Category Archives: 2018

UIMF delegation will participate at the high-level political forum on sustainable development

Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation will contribute to the activities of the high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development in 2018. HLPF will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council from Monday, 9 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018. It will include the three-day ministerial meeting of the forum from Monday, 16 July, to Wednesday, 18 July 2018.

The theme of the HLPF 2018 will be “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The forum will review in depth the following Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

UVU delegation plans to make an oral statement during the ministerial meeting of the forum. This happened thanks to UVU partnership with the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), an NGO in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Committee from non-governmental organizations made a recommendation on May 30, 2018 for RANS among eight non-governmental organizations from around the world to be heard by ECOSOC during HLPF.

In the statement, delegation members will speak about the importance of the implementation of three mountain targets, which are part of two SDGs included in the agenda of the HLPF: SDG6 and SDG15. UVU students advocate the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America and globally since 2007. Since 2015, they focus on implementation of the mountain targets as part of the 2030 Development Agenda of the United Nations.

The written statement E/2018/NGO/17  jointly submitted by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Mountain Institute and Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council,  was accepted by the United Nations Secretariat for delivery during HLPF on May 30, 2018.  We appreciate support from all three NGOs to the developed student engaged learning initiative at UVU with focus on implementation of three mountain targets.

The statement emphasizes that “…High Level Political Forum provides an opportunity to address the challenges facing mountain communities to transform them into more sustainable and resilient societies and to bring them to the center of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two sustainable development goals under the review of this forum  contain three mountain targets: Target 6.6: by 2020, protect and restore water related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes; Target 15.1: by 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements; Target 15.4: by 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development. ”

It also reports about collaborative experiences with Utah Valley
University, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006, as one of the examples to transform mountain communities towards sustainable and resilient societies. ” Since joining the Mountain Partnership, the university encourages faculty and students to
contribute to the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America, and in developing countries globally. It allowed the university also to implement the mountain targets under the Sustainable Development Goal 4.7, which states that “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture ’s contribution to sustainable development.””

One UVU faculty and five students, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs will represent UVU delegation during four days ministerial meeting.

We thank College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Global Engaged Learning office, Department of History and Political Science and National Security Studies program for sponsoring our visit to the United Nations.

Damon Ashcraft, Vice President, Sustainable Mountain Development Club  


Written statement E/2018/NGO/17 submitted by Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, for delivery during HLPF 


Recommendation E/2018/67 for RANS to be heard by the ECOSOC



Damon Ashcraft-UIMF prepares to participate at HLPF


Samuel Elzinga-UIMF at UN High Level Political Forum A Protocol Perspective


Andrew Jensen -Preparations to advocate the mountain targets at High Level Political Forum

Continuing Traditions of the Sustainable Mountain Development Club

(L to R): Andrew Jensen, Brandon Merrill and Sam Elzinga during the meeting

On May 24, 2018 members of the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Club at Utah Valley University (UVU) planned to have a meeting with focus on preparations to the visit and participation at the United Nations High Level Political Forum in July 16-19, 2018. Due to a number of issues, the meeting was postponed to a different date. Instead, Sam Elzinga, a member of the SMD club and the President of the Foreign Affairs club at UVU and myself were able to get together with Brandon Merrill, a UVU graduate, the first President of SMD club and now a legal advocate for the non-governmental organization “The Never Again Foundation” from Queen Creek, Arizona. The Never Again Foundation is a nonprofit charity that provides legal assistance to families of victims killed by domestic violence. (For more information, see: )

Brandon came to the university to participate at the first ever UVU Conference on Ending Domestic Violence, hosted by several UVU schools, including the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Sorensen Student Center. The conference opening keynote speaker was Victor Rivas Rivers, a veteran film star, best-selling author, renowned advocate for violence prevention, and the first Cuban-born football player to land a tryout with the Miami Dolphins. Another dignitary, Lundy Bancroft, was chair of the afternoon plenary session. Lundy Bancroft has authored five books in the field, including the U.S.’s best-selling book on domestic violence, “Why Does He Do That?”, and the national prizewinner The Batterer as Parent.

