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Seventh Annual International Mountain Day Celebration at UVU

On December 4th, 2017, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), will celebrate United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD). The 2017 theme for IMD is ‘Mountains under pressure: climate, hunger, migration.’

First established by the United Nations in 2003, this will be the seventh IMD celebration held by UIMF at UVU. Through the IMD celebration, UVU students raise awareness among their peers and local communities about the importance of ensuring the sustainable development goals among the mountain communities worldwide, who are usually the poorest and the most vulnerable communities to challenges such as migration, hunger and climate change, to name a few.  While the established date by the United Nations for IMD is December 11th, it was decided to push back the event a week as the established date would be during the time period of final examinations week at UVU. It is UIMF’s hope that this will allow for more students and faculty to attend the celebration.

The keynote speaker for this year’s IMD celebration will be Dr. Baldomero Lago, the CIO/Vice-Rector for Global Engagement at UVU. Dr. Lago will speak in particular about new a partnership initiative between UVU and the United Nations, which will provide students many new opportunities to contribute to the UN’s activities including the advocacy of the mountain cause. Other featured presenters will be Dr. Laura Hamblin (TBC), a retired UVU faculty, who contributed research and efforts in assisting refugees and migrants in many parts of the mountain world, Ms. Gina Cornia, Executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger (UAH), who will speak on programs to assist impoverished people in Utah, Dr. Colleen Bye, representative of the group Citizens Climate Lobby, who advocate for sustainable climate change in the state of Utah and internationally. An important part of the IMD celebration will be presentations of UVU students Derek Garfield,  and Megan Raines about their cooperation with representatives of mountain communities in different parts of the world to deal with climate change and hunger.

UIMF members will also present certificates of FAO-UN to the contributors of the UN agenda of sustainable mountain development in the State of Utah and North America.

The event will be held in the Liberal Arts building at UVU in room 116 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. UIMF hopes to actively engage with all attendees in sustainable mountain development in working towards the United Nations 2015 and post-2030 agendas.

Lacee Meyer, Vice-President, UIMF




MP about IMD at Utah Valley University


                      UVU Press-Release         Daily Herald about IMD          


Video: UVU Office for Global Engagement




Greetings From Governor Herbert


Letter of Greetings From Mayor Brunst, Orem City 


Greetings From Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, MP member


Logan Environmental Action Force



Andre Jones: From mountain development to national security: UVU becomes a member of the United Nations DPI




Mark Wait: International Mountain Day at UVU


Kristine Beardall: UVU’s seventh annual International Mountain Day: a student’s perspective


Pamela Miller: International Mountain Day 2017



Promoting Mountain Targets During UN Day at UVU

On October 24th, 2017 students from Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs from Utah Valley University (UVU) participated at the celebration of the United Nations Day while promoting sustainable mountain targets. The event was hosted by the UVU Office of Global Engagement with a particular focus on the meaning and importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Attending the event were UIMF, National Security Club, Foreign Affairs Club, Model UN Club, UNICEF Club, ENACTUS initiative of the UVU Woodbury School of Business, and representatives from the UVU Office of Global Engagement. Students, through engaged learning approach interacted, were very pleased to see the level of activity and engagement from all the UVU students and faculty in learning how to work towards the implementation of 17 United Nations SGDs and 169 targets

Poster about UIMF members contribution to the adoption of the mountain targets among SDGs during 2013-2015.

The event went on from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. to allow for the maximum amount of UVU student and faculty engagement. UIMF members were excited to be engaged with those who came to the event to explain mountain targets role among the UN SDGs. They also explained how the United Nations Mountain Partnership Secretariat, a subunit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations coordinates globally activities of numerous institutions and NGOs, including UVU  with focus on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations. UIMF members contributed to the campaign to adopt mountain targets among SDGs by the United Nations during 2013-2015. Jesler Molina, former UIMF President also informed the audience how he was able, with his peers, to participate at campaign and even make a statement during the sixth session of the United Nations Open Working Group on SDGs in December 11, 2013. UIMF members were happy, when in September 25-27, 2015 the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development adopted SDGs three mountain targets were included among them.

(L to R) Andre Jones, UIMF member, discusses with Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF, and Dylan Genes, President, Foreign Affairs Club, initiatives at UVU to implement mountain targets as part of SDGs.

UIMF also showcased student projects that are important to sustainable mountain development. Derek Garfield, a Vice President of UIMF, presented his project about Sami indigenous communities in Scandinavian states and how new challenges like climate change have an impact on their livelihoods. It is one of the goals of UIMF to push for students to have a platform to present their projects, therefore it was very exciting to have Mr. Garfield in attendance to further educate students about his project as an example of both to be engaged with the United Nations Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Agenda and to inspire other students to do research based on their professional interests.

