All posts by editor

UVU Delegation Prepares for 4th Annual Mountain Partnership Meeting in Erzurum, Turkey

UVU Delegation Prepares for 4th Global Meeting of the

Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey


A delegation from Utah Valley University (UVU) which includes Dr. Baldomero Lago, Senior Director International Center and Multicultural Studies at UVU, Jordan Giles and Mark Petersen, UVU students and vice-Presidents of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU, have been making preparations for the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey. The summit will feature a gathering of many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations with focus on promotion of the United Nations agenda of sustainable mountain development (SMD) in order to help address, as well as bring awareness to, the many urgent issues facing mountain communities, including climate change with its impact on the environment, water and energy resources and supplies, poverty alleviation, gender, and creating stable institutions, among others. The important mission of that high-level international forum will be to adopt a four-year long strategy to promote SMD-agenda by members of the Mountain Partnership.


During the Conference Call with partners from Aspen, CO

As part of these preparations, members of the delegation have coordinated their efforts with many colleagues within UVU and within the newly formed North American Mountain Partnership Hub in order to pursue common goals and priorities during the Meeting.  For that purpose, they held a conference call with Karinjo DeVore, Co-director of VERTEX, and host of the North American hub for the Mountain Partnership on Wednesday, September 11, 2013. In addition, they were able to prepare and print as a special contribution to the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership a volume of papers written by students of UVU and high-schools from Utah, addressing a variety of topics relating to mountains and mountain peoples. Editor-in-Chief of the volume is Dr. David Connelly, Chair of the History and Political Science at UVU, a scholar on rural development and sustainability. During the Global Meeting in Erzurum, Turkey, the UVU delegation plans to make a presentation about UVU’s contribution to the regional cooperation between MP members in North America. As a part of the presentation they prepared an exhibition of 12 posters. The UVU delegation raised funds for the trip thanks to a GEL-grant provided by UVU and additional private sources in Utah valley through their own fundraising campaigns.


Mark Petersen, UVU student ( L ) and Dr. Baldomero Lago ( R )

discuss details of the trip to Turkey. 

With the continuing conflict in Syria, the UVU delegation experienced some challenges before getting approval for the trip from UVU officials due to a warning issued by the State Department for U.S. citizens to avoid trips to the south-eastern part of Turkey. Now, after resolving all issues with travel authorization and making so many efforts in order to go to Erzurum, Turkey, the UVU delegation is very eager to contribute to the Global Meeting agenda and adopt a contemporary strategy for MP member’s action during 2014-2017.

Brendon Carpenter, UVU student, member of UIMF

Remembering our dear friend, Dr. Jane Pratt

Jane Pratt

Utah Valley University (UVU) lost a great friend and supporter, Dr. Jane Pratt, Monday, August 12. Jane brought an enthusiasm as well as a wealth of experience and professionalism in her interactions with students at UVU. Jane was passionate regarding mountain issues, specifically sustainable mountain development, and was a great advocate of educating students and others about the many issues facing mountain communities today.

Jane has supported and was personally involved in many actions and projects that UVU initiated in promoting the United Nations-related sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda since 2006, when UVU joined the Mountain Partnership. She was among the organizers and contributors of the Women of the Mountains conferences, as a grass-roots initiative in the North America to promote gender and SMD-agendas, which regularly have been hosted by Utah Valley University jointly with the International University of Kyrgyzstan since 2007.

At the same time Dr. Pratt was especially passionate about UVU and Utah students’ involvement in SMD-advocacy.

Several UVU students were able to work with her when UVU was invited to contribute to the Rio+20 North American Report. Jane was thoughtful and passionate on this project and served as a great mentor and motivator for all the students involved.

UVU Student and Vice President of the Utah International Mountain Forum, Jordan Giles, said the following regarding his relationship with Jane:

“Jane was the type of mentor that every college student hopes to find. She was kind and possessed a wealth of knowledge that she was happy to share. Even though we lived on opposite sides of the country, Jane was always willing to help me in any way that she could whether with research projects or sharing professional contacts. I am going to miss her warm and friendly personality and mentorship. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Jane, she was very motivating to me and I hope to one day to follow in her footsteps. Her family is in my thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.”

Because of weakening health conditions during last couple of years, Jane participated in many interactive online guest lectures and would regularly interact with UVU students via email. When UVU offered its first Sustainable Mountain Development class, Jane was an enthusiastic supporter and offered many insights from her wealth of experience regarding these issues.

Jane also was thrilled to write warm greetings letter to the people and community in Utah when Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) celebrated at UVU for the third time dedicated by the United Nations “International Mountain Day” on December 06, 2012.