Brandon found time in his conference schedule to visit the office of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU  and chat a little bit with both of us and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Advisor of the UIMF. It was his special pleasure to do that and remind us that he was among the first students at UVU to establish UIMF and to be the first President of the SMD club.

He remembered, with special warmth, his years at UVU and how he was able to contribute towards hosting the second international Women of the Mountains Conference in March 2011. More than 60 students successfully hosted it for the first time on their own as a student engaged learning initiative. As a result of that success, they decided to establish UIMF during the summer of that same year and Brandon Merrill became both one of the vice Presidents of the UIMF and the President of the newly created SMD club. He mentioned with special pleasure how he worked together then with John McClure, the first President of UIMF, Jesse Gray, and Jordan Giles, his VPs at that time.

Brandon contributed a number of activities to the SMD agenda promotion both in the State of Utah and abroad: he not only shared the stories of how he hosted International Mountain Days at UVU and campaigns to raise funds to provide solar energy kits for several countries in Africa  (See:, but also showed us his face on posters which hang now at the UIMF office at UVU. (See: )

As a result of his involvement with the advocacy of the SMD agenda at UVU, Brandon decided to continue his education in that area and graduated from Vermont Law School. His current job and activities are related to the topics which he focused during his time at UVU. He also follows up the progress at UVU with the SMD agenda. Brandon was very happy to know that UVU students were able to successfully advocate for the mountain women cause at the 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women during March 19-21, 2018.

During the meeting, we agreed to continue our relationships and count on Brandon Merrill’s support to UIMF activities as an alumni. Brandon mentioned that he still has many previous ties worldwide with focus on SMD promotion and would be glad to share them with current UIMF and SMD club members.

It was a very interesting and inspiring meeting with Brandon Merrill, one of the founders of UIMF and the SMD club.

Andrew Jensen, President Model UN Club

SMD club focuses on improving air quality in Utah

Spring 2018 has been an exciting semester for the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Club. Early in the semester, the club underwent some leadership changes, with myself elected as President and Damon Ashcraft as Vice President of the club. The club also saw a large increase in membership, growing to nearly 15 members. With these changes, the members decided to set some goals and action plans for the club moving forward. First, we wanted to continue our partnership with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) by assisting to host dignitaries from all around the world. We also decided to add our voice to those who are addressing air quality in the state of Utah and immediately began brainstorming ideas to help in that crucial effort.

Cougar Einfeldt, Emmanuel Omaria and Kyler Pigott host a table at UVU

Our first impression, as primarily political science majors, was to write legislation addressing the poor air quality experienced across the Wasatch Front. We started research on how to write and present a law in the Utah 2019 Legislative session, once we had a basic grasp of the process, we dove in. During the early stages of our data gathering, we learned about an on-campus research group, whose focus was also air quality, and intended their research to be used for legislation. We met with the leadership of that group and decided to work together towards this monumentally important issue. Currently, we are in the stages of benchmarking air quality legislation and policy of other states, foreign governments, and large-scale companies. At the end of May we will meet with the research team again to compile data and begin the more formal process of writing and proposing the legislation based off the data found.

Emmanuel Omaria explains to UVU student how to improve air quality in Utah (front), while  Caitlin Tomly speaks with UVU faculty member about initiative to increase public transit usage on campus (back)

Because of the grandeur of the previous goal discussed, we also set a smaller goal of reducing on campus emissions through by encouraging students and faculty to utilize the public transit system that runs throughout Utah. We accomplished this by tabling throughout the semester, in different locations around campus. During these events, we approached students and faculty alike as they passed in the hallways, and had a short but informative discussion with them about the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality. Then it was easier for us to encourage them to take the bus, carpool, or even bike to campus, as a personal commitment they can make to reduce particle pollution in our communities. We also offered information on the transit routes, and helped them understand exactly how they could utilize the system.

While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much of an impact our tabling made on the emissions produced by the school, the events did draw the attention of several faculty members, who in turn provided us with more opportunities to take part in the schools efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, faculty member Ms. Colleen Bye connected us with members of the university’s faculty Senate in charge of planning and coordinating efforts to reach UVU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. With this connection, we will contribute to the agenda of an upcoming event “Sustainability Day” at UVU on October 1st, 2018.

