All posts by paxmundi

Call for inputs, Global Sustainable Development Report 2019

Dear Mountain Partnership members and friends,

An opportunity has arisen to propose an inclusion in the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2019, which has been mandated by the United Nation’s Member States (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/globalsdreport/2019).

The GSDR aims to strengthen the science-policy interface and provide a strong evidence-based instrument to support policymakers in promoting poverty eradication and sustainable development. It is a key means to follow-up on and review the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Independent Group of Scientists and Experts (IGSE) is soliciting inputs to the report from scientific and non-scientific communities around the world in the form of publications and descriptions of case studies that should contribute to the following four issues: (1) Interactions among SDGs and their targets, (2) transformation pathways towards sustainable development; (3) looking beyond Goals, and (4) the role of science for sustainable development.

In order to make a stronger impact about the three mountain targets of the SDGs in the GSDR 2019 and impression on the selection committee members, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat suggests submitting reports or case studies by the Mountain Partnership members both: 1) individually to the IGSE and; 2) to the MPS, to prepare one consolidated input:

Individual approach:
Please submit individual reports directly to the IGSE which conform to the requirements stipulated in the call for inputs (https://goo.gl/BHdL3b). In this case, the Secretariat requests that individual submissions will include a preamble highlighting the mountain targets followed by the individual report itself. As one of the variants of the preamble, we propose the following language: “The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contain three targets under two SDGs that specifically mention mountains: (6.6) protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes, (15.1) ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements, and (15.4) ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat is directly involved in supporting the monitoring of target 15.4, having developed one of the official indicators, the Mountain Green Cover Index, of which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the custodian agency. As a member of the Mountain Partnership, we submit the following report, emphasizing…..

Consolidated approach:
The Secretariat also calls for the submission of a consolidated joint-report of inputs. Due to time constraints, we propose to focus its content on two of the four major areas mandated by the IGSE: 1) interaction among SDGs and their targets, and (2) transformation pathways towards sustainable development. Any reports with such a focus should be uploaded at the link https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10dbMdGLpHV4_78v8E5H4mcodyTx8i7Dk?usp=sharing In this case, submissions should be limited to under 400 words. It will be further compiled in one consolidated document by the members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), as a student engaged learning (SEL*) initiative.

After uploading the report online, please send a confirmation message both about submission and specific area of its focus to one of the members of UIMF team: Derek Garfield: garfieldderek@gmail.com; Lacee Meyer: laceemeyer@gmail.com; or Matthew Rands: mattrands22@gmail.com.

Please keep in mind that the deadline for submissions to the call for inputs for IGSE is 1 December 2017. Submissions to be included in the joint consolidated report from the MPS must be uploaded to the link by 22 November 2017.

For more information, access the GSDR 2019 call here: https://goo.gl/BHdL3b

Best regards,

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat

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*The SEL model provides students an opportunity to gain professional experiences and skills through practical, “hands-on” activities with faculty serving them as mentors.

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) commemoration at UVU

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum joined the Office for Global Engagement and Multicultural Student Services to commemorate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at Utah Valley University.  The commemoration was marked with the creation of a large mural, which was painted on the glass panes in the lobby area of the Center for Global & Intercultural Engagement.  It was available to be viewed by all the students and members of the community from October 31st to November 2nd, 2017.

The genesis of the project came from Carlos Alarco, Luis Lopez and Augustin Diaz. They had been thinking of a way to educate students, and community members, about cultural practices from other parts of the world.  After discussing several ideas, th concept of creating a mural and altar to commemorate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) came to mind. The main purpose of the mural and altar was to education students, and the community, about this important cultural tradtion and allow them to interact with it as well.

The mural was created with the help of art students from Utah Valley University and it marks the first time such a large scale event was held on campus.

Artists painting the mural

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, particularly the Central and South regions as well as the mountain regions. It is also celebrated  by people of Mexican ancestry living in other countries like the United States. It teaches people to not fear death and celebrate it, to honor the memory of loved ones, and never forget them. This tradition has its roots in the Aztec celebration of the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the goddess of the underworld, her role was to watch over the bones of the dead and preside over ancient festivals of the dead.