     (L to R) Lacee Meyer, Vice President UIMF, Derek Garfield, Vice President UIMF, Matthew Rands, President UIMF, (behind) Dylan Genes, President Foreign Affairs, (front) Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO/Vice-Rector of UVU’s Office of Global Engagement during the UN Day at UVU

Dylan Genes, the President of Foreign Affairs, a club under the umbrella of UIMF, played a big role in the event as he was able to stay for the entirety of the event and take time to talk to each individual that showed interest in the 17 SDGs and how mountain target fit among them. He stated that “UN day at UVU proved to be an enlightened and fulfilling experience for participating clubs and members alike, including myself. I strongly feel that reaching out and engaging in dialogue has helped not only the students learn about our initiatives with focus on UN SMD agenda, but helped club members grow in defining mission goals.” Dylan highlighted the very nature and initiatives of UIMF to engage students in the initiatives for UN sustainable mountain development while also creating dialogue with different demographic groups among them by providing them great opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Rebecca Bindraban contributed to the event by informing students about her work as co-editor of the “Youth and the Mountains” Journal, which publishes student research papers with focus on SMD and implementation of the mountain targets since 2013. She stated that “The UN Day at UVU was significant because it showcased the UIMF activities and the clubs in coalition with the UIMF. It shined a spot light on the important issues with focus on SMD each club is trying to perpetuate along with supporting an open forum to talk with students about the clubs. During the event, I talked to several students about UIMF initiatives and goals, promoting mountain communities, and it was a great because it provided a forum to have a casual open conversation. By talking to different students, the UIMF’s goals and issues were discussed, and students learned about our clubs and opportunities they have in the future to get engaged.”

UIMF hopes to continue to work towards the SDGs, with a specific goal of implementation of mountain targets. On December 4th, 2017 UIMF will have another opportunity to do that by hosting an event in celebration of the United Nation’s International Mountain Day. It is an honor to work with the United Nations in reaching these initiatives and UIMF hopes to continue to work also towards the implementation of UN Post-2015 and towards the UN 2030 agendas.

Lacee Meyer, Vice President, UIMF


FAO and MP about event


Task list


Photos from the event




Lacee Meyer: Event announcement


Dylan Genes: UN day at Utah Valley University focuses on sustainable development goals


Rebecca Bindraban: advocating mountain targets through student academic research 


Andre Jones: United Nations Day at Utah Valley University focuses on sustainable development goals


Derek Garfield: United Nations info fair at Utah Valley University


Mary Cisneros: Reflections of my undergraduate years at Utah Valley University



UIMF and UN NGOs discuss how to advocate for mountain women globally


The Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted representatives of several NGOs in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for brainstorming sessions on October 2nd, 2017.  Main discussions took place during a round table titled: “Joint Advocacy of Mountain Women and Agenda at the United Nations.”

The overall goal of the event was to unify efforts from both local and international NGOs, along with UVU students and faculty in order to raise awareness of mountain sustainability issues; particularly issues regarding women of the mountains. Efforts will be presented in March 2018 at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at UN headquarters, New York. UIMF members have participated at the CSW60 in 2016 and CSW61 in 2017, which helped them to gain knowledge and experience to better contribute to the agendas of the highest gender-related UN forum in a professional way. As a result, they are determined to accomplish one of three activities during CSW62 next year: 1) make a statement during the general discussions; 2) host a side event together with one of the mountain countries, or; 3) host a parallel event together with NGOs accredited under the UN.

The local focus of UIMF efforts is to involve students in activities at the UN through the student engaged learning. This approach allows members of the UIMF and affiliated clubs an opportunity to apply academic knowledge gained in studies to real world situations. Being a student led organization, faculty only provides them advice when students will absolutely need it. It became a tradition for the UIMF since 2011 to host foreign dignitaries and ambassadors of nations accredited to the UN or US at UVU. Every aspect during their visits to UVU is entirely student planned and executed.

As president of the UIMF, I was afforded the opportunity to direct planning and delegate tasks to club members. In preparing for last week’s activities, students prepared the agenda and task list for assignments. This included printing brochures and other materials, contacting media, executing protocol, logistics and moderating sessions with VIP-guests among others. UIMF members usually are able to take into account their professional background in choosing assignments from the developed task list. They are then afforded room in deciding on how to carry out the work.