Through Colleen, we contacted several groups at Brigham Young University, also focused on reducing emissions by utilizing alternate transportation. We are currently coordinating efforts with them to create multi-campus initiatives. Additionally we are working with student led groups at both Brigham Young University and University of Utah to host a Climate Campaign event, to highlight the efforts of universities across Utah in addressing climate and sustainability issues. These intercollegiate efforts will not only highlight each universities impact on the issues, but especially UVU’s engaged learning model for student led projects.

Moving forward, the SMD club is increasing it’s utilization of the engaged learning model by submitting a written statement to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 session (the HLPF is the highest forum of the United Nations focused on sustainability and climate issues). We plan to attend the event in New York in July, and submitted already a draft for oral and written statements. If either of them is accepted, then members of the SMD club secure their place at the HLPF. Finally, we are working to register the UIMF as either a non-profit, or an non-governmental organization, in order to open up even more opportunities for engaged learning in later years.

Kyler Pigott, President Sustainable Mountain Development Club at Utah Valley University 



Damon Ashcraft-Raising funds to promote sustainable mountain development 


Model U.N. Conference of the Far West in San Francisco

I was able to attend the Model United Nations Conference of the Far West in San Francisco, California during April 20-23, 2018.  Being my first time, I didn’t really know what to expect going in to the conference.  First, because our delegation represented Japan, myself and the other representatives from Utah Valley University (UVU) were able to meet with the representatives of the Japanese Consulate-General in San Francisco.

Utah Valley University students with Mr. Shoichi Nagayoshi, Deputy Council General of Japan to San Francisco ( R )

We were able to talk with them and ask questions about some of the different issues about Japan that we were preparing to discuss through this four-day conference.  They informed us and reiterated some of the stances of Japan on different policies, including the question of Palestine, the struggle of dealing with North Korea, as well as such issues as climate change and humanitarian ones.  Concerning North Korea, we discussed and compared the nuclear deal the United States made with North Korea back when President Clinton was in office, and the nuclear deal President Barack Obama made with Iran.  The Japanese Representatives said that the largest difference between then and now is that the nuclear world is developing long-range missiles, which were not available years ago when the deal was made by Administration of the President Clinton.  They also made clear to us that Japan is a very peaceful country and desires very much to demilitarize modern day international politics and only desires to promote peace and security throughout the world.  Another interesting issue that the consulate shared with was the importance of Japan to consistently strengthen its relationship with the United States as well as the United Kingdom.  They also stressed the importance of pressuring China to be more transparent when it comes to nuclear power.  Meeting with the members of the consulate was one of the most productive part of the conference, which prepared me better for debates, and discuss hot issues in modern-international politics today.

For the remainder of the days, including Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday and all-day Monday we were able to be in our committee meetings.  I had the opportunity to be on the 4th Committee.  We discussed some of the crucial issues our international community faces today, including the question of Palestine, food security in conflict zones, as well as decolonization in the modern era.  When we started out by debating in what order we would like to debate and discuss the different topics, it was clear that the majority of the delegates wanted to address the question of Palestine.  We should have known better than to start with the question of Palestine, as this topic only came to a passing resolution on the last day of the conference.  A few different aspects that I specifically didn’t enjoy about the conference was how ineffective the process of the United Nations seemed to be.  I didn’t understand why so much time was needed to have unmoderated caucuses.  It seemed that the process of coming to a decision on any matter was very slow.  In general, I admire the overall goal of the United Nations.  The only way that these types of problems can be solved is by complete cooperation by all member states.  By the end of the last day, we were finally able to pass the resolution on the question of Palestine, but the resolution was not pointed towards a two-state or a one-state solution; the resolution dealt with humanitarian aid.  Representing the state of Japan, we did our best to involve our self, providing financial support for both Israelis and Palestinians.

UVU students with Slanczka Achievement Certificate

I am happy that I was able to attend the Model United Nations of the Far West conference, because it helped me understand exactly how the United Nations works, at a more specific level. I also understand exactly why it is hard for the United Nations to get things done in a timely manner, and why there are so many countries, which have a hard time supporting it, including the Russia Federation.