View of the mural from the outside of the Center for Global & Intercultural Engagenment

The most important element of the commemoration is the creation of an Offrenda (Altar).  Photos of deceased loved ones adorn the altar and their favorite dishes and treats are prepared. Drinks are also placed on the altar to quench the thirst of the dead after their long journey back home. Altars are also decorated with items like: marigolds, pan de muerto, calaveras and papel picado. Each have an important meaning in this cultural tradition. Marigolds referred to as flor de muerto or flower of the dead, are thought to attract souls to the altars decorated in their honor to welcome them. Food is used as a connection between the dead and living world. Pan de muerto (bread of the dead) is a semi-sweet bread that is baked and dusted with sugar to represent the soil that the bodies are buried in. Calaveras (Sugar Skulls) are decorated with bright patterns and colorful designs, representing the vitality of life and the unique personalities of people. Papel Picado (Perforated Paper) is colored tissue paper used to decorate the spaces which are being used to honor the dead. These colorful, but fragile decorations represent the fragility of life.

The Altar from inside the lobby area of the Center for Global & Intercultural Engagenment

The altar was decorated by people who work at UVU, as well as the local community, and included pictures of loved ones and famous people of mexican desent. Apart from being an educational experience, it also was an interactive one. We engaged with members of the the University community by allowing them the write the names of a loved one that had passed on the glass panels next to the mural. This helped people remember those that had passed by making their names visible to all. There were names from all over the world showing that no matter we are from we can all participate in this tradition. Death is something that happens to all of us and remembering our loved ones is an experience that we can all share.

Names of loved ones that had passed

The event was a great success and many people were able to find out about this beautiful and vibrant tradition.

In 2008, el Dia de los Muertos was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Carlos Alarco – UIMF

 

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.

Yanko-UN2

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.

UNsm

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.

yanko2

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.

Yanko1

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 

My experience with the International Women of the Mountains Conference

Carlos is currently the Coordinator for Global Academic Programs at the Office for Global Engagement at Utah Valley University. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Digital Media from Utah Valley University and a Master’s of Education from the University of Missouri. He is a Global Citizen having lived in Latin America, Australia and the United States. He likes being involved in Social Justice causes and travelling the world.

From an early age, I have been exposed to people and cultures from around the world, due to living in a multicultural part of Sydney, Australia. I was born in Latin-America and travelled a lot as a child with my parents where I was able to experience life with relatives abroad. Growing up in a different land to that of my parents, my personal culture became a mixture of the two, Latin-American and Australian. By the time I was an adult I was a seasoned traveller with a great appreciation for the cultures of the world. When I moved to the United States most of the studies I had done in Australia were not recognized so I had to go back to school. I enrolled into, what was known as, Utah Valley State College as a non-traditional student. To this day I am grateful to UVU’s open enrolment policy as it provided me with the opportunity to better myself. I finished my Undergraduate Degree in Digital Media and then went on to get a Master’s Degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies. I have always believed that education is key to a life of unlimited potential and I am a strong advocate for the belief that education should be freely available to all regardless of gender, age or location.

In 2005, working as a Technology Teaching Assistant at Utah Valley State College, I learned that the school had access to video conferencing equipment. That same year I was able to get permission to use the equipment and organized a series of international video lectures with Universities that I had built a relationship with in my travels abroad. These were the days before Skype or Google Hangouts, so high-quality videoconferencing required expensive equipment that not all institutions could afford. This also meant working with the IT departments of the other institutions to configure protocols that would ensure a stable connection. The first of these videoconferencing lectures was organized between James Cook University in Australia and Utah Valley State College here in Utah. These lectures were presented live with attendees on both sides. One of the first lectures was from Australia. Dr Jamie Seymour, a leading expert on jellyfish, presented on a particularly deadly jellyfish that inhabits the tropic oceans of Australia. Mr. Mike Wisland from the Digital Media Department gave his presentation on the Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever. These presentations were enjoyed by audiences on both sides. There were also other video conferences with the Czech Republic, Spain, Brazil and a session with the U.S. Department of State. Technology has made it possible to connect people, share ideas, and mutually learn. This is the goal of the internationalization of education.