Those of us here at UVU who have had the opportunity to work closely with her on a variety of projects will miss Jane’s enthusiasm and passion. She served as a great example of advocacy for mountain issues and will continue to be in our hearts and minds here at UVU as we continue along the path of advocacy regarding mountain issues.

We are grateful for our association with Jane,

-Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University



Dr. Jane Pratt served in a different capacities at the international organizations, including lately as a Trustee at the Mountain Institute, VA and was one of the most respected scholars and advocates for the mountain cause in the United States and internationally.

Kyrgyz Republic Ambassador Visits UVU

The Visit of Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States of America, His Excellency, Muktar Djumaliev, to Utah Valley University.

Utah Valley University (UVU) has developed a special relationship with Kyrgyzstan since 1999 when the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the USA and his wife first visited UVU.  Since then this relationship has continued to progress through other high level exchanges between Kyrgyzstan and UVU as well as the government of the State of Utah.  Examples of such high level exchanges are the visit of the Governor of Utah, Olene Walker, to Bishkek and the visit of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to Utah, both visits occurring in 2004.  In 2005 Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev former ambassador of the Kyrgyz republic to the United States became a member of the teaching staff at UVU which has helped to further facilitate the partnership between Utah and Kyrgyzstan.  Kyrgyzstan and Utah have similar size, population and geographic features i.e. mountainous terrain.  These similarities are the basis of Utah’s common interests with Kyrgyzstan and are also the basis for the partnership that has been created to promote the agenda of sustainable mountain development under the auspices of the United Nations.


Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States of America and Canada,  His Excellency, Muktar Djumaliev, during the presentation at Utah Valley University

In 2013 Dr. Rusty Butler,  UVU’s Associate Vice President of International Affairs, invited the Kyrgyz Republic’s current ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Muktar Djumaliev, to visit Utah and to give a lecture at UVU.  The lecture was given on Monday June 3rd on the topic of the political reforms in Kyrgyzstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Ambassador Djumaliev spoke about the challenges that the Kyrgyz republic has had in changing from an autocratic form of government which they had under the Soviet system to a constitutional democracy as an independent state. He reported that the road to becoming a constitutional democracy has not been an easy one for the Kyrgyz republic.  Their first constitution was adopted in 1993 and provided a basis for building a democratic, legal and social state.  However several changes were made to the constitution which dramatically reshaped it.  Many of the constitutional changes benefited only the president.  This led to a political crisis and in 2005 President Askar Akayev was ousted.  From 2005 to 2010 a new constitutional regime was implemented but this regime was to prove similar to the first.  The new president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, also used the constitution to consolidate his own power at the expense of the people of Kyrgyzstan.  This regime too came to an end with President Bakiyev being ousted from power and a new regime established.  This new regime and constitution has been set up to protect the people and has a number of checks and balances to ensure that governmental power is distributed.  Ambassador Djumaliev stated in his presentation that “the 2010 Constitution gives opportunity to strengthen statehood, sovereignty of the country, to achieve serious success in economic and social development, to tackle the corruption and unlawfulness.” He also added that “All necessary conditions for better protecting the interests of the nation and state, human rights and freedoms were created.”  During the question and answer section after the lecture it became clear that one of the main focuses of this new regime is to clear up government corruption and produce a stable economic system under the rule of law that will attract foreign investment.  The VIP guest from the Kyrgyz Republic pointed out that his nation became a member of the WTO in 1998 and that even though they have big trade deficits they have learned in the process to trade with other countries by international standards.

After his lecture Ambassador Djumaliev went on a tour of UVU during which he made a courtesy call on UVU Academic Vice President Ian Wilson.  During the lunch with members of the UVU Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy and selected other UVU faculty members and students, Ambassador Djumaliev recognized that universities are where new ideas and perspectives often came from and engaged the group in a discussion on what Kyrgyzstan might do to promote their interested in the United States and around the world.


Dignitary from the Kyrgyz Republic members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU

After leaving UVU the Kyrgyz VIP-guest made several other important visits in Utah to help strengthen Utah/Kyrgyzstan relations including meetings at Brigham Young University about educational exchanges and with Orem City Manager, Bruce Chestnut, to discuss the possibility of a sister city relationship between Orem and one of the cities in Kyrgyzstan.  He had dinner with State Senator John Valentine and his wife in addition to making a presentation at the Utah Women in Business conference in Salt Lake City. He met with the Lt. Governor of the State of Utah Greg Bell, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and toured the LDS humanitarian center.  During the lunch co-hosted by the World Trade Center Utah and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Ambassador Djumaliev spoke about business opportunities in the Kyrgyz Republic and why it is important for his country to have strong connections to the mountain states of the United States, like Utah.  At the end of his visit, Ambassador Djumaliev met with Dr. Fred Esplin, the University of Utah’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement.