Nathan Erickson, Utah Valley University student



Andrew-Jensen-Reflection on the 68th session of the Far West Model United Nations



UIMF Helps UVU Students to Grow Professionally

I was recently accepted to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, for a Master’s Program in Political Violence and Terrorism and I will start my classes at that prestigious academic school in September 2018.

Trevor Williams as protocol for Ms. Mia Rowan, representative of the United Nations Mountain Partnership during the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference in October 8, 2015

My involvement with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) with focus on the promotion of the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda has been extremely helpful for me to achieve that goal. UIMF provided me an opportunity to make connections and meet people with similar career ambitions from all around the world.  I acquired great experiences in particular during the international conference Women of the Mountains which I was able together with my other student colleagues from UIMF to host at UVU in October 2015 as a service learning and student driven initiative. At that time, I have met so many people both from Utah and abroad, who have helped greatly with useful and applicable advice and counsel. One of them, Ms. Mia Rowan, representative of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, later wrote me a recommendation letter to my graduate school. (see: In some ways, I wish that I would be able to give back more to UIMF in the ways that it has given to me.

There are a lot of issues that are pertinent to our world today in regard to the types of policies that we create and support and in particular in creating a just and fair future for our children. Global warming today is a reality to many people throughout the world without ever seeing graphs or charts and it makes communities in many parts of the world especially in mountainous areas suffer enormously and worsen their living conditions.  These types of issues can lead to geopolitical instability and the programs at UVU advocating for sustainable mountain development provide opportunities for students, through engaged learning initiatives, to become involved with the issues firsthand. I was able to learn about that in particular during the campaign when in 2015 my peers at UIMF and I collected signatures for petition to discuss how climate change impacts mountain communities during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. (See:   Many of my teachers, including Dr. Rusty Butler and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev have worked tremendously hard to provide students opportunities to build connections with people around the world and help mountain communities in particular; it has definitely paid off.

Trevor Williams with Ms. Celeste Mergens, President of Days for Girls during the International Womens Day at UVU

I have a special interest in such aspects of the SMD agenda, as strategies of poverty alleviation in mountain areas or cultural aspects of the mountain life and in the State of Utah as well. Recently with my peers I participated in the service project at UVU to assemble a hygiene kits for girls and women through the famous worldwide non-governmental organization Days for Girls (see: I had also the opportunity to write a paper on the religious significance of mountains specifically within the realm of Mormonism which will be published in the UVU undergraduate student research journal “Youth and the Mountains” this year. In many other ways, my major, Integrated Studies, has allowed me also to delve into the many similar topics covered by the different student club associations at UVU since they are politically and socially relevant.

Anyone looking to advance career opportunities or simply help out with imminent current events that affect people across the globe and especially in the mountain areas can find that opportunity at UVU through the programs administered by the members of UIMF with focus on the mountains. (see for more information at:  I would strongly recommend anyone to get involved in those activities to expand their career horizons.

Trevor Williams, Utah Valley University student

WorldQuest Competition 2018 at Westminster University

Students at Utah Valley University had the opportunity to participate for the second time in Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy’s (UCCD) WorldQuest Competition at Westminster University in Salt Lake City on April 13, 2018. UCCD is an organization that helps to build ties between citizens in Utah and citizens of the international community by encouraging cooperation and learning about other countries in the international realm of politics. The competition involved several rounds of international questions that involved a variety of topics. Each round was a process of 5 rounds of 10 questions each that involved a different topic on international relations.

Utah Valley University team during the competition at Westminster University

First, the competition was on food security and involved a variety of questions on which nations were prone to security, why food security is an evolving problem, and finally what technologies and organizations have affected food security in the international community. The Organization of American States was the next discussed topic with questions on who was the leader, what countries form part of such organizations, and finally, effects of the policy positions on the organization. The next topic was the topic of great decisions, touching on topics such as policy decisions, world leaders, and major world events. Next, was the section on international trade and finance, which dealt with the variety of international trade relations that determine the current global actors and interactions in the world.

Finally, the last topic was on privacy in the Digital Age, a topic that touched on many of the policy positions of different countries in the Digital Age.