The experience with the video conferences taught me first hand, about the power of connecting people to share ideas and learn from each other. The idea of bringing people together appealed to me, and still does. It was through this interest that a few years later, I became acquainted with Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, the former Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States. As faculty at UVU, he brought his considerable wealth of knowledge and diplomatic experience to the university, in building stronger ties between the mountain communities, his native country, the Rocky Mountain region and especially Utah through the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda. Through this friendship, I began using my technical experience to help promote events that he would organize with his students. Eventually I was given the responsibility of managing the Women of the Mountains’ website (http://www.womenofthemountains.org), which contained a vast amount of information about the international Women of the Mountains Conferences, hosted by Utah Valley University as major contribution to the promotion of SMD in State of Utah and North America.  I was responsible for adding content and making updates to the website as events were organized. I also became involved with the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU that became the main force for SMD advocacy. Here student engagement was promoted through organizing events, hosting dignitaries, and sharing experience with a wider community on a state, regional and global levels. My Andean heritage also played a part in my interest, as many of my ancestors came from the mountain regions of South America.

My first experience with the International Women of the Mountains Conference was at the 2nd Conference, which was held in 2011.  Here I volunteered with providing technical support to presenters, volunteers and attendees of the conference. The conference was held at the main campus of Utah Valley University so I was able to interact with many of the guest speakers, some of which came from overseas, and learn more about the work that they did to promote sustainable development in various mountain regions. It was the first time I had been directly involved in an international conference. After the Women of the Mountains Conference I began to help with the United Nations International Mountain Day celebrations at UVU campus. In 2003 the United Nations General Assembly declared December 11 as the International Mountain Day, and celebrations have been held at UVU since 2010.

My involvement with the International Women of the Mountains Conference and the Utah International Mountain Forum led to being part of a delegation from Utah Valley University sent to the United Nations headquarters in New York City in December, 2013. Due to the work of Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU, and his personal ties to many diplomats at the United Nations, the University was able to secure seats to observe the 6th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These seats were provided by the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the U.N. Attending this meeting was an incredible experience for us, as we witnessed first-hand how the delegates of each nation worked to add details to what would become the SDGs and the roadmap for global community development until 2030. We were there for three days and after each session was over we were able to meet and interact with some of the delegates from the different nations, and this was exciting. This trip has been one of the highlights of my life and I hope to repeat it in the future.

The 4th International Women of the Mountains Conference, held under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, took place at Utah Valley University in October 2015. My involvement in the conference was as the organizing committee’s liaison to the University of Utah. The committee was primarily made up of students as well as partners, all under the guidance of Dr. Abdrisaev and other faculty.  A few weeks prior to the conference I arranged for the student organizing committee the presentation at the University of Utah to invite students there to join organizing committee and to contribute to the conference at UVU. As a tradition, I was also tasked with updating the Women of the Mountains website and added information needed by attendees. This was also the first conference where social media was used to help promote the conference and its goals in support of the SDG#5 on gender. During the conference, I also gave a presentation about the importance of Social Media in the promotion of grassroots efforts and how it could be used to reach more people with little to no cost compared to traditional methods of promotion. The presentation also showed how visits to the websites had significantly increase since social media was introduced as a promotional tool. I had the opportunity to meet many amazing people who are passionate about gender and environmental issues. It was also a pleasure to meet officers from global NGOs like Ms. Mia Rowan from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). Working directly with partners like her helps promote our work to a wider audience.

That same year I organized an International Mountain Day Celebration at the University of Utah. This was held on 4th of December, 2015 in the Gould Auditorium which is located in the Marriott Library. I was supported by Kamaile Harris, who works with the Pacific Heritage Academy as well as she became the Salt Lake City Liaison for the UIMF. I was, at the time, the University of Utah Liaison and had built relationships with many important organizations such as: the Marriott Library, the Office of Sustainability, the Bennion Center, the Hinckley Institute and local Non-Profits. We promoted the event via social media as well as through internal channels at the University, there was even promotion through local radio station KRCL. The event started with a song by students of the Pacific Heritage Academy which was a great way to begin the event. The evening continued with students, from the University of Utah, who spoke about the issues relating to community and sustainability in the local mountain region. The main speaker of the event as Jason Singer Smith, who is a prominent mountain climber and author. The event was well received by audience and participants and brought to the attention of the community the importance of mountain issues.

I enjoy my continued relationship with the members of the organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference and the Utah International Mountain Forum. To further my education in SMD, I took courses from the University of the Highlands and Islands in the United Kingdom as well as the University of Utah. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people over the years and had experiences that I could not have had it not been for my involvement with these organizations. The opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself and help improve the lives of people locally and around the world is something that has no price and will cherish for all of days.

 

Carlos Alarco – UIMF