Category Archives: 2018

UVU Rotaract and UIMF jointly will implement UN SDGs

(L to R): Samuel Elzinga, Kendra Martell and Enoch Chapman during the meeting.

As of Tuesday August 28th, 2018, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University, has added Rotaract, the university student branch of Rotary International, to its coalition. The partnership was formally established during our meeting with Kendra Martell, the current president of Rotaract. The partnership discussions were very substantive, and both clubs think it is in their mutual interest to forge a strong partnership.

The goals of UIMF and Rotaract are nearly one in the same, though the means by which they accomplish these goals are different. At UIMF, the ultimate goal is to promote the implementation of the United Nations (UN) mountain targets and the Utah model of sustainable mountain development on the global stage and in turn promote global advocacy through student engagement. Rotaract has a very similar goal of student involvement in the mission of Rotary International by providing opportunities for students to complete international service projects and attend global conferences on youth advocacy. With such similar missions, it makes sense why UIMF and Rotaract have forged a partnership.

We discussed also an idea about UIMF and UVU Rotaract making a joint statement during the United Nations forums on implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking into account that the Rotary International has a status of the non-governmental organization in a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN). With the support of Orem Rotary club and UVU Rotaract, UIMF is confident this very well may become a reality at next year’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development when many SDGs relevant to Rotary International’s mission will be under review.

Ms. Martell seemed very excited to get UVU Rotaract involved with UIMF, and I am confident that our two organizations can benefit each other in a great deal of ways. With Rotary International so well connected to humanitarian work, which is a central theme in sustainable development, it was the next logical step as UIMF continues to grow.

Enoch Chapman, Rotarian with a very good knowledge about activities of Rotary International and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF mentor participated at our meeting.

Samuel Elzinga, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University

UIMF will contribute to the UN DPI Conference in Utah in 2019

Meeting about preparations for the UN DPI/NGO conference in 2019

On August 28, 2018, Andrew Jensen and I participated at the meeting about the results of the Utah delegation visit to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI/NGO) Conference during August 21-24, 2018. It was a meeting of students and faculty engaged in the UVUN initiative which means a partnership between UVU and the UN, established in November 2017.  Dr. Baldomero Lago, head of the UVU office of Global Engagement informed us that Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski announced last week at the UN that Salt Lake City will host the 68th UN DPI/NGO Conference in August 2019.  (See: https://www.slc.gov/mayor/2018/08/23/salt-lake-city-selected-to-host-2019-united-nations-ngo-conference/). Mayor Biskupski encouraged the UN to make Sustainability Goal 11 the focus of the 2019 Conference. UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 lays out a series of targets for cities to reach by 2030, including access to safe and affordable housing, transportation, and green and public spaces. Goal 11 also encourages cities to adopt and implement plans to reduce the environmental impact of cities, particularly air quality.

The effort to bring the UN DPI/NGO Conference to Utah began with the UVU Office for Global Engagement. As the first step, Dr. Lago was able to secure for UVU in November 2017 affiliate membership status with the UN DPI with an important task to educate the UVU and larger community on the 17 UN SDGs. Then, Dr. Lago approached Mayor Biskupski about the possibility of hosting the Conference. “Given Salt Lake City’s mission of building a sustainable and resilient city,” as press-release of the Salt Lake City Mayor make reference on Dr. Lago, “it made perfect sense to approach the City to help make this dream a reality.” The 2019 Conference is expected to take place in late August with events hosted at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Downtown Salt Lake City.

(L to R): Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga and Professor Ryan Vogel during the meeting

Dr. Lago informed all of us about several steps in preparations for the next year UN conference: in October 27, this year several high-level representatives of the UN DPI will come to UVU to hold a training seminar for NGOs from the state of Utah. This will be an exciting event for us, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which focuses on the advocacy and implementation of mountain targets in the State of Utah and globally.

Participants of the meeting informed about their activities to be contributed to the agenda of the UVUN initiative during entire year as preparations for the UN Conference. For example, representatives of the UVU Women’s Success Center focused on the celebration of the International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2019, while we, as UIMF members will host annual International Mountain Day commemoration at UVU on December 11, 2018.