Overall, the competition was exciting and provided an opportunity for UVU students to demonstrate our comprehensive understanding and evaluation of topics on international relations. It was an important example of student engaged learning that promotes learning outside of the classroom. I enjoyed the opportunity to apply many of the topics that I learned in the classes on international relations and sustainable development.

Andrew Jensen, Utah Valley University student



Jessica Jones-WorldQuest Trivia


Sharing CSW62 results with Mayor Brunst of Orem

As part of the follow up tasks of the Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation visit to the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62), the leadership of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, met with Mayor of Orem, Richard Brunst on Monday, April 2, 2018. Our objective was to report to Mayor Brunst, an old supporter and friend of the UIMF, the results of our student led delegation visit to CSW62 and strengthen the established relationship with the city of Orem to further promote the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In 2015 Orem was placed within the top 50 most livable cities by USA Today. Being a located in the mountains of Utah, Orem has a unique situation when promoting the SDGs. In 2010 the city of Orem became the first municipality in Utah to join the United Nations Mountain Partnership. This then allows UIMF members, when promoting mountain sustainability from a grass roots level to look for examples in their local communities and report their research to the United Nations.

From Left to Right: Derek Garfield, Mayor Brunst, Matthew Rands

 Since the foundation of the UIMF, the city of Orem has always been supportive of student led initiatives. Mayor Brunst also participated at the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference in 2015, which was featured in the United Nations Secretary General’s report on sustainable mountain development (SMD) A/71/256 from July 27, 2016 as successfully hosted by UIMF. This provided us with a great opportunity to start our conversation with Mayor Brunst by thanking him for his contributions to the SMD advocacy which included not only speaking at the Women of the Mountains Conference in 2015 but also during annual International Mountain Day celebrations at UVU on December 11th.

When we asked the Mayor: “What unique quality does Orem have that can be utilized by the rest of the world?” his response was that the city focuses on families. The city is maintained easily and has a thriving arts scene because it promotes families. This quality can fit directly into SDG #5 on gender equality and promoting the overall benefit of women through the family unit.

During our conversation with Mayor Brunst, we informed him that during our first visit ever to the UN, we still were able to learn that this highest intergovernmental organization is full of varying opinions and ideologies. Many people in Utah view the UN as not favorable to their ideology and refrain from participating. We discussed that this is not correct that there are many opportunities at the UN to bring different views, opinions and this is a great arena for interaction with similar minded individuals and institutions and to learn to wage a dialogue with those with whom we could disagree in something.

Taking into account very active role of the Orem City in advocating the SMD agenda of the United Nations since 2010, we were then able to offer Mayor Brunst the opportunity to share Orem’s successes at future UN forums, to which he agreed to the idea. The UIMF looks forward to working with the city of Orem and the Mayor Brunst to promote mountain sustainability in Utah and worldwide.

Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum

Derek Garfield, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum

Ms. Hawa Diallo from UN DPI about empowering youth through global advocacy

UVU students were blessed to have guest speaker, Ms. Hawa Diallo, Public Information Officer at United Nations Department of Public Information, come and speak to them on  April 3, 2018.  Ms. Hawa has been part of the United Nations from a very young age, and this experience has enabled her to travel to many different countries and participate in some of the most important principles that the United Nations stands for.  Ms. Diallo grew up in Westchester, New York, advocating for human rights from a very young age. She remembers as far back as the 2nd grade when she began standing up for students out at recess and promoting people’s rights.  She graduated from college in 1986 and received her first job at the United Nations as a tour guide.  Growing up in a family that very politically active, as well as her father working for the United Nations her family was able to help her get this first job.  One of her favorite aspects of working at the United Nations is the level of diversity.  She spoke about how many different people she was able to meet and how many different viewpoints she was exposed to as she worked there, which helped her learn more about the United Nations.

Ms. Hawa Diallo during presentation before students

 After working for a large amount of time as a tour guide, becoming a knowledgeable in the structure and information of the United Nations, she was able to become involved in peacekeeping operations.  She has been able to travel all over the world, participating in peace operations and has been able to fulfill what she loves to do, and that is help people.  She has been everywhere from New York City, to Cambodia, Somalia, and many other countries that have been facing hardships as they are developing. She has also been able to work in Kenya for 10 years, at the only United Nations headquarters on the continent of Africa.

