Tag Archives: United Nations

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

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Brochure

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MP about IMD at Utah Valley University

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                      UVU Press-Release         Daily Herald about IMD          

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Video: UVU Office for Global Engagement

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Photos

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Greetings From Governor Herbert

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Letter of Greetings From Mayor Brunst, Orem City 

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Greetings From Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, MP member

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Logan Environmental Action Force

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UIMF MEMBERS REFLECTIONS

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

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Mark Wait: International Mountain Day at UVU

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

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Pamela Miller: International Mountain Day 2017

 

 

Promoting Mountain Targets During UN Day at UVU

On October 24th, 2017 students from Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs from Utah Valley University (UVU) participated at the celebration of the United Nations Day while promoting sustainable mountain targets. The event was hosted by the UVU Office of Global Engagement with a particular focus on the meaning and importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Attending the event were UIMF, National Security Club, Foreign Affairs Club, Model UN Club, UNICEF Club, ENACTUS initiative of the UVU Woodbury School of Business, and representatives from the UVU Office of Global Engagement. Students, through engaged learning approach interacted, were very pleased to see the level of activity and engagement from all the UVU students and faculty in learning how to work towards the implementation of 17 United Nations SGDs and 169 targets

Poster about UIMF members contribution to the adoption of the mountain targets among SDGs during 2013-2015.

The event went on from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. to allow for the maximum amount of UVU student and faculty engagement. UIMF members were excited to be engaged with those who came to the event to explain mountain targets role among the UN SDGs. They also explained how the United Nations Mountain Partnership Secretariat, a subunit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations coordinates globally activities of numerous institutions and NGOs, including UVU  with focus on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations. UIMF members contributed to the campaign to adopt mountain targets among SDGs by the United Nations during 2013-2015. Jesler Molina, former UIMF President also informed the audience how he was able, with his peers, to participate at campaign and even make a statement during the sixth session of the United Nations Open Working Group on SDGs in December 11, 2013. UIMF members were happy, when in September 25-27, 2015 the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development adopted SDGs three mountain targets were included among them.

(L to R) Andre Jones, UIMF member, discusses with Derek Garfield, Vice President, UIMF, and Dylan Genes, President, Foreign Affairs Club, initiatives at UVU to implement mountain targets as part of SDGs.

UIMF also showcased student projects that are important to sustainable mountain development. Derek Garfield, a Vice President of UIMF, presented his project about Sami indigenous communities in Scandinavian states and how new challenges like climate change have an impact on their livelihoods. It is one of the goals of UIMF to push for students to have a platform to present their projects, therefore it was very exciting to have Mr. Garfield in attendance to further educate students about his project as an example of both to be engaged with the United Nations Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) Agenda and to inspire other students to do research based on their professional interests.

     (L to R) Lacee Meyer, Vice President UIMF, Derek Garfield, Vice President UIMF, Matthew Rands, President UIMF, (behind) Dylan Genes, President Foreign Affairs, (front) Dr. Baldomero Lago, CIO/Vice-Rector of UVU’s Office of Global Engagement during the UN Day at UVU

Dylan Genes, the President of Foreign Affairs, a club under the umbrella of UIMF, played a big role in the event as he was able to stay for the entirety of the event and take time to talk to each individual that showed interest in the 17 SDGs and how mountain target fit among them. He stated that “UN day at UVU proved to be an enlightened and fulfilling experience for participating clubs and members alike, including myself. I strongly feel that reaching out and engaging in dialogue has helped not only the students learn about our initiatives with focus on UN SMD agenda, but helped club members grow in defining mission goals.” Dylan highlighted the very nature and initiatives of UIMF to engage students in the initiatives for UN sustainable mountain development while also creating dialogue with different demographic groups among them by providing them great opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Rebecca Bindraban contributed to the event by informing students about her work as co-editor of the “Youth and the Mountains” Journal, which publishes student research papers with focus on SMD and implementation of the mountain targets since 2013. She stated that “The UN Day at UVU was significant because it showcased the UIMF activities and the clubs in coalition with the UIMF. It shined a spot light on the important issues with focus on SMD each club is trying to perpetuate along with supporting an open forum to talk with students about the clubs. During the event, I talked to several students about UIMF initiatives and goals, promoting mountain communities, and it was a great because it provided a forum to have a casual open conversation. By talking to different students, the UIMF’s goals and issues were discussed, and students learned about our clubs and opportunities they have in the future to get engaged.”

