UVU Rotaract contributes to the Frodsham Community Christmas Party

On December 15th, 2018, the Utah Valley University (UVU) Rotaract members contributed to the Frodsham Community Christmas Party. The Frodsham Community hosted its 27th annual Christmas party in Farmington, Utah. For the last twenty-seven years, the Frodsham’s, long time residents of the Farmington area, have reached out to the community to bring service to hundreds of people throughout Davis county and Salt Lake county during the Christmas season. For many, Christmas time is full of good memories and love. However, for others, the time can be bleak due to less fortunate situations that they may be going through. The Frodsham Community Christmas Party seeks to find those who are in need during the holiday season. The event provides a warm meal, wrapped new Christmas gifts, gently used clothing donations, toy donations, as well as food, toiletries, feminine hygiene products and a variety of other necessary items to those in need. (http://www.frodshamcommunitychristmas.org/ )

Members of the Frodsham Community during the Christmas Party

While serving over nine-hundred guests with the help of hundreds of volunteers, the 2018 Frodsham Family Christmas party was a great success. This year, UVU’s Rotaract club decided to reach out and provide service during the event. Kyle and Mckenna Warren, grandchildren to the founding Frank and Barbra Frodsham, helped to organize UVU Rotaract’s efforts with the Frodsham Community Christmas Party. In addition to the Warrens, Jesse Sandstrom and his wife Abigail, as well as sisters, Hannah and Hailey Bieker came to help out in the event. All who attended and were able to be part of the event left saying they had a strong feeling of service and the reward of helping in the community.

(L to R): Mckenna Warren, Kyle Warren, Hannah Bieker and  Hailey Bieker during the Christmas Party

Rotaract seeks to help the world, both on the local and International level. “Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves” (https://www.rotary.org/en/about-rotary).

Mckenna Warren and  Kyle Warren after the event,

With many of our friends and neighbors experiencing difficulties, we as the UVU Rotaract club thought that this was a perfect event to lend a hand. Today, we live in a world where there is constant need. Many of these needs go unknown to most people. UVU Rotaract hopes to be able to make a difference in the lives of those who need it. We will continue to reach out and give aid in any way that we can.

Kyle Warren, UVU Rotaract President-elect (2019-2020)

 

UIMF Contributes to final online discussion on CSW63 Zero Draft Document

On January 18, 2019, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), (www.utahimf.org)  participated in the final conference call session related to preparing the Zero Draft Outcome Document for the United Nations (UN) 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). This session was the culmination of UIMF and other civil society efforts to discuss topics, concerns, and groups of people that will be included in the Zero Daft Document, which will be used at the Commission by Permanent Representatives of UN member states affiliated with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to negotiate the language of CSW63’s final document. The final document, also known as the agreed conclusions, represents global priorities and actions to take related to the priority theme of CSW63, which is “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”


(L to R): Michael Hinatsu and  Hazim Alshanbari, UIMF members  during  online discussion 

The purpose of this final session was to synthesize the nearly 34 pages of recommendations put forth by  civil society groups and NGOs from around the globe including UIMF at previous sessions, as well as to add any urgent or critical recommendations to those synthetizations. Much of the work in this regard had been completed by Jourdan Williams, Youth Representative to the UN for the International Health Awareness Network, who along with Winifred Doherty, Main NGO Representative to the UN, is instrumental in organizing the online sessions and in formulating the Zero Draft. The synthesized document, which will be completed at the end of this week, will then be sent to UN Women, a part of the UN that focuses global efforts to support women and women’s issues, and then to diplomats who will negotiate on CSW63 agreed conclusions.

Discussion of the content of the Zero Draft Document  

The purpose of the synthesis was to consolidate the many recommendations put forth by UIMF and others into comprehensive, inclusive, and direct recommendations to guide negotiations of diplomats. Much of the specifics related to groups of people, infrastructure, health, climate change, justice, employment, and other topics were rephrased or taken out in order to make the document concise. However, a considerable amount of time during this session was given to UIMF and other participants to ensure that the synthesized version was as inclusive and detailed as possible. UIMF suggestions related to climate action, representation of women in the workforce, and marginalized communities were mostly considered and implemented in the synthesis. Additionally, past UIMF contributions to language about mountain women, nontraditional students, and engaged (or experiential) learning were also included in the synthesis as main points. This will greatly increase the chance of such language being directly negotiated during CSW63 and possibly ending up as part of the agreed conclusions.

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF members  during  online discussio

UIMF’s participation in these sessions represents an unprecedented opportunity for UIMF members to engage with civil society and NGOs who share common concerns and who would like to have their say in what may become the agreed conclusions of CSW63. UIMF’s participation in these sessions was also essential in advocating for mountain women and girls, nontraditional students, and the engaged learning model that UVU successfully implements, in such a way that awareness of these topics is heightened and opportunities for cooperation at the regional, national, and global levels have been increased. UIMF is indebted to Dr. Ross E. “Rusty” Butler, main focal point of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, for providing the links and connections that allowed UIMF to meaningfully participate in these online sessions.

UIMF continues to reach out to the UN Secretary-General, ECOSOC President, and the 54 UN member states affiliated with ECOSOC to advocate for mountain women to be included in CSW63’s final document. UIMF also is hosting a parallel event at CSW63 titled “Student engaged learning to empower mountain women and girls,” which will be held at the second floor of the Church Center of the UN on Tuesday, March 19, at 8:30am.

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member

UNA-USA about UIMF celebrating IMD 2018

United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) posted a piece “International Mountain Day Celebration at the United Nations” on January 13, 2019. This was a result of the partnership established between the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University and UNA-USA and an another example of the UIMF efforts  to raise an awareness about mountain targets in the State of Utah and North America. Samuel Elzinga, President of UIMF, who participated at the IMD celebration at the UN on December 11, 2018, wrote a piece.

