended by Andrew Taber, Executive Director of the Mountain Institute and Karinjo Devore, president of the Aspen International Mountain Foundation and a focal point of the Mountain Partnership in North America.

UVU has been a member of the Mountain Partnership since 2006 with a long-lasting mission to raise awareness, to mobilize support from institutions within the U.S. mountain states and global mountain entities, and to assist in the sustainable development of the mountain communities of the world.

 

Download the publication: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/publications/publication-detail/en/c/357944/

For more information about the Women of the Mountains conferences: http://www.womenofthemountains.org

International Women’s Day Celebration at UVU

From March 1 – 8, 2016 the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) will sponsoring a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day at Utah Valley University.

On March 7th, 2016 the UIMF and Women of the Mountains will be hosting a special screening of “To Climb a Gold Mountain” at 6:00pm. Events will start at 5:30pm with presentation of certificates to participants of the 2015 International Women of the Mountains Conference then followed by the documentary.

All events will be held in the UVU Library auditorium, room LI 120.

International Women's Day at Utah Valley University

UVU Student Reports About His Internship at FAO-UN

To Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy, Utah Valley University

Dear Dr. Butler,

I would like take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for the chance you gave me. Without your support and the assistance from Utah Valley University, I would have never even imagined that I could have been able to be a part of FAO as an intern and work with the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

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I have been here for more than one month, and working under the direct supervision of Thomas and Mia is great. I have learned how the Partnership functions and I am not just some intern who is doing negligible and insignificant work, I am actually responsible for different tasks and I have very significant responsibilities. I have been treated as equal and I fully participate in the day-to-day operations of the Secretariat.

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Dr Butler, Utah Valley University and you especially, are tremendously respected within the MPS.  Now, when I am here, I see that the work that you have done advocating for gender equality and sustainable mountain development, not only in North America but globally, is highly appreciated.

yanko3

I have been doing my best to represent myself and UVU in the best possible way.

With best regards,

Yanko Dzhukev
Advocacy and Communications Intern
Mountain Partnership Secretariat
FAO Forestry Department

My Engaged Learning Experience during the Women of the Mountains Conference

A lot of amazing and accomplished women representing mountain nations from different parts of the world graced the campus of Utah Valley University (UVU) during the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership located in Rome, Italy.  Our university hosted the WOMC on October 7-9, 2015 and I was fortunate to be a part of the students organizing committee and to contribute to the success of the conference. Our team was very happy that for the first time we were able to host this high level international conference entirely through the students’ efforts.  We were also glad to spread a word and raise awareness among so many people in the State of Utah and Rocky Mountain region about important gender issues and challenges for sustainable development for mountain communities.

I am also a member of Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council (UVU MSC), which is an organization committed to helping historically marginalized groups, and WOMC presented a great opportunity to network and get together with many dignitaries, diplomats, officials, experts and scholars from a variety of local, regional and international institutions. Surely these amazing people from all around the globe had much to teach us.

During the conference I was part of media team and I worked closely with Jenny Starley, PR and Fundraising at the WOMC organizing committee. I was in touch with local newspapers and I contacted, for example, local newspaper Daily Herald with providing editors with media kit and all necessary information.

Picture1(L to R): Yankila Sherpa, President, Snow Leopard Trek, Nepal, Mia Rowan, Communications and Advocacy Officer, Mountain Partnership, F.A.O – U.N. and Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary, WOMC during the conference

Because of my similar responsibilities with UVU MSC, I was also able to photograph the participants who attended many different events during the conference. I am glad that many of my photos were later posted on Instagram, Facebook pages, Flickr pages of the WOMC and then were shared on the similar pages of the Mountain Partnership secretariat in Rome, Italy.

Many women-conference participants brought a perspective to this campus that I felt has been missing. They showed how each and every single individual can make a difference. I especially felt that charm during my interaction with Yankila Sherpa from Nepal. There were many distinguished women with great accomplishments during the conference, but she helped UVU students feel like her fellow colleagues.

Many men also came and spoke at the conference and added to what many of the women shared. The whole conference was a major success in terms of the information and the education that was given about the importance for all of us to help mountain women and mountain communities to sustain themselves and be contributors to the economic success and prosperity of their nations. Students and faculty of our school and all of UVU certainly benefitted from the appearance of all guests and speakers.

Picture2(L to R): Uday Teki, Director of Special Projects, Pioneer Park Coalition, Salt Lake City, and Danny Davis during the Conference

I personally benefited from the conference form of education that I gained through facilitation. I was able to help some of the guests around campus and provide for many of their needs. I was also able to gain so much professionally and get acquainted with so many important people and experts in gender and sustainable development issues, along with the amazing thoughts and ideas that they brought. Personally, this was the highlight of my time at UVU thus far.