One of the important priorities for our coalition would be to work with Dr. Lago to ensure that the agenda of the UN conference will include activities to promote the sustainable mountain development topics and implementation of mountain targets, as we preliminary discussed those issues in October 2017 with Dr. Andrew Taber, Chair of the Mountain Partnership Steering Committee at that time and with a newly elected Chair of the MP Steering Committee, Mr. Grammenos Mastrojeni during recent visit to the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development of ECOSOC on July 16, 2018.

We were grateful to Dr. Lago and his staff for support to UIMF activities during our visits to the UN and this meeting was another example of student engagement from his office in preparations to the unique UN conference which will be hosted for the first time in the wstern part of the United States.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Foreign Affairs Club at UVU      

 

 

 

UIMF members inform Dr. Lago about achievements at the HLPF 2018

Dr. Lago watches a video of UVU students making an oral statement at the UN

Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) and myself had the opportunity to report our achievements during the visit to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development on July 15-19, 2018 to Dr. Baldomero Lago. Dr. Lago is the Chief International Officer and an official representative to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) at UVU. Dr. Lago provided essential assistance to our delegation to achieve our goals at the UN  in particular with arranging meetings with Permanent Representatives to the United Nations of Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana and Uganda. As the Chief International Officer, he has a lot of experience navigating and furthering the mission of UVU within the UN. As such, it was our duty to report about the achievements of UVU delegation within the UN at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum.        

Dr. Lago, Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga and Amy Barnett after the meeting

Within our meeting with Dr. Lago, we began by showing him the footage of our delegations presentation to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN (footage can be found at: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/economic-and-social-council/watch/49th-meeting-part-b-ecosoc-high-level-segment-2018/5811730419001/?term=). We explained to him, that it happened thanks to the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), which as a non-governmental organization in general consultative status with ECOCOS, was allowed to make an oral statement within three minutes. Dr. Butler as the main focal point of RANS to the UN was not able to go to the UN and asked us, students to make an oral statement on his behalf. This was also a demonstration of a true student engaged learning in practice. Therefore, it was interesting to hear how the President of the session, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila, invited three of us to speak, as representatives of RANS, instead of UVU. We explained also that at the end of our presentation, the President of the session thanked us for delivering our presentation in English and in the allotted time. Dr. Lago watched the video and then commentated that he was very impressed with our achievements and with our presentation.

Afterwards I was allowed time to give Dr. Lago a brief reflection on our events from my perspective. I told him that overall, I felt that the experience was a positive one and that the opportunity to give an oral presentation allowed for many contacts with a wide range of different people and organizations within the UN. I explained that as President of the Model United Nations club at UVU, my peers and I had competed at the UN Conference in San Francisco and were awarded a certificate for our excellent performance. I explained that this experience was valuable because it gave me an inside view into the nuances and policies within the UN. I expressed that this was valuable experience and that the Model United Nations club and the UIMF would benefit from further interaction and partnership.

After this I explained that a valuable resource that we attained while at the UN was a new partnership with the Global University System (the article which can be found at: http://utahimf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/18-07-31-Andrew-Jensen-UIMF-partners-with-the-Global-University-System-at-HLPF-2018.pdf). As explained in the aforementioned article, the Global University System is an organization that works with various universities with the intent to promote global best practice educational programs. The opportunity to communicate with the Global University System came from the opportunity to submit a joint cross-cutting statement to all nations that were giving a Voluntary National Review (more information which can be found at: http://utahimf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/18-07-25-Andrew-Jensen-UIMF-asked-mountain-focused-question-during-VNR-of-Romania.pdf). I explained that this meeting was valuable and that I looked forward to Dr. Lago’s further communication with the Global University System. At the end of this portion of the meeting we had the opportunity to further discuss with Dr. Lago, the opportunities and implications of the United Nations DPI conference that is slated to occur next year. Though the details are still in the works, UVU will assuredly be actively involved with future UN activities.