Ambassador Djumaliev during lunch with Utah State Senator John Valentine

This UVU sponsored trip to Utah of the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic Muktar Djumaliev has been in the long standing tradition of the partnership between UVU and the Kyrgyz Republic.  By coming to Utah, the VIP from the mountainous nation in Central Asia was able to promote this relationship not just with UVU but with many other institutions of the State of Utah as a whole.

Mark Petersen, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development club, UVU student 

UIMF Again Featured in FAO’s “Peak to Peak” News letter

Rocky Mountain-Central Asia exchange

As part of the partnership in sustainable mountain development between the Rocky Mountains and Central Asia, Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted Kyrgyz parliamentarian Kurmanbek Dyikanbayev and Bishkek city court adviser Sultangazy Kasymov for a week in March. The guests agreed to cooperate with the University of Utah on genetic research, water management and utilization of uranium tailing wastes in addition to continuing legislative, educational and trade exchanges through UVU. Read more

Click the following link for the full “Peak to Peak” Issue:

Peak to Peak April 2013

UIMF Concludes 3rd Annual High School Essay Contest

The Third Annual UIMF Workshop Essay Contest Concludes

On March 22, 2013, the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of several students clubs at Utah Valley University, held the third annual Workshop Essay Contest for high school students at Utah Valley University. Two previous contests were held in 2011 (link) and 2012 (link), respectively. This year, following the United Nations designation of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, the contest focused on topics related to water sustainability, cooperation & accessibility, as they relate to the world and specifically their implications within Utah.


During the essay contest at Utah Valley University 

Under the chairmanship of Professor Keith Snedegar, the History and Political Science Department at Utah Valley University announced a call for papers throughout the high schools of the state of Utah several months prior the final event, which was decided to be held on March 22nd, 2013.

 Call For papers – Water Sustainability-

As it was done before, students of UVU, many of them members of UIMF, communicated with schools in order to convince the maximum possible number of high-school students to write pieces on the topic. The organizing committee selected the seven best essays relating to water sustainability in Utah, from which three top winners of the contest were chosen. The first prize went to Maranda Fisher, who wrote a paper on the topic: “Running out of Water,” second prize was given to Quinn Everett with a paper, titled “The Case Against Water Contamination: The hazardous factors that led to pollution and the poor policies that tolerate it”, and the third prize went to Maison Evensen with a report “Water Rights and Preservation”.


Maranda Fisher ( C ) with Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov (L ), and

Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Dr. Keith Snedegar ( R )

Maranda Fisher 1 Place Certificate

Winners of the contest have been presented with monetary prizes in the amount of: A) the first place – $300; B) the second place -$200; C) the third place $100. Funds to present awards to winners and to provide logistics for the contest were provided through the ELLA grant from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with personal support from Dean of School, Dr. David Yells.

The Organizing Committee honored the great contribution from Ms. Robin Bucaria, a teacher of Cooper Hills High School of Salt Lake City, by presenting her special certificate, signed by the members of the Organizing Committee led by Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Diplomacy at Utah Valley University, and also focal point for the Mountain Partnership at Utah Valley University and Utah Russia-Institute. Ms. Robin Bucaria was able to convince almost all students from her class to write essays and contribute to the contest.


Teacher Ms. Robin Bucaria (C ) with Ambassador Kydyrov  (L ) and member of the

Organizing Committee Jesler Molina ( R )

 Bucaria Certificate

The event was also honored with the presence of His Excellency Talaibek Kydyrov, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, who encouraged students to continue to contribute to the sustainable mountain development agenda and water management in particular. He was glad that event was dedicated also to the 10th Anniversary since adoption of the special resolution of the United Nations establishing December 11 as International Mountain Day. The Kyrgyz dignitary presented certificates to participants and winners.

Important contribution to the contest was made by the charitable organization TIFIE (Teaching Individuals Families Independence Enterprise), which provided special prizes to the winners and the rest of the participants and special guests – equipment with solar panels similar to those which are provided to the families in Ghana as a part of the fundraising campaign, which was underway simultaneously with the Essay contest.


Brandon Merrill ( L ), President of the Sustainable Mountain Development

Club at UVU during the fundraising campaign with Ambassador Kydyrov ( second left) and members of UIMF

His Excellency Talaibek Kydyrov received an honorable mention, as did Ms. Robin Bucaria, a teacher at who has been a special collaborator of the organization over the past three years.

UIMF Welcomes U.N. Ambassador from Switzerland

UIMF members greet Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations,

Ambassador Paul Seger at Utah Valley University 

Members of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), coalition of students clubs made a special presentation to the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, Ambassador Paul Seger during the visit of VIP-guest to Utah Valley University on March 25, 2013.