As part of agenda, UIMF members invited and hosted Dr. Andrew Taber and Dr. Jed Shilling from the Mountain Institute (TMI), from Washington, D.C., an NGO accredited under UN. They coordinated between departments at UVU a fundraising campaign to bring the VIP guests and accommodate them. Students also reached out to NGOs from Utah to join invited scholars and discuss a strategy on how to present the mountain women cause at the UN level in successful way. Having experience moderating discussions with previous UIMF activities to host VIP-guests, I was given the opportunity to moderate this discussion. The student engaged learning model has built my confidence in the presence of professionals to where I too, as a student, felt professional when moderating this event. UVU faculty have also assisted us, students in building professionalism to where they could effectively plan and partner with the UN officials, diplomats and civil societies groups leaders on the international level. Examples of this professional growth can be seen when students attended CSW60 and CSW61 and discussed with Permanent Representatives to the UN of different mountain nations on ways to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to mountain targets. Thus, the success of the UIMF activities in this particular case was based on the hard work and coordination between students and diplomats and experts on gender issues during three years.

UIMF members during the meeting of Dr. Lago with VIP-guests

At the beginning of the day’s activities we arranged a meeting between Dr. Lago, CIO and Vice Rector for Global Engagement at UVU and Dr. Taber and Dr. Shilling. The visiting guests were able to get acquainted with Dr. Lago and had preliminary discussions of the agenda’s activities. As the meeting continued, the discussion turned to future plans in regard to the UN and how UVU, UIMF, and TMI will benefit from the joint activities.  Dr. Lago stated that on November 17th, 2017, UVU will officially become an associated member at the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). The initiative will be called UVUN and a channel from UVU to the UN will be created. This will assist the UIMF members in particular in advocating on topics of mountain sustainability. In addition, Dr. Lago has reached out to the mayor of Salt Lake City about hosting a UN summit in Utah in 2019. It is expected that 15,000 NGOs will attend this event and the UN Secretary General will be in attendance as well. Dr. Taber saw the benefit that could come from this event. He stated that “Mountain environments are neglected and need international response, but the 2019 event should bring [Mountain] issues to the front.” It was discussed that now the U.S. is not part of the Mountain Partnership (MP), which facilitates the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda. Thus, this event will provide an opportunity for the state of Utah to possibly join the MP and lead by example, raising awareness for mountain causes, eventually inspiring other mountainous states in the U.S. to join. This plan will be a great opportunity for UIMF, UVU, and MP efforts to be highlighted and draw attention to mountain sustainability issues.

Attending the round table event in order of presentation were Dr. Baldomero Lago, and four individuals representing different NGOs in consultative status with the ECOSOC: Dr. Jed Shilling, TMI; Dr. Andrew Taber, TMI; Dr. Rusty Butler, the main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences; and Mrs. Wendy Jyang, President of the Utah-China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands and Development and Commerce (FISH D&C), NGO from Salt Lake City, Utah. The discussion began with Dr. Lago announcing that UVU students and faculty can become more internationally involved through the new program of partnership between UVU and UN DPI called UVUN. Students now see a more clear vision of how UVU and the UIMF will interact with the UN.

Dr. Taber helped reinforce the need for initiatives such as that presented by Dr. Lago. He  stated that as part  of the discussion, presenters supported the idea that states within the U.S. become members of the MP, which facilitates the UN sustainable mountain development agenda. The need for international response is imperative. The mountain areas of the world are facing unique problems. Some examples include the emigration of men to find work in other countries which leaves ½ of women to farm for their families. Unorganized road construction creates landslide hazards which are easily preventable. These issues can be solved with international efforts and assistance.

Dr. Jed Shilling  in his presentation outlined the importance of the mountains for the world communities and the mountain women as well. Many of the states in the U.S. do not care enough about mountain issues such as the allocation of water, even though all states depend on runoff water from mountain regions. Dr. Shilling told students that his wife Dr. Jane Pratt was the driving force of change in mountain areas and has contributed to the preservation on wildlife while keeping sustainable mountain development.

Dr. Rusty Butler informed audience how his NGO, the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences assisted UVU and UIMF in promotion of gender and SMD agendas since 2008. His NGO is in a unique position as it has general consultative status with the UN ECOSOC. This, for example, has helped UIMF students to get into the U.N. during previous CSW events. During his presentation he made two recommendations. 1) the engaged learning model at UVU be shared with other universities. UVU is the first university in Utah to put students on an international level. As the profile of the UIMF and UVUN grows, students will have even more opportunities and a higher profile of professionalism to advocate for SMD. 2) The need to reach out to more NGOs to further the SMD Agenda. As a retired Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU, Dr. Butler has seen the success that the UVU model of engaged learning has had on the international level.