After speaking somewhat about her career at the United Nations, she spoke for a moment on some of the different jobs available in the United Nations.  I asked her a specific question about what jobs are available at the United Nations, and also what jobs the United Nations seems to always be in need of.  Apparently right now at the United Nations, there is a lot of opportunities for jobs such as secretaries and such, but the United Nations in the past has also had to lay a lot of people off due to modernization and the progression in technology.  This has caused loss of jobs.  Ms. Hawa Diallo seemed to have a very interesting passion for peacekeeping.  There were students that asked about future internships for peace keeping at the United Nations that opportunities are available.

A group photo with students and faculty at UVU

I believe that the future of the United Nations could be both bright and dim.  Because of all the problems occurring in our world today, sometimes we question if there are any solutions to these problems at all.  I believe that the United Nations can make an impact on some of these problems, but I believe that they need to come up with better solutions.  Overall, from this presentation I would say that the United Nations is a great institution that has plenty of good motivations and intentions, but the entire international community must come together in order to make a difference.  She did a great job in speaking today and I learned more about all the opportunities that the United Nations provides to students, and it would be very interesting to work there.

Visit of Ms. Hawa Diallo took place thanks to a new partnership established between UVU and the United Nations Department of Public Information in November last year when UVU became an Associate member of the UN DPI.

Nathan Erickson, Utah Valley University student


Marie Chantal Niwenshuti – Gaining experience about advocacy at UN from Ms. Diallo


Caitlin Tomly – Inspiring presentation of Ms.Hawa Diallo


Damon Ashcraft-Visit from UN representative Hawa Diallo


Ezra Pugliano – Presentation of Ms. Hawa Diallo about UN


Tim-Jenkins-In-Class UN Speaker


Cougar Einfeldt – Hawa Diallo How to get involved with the UN


Jessica Marinho-Learning from Ms. Hawa Diallo about United Nation


Mckenna-Gifford-Learning about UN from Ms. Hawa Diallo


Karson Kester-Hawa Diallo-A Life Spent in the United Nations



UVU students advocated for mountain women at CSW62


A Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation, comprised of 26 members, participated at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations (UN) on 19-21 March 2018. This year’s CSW62 priority theme was: “Challenges and Opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”  This was the first visit of the UVU delegation, led by Dr. Baldomero Lago, Vice-Rector for Global Engagement, under the umbrella of the new partnership established between UVU and the UN Department of Public Information in November 17, 2017. The delegation included 11 students, including members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) (, a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which advocates for the gender and sustainable mountain development agendas of the UN since 2011.

UVU delegation members at the UN

One of the goals of the visit of UVU delegation was to raise awareness at the CSW62 about the lack of attention to the mountain women globally, who are among the poorest and vulnerable to such challenges as climate change and outmigration. As one of the initiatives to address it, UVU delegation presented a student engaged learning (SEL) model to advocate the implementation in the State of Utah of the sustainable development goal (SDG) #5 in interaction with mountain targets by hosting the international Women of the Mountains conferences (WOMC) since 2007. The UVU SEL model provides students an opportunity to gain experiences and professional skills as a group through hands-on activities with faculty serving them as mentors with the UIMF representing its core. Initial plans of UVU to commemorate the 10th anniversary of hosting the first WOMC in 2017 during CSW61 didn’t materialize due to the lack of time and experience. Therefore, the UVU delegation achieved that finally with one year in delay.

As a result of a yearlong marathon of preparations for CSW62, students were able to demonstrate how the SEL model works in action: they hosted both a special round table of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Ms. Marcia Barlow, a representative of the NGO for brainstorming how to advocate jointly for mountain women at the UN; they also contacted diplomatic missions accredited to the UN to identify sponsors for a side event among other things. They made also all necessary preparations for the visit by arriving to New York earlier and checking all routes and sites of CSW62. 


Finally, as a highlight of their efforts, they hosted then on Monday March 19, 2018 a side event titled: “Advocating for rural and mountain women globally through student engaged learning.” The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission (PM) of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN and the PM of Uzbekistan to the UN.