UIMF organized for Swiss guest special exhibition of posters, as a part of the bigger one, prepared for the United Nations RIO+20 conference in Brazil last summer, which was attended by UVU delegation. They shared with dignitary experiences from UVU and UIMF in advocacy of the sustainable mountain development (SMD) – agenda including: hosting three international Women of the Mountains Conferences in 2007, 2011 and 2012; contributing to the Report on SMD for North America for the United Nations conference on sustainable development (RIO+20) in Brazil; celebrating International Mountain Days for the third time in the whole state of Utah during last December; organizing three essay contests among Utah high school students on different topics from the SMD-agenda; supporting creation in Aspen, CO of North American hub for the Mountain Partnership, coalition of institutions, which advocates SMD-activities globally, among others.


Since 2006, when UVU joined the Mountain Partnership, and until now UVU and UIMF funded all activities for SDM-advocacy from local or own funds and resources.

Swiss Amb 1 
Jordan Giles, vice-president of UIMF ( L ) and Robert McMurray, UIMF member ( R ) presenting to the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, Ambassador Paul Seger an exhibition of posters about UVU involvement in SMD-promotion 

Swiss Amb 2

 Photo of the plaque with thanks from UVU

students for contribution by Switzerland to the SMD-agenda

Taking into account very important role played by Switzerland in promoting sustainable mountain development agenda globally and providing significant financial assistance to the developing mountain nations around the world UVU students presented to Swiss envoy special plaque with expressing thanks for contribution to SMD and signed by the members of the UIMF.

Swiss Amb 3

Students UVU presenting to the Swiss Ambassador Paul Seger a plaque with thanks for

Contribution by the Switzerland to the SMD-agenda.

UIMF Welcomes U.N. Ambassador from Kyrgyzstan

UIMF Greets the Kyrgyz Envoy to the United Nations

UVU Students, members of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of students clubs, hosted Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov during his visit to Utah Valley University on March 22, 2013. UVU Students informed H.E. Ambassador Kydyrov about student involvement in the advocacy of sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda.

Kyrg Award

UIMF members presenting to the Kyrgyz guest a plaque with thanks for

contribution by the Kyrgyz republic to the SMD-agenda.


VIP guest from the Kyrgyz Republic was glad to know that Utah Valley University and its students have been involved in the advocacy of the SMD-agenda since 2006, when UVU joined Mountain Partnership, a coalition of global institutions interested in working together on the mountain cause. During the conversation different aspects of cooperation were discussed, specifically educational exchanges between UVU and Universities in Kyrgystan. Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov expressed interest to have interns at his mission in New York with a focus on research of SDM-experiences both in Utah and Kyrgyzstan with comparative analyses and recommendations. UIMF members presented to the Kyrgyz guest a plaque with thanks for contribution by the Kyrgyz republic to the SMD-agenda.

Chad & Kyrg

Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov with the student body President Chad Workman

UIMF Finishes Successful Week of Fundraising

Brandon and Melani
UVU Students at the Fundraising Booth on campus
The UIMF every semester has dedicated itself to fundraising for organizations that promote and live sustainability. This semester was no different. While usually we fundraiser solely for the Dumi Project for TIFIE in the DR Congo this semester we worked with TIFIE and GoalZero to find a partner in Ghana called Empower Playgrounds International (EPI).
EPI has decided to move to a larger scale power solution for the communities in Ghana with solar power. The community buys into the program and makes monthly payments overtime. While this may seem more expensive it, in fact, is actually very affordable and usually equals out to what the residents usually pay in cell recharging fees, batteries, and kerosene every month. These are the usual sources of power for them and can be quite costly depending on the size of their family. With the solar power and rechargeable battery packs they receive every month they will be able to light their homes, charge their cell phones, and other small electronic devices. After 12-18 months depending on the size of the system they are purchasing they completely own the system and are able to start saving a lot of money.
The UIMF raised enough money to make the down payment for 10 homes to be outfitted with solar power. For these families to have a form of reliable, clean energy means less sickness from burning coal or kerosene. It means a way to have another source of income because they can now charge cell phones of local community members and it is a way to save money and lift themselves out of poverty. The UIMF continues to be able to show to the Utah community that a sustainable charitable model is what is needed in developing communities. When this model is used the community is trained on how to take care of the system after the organization is gone, is able to take ownership of the system and helps lift the community out of poverty by giving them a way to make and save money.  In the end it teaches independence to families and individuals through enterprise.
An example of some of the Goal Zero equipment sold for the fundraiser
Share the World FINAL small