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Promoting Mountain Targets During UN Day at UVU

On October 24th, 2017 students from Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) and its member clubs will attend United Nations (UN) Day celebration at UVU. The event will be hosted by the UVU Office of Global Engagement in order to advocate for the UN 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 162 targets as a “roadmap” to advance human progress by UN members during next 15 years. The event will be held in the Hall of Flags near the Woodbury Business School building and Pope Science Building inside campus. Information will be shared from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and students and faculty are encouraged to engage with the different clubs and organizations on campus.

This event will afford the opportunity to extend the UN’s goals to students and faculty alike, and allow the multiple organizations at UVU to teach them about the ways in which they can also participate in the 17 goals. UIMF members will share their experiences in advancing the needs of Utah’s mountainous communities, and mountainous communities around the world by advocating the UN sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda in the State of Utah, North America and globally since 2006. While there is no SDG focusing specifically on the mountain agenda, the SMD cause is included in the mountain target. Students will share experiences of their advocacy for the adoption of the mountain targets among SDGs during 2013-2015. One of the important priorities for UIMF members is their continuing contribution to the implementation of the adopted mountain targets on local, regional and global levels until 2030.

             Lacee Meyer, Vice President, UIMF

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

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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 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, helping them gain knowledge and experience to better contribute to the agendas of the highest gender-related UN forum in a more meaningful and 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; 3) or 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 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 in 2011 to host foreign dignitaries and ambassadors of nations accredited to the UN or US. 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, 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, 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 assist professional diplomats 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 was based on the hard work and coordination between students and professionals.

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 the Mountain Institute 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 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. Thus, this event will provide an opportunity for the state of Utah to possibly join the Mountain Partnership 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 Mountain Partnership 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; Dr. Andrew Taber; 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 United Nations Mountain Partnership (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 parties.

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 could continue conversation about mountain women advocacy at the UN. It is also a tradition now at UVU for students to joint 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 Mountain Partnership. Next year, UIMF students will be able to present this plan at the CSW62 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

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Agenda                       Brochure                   Task List

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MPS and FAO-UN about the event

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UVU press release about round table

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Video from the event         Photos from the event

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UIMF MEMBERS ABOUT HOSTING EVENT

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Pasang Sherpa: Announcement about round table

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

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

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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

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

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Jenny Hoppie: The difference one person has made

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

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

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Logan Perfili: We need to advocate for mountain women 

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

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

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

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Club Rush at Utah Valley University

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) (www.utahimf.org), 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.

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.

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!”

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 (utahimf.org) and the international Women of the Mountains conferences, hosted by UVU on regular basis depending on the availability of funds.  (womenofthemountains.org). 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) (www.utahimf.org), 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

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Mountain Partnership item news about the meeting in Utah

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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: https://www.enactusunitedstates.org). 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

 

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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

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Video of the UIMF members meeting with Mr. Felipe Queipo

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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

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

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

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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:
https://www.un.org/ecosoc/sites/www.un.org.ecosoc/files/files/en/integration/2017/RANS.pdf

Yanko Dzhukev, VP of Global Affairs and Outreach, UIMF

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UVU press release about RANS statement

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Mountain Partnership about RANS statement

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Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference

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Promoting mountain countries during the Model UN conference

I recently attended the Model UN of the Far West Conference, which took place in San Francisco on April 21-25, 2017. The UN Charter was created in San Francisco, so the location of this conference is significant. I attended this conference with my Model UN class, and we all had the opportunity to represent the member state Kyrgyzstan.

