Tag Archives: UIMF

UVU Attends Discussion on Sustainable Mountain Development at the UN Headquarters

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

International Women’s Day Celebration at UVU

From March 1 – 8, 2016 the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) will sponsoring a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day at Utah Valley University.

On March 7th, 2016 the UIMF and Women of the Mountains will be hosting a special screening of “To Climb a Gold Mountain” at 6:00pm. Events will start at 5:30pm with presentation of certificates to participants of the 2015 International Women of the Mountains Conference then followed by the documentary.

All events will be held in the UVU Library auditorium, room LI 120.

International Women's Day at Utah Valley University

2015 Women of the Mountains Conference Experiences: Drafting the Final Document

As students at Utah Valley University (UVU) approaching graduation, we really found ourselves wanting to get more involved professionally and practically, so to speak. We were looking for a cause to get involved with outside the classroom that would give us not only an experience, but would also allow us to distinguish ourselves in today’s competitive markets. Fortunately, we were able to find this opportunity in the 2015 International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) as members of the secretariat of the conference. WOMC was sponsored by number of international institutions including the United Nations Mountain Partnership and it took place at the UVU campus located in Orem, Utah on October 7-9, 2015.

The WOMC was a true model of student engaged learning. As you may or may not know, this year’s conference was facilitated by students; members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU. It was truly awesome to watch the conference unfold, seeing the incredible things that students are capable of, and to be able to be a part of it. Our faculty, and many other prominent scholars and experts throughout mountain communities, served as advisers guiding us students through the complex process; from raising funds to sending invitations and calls for papers, taking care of accommodation for participants, and many other things. While much effort went into the preparation and execution of the conference, it wasn’t until its successful end that the greater part of our work in the conference really began.

Our job as members of the Secretariat was to draft the final document of the 2015 WOMC, compiling thoughts and ideas from the conference participants, including recommendations to the international community on gender issues. In August 2015, Deann Torsak, executive secretary of the conference, distributed the various responsibilities among the members of the Secretariat. Initially four students signed up to work on the final document of the WOMC. However, by the end of the conference only two of us from original group remained committed to do that very important job. We accomplished our task under the guidance of our advisers Dr. Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point for the Mountain Partnership at UVU and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, faculty in the History and Political Science Department at UVU and advisor of UIMF. We were extremely impressed and inspired by every participant’s level of dedication.

Our responsibilities included many activities important for the success of the conference and for our further professional growth, such as: analyzing similar documents, methodologies, and procedures adopted by other international forums. To achieve a high level of professionalism in our task required us to study additional academic literature, and the United Nations official documents, on different topics of gender and sustainable mountain development agendas. It was important for us also to utilize previous experiences accumulated by our predecessors during the adoption of this document. For example, we drew from the Orem Declaration of Mountain Women and the final document of the first International Women of the Mountains Conference in Utah, which was gathered in March 8-9, 2007.

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(L to R): Jesler Molina, outgoing President of UIMF, Rex Linder, and Seth Gordon during the session to discuss the draft of the final document of the WOMC

Drafting the document began by gathering the submitted papers of conference participants and recruiting recommendations and suggestions from them on their expectations of the final document. To ensure maximum accuracy and efficiency, our team divided the different panels between each of our members and studied the information collected before collaborating to prepare the initial draft of the document before the conference had begun. During the conference, each team member was assigned different sessions to attend, in order to make certain that all of the additional thoughts and ideas outlined by presenters would be incorporated into the developing draft of the document. As a result, we distributed and presented the first rough draft of the final document to all conference participants in a plenary session at the end of the conference activities on October 8, 2015.

For the month or so that followed the conference, we worked very diligently compiling notes and developing the various drafts of the document. In all, we sent out variants of the document to every conference participants three times. Each time the participant were given approximately one week to study it and to make suggestions concerning necessary changes to the: language used, to add new ideas, and recommendations, etc. We are so grateful to the many conference participants who actively corresponded with us regarding the document’s content and offered helpful and important suggestions. Mia Rowan, from the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, and Dr. Jed Shilling, from the Mountain Institute, were among our major contributors; and from whom we learned how to work on an official document of this caliber. It took close to a month and a half before the final version of the document was adopted by conference participants. That moment was the day of the approval of the document, which was the December 1, 2015. The final document was submitted to the Mountain Partnership Secretariat for further use and distribution among all interested stakeholders around the world. The Final Document is available at the WOMC 2015 web-site:   http://www.womenofthemountains.org/images/2015/15-12-02-WOMC-FINALIZED.pdf