During the event, representatives of such prominent NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN as the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), and the Utah-China Friendship Improvement Shared Hands and Development and Commerce (Utah-China F.I.S.H.&D.&C) demonstrated the examples of student engagement when they highlighted the UVU model and joint work with UIMF during the last three years to advocate for the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the UN in the State of Utah, North America and globally.

The delegation hosted also a parallel event “Education for Sustainable Development to Empower Rural and Mountain women,” co-sponsored again by RANS, the Mountain Institute and Utah-China F.I.S.H.& D.&C. The event was hosted at Church Center of the United Nations on March 20, 2018.

In addition, RANS and Utah-China F.I.S.H.& D.&C submitted a written statement for presentation at CSW62 (E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37) featuring the mountain women and UVU SEL model. It was accepted and distributed by the UN Secretariat on December 7, 2017. Students were able also to learn new knowledge and experiences of interacting with NGOs and different institutions from around the world on how to advance their goals during the CSW62 and in adopting their recommendations in the final document of that global gender – focused forum.

During the visit to CSW62, UVU delegation had meetings and discussed its activities at CSW62 at the UN Department of Public Information and liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Delegation members were able to acquire new experiences and knowledge during the meetings with the Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN Mr. Charles T. Mtwaagae, and the Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN, Mr. Bakhtiyor Ibragimov.

Matthew Rands, President, UIMF, Derek Garfield,  Vice-President, UIMF, Dylan Genes, Vice-President, UIMF, and Yanko Dzhukev, VP and liaison with FAO-UN, UIMF

Poster about CSW62 visit results


Photos of the visit to the United Nations


UVU Marketing about UN visit


Mountain Partnership about UVU contribution to CSW62 agenda



Day 0 for UIMF at CSW62:  Preparations in New York

Day 1 for UIMF at CSW62: Derek Garfield – Hosting a side event

Day 2 for UIMF at CSW62: Dylan Genes-Hosting a parallel event

Day 3 for UIMF at CSW62: Matthew Rands – Student engaged learning through networking

Day 4 for UIMF at CSW62: Yanko Dzhukev – Student engaged learning beyond CSW62


Rob Smith: Great lessons of student engaged learning at the United Nations


Isak Larsen: My contribution to women advocacy at CSW62


Hannah Barlow: Advocating for rural and Tarahumara women at CSW62


Carol Bejar Orellana: The United Nations: a life-changing experience



  1. Rob Collins Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Association (UVUSA);
  2. Amelia Cope, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senator, UVUSA;
  3. Matthew Rands, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU;
  4. Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF;
  5. Dylan Isaac Genes, Vice President, UIMF;
  6. Hannah Barlow, UVU student;
  7. Carol Bejar Orellana, UVU student;
  8. Monica English, UVU student;
  9. Isak Larsen, UVU student;


UVU delegation list           Agenda of the visit


Statement E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37/Rev.1-EN


CSW62 side events agenda      


Dr. Lago       Dr. Butler         UIMF leadership


Rob Smith       Amelia Cope        Hannah Barlow


Albert Pooley


Joint Power Point Presentation


UVU CSW62 student delegation task list


CSW62  parallel events agenda    



UVU delegation members are ready for the UN visit

***Hosting Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations, Ambassador Milos Vukasinovic at UVU


Celebrating the International Women’s Day at UVU


Workshop “How to advocate at the UN” with Marcia Barlow


Contributing to the CSW62 Zero Draft Document


Hosting Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the UN, Ambassador Bakhtiyor Ibragimov at UVU


UIMF and NGOs registered with ECOSOC discuss how to advocate for mountain women globally


Day 4 for UIMF at CSW62: Yanko Dzhukev-Student engaged learning beyond CSW62

A Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation official agenda of activities was finished on March 21st, 2018 after attending the Morning Briefings at 8:30am. Since then, student members including myself were able to learn in practical terms how to ensure that our recommendations to empower rural women could be both submitted and included in the final document of CSW62.  

As part of preparation for the visit to CSW62, the UVU delegation contributed to the final document of CSW62 prepared by the CSW62 NGO/NY team or Zero Draft Outcome Document – “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” Used as a resource and standard for policy-making and programming on the topics covered, the Zero Draft aimed to establish a legal framework work for gender equality that Member States agree to support after the CSW and aims to put in place concrete measures to lift rural women and girls out of poverty and to ensure their rights, well-being and resilience. This strong outcome provides a roadmap on next steps that governments, civil society and women’s groups can undertake to support the realization of rural women’s rights and address their needs.