(L to R): Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, UVU team advisor, Alec Sorenson, Taylor Mansfield, Steven Johnson and Jon Downs

Why Kyrgyzstan? It was not a random but rather conscious choice: our school, Utah Valley University and State of Utah together with Kyrgyzstan have promoted the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations since 2006, and many of our students are involved in those activities. During the preparations to the MUN conference we decided to also advocate for the cause of the small mountain nations to which Kyrgyzstan belongs as well as State of Utah. As we know from our activities at UVU that mountain people are among the most vulnerable to such traditional challenges as poverty and underdevelopment, and almost forgotten by international institutions.  Therefore, we thought that it was an opportunity for us to raise an awareness among other participants of the conference about mountain cause. While at this conference, I had the opportunity to interact with other students, and learn more about their countries, and why they hold the beliefs that they do.

This was my first time at a Model UN conference, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. This was really a learning experience for me. We began every day at nine am, and some nights worked until eleven pm. Every committee began by doing a roll call to establish quorum, and it was important that every student show up, so we knew what the majority was. I had worked in the General Assembly committee, which had about seventy to eighty different countries in it.

My country, Kyrgyzstan, was located in the Central Asia region; we didn’t really have a lot of allies at this conference. Being from such a small country, a lot of people didn’t really even know where our country was located. Luckily, on the first day, I was able to meet up with one of the countries located in our region, Turkmenistan. From day one, I was able to form a great relationship with Turkmenistan, and we ended up sponsoring, and working on a resolution  together. Another ally that was focused on was Russia. Unfortunately, during this conference I wasn’t able to work with Russia a lot of the time.

It was really interesting to see just how well certain countries played their parts. They made sure to remind the delegates, the things were to remain civil, as the real UN is very diplomatic. I think that my committee struggled a lot with controlling their emotions, and being able to compromise. Some delegates had a harder time being diplomatic with other delegates that they knew their countries didn’t agree with. The chairs continued to make sure that everyone was acting respectfully to each other though. I agree that a lot of the time, it was hard to compromise with other delegates. Most countries don’t see eye to eye on issues, and things were especially hard when it came time to create, merge, and vote on resolutions.

Creating resolutions was one of the most important parts the conference. Luckily, leading up the conference, my class worked a lot not only on our policy statements, but on resolution writing. I feel that it made it so much easier to work with other delegates and be able to come to a compromise when we could all agree on specific wording, and the things that we really wanted to see in our resolutions. A lot of the preamble clauses and operative clauses were meant to target specific issues that our countries were facing.

In this specific conference, we were all given three topics to study and focus on. For the General Assembly, our topics were The Threat of Cyber Security in an Age of Cybercrime, Addressing Global Conflict and Security in the Context of Climate Change, and Ensuring Human Security in Conflict and Post Conflict Countries. In our committee, we were able to finish resolutions for two topics, which were Climate change, and Cybercrime. I put a lot of focus into the topic of Climate change. Climate change is a big issue in Kyrgyzstan, as their glaciers are melting, like in many other mountain nations and they have seen water shortages in part due to flawed infrastructure. Fortunately, I found a bloc that was interested in focusing on the same idea of water conservation and preservation. From there we merged with another bloc and created a resolution that we could all agree on. In the end, after a few amendments, the bill the Kyrgyzstan sponsored was one of the three bills to be passed in our committee. As a result, we were presented with Achievement Certificate for successfully presenting interests of Kyrgyzstan as one of the small mountain nations.

This allowed us to share with other conference participants our knowledge and experiences about Kyrgyzstan, starting even from the spelling of the name of the country. In addition, we also shared with them projects and initiatives which UVU students undertake with Kyrgyzstan to exchange between two mountain communities examples of economic, social, cultural and educational development.

Taylor Mansfield with Achievement Certificate for the promotion of mountainous Kyrgyzstan during the MUN conference 

In conclusion, I think that attending this conference was a great experience. I had the opportunity to meet different people, from schools across the West Coast. I enjoyed being able to learn from them and be able to compromise on certain issues. This is something that I would definitely consider attending again, and I won’t forget all that I have learned from it.

Taylor Mansfield, UVU student

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United Nations Mountain Partnership about MUNFW conference

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Steven Johnston: gaining professional experiences during the Model UN Conference

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Jon Downs: My MUNFW experience

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