As students of UVU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Seth-Philosophy and Rex-Political Science), we found that our education had definitely provided us with the necessary tools and prepared us for such a task. It was an amazing experience being in correspondence with the various participants in the conference, receiving suggestions and constructive criticism in order to accurately portray all of the presenter’s work and the overarching, critical messages of the conference. Our involvement in this conference provided us with invaluable real world experience and skills which include knowledge of bureaucratic processes, working in a team setting, and drafting a professional document, to name a few. We are glad that we were able to finish the job we started, seeing it through to its successful end. We are very proud of the level of quality we were able to achieve in this document, which was quite a challenging task for us; requiring a lot of time and dedication, while still juggling our regular school assignments and work responsibilities. The skills we gained here will undoubtedly assist us in our future endeavors.

We thank everyone that participated and contributed to the success of the conference.

Seth Gordon and Rex Linder, members of the 2015 WOMC Secretariat

My Engaged Learning Experience during the Women of the Mountains Conference

A lot of amazing and accomplished women representing mountain nations from different parts of the world graced the campus of Utah Valley University (UVU) during the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference (WOMC) under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership located in Rome, Italy.  Our university hosted the WOMC on October 7-9, 2015 and I was fortunate to be a part of the students organizing committee and to contribute to the success of the conference. Our team was very happy that for the first time we were able to host this high level international conference entirely through the students’ efforts.  We were also glad to spread a word and raise awareness among so many people in the State of Utah and Rocky Mountain region about important gender issues and challenges for sustainable development for mountain communities.

I am also a member of Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council (UVU MSC), which is an organization committed to helping historically marginalized groups, and WOMC presented a great opportunity to network and get together with many dignitaries, diplomats, officials, experts and scholars from a variety of local, regional and international institutions. Surely these amazing people from all around the globe had much to teach us.

During the conference I was part of media team and I worked closely with Jenny Starley, PR and Fundraising at the WOMC organizing committee. I was in touch with local newspapers and I contacted, for example, local newspaper Daily Herald with providing editors with media kit and all necessary information.

Picture1(L to R): Yankila Sherpa, President, Snow Leopard Trek, Nepal, Mia Rowan, Communications and Advocacy Officer, Mountain Partnership, F.A.O – U.N. and Deann Torsak, Executive Secretary, WOMC during the conference

Because of my similar responsibilities with UVU MSC, I was also able to photograph the participants who attended many different events during the conference. I am glad that many of my photos were later posted on Instagram, Facebook pages, Flickr pages of the WOMC and then were shared on the similar pages of the Mountain Partnership secretariat in Rome, Italy.

Many women-conference participants brought a perspective to this campus that I felt has been missing. They showed how each and every single individual can make a difference. I especially felt that charm during my interaction with Yankila Sherpa from Nepal. There were many distinguished women with great accomplishments during the conference, but she helped UVU students feel like her fellow colleagues.

Many men also came and spoke at the conference and added to what many of the women shared. The whole conference was a major success in terms of the information and the education that was given about the importance for all of us to help mountain women and mountain communities to sustain themselves and be contributors to the economic success and prosperity of their nations. Students and faculty of our school and all of UVU certainly benefitted from the appearance of all guests and speakers.

Picture2(L to R): Uday Teki, Director of Special Projects, Pioneer Park Coalition, Salt Lake City, and Danny Davis during the Conference

I personally benefited from the conference form of education that I gained through facilitation. I was able to help some of the guests around campus and provide for many of their needs. I was also able to gain so much professionally and get acquainted with so many important people and experts in gender and sustainable development issues, along with the amazing thoughts and ideas that they brought. Personally, this was the highlight of my time at UVU thus far.

Danny Davis, member of the organizing committee, Women of the Mountains Conference 

UVU Delegation participates in Open Working Group Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations

 

A Delegation from Utah Valley University (UVU) as a part of established tradition visited the United Nations, in New York during December 9-11, 2013. It participated in the Sixth session of the Open Working Group Meeting on Sustainable Development Goals, under the accreditation of the mission of Hungary at the United Nations, one of the Co-Chairs of the meeting, the other being Kenya. The members of the delegation included Dr. Rusty Butler (Associate Vice President International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU), Dr. Brian Birch (Associate Vice President – Engaged Learning at UVU), Carlos Alarco (Educational Technologist and representative of UIMF (Utah International Mountain Forum), a coalition of student clubs at UVU) and Jesler Molina (International Student Council Chair, Model UN President at UVU, and representative of UIMF).