Ms. Wendy Jyang, gave a similar presentation targeted at the non-traditional student engagement with the UN. Non-traditional students are those that may work in professional jobs, have families, or attend school at a later age. She told them to “follow their heart” in doing what is right. She mentioned her story of being born in Taiwan and the struggles faced by many she discovered in China. Her efforts have helped Utah in creating assistance to the Chinese people and a friendship between the two sides.

Participants of the round table agreed to work jointly on advocating mountain women during both CSW62 and at the UN in general by using different forums, while focusing on the implementation of the mountain targets among UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).  Other events during the visit included a lunch with the guests and UVU faculty where UIMF members continued conversation about mountain women advocacy at the UN. It is also a tradition now at UVU for students to join faculty during lunches with dignitaries and both to build close ties with VIP guests and to contribute conversation in an informal environment. Students continued to converse with Dr. Taber and Dr. Shilling as they gave the guests tours around UVU and the Provo area.

Group photo after the round table

The success of the UIMF rests on student engagement. It is through the engaged learning model that students grow in professionalism and facilitate meetings that involve real world situation. In this case, students were able to assist in forming a unified plan with local NGOs and the members of the MP. Next year, UIMF students would be able to present this plan at the CSW62 by both raising the professional profile of the Utah International Mountain Forum members and contributing to the implementation of the UN SDG#5 on gender with focus on mountain women.

Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum


Agenda                       Brochure                   Task List


MPS and FAO-UN about the event


UVU press release about round table


Video from the event         Photos from the event




Pasang Sherpa: Announcement about round table


Lacee Meyer: Student engaged learning experiences about mountain women advocacy at the UN


Derek Garfield: report: engaged learning between UIMF and Mountain Partnership NGOs


Jenny Hoppie: Making a Difference Where I Stand



Mark Wait: Learning how to advocate for mountain women at the United Nations


William Gum: Why it is important to advocate mountain women and their cause globally


Andre Jones: UVU students advocate for mountain women at the United Nations


Jordan Ramos: Review of the round table for joint advocacy of the mountain women at the UN


Logan Perfili: We need to advocate for mountain women 


Patrick Larkin: Insreasing awareness of the geographic problems facing women in the mountains


Kymberlee Anderson: Utah International Mountain Forum and advocacy of mountain women at UN


Evelyn Alpizar: Summary of the women of the mountain’s round table at UVU


Skyler Barton: Joint advocacy of the mountain women and agenda at the United Nations roundtable



Club Rush at Utah Valley University

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) (, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) had another opportunity to promote goals of the coalition, to recruit new members from UVU students and raise funds by participating at traditional student club rush on September 12-13, 2017. The event allowed also for the three core clubs of coalition – foreign affairs club, UIMF club and sustainable mountain development club to meet with forward thinking students and future leaders in their field alike.

In order to participate at club rush, our clubs were required to get registered by recruiting each of them at least six member and identifying their president from one of the experienced students. This year the club requirements were changed substantially with the aim to provide students with more independence and self-rule: faculty, who previously served as advisors and helped to manage many club activities including finances, now have to be in role of mentors only and allow students maximum freedom with their activities.

Matt Rands, UIMF President and Pasang Sherpa, UIMF member during the club rush

After satisfying requirements with registration and being accepted as participants of the club rush, members of our three clubs prepared necessary materials, posters, brochures etc for the gathering. As one of the advantages of the coalition, we were able to combine our tables and work with student audience as one joint team.

Within the upbeat environment and beautiful weather, our booth proved successful in drawing in students from all backgrounds and nationalities with the clubs mission statement of raising awareness and the exchange information in mountainous regions.

Club members provided exciting opportunities for students to improve themselves, as well as the world around them through coalition of clubs initiatives and activities with focus on promotion of the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in the state of Utah and globally such as hosting the international Women of the Mountains conferences or celebrating the United Nations International Mountain days at UVU. Club members made it a point to engage idle passerby’s in dialogue, invoking critical thought and analysis of pertinent issues. Aiming to target not only students in the field, but those that are not as well.

We found that it was vital to inform said students on the importance of their role accompanied with their particular skill sets, whether it be computer science or even health science, their skill sets are cherished and valued in our determined efforts to raise awareness about promotion of sustainability among mountain communities and the model of economic development in Utah as one of the good examples to emulate and share.

Club Rush at UVU

We met a plenty of old friends as well as new faces this year and it is a pleasure to present to more than thirty students who expressed interest to join our activities the opportunities UIMF as a coalition of clubs has to offer to its members. We look forward to the work ahead of us this year and into the next, all while improving ourselves and others in the world today.