Danny Davis, member of the organizing committee, Women of the Mountains Conference 

FUNDRAISER AND SILENT AUCTION BENEFITTED WOMEN OF THE MOUNTAINS CONFERENCE

The Women of the Mountains conference organizing committee held their first Fundraiser last Saturday, August 29 at the Pacific Heritage Academy (http://phlearning.org) in Rose Park, Utah. “Pacific Heritage Academy is a DBA of Pacific Heritage Schools, a Utah Not-for-profit entity and a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Pacific Heritage Schools received authorization in 2011 from the Utah State Office of Education to operate a public charter school, to be called Pacific Heritage Academy, in the Salt Lake City School District beginning in the Fall of 2012.”

Event Program

This event would not have been possible without the generous in-kind donations, sponsors and volunteers, under the leadership of Kamaile Harris, Salt Lake City Liaison for the WOMC organizing committee, who created and coordinated the event. Kamaile Harris is a community leader who promotes sustainable ways of life through networking, building coalitions and partnerships in the area of Salt Lake City. She was thrilled to be a part of the organizing committee of the WOMC by organizing the fundraising event at the Pacific Heritage Academy to contribute to both the success of the WOMC and the activities of the United Nations affiliated Mountain Partnership with focus on sustainable mountain development.

 

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(L to R): Kamaile Harris and Jennifer Starley

Great support to her was provided by Jenny Starley, PR and Fundraising for the WOMC organizing committee. The event was a great example for many UVU students of building long-term engaged learning experience through cooperation with local communities in Salt Lake City area.

There was a tremendous amount of support from local sponsors to make the event a success. Participants attempted to outbid each other at the silent auction which included over $4,000 in generous in-kind donations from local organizations, artists, individuals and sponsors. Even vegetables were donated by High Desert Produce Co. from West Valley City, Utah.

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(L to R): Lisa Shepherd, member of the organizing committee of the WOMC with Alex Azmi, Director of the Documentary “To Climb A Cold Mountain”

Upon conclusion of the reception and closing of the silent auction, the guests and participants were treated to a screening of the documentary, To Climb A Gold Mountain (http://www.goldmountainmovie.com.) The movie was generously donated and attended by the Director and Producer, Alex Azmi, from Los Angeles, California. Mr. Azmi provided a QA after the screening where participants were able to further discuss the film’s compelling subject matter of the triumphs and struggles of Asian women in the United States throughout different eras.

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Guests of the event inspect items for bidding

Participants were greeted by Genre Zero, a local music band from Rose Park, Utah. The reception included Asian Fusion vegan food samplings from Jennifer Russell-Fenus of SLCVeganista’s Kitchen. Participants enjoyed; eggless egg foo young with mushroom brown sauce, rice, vegan egg rolls and Thai tea.

The fundraiser volunteer staff; Jim Boswell, Thelma Rother and Manda Lujan are some of the best local experienced event staff in the Salt Lake area community. Hamyanie Gustafson is a Seventh grade student at Pacific Heritage Academy who also volunteered and was a great example of hard work.

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(L to R): Event Volunteers Thelma Rother and Hamyanie Gustafson serve Refreshments to the guests of the Fundraiser.

Many members of the organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference were happy to volunteer during the event, including Deann Torsak, executive secretary of the conference, Tony Medina, VP for logistics and protocol among others.

The fundraiser brought a new awareness to our guests about the critical issues faced by women and overall gender inequality living in the mountain areas in particular. The organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference concluded their successful event by announcing the funds which were raised of just over $1,200.

Genre Zero’s Band Manager and Vocalist, Joshua Isbell has given organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference permission to utilize their song, Berry Blossom, in an upcoming promotional video. The song talks of growing gardens and sharing our bounty, which is in line with Women of the Mountains values to live sustainably.

This was the first experience with fundraising benefitting gender and SMD agendas of the United Nations. Next one Kamaile and her team would like to host after the WOMC and to contribute to the efforts of Sagar Basnet, Utah Valley University student from Nepal, who helps to rebuild school in his village. They already started preparations for that and some items for bidding were already sold during fundraiser on August 29, 2015 with those goals. We wish Kamaile, Jennifer and their team success.

Stacy Medina, member of the organizing committee of the WOMC

Fundraiser for Women of the Mountains Conference

Gold-Mountain-PosterJoin us for this Women of the Mountains UVU Fundraiser. It is a preview of the subject matter we will be presenting at the conference in October.

Here is the agenda:

6 to 7 pm
Refreshments by SLC Veganista’s Kitchen
Music by Empty Set Records
Silent Auction

7 to 730 pm
School Welcome
MC Greeter
Read of Silent Auctions

730 to 830 pm
Film Screening of “To Climb a Gold Mountain” Directed by Alex Azmi and Produced by Rebecca Hu.

830 to 9 pm
Q&A with Director Alex Azmi
Announcement of Funds raised