During the 3 days the delegation heard informative and insightful opinions by delegates from across the globe, as well as numerous civil society groups, all working together to come up with targets and goals that would comprise the Sustainable Development Goals for the post 2015 agenda. The meetings held during these 5 days were critical as it allowed delegates to voice ideas and concerns into what these goals should include. The four main themes were discussed: Means of Implementation, Global partnership, Countries in special situations, and Human Rights (including right to development and global governance).

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The first day’s discussion focused on the importance of means of implementation for sustainable development. Science, Technology and Innovation are seen as drivers of social and economic development. Another important theme discussed was about how ODA (Official Development Assistance) remains an essential source of financing, especially for LDCs (Least Developed Countries), and that more needs to be done to make sure this type of funding increases instead of decreases, which had been happening recently. South-South and triangular cooperation are growing around the world, especially as a supplement to North-South cooperation. While a technology divide still exists between developed and developing countries and more needs to be done to bridge this divide, any solution needs to include women. Technology transfer is important to LDCs not only as a means to acquire sustainable technologies, but also as an opportunity to include capacity development, local productive capability, and supportive institutions. As a result, when a  technology bank for LDCs (least Developed Countries) as well as a technology facilitation mechanism were proposed, both initiatives received wide support among the audience. The importance of a rule-based, multilateral, trade system to benefit all countries would help LDCs move towards sustainable development.

The second day of the discussion focused on Global Partnerships and the involvement of the private sector in developing nations in order to achieve sustainable development goals. One of the speakers that day was Paul Polman (CEO Unilever), and his presentation outlined the importance of private corporations in any development plan and implementation.  In Mr. Polman’s opinion, state and international organizations, like the U.N, need to work with the private companies because they have the resources but not enough manpower to do practical tasks that sustainable development require. Partnerships need not involve many companies, only few of them are necessary to push for ideas that help or change the world. In his view, it is enough to have companies that can be held accountable and commit themselves to any collaborative project. He gave the example that 2 million children die each year because they do not have access to soap to wash their hand. Unilever produces soap, and other sanitary products, but not the training to show children how to wash their hands properly. Partnering with State entities and NGOs can prove beneficial in these instances as they help to advance the development goals and of course their business. However, it is not easy to talk about sustainability with the private sector, due to the fact that new technologies can initially be expensive, but here the private sector has an opportunity to make a significant impact on developing communities and push for a change in culture. The U.N can set a moral framework that can hold all actors accountable to it. This was echoed during the rest of the discussion when other participants emphasized that private sector should be part of the solution and that the contribution of the private sector can be enhanced with better governance and regulation. There is the potential to expand multi-stakeholder partnerships in the support of specific goals and that governments play a key role in creating enabling environments for these partnerships. Later during that day the UVU delegation had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Africa in relation to LDCs, LLDCs and DCs during the lunch with the Ambassador of the Republic of Botswana Charles T. Ntwaagae and the Deputy Permanent Representative Nkoloi Nkoloi.

On the third day, the discussion was focused on Countries in Special Situations, which included LDCs (Least Developed Countries), LLDCs (Land Locked Developing Countries) and SIDS (Small Island Developing States) and the means these groups have to be provided for Sustainable Development. During the Co-chairs’ meeting with representatives of Major Groups and other stakeholders, the UVU delegation contributed to the discussion on the day’s topic. Jesler Molina made an official statement on behalf of UVU. In his speech, Jesler as a practical measure called for intergovernmental collaboration to facilitate LLDC countries access to the sea and water channels through a comprehensive taxation program for their products, allowing them to have access to the international markets and helping them to improve their economy. He also recommended the group to review the LDC standard and to provide a middle ground for graduate LDC and non-graduate LDC countries, where the economies are fragile and could be put in serious danger at any time.

un1302smJesler Molina makes his statement to the committee ( Statement to U.N )

Jesler Molina and Dr. Rusty Butler also attended a special lunch hosted by the mission of Argentina to the United Nations on December 11, 2013 dedicated to the International Mountain Day celebration. As a part of the gathering a special publication commemorating International Year of Family Farming, which will be the theme for 2014, was presented to the audience. During the event UVU delegation had an opportunity to meet with representatives of international organizations, including Rosalaura Romeo, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Programme Officer and envoys from such mountain countries, as the Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations Fernando Arias González, the Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, H.E. Talaibek Kydyrov,  and the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations Ahmed Snoussi. At the end, the UVU delegation extended an invitation to the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations María Cristina Perceval to visit Utah Valley University as a part of the International Affairs and Diplomacy program.