Dylan Genes, member, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU

Utah high school student initiative on climate change

On September 15th and 16th , 2017 the inaugural Utah Youth Environmental Summit (UYES) was held at Alta Ski Resort, near Salt Lake City, Utah. UYES was created to provide a space for environmentally conscious Utah youth to network and gain the skills needed to become leaders for statewide environmental justice and sustainability efforts. Workshops, guest speakers, and outdoor activities were held to achieve these goals. Piper Christian and Elizabeth Hansen, students from Logan High School, Logan City, Utah along with Mishka Banuri, West High student school student, Salt Lake City, Utah planned this event in order to create a statewide environmental youth network. As a group of youth leaders who are environmentally conscious and have the contacts and resources to do projects in their community, they would like to be mobilized for larger campaigns such as the Student Climate Resolution.

From left to right: Piper Christian, Genesis Wardle, Kiyan Banuri, Josh Velazquez, Keely Toledo, and Kai Torrens at the Utah People’s Climate March on April 29th, 2017.

The Student Climate Resolution was initiated by several students including Piper Christian. In December of 2015, as a high school sophomore, she attended the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. She learned that ordinary people have the capacity to create extraordinary change in their communities. As she wrote in her article in the local media outlet, “We all have unique skill sets and perspectives to contribute to the climate movement, and when each of us takes action at the local level, our collective impacts can have a global reach. With this inspiration, I returned to Utah. I spoke with my high school environmental club, the Logan Environmental Action Force, about ways we could address environmental threats within Utah. While we were only a handful of students at that time, we shared an ambitious dream: to introduce a Resolution on Climate Change to the Utah State Legislature”. (link)

The Student Climate Resolution was based on pre-existing resolutions in Salt Lake CIty and Park City and outlines steps that the state will aim to take in order to combat the effects of climate change. Piper and her peers drafted a Clean Air and Climate Change Resolution to introduce to the local city council in Logan, Utah. To their surprise, Logan City Council passed the Resolution 16-06 unanimously on February 16th, 2016. (link)

As the next step, high school students introduced Climate Change Resolution at the Utah State Capitol. When they spoke with 28 legislators about the actions communities were taking to address climate change and encouraged them to sponsor their resolution, one of them, State Senator Jim Dabakis, became co-sponsor. They attracted national attention and students have contacted them from Massachusetts, Georgia, and Arizona to learn how they can take on similar initiatives. They circulated a petition in support of the resolution, that now it has over 2,000 signatures, demonstrating that Utahns care about climate action. Unfortunately, their resolution was not passed by the State Senate. But most importantly, they helped unite a coalition of students from around the state who care about environmental protection. (link)

As a result the first ever Utah Youth Environmental Summit was organized to rally students to be more active stewards of the earth.  The Summit began on Friday afternoon and started with some icebreaker activities, which were followed by a catered dinner. After dinner a hybrid Beehive Collective presentation was given by Will Monger and Emily Hornback. The Beehive Collective tells environmental justice stories through art. The presentation was based on this artwork depicting the rise and fall of coal mining in Appalachia. They related this issue back to similar issues in Utah like the Black Mesa Mine.

Session at Utah Youth Environmental Summit

Following this presentation, students had the opportunity to go on a stargazing night hike. Temperatures were at or below freezing, but students bundled up and braved the cold. Emma Larese-Casanova, an Logan High School student who attended the summit said, “I love stargazing!”

Early morning hike at the Utah Youth Environmental Summit

On Saturday morning, September 16th, 2017 many students got up before sunrise to go on a sunrise hike. The morning continued with an environmental club basics workshop followed by a spectrogram activity and a community organizing workshop. Non-profits and college campuses then had a tabling event which allowed students to talk to potential colleges about environmental involvement opportunities and learn more about the work that non-profits around the state have done. The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, the Audubon Society, and Yellowstone to Uintah Connection sent representatives to inform students about the work that their organizations are doing. Utah State University, Weber State, the University of Utah, Westminster, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah Valley University’s (UVU) Office for Global Engagement all attended and talked about opportunities for their students to get involved with environmental issues at the college level. Representative of Utah Valley University, let students know about opportunities to be involved with the United Nation via the Utah International Mountains Forum ( and the international Women of the Mountains conferences, hosted by UVU on regular basis depending on the availability of funds.  ( Students were also thrilled to be among the contributors to the United Nations International Mountain Day celebration which usually is commemorated on December 11th every year. This year IMD theme is “Mountains under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration.”

Students also had the opportunity to work with their schools to decide on a project to work on during the year. Project ideas ranged from guerilla gardening to starting a composting program at school. The resolution will be re-introduced at the next State Government session.