UIMF hopes to continue to work towards the SDGs, with a specific goal of implementation of mountain targets. On December 4th, 2017 UIMF will have another opportunity to do that by hosting an event in celebration of the United Nation’s International Mountain Day. It is an honor to work with the United Nations in reaching these initiatives and UIMF hopes to continue to work also towards the implementation of UN Post-2015 and towards the UN 2030 agendas.

Lacee Meyer, Vice President, UIMF

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FAO and MP about event

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Task list

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Photos from the event

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Lacee Meyer: Event announcement

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Dylan Genes: UN day at Utah Valley University focuses on sustainable development goals

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Rebecca Bindraban: advocating mountain targets through student academic research 

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Andre Jones: United Nations Day at Utah Valley University focuses on sustainable development goals

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Derek Garfield: United Nations info fair at Utah Valley University

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Mary Cisneros: Reflections of my undergraduate years at Utah Valley University

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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

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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.

Yanko-UN2

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

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 

My experience with the International Women of the Mountains Conference

Carlos is currently the Coordinator for Global Academic Programs at the Office for Global Engagement at Utah Valley University. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Digital Media from Utah Valley University and a Master’s of Education from the University of Missouri. He is a Global Citizen having lived in Latin America, Australia and the United States. He likes being involved in Social Justice causes and travelling the world.

From an early age, I have been exposed to people and cultures from around the world, due to living in a multicultural part of Sydney, Australia. I was born in Latin-America and travelled a lot as a child with my parents where I was able to experience life with relatives abroad. Growing up in a different land to that of my parents, my personal culture became a mixture of the two, Latin-American and Australian. By the time I was an adult I was a seasoned traveller with a great appreciation for the cultures of the world. When I moved to the United States most of the studies I had done in Australia were not recognized so I had to go back to school. I enrolled into, what was known as, Utah Valley State College as a non-traditional student. To this day I am grateful to UVU’s open enrolment policy as it provided me with the opportunity to better myself. I finished my Undergraduate Degree in Digital Media and then went on to get a Master’s Degree in Information Science and Learning Technologies. I have always believed that education is key to a life of unlimited potential and I am a strong advocate for the belief that education should be freely available to all regardless of gender, age or location.

In 2005, working as a Technology Teaching Assistant at Utah Valley State College, I learned that the school had access to video conferencing equipment. That same year I was able to get permission to use the equipment and organized a series of international video lectures with Universities that I had built a relationship with in my travels abroad. These were the days before Skype or Google Hangouts, so high-quality videoconferencing required expensive equipment that not all institutions could afford. This also meant working with the IT departments of the other institutions to configure protocols that would ensure a stable connection. The first of these videoconferencing lectures was organized between James Cook University in Australia and Utah Valley State College here in Utah. These lectures were presented live with attendees on both sides. One of the first lectures was from Australia. Dr Jamie Seymour, a leading expert on jellyfish, presented on a particularly deadly jellyfish that inhabits the tropic oceans of Australia. Mr. Mike Wisland from the Digital Media Department gave his presentation on the Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever. These presentations were enjoyed by audiences on both sides. There were also other video conferences with the Czech Republic, Spain, Brazil and a session with the U.S. Department of State. Technology has made it possible to connect people, share ideas, and mutually learn. This is the goal of the internationalization of education.

The experience with the video conferences taught me first hand, about the power of connecting people to share ideas and learn from each other. The idea of bringing people together appealed to me, and still does. It was through this interest that a few years later, I became acquainted with Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, the former Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States. As faculty at UVU, he brought his considerable wealth of knowledge and diplomatic experience to the university, in building stronger ties between the mountain communities, his native country, the Rocky Mountain region and especially Utah through the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda. Through this friendship, I began using my technical experience to help promote events that he would organize with his students. Eventually I was given the responsibility of managing the Women of the Mountains’ website (http://www.womenofthemountains.org), which contained a vast amount of information about the international Women of the Mountains Conferences, hosted by Utah Valley University as major contribution to the promotion of SMD in State of Utah and North America.  I was responsible for adding content and making updates to the website as events were organized. I also became involved with the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU that became the main force for SMD advocacy. Here student engagement was promoted through organizing events, hosting dignitaries, and sharing experience with a wider community on a state, regional and global levels. My Andean heritage also played a part in my interest, as many of my ancestors came from the mountain regions of South America.

