Tag Archives: International Mountain Day

Seventh Annual International Mountain Day Celebration at UVU

On December 4th, 2017, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), will celebrate United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD). The 2017 theme for IMD is ‘Mountains under pressure: climate, hunger, migration.’

First established by the United Nations in 2003, this will be the seventh IMD celebration held by UIMF at UVU. Through the IMD celebration, UVU students raise awareness among their peers and local communities about the importance of ensuring the sustainable development goals among the mountain communities worldwide, who are usually the poorest and the most vulnerable communities to challenges such as migration, hunger and climate change, to name a few.  While the established date by the United Nations for IMD is December 11th, it was decided to push back the event a week as the established date would be during the time period of final examinations week at UVU. It is UIMF’s hope that this will allow for more students and faculty to attend the celebration.

The keynote speaker for this year’s IMD celebration will be Dr. Baldomero Lago, the CIO/Vice-Rector for Global Engagement at UVU. Dr. Lago will speak in particular about new a partnership initiative between UVU and the United Nations, which will provide students many new opportunities to contribute to the UN’s activities including the advocacy of the mountain cause. Other featured presenters will be Dr. Laura Hamblin (TBC), a retired UVU faculty, who contributed research and efforts in assisting refugees and migrants in many parts of the mountain world, Ms. Gina Cornia, Executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger (UAH), who will speak on programs to assist impoverished people in Utah, Dr. Colleen Bye, representative of the group Citizens Climate Lobby, who advocate for sustainable climate change in the state of Utah and internationally. An important part of the IMD celebration will be presentations of UVU students Derek Garfield,  and Megan Raines about their cooperation with representatives of mountain communities in different parts of the world to deal with climate change and hunger.

UIMF members will also present certificates of FAO-UN to the contributors of the UN agenda of sustainable mountain development in the State of Utah and North America.

The event will be held in the Liberal Arts building at UVU in room 116 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. UIMF hopes to actively engage with all attendees in sustainable mountain development in working towards the United Nations 2015 and post-2030 agendas.

Lacee Meyer, Vice-President, UIMF




MP about IMD at Utah Valley University


                      UVU Press-Release         Daily Herald about IMD          


Video: UVU Office for Global Engagement




Greetings From Governor Herbert


Letter of Greetings From Mayor Brunst, Orem City 


Greetings From Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, MP member


Logan Environmental Action Force



Andre Jones: From mountain development to national security: UVU becomes a member of the United Nations DPI




Mark Wait: International Mountain Day at UVU


Kristine Beardall: UVU’s seventh annual International Mountain Day: a student’s perspective


Pamela Miller: International Mountain Day 2017



2016 United Nations International Mountain Day Celebration at Utah Valley University





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On December 2, 2016, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) will celebrate International Mountain Day (IMD), established by the United Nations in 2003. UVU students will host the annual IMD celebration for the sixth time one week before December 11, which is the official date established by the UN for the IMD celebration, because of the coincidence of that date and the beginning of final examinations at the university. As a keynote presenter, they will host Ms. Mehak, director of the documentary “Daughter of Kalash,” as a follow up to the Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the UN Mountain Partnership (MP) held at UVU on October 7-9, 2015. WOMC was highlighted in the 2015 Annual Report of the MP as successfully hosted for the first time by students (http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5490e.pdf, PP. 3, 13, 39). Ms. Mehak was not able to participate at the WOMC last year, therefore students raised funds to bring a foreign dignitary to Utah for the 2016 IMD commemoration.

The main theme for this year’s IMD is Mountain Cultures: Celebrating Diversity and Strengthening Identity.”


Preliminary agenda of the 2016 IMD:

  1. Greetings from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on the occasion of the IMD.
  2. Report about major initiatives and activities of UVU students during 2016 to advocate the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations in the State of Utah and North America, Tony Medina, President, UIMF.
  3. Presentation of Certificates for contribution to the SMD advocacy during 2016 to the faculty, students, and community representatives.
  4. Presentation of the ethnographic field work in Congo, “Mountains are not only geography, but also culture!” Jacques Baraketse, Sam Kabwika and Dr. Patience Kabamba, Utah Valley University.
  5. Keynote presentation of Ms. Mehak Asad, Assistant Director, GEO TV in Pakistan and director of the documentary film “Daughter of Kalash.” (https://vimeo.com/140086936)   Asad will speak about her film and the issues facing the Kalash people.

In February of 2014, the New York Times published an article highlighting the unique lineage of the small and reclusive Kalash tribe. It would not be a surprise to many in their community if this is still the first time you have heard of them. As one of Pakistan’s smallest and most unique religious communities, they have faced centuries of hardships and possible extinction of their ways and customs. And while they have begun to rebound slightly, they still face many contemporary issues to maintain their unique way of life.

