On October 27th, 2018 Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted a United Nations (UN) NGO conference for local NGOs to learn about the United Nations (UN), the role of civil society and NGOs in the UN, and what NGOs can do to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Utah and the state at large. This was also a preparatory step for the UN-NGO Conference, which UVU will co-host with Salt Lake City in August 2019.
UN NGO Director Jeff Brez Addressing the Conference
During the conference the following officials of the UN made a presentation: Mr. Jeff Brez, Director of UN NGO Relations; and Mr. Felipe Queipo, member of UN NGO Relations; in addition to the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, UVU President Astrid Tuminez, and leaders of NGOs, such as Mr. Ahmad Corbitt, Director of Public Affairs, LDS Charities; Ryan Koch, Director of Public and International Affairs in New York for LDS Charities; and Jennifer Hogge, Executive Director of Engage Now Africa among others.
UVU President Astrid Tuminez Addressing the Conference
As a recognition of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU contribution in the advocacy of the UN agenda of sustainable mountain development since 2007, I was invited to not only participate on the steering committee for this conference, but also speak at the conference itself. Megan Davis, Hannah Bieker, Joy Black, Kyle Warren, and Hailee Hodgson, members of UIMF, helped with protocol, logistics and other activities at the conference. The entire process, from planning to execution of the conference, was a valuable experience for all of us. My peers and I were very grateful for the opportunity to represent UVU students at this forum.
Dr. Baldomero Lago, UVU’s chief international officer, tapped me at the beginning of the fall semester to represent UIMF and the Foreign Affairs club at the steering committee. Joining me and Dr. Lago on the steering committee were representatives from a variety of international NGOs based in Utah and Mr. John McIlmoil, one of the co-presidents of the Utah Valley Institute of Religion. The Utah Valley Institute of Religion co-president and I were the only students on the committee, and we ensured student needs were met during the conference. Overall, the planning process gave me many interesting insights to learn how to interact with nonprofits and prominent members of the nonprofit sector. However, the most satisfying part of the conference activities was participating in the conference itself, both as a speaker and as a participant.
Samuel Elzinga Addressing the Conference
I was asked by the steering committee to speak at the conference on the 2030 agenda as it relates to youth. This topic was a great fit for me as I participated and made an oral statement with focus on the implementation of mountain targets during general debates at the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development over the summer this year. Due to that, I was able to give a very insightful presentation. I summarized why youth involvement was so important, how youth can get involved by participating in this conference, and what involvement UIMF and the Foreign Affairs Club have participated in. I specifically highlighted UIMF involvement in the UN Open Working Group on the SDGs during 2013-2015, and how Jesler Molina, one of UVU students and my predecessor as UIMF President, advocated then for adoption targets under the SDGs specifically relating to sustainable mountain development. Though I didn’t have any PowerPoints or videos, I felt as though my presentation was engaging for youth and adults alike. I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given to present at this conference alongside officials from the UN. It was definitely a highlight of my semester.
Overall, the conference ran very smoothly, and I am glad everyone worked together to make sure all aspects were attended to prior to and during the conference. I am excited for the big conference this coming August and the opportunity to promote then again the cause of the mountain communities among other issues.
Samuel Elzinga, President, the Utah International Mountain Forum
MEDIA ABOUT UN CONFERENCE:
STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS