Tag Archives: Mountain Partnership

Assisting Dr Rusty Butler in Preparation for ECOSOC Forum

On 25 May 2016, I was able to meet at the United Nations in New York with Dr Rusty Butler, who was Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at Utah Valley University (UVU) during 1992-2016 and Director of the Utah-Russia Institute at Utah Valley University.

1   (L to R) Dzhukev and Dr Butler meet in front the UN HQ
(©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

Dr Rusty Butler served also as a focal point (coordinator) of the Mountain Partnership under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) at UVU during the last 10 years. He was able to transform UVU into a leading institution in North America advocating the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and advancing the gender and sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda in particular of the UN. One of his unique initiatives was to arrange visits to Utah and provide for UVU students an opportunity to host Permanent Representatives of many nations accredited to the UN. During visits, high-level foreign guests had a chance to be acquainted with the hospitality of the officials and local communities in Utah and to learn more about the model of sustainable development in Utah, one of the best SMD models in the US.

Dr Butler was recently appointed as main representative of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS) at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). RANS was registered as a NGO with Consultative Status under ECOSOC since 2002. Dr Butler visited the UN headquarters to prepare for the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The event will take place on 11-15 July 2016, followed by a three-day ministerial meeting of the Forum on 18-20 July 2016. The theme of the 2016 session will be ‘Ensuring that no one is left behind,’ as decided in an ECOSOC plenary session on 14 March 2016.

Dr Butler kindly invited me to dinner on May 25th to talk about my activities as the first UVU intern at the United Nations. Furthermore, he was interested to know about my contribution to the event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru to the UN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York and Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS). Gathering discussed the findings of a MPS study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity.” It was important for him to know that the majority of mountain communities are still vulnerable to hunger and other challenges related to food insecurity.


(L to R) Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Moldoisaeva and Dr Butler  (©UIMF/Dzhukev Y.)

As one of the assignments, Dr Butler asked me to arrange a meeting for him with the newly appointed PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, H.E. Mirgul Moldoisaeva. Dr Butler has extensive connections with many officials at the Kyrgyz Republic. His wife Danielle was the Honorary Consul of the Kyrgyz Republic to the state of Utah during 2003-2011.

This was a great experience for me to learn protocol and to be able to arrange such a high-level meeting on such a short notice. However, Her Excellency Ambassador Moldoisaeva met Dr Butler in the late afternoon on 27 May.

During the meeting, the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic was impressed by Dr Butler’s background of working with many diplomats, including from her own nation and the fact that he was an Honorary Consul of Russia to Utah for 16 years. Dr Butler invited Ambassador Moldoisaeva to visit Utah on behalf of an organization called “Utah Ambassadors Hosting” to lecture at one of the universities in Utah, to meet with officials, as well as talk about the advantages of the nations that they represent and the need for establishing beneficial partnerships.

In addition, Ambassador Moldoisaeva was glad to know that UVU is the only undergraduate university in the US, which is a member of the Mountain Partnership and actively advocates SMD during last 10 years, in addition to applying the important aspect of the SDGs implementation into the undergraduate student curriculum. Ambassador Moldoisaeva stated: “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” She was also impressed when Dr Butler informed her that as part of the Open World Program, sponsored by the US Library of Congress, UVU has hosted seven Kyrgyz delegations of young leaders, in addition to numerous delegations from Central Asia and countries of the post-Soviet era in particular.


(L to R) H.E. Peter Thomson, PR of Fiji to UN and his wife;  Irina Churkina, wife of H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to UN; H.E. Ms Katalin Annamária Bogyay, PR of Hungary to UN and her husband (seated), Dr Rusty Butler and H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, PR of the Russian Federation to the UN (©Rusty Butler)

In addition, on the evening of 27 May, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations Her Excellency Ms Katalin Bogyay hosted an official dinner in honour of Dr Butler’s visit.  The gathering at her residence was attended by H.E. Mr Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations and his wife. Ambassador Thomson has a high chance to be elected as the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2016-2017 period. In addition, the dinner was attended by H.E. Mr Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN and his wife. The distinguished guests, close friends of Dr Butler, gave wonderful tributes to him, his family and wonderful hospitality, provided to each of them by the people of Utah, both on official level and among the general public, students and faculty included. During the evening, the diplomats also discussed some UN agenda items, SMDs and the SDGs.

While visiting New York City, Dr Butler also spent time with David Colton, UN Representative for LDS Charities with whom Dr Butler had dinner with H.E. Mr Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, a Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations.

Before returning to Utah, Dr Butler had breakfast with the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN H.E. Kaha Imnadze whom he hopes to host again in Utah this fall for an all-Georgian art exhibit at the Springville Art Museum, possibly with the head of Georgian delegation during the session of the U.N. General Assembly as the honoured guest.


(L to R) H.E. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN and Dr Rusty Butler  (©Rusty Butler)

Dr Butler also had a scheduled meeting with the Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations H.E. Mrs Nguyen Phuong Nga. Unfortunately, she was out of the country but her personal assistant connected with Dr Butler for a productive exchange.

Dr Butler will visit United Nations on regular basis. His continued partnerships and friendship with many Permanent Representatives accredited at the UN will provide more opportunities for engaged learning experiences for many people in Utah and the successful implementation of the SDGs, achieving Agenda 2030 of the UN, including students and faculty efforts at Utah universities.

I will be in touch with Dr Butler to make sure that his attendance of the Fourth High-Level Political Forum at ECOSOC on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on 11-15 July 2016 will be successful and he will be able to make an official statement about the importance of SMD being part of the SDGs implementation.

Yanko Dzhukev, an intern at the Office of Legal Affairs, Treaty Section Department, of the United Nations. 

UVU Attends Discussion on Sustainable Mountain Development at the UN Headquarters


Yanko Dzhukev, a member of Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), and currently the first UVU intern at the United Nations Secretariat, Office of Legal Affairs, on 6 May 2016 joined United Nations (UN) diplomats at the UN headquarters in New York, for a discussion to mobilize efforts to address the rising rate of food insecurity and malnutrition in the mountainous areas of developing countries.


The event, organized by the Permanent Missions of Italy, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru to the UN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York and Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) discussed the findings of a study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity”. Launched on the International Mountain Day 2015 by the FAO and the MPS, the study aims to provide the most accurate possible estimate of the vulnerability to food insecurity in mountain areas, based on the best technologies and data available.


The study reveals alarming trend:  while food insecurity decreased at global level, in rural mountainous areas of developing countries, vulnerability to food insecurity increased to one in every two people between 2000 and 2012. As the 2030 Development Agenda pledges to leave no one behind and stresses the importance of reaching those furthest behind first. Among the groups that require special attention are mountain peoples.


While presenting the study that gives a current picture of hunger in the mountains the Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator Thomas Hofer said: “Every third person in the mountains in developing countries is food insecure, a rate that is unacceptably high”.

In addition the Mountain Partnership Secretariat announced the launch of a Mountain Facility, or funding mechanism, to address the rising threat of hunger in the mountain areas of developing countries. The new funding mechanism has the goal to help empower vulnerable mountain communities, increase their food security and eradicate poverty.

The Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN invited all partners to contribute to the Facility. “Italy welcomes FAO’s initiative to launch a Mountain Facility as a new funding mechanism, linked to the Mountain Partnership, to address food security crises in mountain regions,” said Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who noted that Italy is one of the founding party of the Mountain Partnership and a major donor.

In addition H.E. Ambassador Mirgul Moldoisaeva, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN acknowledged the extraordinary work that the Mountain Partnership has accomplished: “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” Kyrgyz Republic has been active not on only on local level but globally in investing in institutional capacity, food security and resilience building.

In a statement, Yanko Dzhukev indicated that UVU is fully dedicated in continuing the tradition in advocating for sustainable mountain development and ready to fully incorporate the mountain indicators among the SDGs, and now proceed with laying foundation for the post 2015-development agenda, also known as “2030 Agenda” of the United Nations. In addition he indicated that “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity” highlights the current situation in the mountains and it is important to show the world the significance of the mountain regions and from the developing countries in particular.

UVU, as a Mountain Partnership member was the only educational institution that attended the event. The discussion was also attended by dignities such as the Mountain Partnership Ambassador Jake Norton, who made a statement on behalf of mountain peoples around the world. He proclaimed that “if we want a healthy earth, we have to have healthy mountains, and to have healthy mountains, we must have healthy mountain communities”.

The discussion was also attended by Andrew Taber, Executive Director of the Mountain Institute and Karinjo Devore, president of the Aspen International Mountain Foundation and a focal point of the Mountain Partnership in North America.

UVU has been a member of the Mountain Partnership since 2006 with a long-lasting mission to raise awareness, to mobilize support from institutions within the U.S. mountain states and global mountain entities, and to assist in the sustainable development of the mountain communities of the world.


Download the publication: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/publications/publication-detail/en/c/357944/

For more information about the Women of the Mountains conferences: http://www.womenofthemountains.org

4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership: Partnership Fair

The Partnership Fair

One of the events at the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership was the partnership fair. In the words of the event organizers the partnership fair took the form of “speed geeking” a process which allowed participants to share knowledge and pass on information in an interactive and entertaining way. As presenters we had five minutes to give a presentation to a small group of attendees to the conference. After the five minutes were up a whistle would blow and the group would move on to the next presenter and a new group would come to hear our presentation. With all of the fast talking and whistle blowing that was going on this forum became a slightly chaotic and entertaining way of interacting with other Mountain Partnership members where Jordan and I had to talk very fast to get our message across. The title of our presentation was “How UVU has become one of the only North American undergraduate Universities to become actively involved in sustainable mountain development and the Mountain Partnership.”

TurkeyTrip1We used this presentation to explain the contributions that students of Utah Valley University (UVU) have made to the cause of the Mountain Partnership.

While we did have to talk very fast we were assisted in our efforts by the posters that we had on display. These posters highlight the many different activities that UVU students have been involved in that support the Mountain Partnership cause since UVU joined the Mountain Partnership in 2006. Such activities include the first, second and third women of the mountains conferences; the 2011, 2012 and 2013 High School Essay contests; and UVU’s involvement in the Rio +20 conference held in 2012. These posters gave an excellent perspective on the dedication of UVU to the Mountain Partnership. We had  a script prepared for us to read during this presentation, the speed of the presentations and the hectic nature of people moving from one display to the next meant that we had to speak from their own experiences working in UIMF. This required us to think very quickly to provide the answers for the questions that came to us. It was here that our preparation for the conference was key.  We had prepared so well that we could explain ourselves without relying on the script.

In general we spoke about the efforts of UVU students in planning and promoting the cause of the Mountain Partnership in three areas:

  • The Planning and promoting the International Women of the Mountains Conferences held in 2007 and 2011 in Orem, Utah and 2012 in Puno Peru and our desire to hold these conferences annually was expressed to the Mountain Partnershpp members
  • The organizing of the annual High School Essay Contest with the topic for the contests being based on sustainable mountain development themes and the United Nations designation for the year.
  • The presentation of the “Youth and the Mountains” volume which is a collection of UVU student essays on sustainable mountain development topics as well as the high school essay contest winners from previous years.  We also presented the North American report to the Rio + 20 conference that was printed by UVU.  The UVU version of the report also included several student essays. There was a lot of interest generated by these volumes with many conference participants requesting copies. (Follow these links for pdf copies of these volumes: http://www.womenofthemountains.org/images/2013/13-09-09-FINAL-SMD-Edited.pdf and http://www.mountainpartnership.org/fileadmin/user_upload/mountain_partnership/docs/SMDinNorthAmericaRio.pdf)


Jordan Giles speaking with Yunus Seker, the highest ranking official from the Turkish Government through his interpreter while in the background I am talking with Jorge Recharte of The Mountain Institute

The result of the partnership fair was that Jordan and I were able to share with the other members of the Mountain Partnership the contributions of UVU to the mountain cause as well as get to know several people that we would develop friendships with over the course of the conference. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Dr. Bashir Ahmed Wani from Pakistan, Kalys Batirova from Kyrgyzstan and Dr Alexey Gunya from the Russian Federation during the partnership fair. While this was our first meeting we would talk several times over the course of the conference.  The partnership fair allowed us to make important connections in the mountain partnership.



The view of the mountains from the Ulubag Plateau

Trip to the Turkish Countryside

After the official 3 days of the conference, day 4 was a sightseeing tour for the members of the Mountain Partnership into the Turkish Mountains.  This excursion was organized by the Turkish government. Due to the timing of flights home for the UVU delegation it was originally thought that no one from UVU would be able to go on the trip. When I made my desire to go on the sightseeing trip known, trip organizers arranged for me to be returned in Erzurum in time to catch my flight to Istanbul, an act for which I was very grateful. We were driven about an hour and a half outside of Erzurum.  On the way we stopped at a gas station to get water, gas and other supplies. It was during this stop that we saw the only affects of the Syrian civil war that I would saw on my trip. As we were getting ready to leave a woman speaking Arabic and holding out her Syrian Passport came to the door of our van. She was dressed in traditional Muslim women’s garb and had with her 2 small children that, given their relative ages, could have been her grandchildren. She did not speak English or Turkish and when she came to us could only say “Syria, Syria” in a pleading tone.  She appeared desperate in every sense of the word and it was hard not to feel sympathy for her. Mark gave her 20 USD and she left.  It was sobering to think of how close we really were to one of the most pressing current humanitarian crisis.