While their exact etymology is still somewhat of a mystery, a team of scientists, led by Simon Myers of Oxford University, have found a more recognized genome mixed into the Kalash people’s DNA. “Another mixing event is the injection of European-type DNA into the Kalash, a people of Pakistan, at some time between 990 and 210 B.C. This could reflect the invasion of India by Alexander the Great in 326 B.C. The Kalash claim to be descended from Alexander’s soldiers, as do several other groups in the region (Wade, Nicholas, “Tracing ancestry, researchers produce a genetic atlas of human mixing events,” The New York Times, (NY: NY, Feb. 13, 2014.).” With dwindling numbers and a rugged and remote area of the world they call home, it is no wonder they struggle to keep their beliefs and customs relevant to their youth.

Due their homeland’s placement on the map, they struggle continuously to fend off both Islamic extremists and governmental mandates. They have continuously been attacked by proselyting Muslim militants, the Afghani Taliban, and Pakistani mandates for conversion to Islam in the 1970s. Additionally, their polytheistic religious beliefs have fueled a rumor that they possess “immortality.” This has led to several attacks on their villages by the surrounding Muslim community.

With a generous count of just over 3,000 people who claim the Kalash faith, their religion is a blend of ancient Hindu, pre-Islamic Nuristan, and contain many of the Indo-Iranian myths, rituals, and aspects of their ancient society including dress, diet, and customs. To combat their dwindling numbers, their village will shun a Muslim convert to both deter others from converting to Islam, and keep their blood line “pure.” As one village leader put it, “If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong (Raffaele, Paul, Smithsonian Jan. 2007).”

  1. Screening of the documentary.
  2. Q&A with Ms. Mehak Asad
  3. Reception

The event will be held in the Utah Valley University’s Library room LI 120 from 2 PM to 7 PM.







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For more information, please feel free to contact the president of the UIMF, Tony Medina, at tony.h.medina@gmail.com.

Information on previous International Mountain Day celebrations can be found here.

Tony Medina, President of UIMF and Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary of the 2015 Women of the Mountains Conference

Celebrating International Mountain Day 2015 with Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations,

On 7 December 2015, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) had the honor and privilege to host the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, His Excellency Peter Thomson as part of the agenda to celebrate the International Mountain Day (IMD) 2015. Ambassador Thomson gave a lecture entitled “Why small-island developing states matter at the United Nations” which was attended by UVU students and faculty in addition to the local Fijian-community members. His Excellency Peter Thomson held office as Vice President of the UN General Assembly for the 2011-2012 session and currently he is the President of the Council of the International Seabed Authority for its 2015- 2016 session.


Ambassador Peter Thomson during presentation at Utah Valley University

The Ambassador’s lecture was very enlightening and synonymous with the major goals of the UIMF to support and promote adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. VIP guest began lecture by mentioning that his visit was not the first one to Utah, but it was his first actual stay. He told a story of a Greyhound bus trip he took across the United States, ultimately using the Salt Lake City station as a transfer point back in 1969. Today, much like back in 1969, he made a point to mention that Utah is a very clean and tidy place and doesn’t have a trash-pollution problem like New York City or Washington D.C.

            He then began to hit on the main topic of his lecture, which of course we at the UIMF were very interested in hearing. As Ambassador Thomson explained, there are approximately 53 Small Island Developing States (SIDS), most of these countries belonging to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), making up 25-27% of the United Nations’ voting body. What makes them ultimately unique, and as his lecture title alludes to, is that this group of nations has come together in a united coalition to become a very powerful and impactful group which performs lobbying and negotiating functions for the SIDS within the United Nations, most notably focusing on climate change and its impact on the SIDS worldwide.

            This was why we at the UIMF were so interested in his lecture. How can we, a group advocating for implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in the mountainous regions of the world, create a similar group with the same amount of impact and respect as AOSIS? Similar to the SIDS, mountainous regions are deeply impacted by climate change, and are just as dependent on the SDGs as SIDS. The message we took from Ambassador Thomson’s lecture was the mountainous regions of the world need to unite in a unified voice of change and adherence to the SDGs to garner the same respect and impact as SIDS.

            Ambassador Thomson also briefly touched on the human migration problem facing the world. Another grim aspect of climate change, if it continues to go unabated, is that the populations on atoll-type nations will be completely flooded and displaced by approximately 4-5 feet of sea water. Fiji has set a precedent by offering all of the people on their neighboring islands a home on Fiji should climate change claim their homes. He urged the mainland nations and countries to act similarly, as coastal regions house millions more people than Small Island Developing States, and all of those people will need to migrate and resettle.