Carlos Alarco, UIMF

MP Coordinator for North America Meeting with UIMF

(L to R) Ms. Karinjo DeVore, Matt Rands and Mark Driggs discuss joint activities to promote mountain agenda in North America

On Saturday September 10, 2017, Matthew Rands, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) (, Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF Advisor and I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Karinjo Devore, President of the Aspen International Mountain Foundation (AIMF). Ms. Devore coordinates sustainable mountain development (SMD) activities across North America, South America, and the Caribbean on behalf of the United Nations Mountain Partnership (MP). In this meeting,  Ms. Devore discussed the role that AIMF plays in advocating SMD agenda of the United Nations in the entire region and the challenges being faced as it works to further the implementation of mountain targets as part of the UN post 2030 agenda of sustainable development. She was also interested in knowing the ideas of UVU students on how to improve activities of the MP, which coordinates SMD agenda globally, taking into account the coming High Level Meeting of MP in Rome, Italy on December 11-4, 2017. During the meeting,  MP members will discuss how to make the mountain agenda more visible and active at the United Nations level as well as improving implementation of mountain targets as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UIMF members and Ms. Devore brainstormed ideas of how students at UVU and the UIMF in particular could assist AIMF in advancing efforts in the state of Utah and throughout North America. Karinjo Devore has explained that some of the obstacles AIMF has faced  include limitations in funding, and the need to increase communication between various members of the MP in the North American region. As the regional coordinator for the MP, Ms. Devore has discussed existing initiatives and problems, ideas have risen from both sides, such as whether it is necessary to introduce a membership fee for institutions from around the world when joining the MP and to establish a dialogue with private corporations who could help finance sustainable development efforts. This would be an exchange for having their brand associated with certain mountain regions in order to open up new markets. One example already instituted by the MP is the placement of “Made in the Mountains” stickers on products made by different mountain nations. Ms. Devore explained that AIMF is open to constructive ideas and criticisms from any member of the MP in North America as it works to overcome these obstacles through communicating with a MP secretariat in Rome, Italy. Ms. Devore and members of UIMF had a very productive discussion on how UIMF can be a more active contributor to the  MP activities.

UIMF members expressed the desire to develop a partnership with local governments such as the City of Provo and Salt Lake City in order to explore new opportunities for SMD advocacy. In the coming months UIMF will continue to work with the MP through projects and offering new ideas to further the UN goals. These projects will promote sustainable development among mountain communities globally. Such projects include:

1) Hosting a round table of NGOs accredited under the United Nations at UVU on October 2, 2017 to discuss how to work jointly at the UN in order to make voices heard from the mountain communities and women in particular. Students informed Ms. Devore that they raised funds to bring Dr. Andrew Taber and Dr. Jed Shilling, two distinguished guests representing the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C. to Utah. They will be joined by NGOs from Utah who will develop joint action plans to advocate the mountain agenda and women cause at the UN during the next year and especially during the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018. UIMF members plan to make a presentation about student engaged learning initiatives, which has allowed them to make contribution to the promotion of the UN gender and SMD agendas as well as SGDs in part related to mountains in North America since 2007.

2) UIMF members will host for the seventh time the annual celebration of the United Nations International Mountain Day at UVU on December 11, 2017. This year it will focus on the impact on the mountain communities in Utah and globally such challenges as climate change, poverty and migration.

(L to R): Mark Driggs, Karinjo Devore, Matthew Rands and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev after the meeting

UIMF representatives expressed appreciation to Ms. Devore for the opportunity to have sat down with her and look forward to continuing partnership in order to further mutual goals of sustainable mountain development in North America. They also asked their distinguished guest to include in her report during the High Level Meeting of the MP in Rome, Italy on December 11, 2017 information about UVU student initiative of successful SMD advocacy in the state of Utah and North America through engaged learning and how it benefits students professionally.

Mark Driggs, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum


Mountain Partnership item news about the meeting in Utah



How I Campaigned for UVU Student Body Presidency

My journey toward being elected student body president at Utah Valley University (UVU) this past semester has been unique. As a non-traditional student, I have a wife and 10 month old little boy at home, but knew that a large majority of students here at UVU mirrored my situation and had little to no representation within UVUSA.

My current career goals are to get hired at a university with hopes that I will eventually end up in an administrative role, so when evaluating the job and networking  opportunity  that I would gain through being involved with student government, I decided this would be a good thing for my future and for my final year attending this university. When assessing the beginning stages of this campaign, I realized I was at a slight disadvantage. With a two-year LDS mission, getting married and having my first little boy, I hadn’t taken the time to become involved with UVUSA previously. I was involved with student leadership in high school and had a really good experience, I then got hired on as a UVU presidential intern with the Chief of Staff of the university for this past year and realized all of the opportunities available to students who wanted to be involved and got really excited about the aspect of running.