TurkeyTrip4After about an hour and a half on the main road we started to drive up the mountains on a gravel road.  The road was narrow and winding with an almost sheer drop on the side.  After about 10 miles on this road the drivers stopped to discuss whether or not these vehicles were suitable for this kind of terrain.  As the trail was only wide enough for a single vehicle it was uncertain how the vehicles would be able to turn around even if it were decided that they couldn’t go on.  The drivers decided to continue however, but on 3 separate occasions the passengers had to get out of the vans because the roads had turned to mud due to recent rainfall in the area and the vans could not get through fully loaded with passengers.  Eventually we all got to our destination, The Ulubag plateau.  From the plateau we had spectacular views of the mountains.  From this starting point we hiked down into the village of Uzundere.  It was a hike of about a mile and a half.  The terrain in parts was rocky and rugged but the beauty of nature surrounded us.  As we neared our destination I saw that the village we were walking to was tiny.  It consisted of a Mosque and approximately 15 to 20 basic little houses.  The houses were made of mountain rocks as walls for the basements and then had wooden walls on the upper levels.  The roofs were corrugated iron sheets.  It was during the visit to the village that the importance of sustainable mountain development became clear after three days of discussion.  These people are, or at least should be, the benefactors of our sustainable development goals.  They live in this mountain environment and have formed their own culture and way of life.  They are located in a remote corner of the world and yet due to the actions of others their way of life is being threatened environmentally.  Not only is sustainable mountain development about protecting them from the actions of others, it is also about providing them with the tools they need so that their little village can become economically prosperous in such a way that they do not need to harm their environment.  Once in the village we were treated like VIP’s by the local people.  The Turkish Government had arranged a feast of lamb kebabs which was enjoyed while the Mountain Partnership Members chatted with each other and met with the local village people.



The village of Uzundere

After this I had to return to Erzurum in order to catch my flight back to Istanbul while the rest of the members headed to the local waterfall.  The field trip was an extraordinary experience.

Mark Petersen, President Sustainable Mountain Development Club

4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership: Governance and Strategy

4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership: The Governance and Strategy Document 2014-2017

One of my life long dreams and a big part of the reason that I am currently at Utah Valley University (UVU) has been to become involved in international affairs so that my voice might be added to the multitude of other voices that are considered around the world.  Coming to Utah Valley University has helped me to start working on this dream.  As well as taking classes from professors with real world experience I have become involved in student clubs, such as the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) – a coalition of UVU student clubs, that has made hands on experience in international relations part of my education. I was privileged to attend the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership which was held in Erzurum, Turkey from September 16th through the 19th this year.  The Mountain Partnership is an organization that is linked to the United Nations and is responsible for coordination of  sustainable mountain development activities (SMD) around the world .  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations houses the Secretariat of the Mountain Partnership.  As the name of the meeting implies this was only the 4th time since the Mountain Partnerships creation in 2002 that the world wide body of the partnership has met together.

One of the main purposes of this meeting was to ratify a new Governance and Strategy Document that would provide a vision for activities for the Mountain Partnership for the years 2014 to 2017.  The ratification of this document took place in the first plenary session of the conference.  This was a real eye opening experience for me.  As I walked in the large conference room where the Plenary Session was held I could not help but notice that there were representatives of governments and other institutions with impressive sounding names.  It was hard not to be just a little intimidated by what I saw.  The other thing I noticed was that everyone was issued with a set of headphones and an electronic box.  This device allowed you to listen to what was being said in the language of your choice regardless of the language that was spoken.  It was then that I realized how truly international this meeting was and I was excited to be a part of this organization.  The UVU delegation members, consisted of myself and Jordan Giles, another vice president of UIMF along with Dr. Baldomero Lago, who was our faculty advisor for the trip.  We attended this first session along with our North American Partners from the Aspen International Mountain Foundation (AIMF), Karinjo DeVore and Eric Smith.

The Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Thomas Hofer, spoke about the processes that had gone into the drafting of the document.  These processes included a 2012 meeting in Rome where the first ideas for the Governance and Strategy document had been discussed and three drafts of the document which had been sent out to the members of the Mountain Partnership for comments and concerns.  The final draft of the document was presented to the General Assembly and by a round of applause the new Governance and Strategy Document was accepted.  It was evident during Thomas’s presentation that the Secretariat had gone to great lengths to give ever member of the Mountain Partnership a say into this document that was to be a sort of constitution for the Mountain Partnership for the next four years.



L-R Myself, Dr. Baldomero Lago, Thomas Hofer–Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Jordan Giles

The Governance and membership of the Mountain Partnership was outline in the document.  Membership in the mountain partnership is open to “governments and inter-governmental, civil society and private organizations that are actively engaged in and committed to achieving [sustainable mountain development]”.  Membership requirements include, among other things, active involvement in sustainable mountain development and a willingness to join forces and cooperate with other Mountain Partnership members.  Members of the Mountain Partnership were divided into six regions.  Each region appointed two leaders; one representing a government in the region and one representing a civil society organization (NGO) from the region.  The region that UVU is in is the ‘North and Central America and Caribbean’ region.  The appointed governmental representative is Mexico and the appointed civil society representative is Vertex.  Vertex is the civil society organization that was created when AIMF combined with Telluride Institute from Telluride, CO.

The governance of the Mountain Partnership comes from two bodies; the Steering Committee and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

The Steering Committee is a body of 16 members made up of the:

  • The governmental representative and civil society representative of each region;
  • One representative of the intergovernmental organizations;
  • One representative of Global Civil Society Organizations;
  • One representative of the donor organization to the Mountain Partnership;
  • One representative of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

The Steering Committee will oversee the planning of the strategy of the Mountain Partnership for the next 4 years.  It will also oversee the budget and work plan of the General Assembly of the Mountain Partnership.

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat is currently hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.  The Secretariats primary role is to act as a liaison between the various members of the Mountain Partnership and to identify and mobilize recourses and investments for sustainable mountain development.  The Secretariat is accountable to the Steering Committee.

The strategy areas that the document identifies are:

  • Advocacy;
  • Joint Action;
  • Knowledge Management and communication;
  • Capacity Development and technology transfer;
  • Innovation; and
  • Recourse mobilization.

During the course of the conference each of these areas were discussed in sub committees and recommendations were made to the Steering Committee about how strategy in these areas should be formulated.  The UVU delegation was active in these committees.  Jordan Giles attended and contributed to the discussion on Knowledge Management and Communication.  I attended the subcommittee on Advocacy where I was able to assist the facilitator, Dr, Andrew Taber.  Dr. Taber is the head of the Mountain Institute located in Virginia.  It was an honor to be able to learn from Dr. Taber because it became apparent over the course of the conference that he is someone of great reputation among the mountain partnership members.  By watching him and other dignitaries at the meeting I observed people who I consider to be real life role models; people that I could emulate if I too would become recognized in the international scene. Through my attendance at the conference I believe that I am beginning to reach my goal of having my voice heard on the international stage.  By the end of the first day I was no longer intimidated by the company I was in.  Instead I was inspired and because of this I could feel my confidence growing.  My voice maybe small, but its growing. To a large degree our delegation enjoyed a certain level of recognition and respect from our senior colleagues from international organizations and all those who are known in the area of SMD, thanks to the contributions from UVU and the UIMF to the overall SMD agenda in many areas since 2006, when UVU joined the Mountain Partnership. But this will be a topic for another piece to be written and posted in addition to this one.

For the full Governance and Strategy Document please follow this link: http://www.mountainpartnership.org/publications/publication-detail/en/c/200257/

Mark Petersen, member of Utah Valley University delegation at the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership, Vice President, Utah International Mountain Forum 

Invitation to contribute to the final document of the RIO+20 U.N. Conference

Invitation to contribute to the final document of the RIO+20 U.N. Conference

Dear Mountain Partnership Members and Friends,
With reference to the message below, please note that the deadline for submission of proposed changes to the “Zero Draft” has been postponed to 29 February 2012.
We will be circulating a revised paragraph 94 (the one directly related to mountains) based on comments received from many of you, which you may wish to use in your submission.
We very much look forward to continue working together to have mountains properly reflected in the Rio+20 Outcome.
With best regards,
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
Mountain Partnership Secretariat
FAO, Forestry Department
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Roma
Phone: 0039 06 5705 4498
Mobile: 0039 328 7573475