The UVU delegation proposed the following amendment to the first sentence of the NGO CSW/NY CSW62 Zero Draft Outcome Document, topic Education, Employment and Technology, Paragraph #3:  “Collaborate with NGOs and academia to develop co-curricular pedagogy that is inclusive, timely, relevant and able to enhance the lives of rural and mountain women, including through student engaged learning, while empowering them to be the primary forces of change in improving their communities.” It was included in the recommendations of the UVU delegation at both our side and parallel events as well as in a written statement for CSW62 (E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37) which has been distributed for presentation by the UN Secretariat on 7 December 2017.

Similarly, the UVU delegation included that language in a possible oral statement when UIMF members gathered as co-sponsors support from five Mountain Partnership (MP) members, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC, including the Russian Academy of Natural Science (RANS), Euromontana and the Millennium Institute (MI). Unfortunately, our submission was rejected by CSW62 on the ground that the priority during the general discussion of the CSW62 was given to NGOs speaking on behalf of regional groups or coalitions, and that the joint submission by NGOs, undertaken by UIMF doesn’t satisfy that requirement. As one of the important initiatives both to advocate for the mountain women cause at the UN, and to implement mountain targets in the interaction with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, the statement also aimed to highlight the student engaged learning model developed at UVU, a Mountain Partnership member since 2006.

Members of NGOs wait for results of negotiations of member states on the final document of CSW62

Unfortunately, after initially being included in the working draft of the final document by the CSW62 NGO/NY team, the language about “mountain women,” “student engaged learning” and “non-traditional students” was removed from the final version. Our team witnessed how Member States play a key role in the adoption of UN resolutions and legal frameworks, and that NGOs should work in close cooperation with voting stakeholders if they would like a specific topic to be adequately addressed during general discussions.

Flyer of the side event advocating for women in mountain areas,  co-sponsored by Permanent Missions of several mountain states to the UN

Such setbacks serve purposes not only as learning experiences for students, but also to bring them to direct exposure in a multilateral environment of negotiations, lobbying and “fighting” for a specific topic or agenda at the UN.  While attending the CSW62, the UVU delegation was very pleased to learn that another organization and MP member also advocated for the gender agenda and particularly mountain women. The Alpine Convention held a side event co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Andorra, Bhutan, Peru and Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations discussing the role of women in mountain areas and challenges they face at the same day on March 19, 2018 as the UVU delegation hosted its own side event at CSW62. While it was great to hear that the UIMF is not the only organization highlighting the importance of addressing issues critical to mountain women, it was a very important reminder that due to the lack of a proper coordination between both side events and their co-sponsors, the outcome of the efforts was not the expected one by us all from the beginning.

On a positive note, the UVU delegation achieved a successes by organizing several events at the CSW62 and UN headquarters and it was great exposure for the UVU team at international level.

Hosting a side and parallel events at such a high professional level showcased the effectiveness of the engaged learning model in which students were able to prepare, organize, and execute events within one year since CSW61 demonstrating the students’ capacity in advocating causes related to rural and mountain women in addition to their extensive experiences at local and regional levels, as well as the UN level. Most importantly, UIMF members once again through solving real problems and student projects demonstrated how engaged learning can be used to encourage students and non-traditional in particular to implement the UN SDGs more successfully. Working closely with NGOs in consultative status under ECOSOC and with the MP Secretariat, the UVU student team proved that the engaged learning model became a very effective and powerful tool in implementing SDGs on a local, regional, and international level. In addition, the model allowed students to continue to push for its adoption into consensus documents, such as the NGO CSW Zero Draft document, as well as maintain it as a centerpiece of advocacy program in management and specialized implementation of the SDGs.

This was the third year of participation of UVU and UIMF at the CSW and student efforts will continue to be dedicated towards ensuring that mountain women will be in the focus of the attention and support of the UNWomen and the United Nations as well.

Yanko Dzhukev, VP and liaison with FAO-UN, UIMF