My first experience with the International Women of the Mountains Conference was at the 2nd Conference, which was held in 2011.  Here I volunteered with providing technical support to presenters, volunteers and attendees of the conference. The conference was held at the main campus of Utah Valley University so I was able to interact with many of the guest speakers, some of which came from overseas, and learn more about the work that they did to promote sustainable development in various mountain regions. It was the first time I had been directly involved in an international conference. After the Women of the Mountains Conference I began to help with the United Nations International Mountain Day celebrations at UVU campus. In 2003 the United Nations General Assembly declared December 11 as the International Mountain Day, and celebrations have been held at UVU since 2010.

My involvement with the International Women of the Mountains Conference and the Utah International Mountain Forum led to being part of a delegation from Utah Valley University sent to the United Nations headquarters in New York City in December, 2013. Due to the work of Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU, and his personal ties to many diplomats at the United Nations, the University was able to secure seats to observe the 6th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These seats were provided by the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the U.N. Attending this meeting was an incredible experience for us, as we witnessed first-hand how the delegates of each nation worked to add details to what would become the SDGs and the roadmap for global community development until 2030. We were there for three days and after each session was over we were able to meet and interact with some of the delegates from the different nations, and this was exciting. This trip has been one of the highlights of my life and I hope to repeat it in the future.

The 4th International Women of the Mountains Conference, held under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership, took place at Utah Valley University in October 2015. My involvement in the conference was as the organizing committee’s liaison to the University of Utah. The committee was primarily made up of students as well as partners, all under the guidance of Dr. Abdrisaev and other faculty.  A few weeks prior to the conference I arranged for the student organizing committee the presentation at the University of Utah to invite students there to join organizing committee and to contribute to the conference at UVU. As a tradition, I was also tasked with updating the Women of the Mountains website and added information needed by attendees. This was also the first conference where social media was used to help promote the conference and its goals in support of the SDG#5 on gender. During the conference, I also gave a presentation about the importance of Social Media in the promotion of grassroots efforts and how it could be used to reach more people with little to no cost compared to traditional methods of promotion. The presentation also showed how visits to the websites had significantly increase since social media was introduced as a promotional tool. I had the opportunity to meet many amazing people who are passionate about gender and environmental issues. It was also a pleasure to meet officers from global NGOs like Ms. Mia Rowan from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN). Working directly with partners like her helps promote our work to a wider audience.

That same year I organized an International Mountain Day Celebration at the University of Utah. This was held on 4th of December, 2015 in the Gould Auditorium which is located in the Marriott Library. I was supported by Kamaile Harris, who works with the Pacific Heritage Academy as well as she became the Salt Lake City Liaison for the UIMF. I was, at the time, the University of Utah Liaison and had built relationships with many important organizations such as: the Marriott Library, the Office of Sustainability, the Bennion Center, the Hinckley Institute and local Non-Profits. We promoted the event via social media as well as through internal channels at the University, there was even promotion through local radio station KRCL. The event started with a song by students of the Pacific Heritage Academy which was a great way to begin the event. The evening continued with students, from the University of Utah, who spoke about the issues relating to community and sustainability in the local mountain region. The main speaker of the event as Jason Singer Smith, who is a prominent mountain climber and author. The event was well received by audience and participants and brought to the attention of the community the importance of mountain issues.

I enjoy my continued relationship with the members of the organizing committee of the Women of the Mountains conference and the Utah International Mountain Forum. To further my education in SMD, I took courses from the University of the Highlands and Islands in the United Kingdom as well as the University of Utah. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people over the years and had experiences that I could not have had it not been for my involvement with these organizations. The opportunity to be a part of something greater than myself and help improve the lives of people locally and around the world is something that has no price and will cherish for all of days.

 

Carlos Alarco – UIMF

 

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).

UN1301Open Working Group session on Sustainable Development Goals

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.

Hungary-2014-UN-Ambassador-letter-to-UVU

Carlos Alarco and Jesler Molina, representatives of UIMF