Sam Elzinga, my colleague reported about his experiences of managing protocol for the delegation. We had meetings with Permanent Representatives of several nations accredited to the UN, like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others and it happened thanks to the assistance from the office of Dr. Lago and his assistant Amy Barnett.

Andrew Jensen, President, Model UN club at UVU

 

 

UIMF reports to Dean Clark about 2018 HLPF activities

Samuel Elzinga, Dean of CHSS, Dr. Steven Clark, and Damon Ashcraft during their meeting.

             On Friday, August 3rd, 2018, delegates from the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), met with the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Steven Clark to follow up on UIMF’s recent visit to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The meeting was a grand overview of the preparation for the event and a report on the event itself, which included us watching with Dr. Clark our oral statement as recorded by UN Web TV.

One of the concepts we highlighted in the meeting with Dr. Clark was the emphasis on student engaged learning. Since it is one of the core philosophies of UVU and because this visit to the HLPF on Sustainable Development was a prime example, the emphasis on student engaged learning was well received. Dr. Clark was very impressed at all our work to get this visit set up and executed properly. UIMF prides itself on its successful approach to student engaged learning, and one of the best examples of this model is shown through visits to the United Nations.

We also expressed our gratitude for all the support we received from the Dean’s office, as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences gave each student that participated in the trip 400 dollars each to use as a travel grant to pay for tickets to New York. Without these travel grants, the trip would not have been possible, so we made sure to express our appreciation for the funding. Though the meeting with the Dean was somewhat brief, it was a great way to follow up with the university to show everyone what we did over the summer. I am looking forward to the other meetings we will have in the future about this trip.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Foreign Affairs Club

UIMF at High Level Political Forum on sustainable development 2018

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Utah Valley University (UVU) delegation at HLPF 2018 (L to R): Andrew Jensen, Samuel Elzinga, Damon Ashcraft, UVU students and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, Lecturer, History and Political Science Department , UVU

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Agenda of the visit to the UN          Task list for the visit 

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

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

UIMF members make the oral statement during general debates at HLPF on July 19, 2018 

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Oral statement of the UVU delegation at HLPF 2018

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Video of the oral statement of UIMF members at HLPF 2018, time frame 1:20:15-1:23:15 (Courtesy of the webtv.un.org) 

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UN Press Release – ECOSOC/6945 from July 19, 2018 about UIMF members statement 

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Mountain Partnership about UIMF contribution to HLPF2018

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Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) about the oral statement of UIMF members at HLPF 

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 Op-Ed about the visit in Higher Education Tomorrow, Volume 5, Article 6    

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Photos of UIMF activities at HLPF

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UVU delegation passes for making the oral statement during general debates at HLPF on July 19, 2018

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS:

ABOUT VISIT GOALS 

Damon Ashcraft-UIMF prepares to participate at HLPF

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

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

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ABOUT PREPARATIONS FOR HLPF ON JULY 15, 2018

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Sam-Elzinga-Day Before the HLPF

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ABOUT ACTIVITIES ON JULY 16, 2018 

Sam Elzinga-Discussing Mountain Activities with Mr. Mastrojeni During HLPF 2018

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Damon Ashcraft-UIMF focuses on mountains during first day at HLPF 2018

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Samuel Elzinga-UIMF attends a side event on mountains at HLPF 2018

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Andrew Jensen-UIMF participated at the Mountain Partnership activities at HLPF 2018

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Andrew Jensen-UIMF networks with professionals at HLPF 2018

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ABOUT ACTIVITIES ON JULY 17, 2018

Samuel Elzinga-UIMF discusses SDG17 with PR of Uzbekistan to UN

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 Samuel Elzinga- Learning from Romania about NGOs involvement in SDGs implementation

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Damon Ashcraft – Attending a side event on the involvement of the civil society in the monitoring of the SDGs

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ABOUT ACTIVITIES ON JULY 18, 2018

 Andrew Jensen-UIMF asked mountain-focused question during VNR of Romania

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Samuel Elzinga-UIMF HLPF 2018 delegates learn about Tajikistan’s water decade initiative

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Sam Elzinga- UIMF discussed mountain targets with envoy of Kyrgyzstan during 2018 HLPF