The UVU delegation also met with Joseph McCain, a member of UIMF currently serving an internship with the Kyrgyz Mission to the United Nations.

un1303smJoseph McCain, Jesler Molina, and Carlos Alarco,
UIMF representatives at the United Nations

The trip was a resounding success as the UVU delegation was able to interact with Ambassadors and representatives from many nations and had an opportunity to share before the U.N. audience and officials UVU experiences in promoting sustainable development agenda with particular focus on mountain cause. The delegation expects that there will be many more opportunities for future interaction with UN missions, the UN and other NGOs.

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Carlos Alarco and Jesler Molina, representatives of UIMF

UIMF Member Helping in Philippines

On Friday November 29th I set out with a group of 16 people from Utah in coordination with the Philippine Improvement Group to provide relief aid to many of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda as it is referred to in the Philippines.  Ryan Ogden, who spent two years in the Philippines as a missionary for the LDS church founded the Philippine Improvement Group over five years ago and has been back to the islands to provide humanitarian aid several times. Naturally, when the typhoon struck in November he coordinated a special service tour with several other local returned missionaries and volunteers and began raising funds with all proceeds going to the reconstruction of the Philippines.

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The destination was the small island of Bantayan, situated just north west of Cebu Island in the middle of the Philippines. The remote location of the island made travelling very difficult. In order to get to the island we had to take all modes of transportation including planes, buses, taxis, boats, and vans just to arrive at the very north point of Bantayan. The island of Bantayan is a very modest place with three main towns. The city of Madridejos, the place where we offered relief, was devastated with 95 percent of the houses damaged in some way due to the ferocious winds of the typhoon. Madridejos only experienced four casualties compared to the thousands of deaths that Tacloban, a city on the island just to the east had experienced. The combination of the low tide and the unique shape of Bantayan Island, which has many caves underneath of it, helped prevent a massive tidal wave when the typhoon hit.  Yet the island had not received any serious aid, even after three weeks time. This is most likely due to the enormous amount of aid required in several areas of the Philippines and the lack of effective transportation required to access the island.

The native Filipinos are used to typhoons each year but this one was drastically different than all of the other ones. The typhoon desolated the city of Madridejos, leaving it without electricity. Some of the local authorities predict it will take months before power is restored to the island. The aftermath of the typhoon also severely damaged the economy, not only for Bantayan but for all of the Philippines. The island supplies a large majority of the chickens to Cebu Island, home to 3.8 million people. Many chickens were killed and others had to be sold away immediately because of lack of supplies for the farmers. Many people are still struggling psychological from such a tremendous and traumatic experience. Yet the Filipino people are resilient and are happy despite the destruction to their homes and cities.

2The Philippine Improvement Group clears debris from Salazar Private School in Madridejos

When we arrived we immediately set to work cleaning up the debris from the storm by tearing down collapsed roofs, chopping down trees, and cleaning up pieces of metal and wood. We were able to successfully clear out a private school that hosts students from kindergarten to college.  We relied on the strength we had as a group, providing manpower to accomplish projects that would have taken the local Filipinos days to do in just a number of hours. After clearing out the school we shifted our attention towards a beach resort that had been decimated by the storm. Because it had been weeks since the storm had hit, the debris became a buffet for all manner of insects that would quickly attack as we tried to clear out the rubble. With the help of the local people working as a team we were able to quickly and effectively clear out the debris so that repairs can be made and the local economy can begin to heal itself.

3Local Utahn Chris Haleua helps provide food to the people of Madridejos Around 700 people received food aid.

In similar fashion, our projects included clearing up a local farm and many houses in a neighborhood that had palm trees and other pieces of metal lying on the roofs and impaling the homes. Now that these places are cleared reconstruction can begin and people can try to go back to living normal lives. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation showed that there were many other things that the people needed other than physical labor and manpower. This includes materials, supplies, food, and counseling. Perhaps the most memorable part of the experience was providing food to over 700 people that had been diagnosed by doctors earlier in the week as malnourished, 620 of them being children. Part of the relief effort was to supply food and to visit local schools to help the children cope with their trauma and stress. This was done through a series of presentations that the kids were able to participate in. It was great to see them laugh and smile and let go of some of their worries, even for just a small moment. We also talked to them about the importance of getting an education and graduating because only 25 percent of the children make it to graduation.

Despite all that the group was able to accomplish, it does not even scratch the surface of all that needs to be done for this community, not to mention all of the other cities affected. It will take months, if not years for this city to recover from the typhoon. However, if any group of people can rise up and overcome these circumstances it is the people of the Philippines. Working in unity with NGOs and other governments the Filipinos will quickly erase the memories of Yolanda from their minds and if the members of the Philippine Improvement Group were able to make a difference in the life of just one person than it was all worth it.

Brenen Sidwell, member, Utah International Mountain Forum