Campaigning with my family

I knew a few other candidates, as they were also interns and knew that they had been involved since their freshman year. I knew it would be a tough competition, but I was invested enough, I was okay with the challenge. I knew that I hadn’t been as involved previously like my opponents. I was surprised how much thought and planning went into posters and marketing, yet if I wanted to have a shot I needed a good ground game strategy. I knew that I most likely would not be getting the votes of those who were more involved and therefore, needed to reach out to students who normally didn’t vote.

When the election days came, I had shifts of friends and family at the ready to wear brightly colored shirts and encourage students to vote. I used many different tactics including coupons and cookies to encourage voting. I also tried to appeal to as many people personally as possible by noticing whether they were married with children or involved with the university in any aspect. I played basketball and danced for 15 years which allows me to relate with a wide variety of students. I also put in as much time as possible those three days.  With all of these different running strategies I believe by reaching out to students on a personal level, the word was spread that I really cared about my campaign and was willing to truly accomplish what I said I would.

One thing the international students brought up were the working conditions of being a student, yet not a citizen. They wanted me to be aware of the importance of having on campus jobs because they are unable to work at the places off campus. I want to keep that in mind as I serve throughout this next year. I want to make sure they have the resources they need to be successful and be able to support themselves while striving to get the best education possible, as well as know what direction to point them in when they have questions.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to help better my school, my community and the students and faculty of UVU this upcoming year.

 Rob Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Body, and member, Utah International Mountain Forum 

Implementing Sustainable Development Goals Through Engaged Learning: Enactus UVU

Utah Valley University (UVU) students have so many opportunities for service and engagement even at the global level. And they can do that by sharing successful experiences in business and entrepreneurship in our mountainous state of Utah, one of the most successful in its economic development in the entire nation. One of these opportunities have taken us all the way around the world, to Africa, where we have been able to teach young girls how to start and open a new business, something otherwise unthinkable for these girls whose opportunities after finishing school are very limited.

The girls in Lusaka, Zambia, working on their business project assignments.

The area where we have been working with the girls is Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. While Zambia may be more developed that one may assume without any previous knowledge of the nation, the city they live in is a modern one. The problem is that there is a large gap of income inequality and there are many neighborhoods, which we would call slums in the US. This is precisely where the girls we teach live and in many cases, it is where they will live for the rest of their lives. Students have teamed up from all over the university, with diverse backgrounds in order to set up two businesses and prepare for two more. The ones currently set up already have promising results and exceeded profit expectations from the first day.

This team is called UVU Enactus, and it is part of a global non-profit organization created to move forward sustainable, social venture impact projects all around the globe. (See: UVU is just one of hundreds of schools around the globe. Another incentive for students is the ability to compete for scholarships and prizes every year at regional, national, and world competition. UVU’s Enactus branch has only been up and running for two years but the results have been promising. This one project, however, is not the only one of its kind here at UVU. There is also an initiative to help conserve Utah’s out of control water usage which has steadily been rising while the national average has been steadily declining. Another student has created a model that can be scaled to end world hunger, another project has been helping students in wheelchairs participate in their school’s track competitions. It has been because of the innovation which is at the heart of the school and in conjunction with the support of all staff and faculty.

Beau Bennett, Karina Banks, and Josman Cereceres at the 2017 Enactus USA competition after making it to the top 12 Universities in the Nation.

Enactus has created a partnership with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, to team up and present on the sustainable mountain development (SMD) and large-scale impact projects taking into account successful experiences in those areas in the state of Utah. As a leader of the SMD club at UVU, I have made it a priority to participate not only in activism but in community building at a local and global level. By working with non-profit organizations in Utah and combining our networks, we are able to accomplish so much more than originally possible before us. The implementation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) and three mountain targets among them have been an important priority for our team, which could have the lasting impact around the world and the mountain communities who are among the poorest ones. We, UVU students have proven that just because we are students, have jobs, and are supporting families, can still make a huge difference through service and entrepreneurial projects implemented around the world among the needy communities. Not even location or finances have been considered a barrier, because of the problem-solving attitude that the team has established. We know that our student body supports us, and that we have nothing to lose, but so much to gain. As we participated in the Enactus USA national exposition in Kansas City on the week of May 21st, 2017 we felt so grateful to take part in such amazing projects and were proud to compete with like-minded people and make it among top 12 teams in the nations.

UVU Enactus along with Enactus members from BYU- Hawaii, a school we collaborate and advise with, both schools made it to the top of the ranks among top schools in the nation.

It emboldened us and provided more energy and resolve to be prepared for our participation and contribution to the agenda of the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018. We would like to share with the UNWomen and participants of the CSW62 experiences in making difference in lives of girls in Lusaka and many other initiatives, which highlight how the engaged learning approach encourages students not only to get advanced in their educations, but also to contribute to the implementation of SDGs and mountain targets worldwide.

Josman Cereceres, President, SMD club, member, Enactus


UVU students learning NGO advocacy from UN official



Utah Valley University (UVU) sponsored a visit of guest lecturer Felipe Queipo, Information Officer for the United Nations’ NGO Relations & Advocacy branch of the Department of Public Information. Mr. Queipo was visiting Utah to meet with local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and to help foster relationships between them and the UN. His activities at our school included a meeting with local NGOs and school organizations focused on NGO work, as well as a general lecture for students. Before the general lecture members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU during special meeting informed UN official about student’s engagement in the advocacy of the United Nations Sustainable Mountain Development agenda in the State of Utah and North America. The nature of his lecture then was centered around the evolution of the United Nations, their adoption of avenues to communicate directly with civil society, and how we, as students, can get involved.

Mr. Felipe Queipo before the student audience at UVU

Mr. Quiepo began his lecture by asking students for their knowledge, opinions and questions about the United Nations — he even joked, saying that he was anticipating the question, “Why is the UN so useless?” That moment, while humorous, became the focal point of Mr. Quiepo’s lecture, and the catalyst for some real revolutionary thinking.

He then went on to explain that what we commonly think of as the UN—monolithic and governmentally-run—is the General Assembly and Security Council. Delving into the deadlock faced by the Security Council, elaborating on its establishment, lack of faculties to change, and its member nations’ tumultuous back and forth over the last seventy odd years, Mr. Quiepo really got to the heart of the matter as to why public perception of the UN is one of incapability.

However, he explained, these were only organs of a much larger organization. UN official explained that new initiatives launched by other branches of the UN, including the Secretariat and ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council), highlighted these exact issues and were predicated upon the idea that the best way to achieve results would be to extend beyond government interaction, to directly work with civil society. He stressed the importance of becoming active in your individual community, and using that momentum and the specialized skills of each individual and community to bring about real change around the world and how his particular department could be helpful to pursue those endeavors.

Overall, his speech was one of hope and encouragement—the perfect call to action for university students. Mr. Quiepo taught us that, no matter how small, positive forces in the world are important, and that each of our life experiences, though different, can all be positively utilized to facilitate change in the world. The encouragement, both on a personal level, and with the knowledge that the UN is increasing support and visibility for local NGOs, was truly inspiring.

David Schwartz, UVU student


Video of the UIMF members meeting with Mr. Felipe Queipo




Josman Cereceres: Engaded learning from Felipe Queipo in advocating mountain cause at the UN


Vitor Yunga: learning about humanitarian and NGO efforts at the United Nations from Felipe Queipo




Dr. Butler advocates for eradicating poverty in the mountains during ECOSOC session


On behalf of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) we would like to congratulate Dr. Rusty Butler, Main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) for making a statement during the 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment on May 8-10, 2017 at the United Nations.  The theme of this year’s Segment was “Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?” RANS as a NGO with General Consultative Status under ECOSOC spoke on behalf of the Mountain Partnership (MP) about challenges of poverty among the mountain communities.

The statement outlines major efforts of the Mountain Partnership in eradication of poverty among the mountain communities globally and challenges which still need to be addressed.

RANS recommends joint actions of all relevant stakeholders and stresses the importance of innovative solutions and entrepreneurship for the diversification of livelihoods for local mountain communities to end poverty and hunger; mechanisms to compensate mountain people for the benefits of their actions, services, and resources provided to the lowlands; promotes the high value mountain products to help improve mountain incomes by tapping into the current demand for high quality, traditional, organic and sustainable produce. The statement also emphasizes the role of tourism in mountains, if developed sustainably, to bring benefits to the communities as well.

(R to L) Dr. Butler interacts with Mr. Felipe Queipo, Associate Information Office, Department of Public Information, United Nations

It is already the third statement at the United Nations made by Dr. Rusty Butler, and he again highlighted “… the important role which academic institutions [and Utah Valley University in particular] might play in eradicating poverty and promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Although he stressed that “since 2007, the curricular and extracurricular programs [at UVU] encourage traditional and non-traditional students to promote the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda through student experiential learning,” it is important for us to remember that it happened thanks to efforts of Dr. Butler who contributed to that process as a Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU during 1992-2016, among other faculty at UVU.

UIMF members appreciate his leadership in new capacity as main representative of RANS at the UN, which provides UVU students with great opportunities to promote the SMD UN agenda at the United Nations.

Full statement:

Yanko Dzhukev, VP of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF


UVU press release about RANS statement


Mountain Partnership about RANS statement