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Andrew Jensen-UIMF partners with the Global University System at HLPF 2018

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Samuel Elzinga-UIMF attended a 2018 HLPF side event on Central Asia

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Sam Elzinga-UIMF members discuss advocacy at the UN with LDS Charities

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ABOUT ACTIVITIES ON JULY 19, 2018 

Andrew Jensen-UIMF engaged learning lessons during general debates at HLPF 2018

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Samuel Elzinga-UIMF oral statement and general debates at HLPF 2018

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UIMF Congratulates Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C. with Joining the Mountain Partnership

Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce (Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C.) , a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, joined the Mountain Partnership.

Utah International Mountain Forum congratulates Ms. Wendy Jyang, President of Utah China F.I.S.H.D.&C. with such a new important step in this NGO activities.

Ms. Wendy Jyang and her NGO supported several UIMF initiatives with focus on the promotion of the sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah, North America and at the United Nations.

Ms. Jyang was a very active contributor to the activities and agenda of the fourth international Women of the Mountains Conference which UIMF hosted at UVU in October 2015. The conference was highlighted in the UN Secretary Generals report on SMD  A/71/256  on July 29, 2016.

Her NGO co-sponsored joint written statements, which highlighted UVU student engaged learning model to advocate for SMD agenda, during the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Social development in January-February, 2018, during 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018, and during the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July, 2018.

Yanko Dzhukev, UIMF Liaison for MPS under FAO-UN 

 

 

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  

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

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

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

Damon Ashcraft-UIMF prepares to participate at HLPF

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

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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: http://neveragainfoundation.org/index.html )

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: http://utahimf.org/archives/663), but also showed us his face on posters which hang now at the UIMF office at UVU. (See:  http://utahimf.org/archives/297 )

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

Engaging U.S. Businesses in Sustainable Mountain Development in Central Asia

(L to R): Taylor Barlow, Levi Gephart, representatives of Mondo Fly Fishing company during the meeting with Matthew Rands, President, UIMF and Dr. Rusty Butler, main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences at the United Nations

 Matthew Rands, President of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), Dr. Rusty Butler, main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences at the United Nations and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, advisor for UIMF met with Taylor Barlow, and Levi Gephart, representatives of Mondo Fly Fishing company from Idaho on Monday, May 14, 2018 at UVU.

Taylor have been talking to his mother, Marcia Barlow about a possible development project for Kyrgyzstan and other mountain communities in Central Asia, taking into account established partnership between the UVU and different institutions in Kyrgyzstan since 1999 through efforts of Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev and Dr. Rusty Butler. Marcia Barlow works with UIMF during last three years as representative of United Families International, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Taylor is a professional fly fishing guide and has a fly rod brand (Mondo Fly Fishing), as well.  In addition to his expertise in fly fishing, he is connected to the broader fishing community and specifically to a humanitarian/non-profit group that goes into countries and communities to help them develop an in-country industry built around fly fishing and tourism.  As Taylor looked at Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian nations, he saw it as a prime area for this type of environmentally-sensitive development.  He found out that the similarities between the terrain and rivers of Kyrgyzstan and Inter-mountain West are striking.  Marcia Barlow and Taylor saw this kind of a project as something that might also work, more broadly, to help with development in other mountain countries worldwide.

(L to R): Taylor Barlow, dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev and Levi Gephart after the meeting

Taylor lives in Teton Valley, Idaho. He together with partner Levi Gephart used the visit to Utah as an opportunity to meet with UIMF representatives to discuss what the possibilities and opportunities might be for students at UVU, the people of Kyrgyzstan and most importantly, get input regarding the region, the culture, the rivers and fisheries, and the needs of the local people.

As a result of the meeting both sides agreed to pursue the project proposed by Taylor Barlow and assist him with his trip to Kyrgyzstan during the fall 2018 as a starting point with possible further expansion it in other countries of Central Asia.

Yanko Dzhukev, FAO-UN Outreach Coordinator, UIMF

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 

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

Damon Ashcraft-Raising funds to promote sustainable mountain development 

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