Members of UIMF with Ambassador Thomson

Following the Ambassador’s lecture, Dr. Rusty Butler, the Associate Vice President of International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU, during special meeting introduced UIMF members to Ambassador Thomson. This was a very unique opportunity for us to inform Ambassador Thomson about our contribution to the United Nations gender and sustainable mountain development agendas and our interest to create a group similar to AOSIS, only for the mountainous regions of the world. His advice was to continue the course that we are currently on. He specifically mentioned that group voices are heard more because they are louder and if they are united. He encouraged us to continue to pursue our North/South partnerships, to make sure that we are engaging the communities living in developing mountain nations throughout the world. And finally, he shared with us two thoughts before he had to leave to another meeting. He said, “Partnership is the leadership,” and “remember it’s one planet-one people. Don’t give up.”

            Ambassador Thomson’s visit was very impactful and gave all of us in attendance a renewed sense of urgency of working together on many urgent issues including climate change. Although we all face separate issues resulting from it, we all have a common interest in stopping it before it is too late. By doing nothing, we solidify our death as a species on our planet. But, by coming together as a people to fix a problem we created only unites us and brings us closer together as nature intended.

            Ambassador Thomson’s visit to UVU was arranged thanks to the special program of hosting foreign dignitaries at UVU campus of the office of International Affairs and Diplomacy led by Dr. Rusty Butler.

Tony Medina, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University


Fiji Ambassador: small island nations matter in the climate change war



Poster of the 2015 IMD Celebration

On Friday December 4th 2015, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), students, faculty, community members and friends, gathered at the Gould Auditorium in the University of Utah’s Marriott Library to celebrate International Mountain Day (IMD). This event has been celebrated in Utah every year since 2010 as part of continual joint effort from all interested institutions and individuals to promote the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations across the state of Utah. Another important goal of that event is to raise an awareness among different communities in Utah about importance to share best examples and experiences in SMD across the state with mountain communities globally.

In general IMD celebrations coordinated by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, which is part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. Contribution to the event and its hosting on a local level in Utah was done before by a number of institutions and NGOs in the State of Utah, members of the Mountain Partnership, including Utah Valley University, City of Orem, Gruppman International Music Institute.

With this in mind and as part of the recommendations adopted in the final document of the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (October 7-9, 2015), the UIMF has collaborated with the University of Utah (UofU) to engage all interested institutions at UofU and Salt Lake City area and to host IMD 2015 at the Marriott Library’s Gould Auditorium. Thus, it was the first time the event was hosted outside the campus of Utah Valley University. Support for the event was provided by a number of organizations from Greater Salt Lake area, including the Marriott Library at University of Utah, which created posters to promote the event among other activities.

The theme of this year’s event was “Promoting Mountain Products for better livelihoods” and the program included many organizations local to this mountain city that traditionally provide services for the local community. To be inclusive to the need of so many different organizations, organizers of the IMD celebration broadened the scope of the event and included Community Services as products for better livelihoods. While any discussion of mountains regions needs to include the people and services that reside there, agenda of the event included presentations from eight local groups and a keynote speaker as a highlight of the IMD 2015. Several organizations also presented their products and services on specially arranged tables to the people in the audience.

The event started with refreshments and time allowing for participants and visitors to speak with the various organizations like Onchenda Open Global Group, Edible Campus Gardens, Americorps and Norwex, the Bennion Community Service Center and Office of Sustainability at the UofU. Organizations in presence there were only a small percentage of the many groups that people can choose to become involved with to support sustainability and community goals. Some of these groups also presented that evening were able to share their goals and ideas with all those in the audience.

The formal program began with a welcome by Tony, Medina, President of UIMF and two of us, with explaining goals of the IMD2015 celebrations and reading greetings from institutions, members of MP from Utah, in North America and from overseas: the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C., International University of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, Central Asian Institute of Applied Geosciences, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, city of Orem, Utah, Gruppman International Music Institute, Provo, Utah and others.     To showcase some of the many young talents the local community has to offer, the evening included a musical performance by the students of Pacific Heritage Academy of Rose Park, Utah, “We are Friends.” The Pacific Heritage Academy is a public charter school authorized by the Utah State Board of Education.


A musical performance by the students of Pacific Heritage Academy of Rose Park, Utah.

The first presentation was made by Colleen Grant Dick from Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative. She spoke about Agriculture in the Mountains and how biodiversity and going with the flow of nature will ensure mountain communities survival and sustainability. Onchenda is a start-up social enterprise with the goal of ending world hunger by empowering local farmers, urban/suburban and rural families, would-be edible horticulturalists, and anyone else interested in growing/raising their own organic food and selling the surplus through local online food webs.

The University of Utah supported the event well, with half of the presentations being given by organizations on campus as well as student groups. The first of these groups to present was the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office. Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Marykate Glenn and Alya Hussain presentation was titled “Sustainability Office: What’s Our Product? Engagement” and they talked about the different programs of their office to promote sustainability. Some of these programs include: Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF), Student Energy Ambassadors, U of U Farmers Market and the Edible Campus Gardens. The Edible Campus Gardens teaches students how to create a sustainable food cycle by growing and then selling organic produce on campus. It is also a place where students and community members can learn about food self-sufficiency.

Next presenters, Julia Maciunas and Sam from the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a student group from the University of Utah, talked about the importance of recovering food to feed people in need. The FRN is partnered with Chartwells Dining Services, which provides food services across campus, to receive surplus food donations. The food is then donated to local food pantries in the Salt Lake Valley. Gina Cornia from Utahn’s Against Hunger (UaH) a local food policy and advocacy group spoke about the need to increase access to food through advocacy, outreach and education. Since 1981 UaH has been working to eliminate hunger in Utah.

Ryan Pleune from the Pacific Heritage Academy spoke about the school’s use of Expeditionary Learning as a teaching model as well as social studies and Pacific Islander cultures in order to teach the Utah Core Curriculum. Knowledge of one’s culture is an important aspect of sustainability as it draws on traditions of respect for the mountains, land and sea that are used by all.

Roger Crandall, Brand Ambassador for the Transit Solar Car “Elf”, shared ersonal experience of owning such car in Salt Lake City. This vehicle runs on solar, lithium batteries to power the small electric motor and peddle power. This type of transport causes zero emission, is easy to drive and presents a healthy way of driving for communities and the environment.

Jennifer Jones from the Lowell Benin Community Service Center, another organization from the University of Utah, spoke about the many ways the center involves students in the community activities, and through the partnerships with local community organizations in particular. The Center also is looking for additional organizations that would be interested in partnering with them to provide students, and the University community, different opportunities to build a better society. Sawson Gholami from the Real Food Challenge, another student group based at the University of Utah, spoke about the importance of food justice. The Real Food Challenge is tied to a national movement that aims to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms/factory foods and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources – “real food”.

The keynote presentation of the 2015 IMD celebration was made by Jason Singer Smith, professional climber, speaker and writer. He spoke about his love of the mountains and the importance of nature to our wellbeing. During the main part of his presentation Jason told the story of his abduction by militant group, part of Al-Qaeda in Central Asia, and Kyrgyzstan in particular and how he, and his partners, were able to survive as hostages, escape from captivity and how that changed him immensely. During his time in captivity he learned how trust can be an important aspect of any relationship and how this can be used to escape from potentially dangerous and life threatening situations.


(L to R) Tony Medina, President of UIMF presents certificate to Jason Singer Smith, professional climber, speaker and writer.

The evening ended with presenting of certificates from the Mountain Partnership to individuals in the audience who contributed to the Fourth International Women of the Mountains conference in October 2015 at UVU. Overall this event was a success in engaging new institutions across the state of Utah by members of the UIMF in raising an awareness and advocacy of the sustainable mountain development agenda. As one of the outcomes, some NGOs in attendance consider the opportunity of joining the Mountain Partnership and continue working towards sustainable mountain development. Click here for more information.

 Hosts of the IMD 2015 at University of Utah: Carlos Alarco, University of Utah Liaison, at UIMF and Kamaile Tripp, Salt Lake City Liaison at UIMF

International Mountain Day 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Utah Valley University Science Center Auditorium.

On behalf of the United Nations-affiliated Mountain Partnership Members from the state of Utah and Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University, we have the special pleasure to invite you to our gathering commemorating the 10th anniversary of the United Nations announced “International Year of the Mountains (IYM)” in 2002.

Our event will be held during UN officially declared “International Mountain Day (IMD),” where we will recognize many of the major contributions from the state of Utah to the global mountain agenda for the year 2012. Recognition will include: participating of the official Utah delegation at historic United Nations RIO+20 Conference in Rio, Brazil from June 18-21, 2012, the hosting of the third Women of the Mountains conference in Puno, Peru, from June 12-14, 2012, and the hosting of a special workshop and essay contest for Utah high school students on the topic of sustainable energy by UVU students. All of these events have made a difference in the lives of mountain communities and were recognized by the international community and the United Nations Mountain Partnership during 2012.

13-11-22-4-From-MP-WelcomeletterUIMF2012Letter from Thomas Hofer – Mountain Partnership

13-11-22-1-IMD-2012-Poster-FINALEvent Poster


Microsoft Word - 13-11-22-5-Letter-From-JP.docLetter from Jane Pratt


13-11-22-3-From-JG-IMDF-PROGRAMEvent Program

13-11-22-2-PRPress Release Document

Utah International Mountain Forum is a coalition of students clubs at Utah Valley University; Utah Valley University is a member of the Mountain Partnership since 2006; The Mountain Partnership is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world.

We look forward to seeing you there! Please RSVP to Jordan Giles @ jordan.giles03@gmail.com