According to the UNA-USA mission statement: “The United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) is a movement of Americans dedicated to supporting the United Nations. With over 20,000 members (60% under the age of 25) and more than 200 chapters across the country, UNA-USA members are united in their commitment to global engagement and their belief that each of us can play a part in advancing the UN’s mission and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Link to the post:  https://unausa.org/international-mountain-day-2018/    

Story of humanity: building bridges between mountain women

I would like to share a story about two women from two different parts of the world, with different religious beliefs that were able to be connected by hearts and are working now for building peace in their own capacities. I met Deann Torsak, in Orem, Utah during International Women’s of Mountain Conference under the umbrella of the United Nations Mountain Partnership in 2015. The main idea of the conference was to get women from different mountain countries together to discuss how to solve common problems caused by challenges from living in the mountains, like high altitude, extreme temperatures, lack of communications, challenges in education as well as many others. Deann was the executive secretary of the conference and was responsible to contact the speakers. I am from Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. I enjoy working on projects that address topics like peacebuilding, empowering youth especially girls and the importance of education. I was studying in Texas A&M, when I submitted a paper for the conference on the status of children’s education in mountains of Hunza, Pakistan and that is how she found me as a potential presenter at the conference.

She is now like a mother to me in America. With Tony Medina, another student-organizer of the conference, who donated his points for my air ticket from Texas to Utah and back, Deann not only offered me her house to stay during the conference but also given me four beautiful siblings (3 brothers and a sister) in the United States and since then we share this unbreakable mother-daughter bond. It looks like nature has connected us for a reason and since then I call her as my Mommy.

She is a Christian and I am a Muslim from Pakistan, and we have made this strong connection of unconditional love, respect and support for each other. All of us know how a mother cares for a daughter without expecting anything in return, and that is exactly how she treats me.

Left to right: the first row: myself,  Deann Mommy, sister Judy; the second row: brothers Handen, Jathan, and Dad Kenny.

I am currently working on my Ph.D. in agriculture at Washington State University. This Christmas, mommy Deann invited me to her house in Provo, Utah to celebrate Christmas with her family. We met after three years. Before, I was not very well aware of Christmas traditions, but mommy Deann and her family explained everything to me and made my trip worth visiting. I got to know that Santa comes early in the morning and leaves stockings full of gifts. On 25th of December, I was woken up by my little sister, Judy who told me that Santa had left gifts for all of us and it is time to open the gifts. I had no idea that Santa brought me gifts too, which obviously made me so happy that Santa treated all of us equally, who said Muslims don’t accept gifts from Santa.

I made many traditional Pakistani foods for my family in Provo including the traditional Pakistani  breakfast by making paratha (bread) and anda (egg) as well as daal (lentils), chawal (rice) for dinner, taught my brother, Handen how to make Pakistani chicken curry but a less spicy version and they taught me how to make pumpkin pie and stuffed turkey.

This picture of Mommy Deann and myself was taken during our hike to Bridal Veil Falls in Utah by using camera timer and tripod.

I know the importance of connecting to people like mommy Deann in my life and how she has added many beautiful things to my life through her presence. She defends me, and my religion and I defend her and her religion when people say something wrong about any or both of them. It is important for each one of us to know people from different countries and religions and to bridge the gap, and learn that diversity is a great blessing if we know how to value and celebrate it. We have one life and a beautiful opportunity to appreciate the differences and to celebrate common things.

In the end, what matters the most is how we treat people around us and how people remember us. I hope we continue to spread love and peace and make each other’s lives easier by being kind.

Noorani Barkat, a Ph.D. Candidate at Washington State University

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VIDEO: Christmas message of peace 

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Sam Elzinga and Andrew Jensen contributed to the IMD 2018 at the United Nations

On December 11th, 2018 two of us had the opportunity to present on a panel at a side-event co-hosted by the Permanent Mission accredited to the UN of the Kyrgyz Republic, Canada, Austria, and the Principality of Andorra. The theme was “Tackling climate change and building resilience in mountainous and rural communities.”  Sam and I had were able to secure this opportunity after meeting briefly with the Permanent Representative (PR) of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Nations, Ms. Mirgul Moldoisaeva in New York during the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development  in New York in July 19, 2018. The mission was impressed with UVU’s preparedness and presentation during the HLPF, and as such we were contacted by the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic about participating in their side event.

Group photo of panelists before the IMD 2018 at UN

At the event, we joined the PR of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, Ms. Moldoisaeva, the PR of Austria to the UN Mr. Jan Kickert, the Deputy PR of Andorra to the UN, Mr. Joan J. Lopez, and Deputy PR of Canada to the UN, Ms. Louise Blais. The event was moderated by H.E. Ms. Carla Mucavi, who is the Director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York. Each country had the opportunity to address the topic of sustainable mountain development. H.E. Ms. Mirgul Moldoisaeva, the PR from the Kyrgyz Republic, was the first to address the gathered group, highlighting that because 95% of the country is mountainous they are highly invested in the process of sustainable developing those mountainous regions. She mentioned the various programs and conferences that the Kyrgyz Republic has worked on to promote Sustainable Development of Mountains. Next, the PR of Austria to the UN, H.E. Mr. Jan Kickert,  had the opportunity to address the assembled delegation. He highlighted that Austria too is a stakeholder in the mountain process, referencing statistics that show glacier retreat in Austria has accelerated form 1% in the mid-20th century to 2-3% at the current rate. This double and triple rate increase means that half of the glaciers in Austria will soon be gone. This affects both mountainous communities and their downstream counterparts. Following him, the DPR of the Principality of Andorra to the UN, H.E. Mr. Joan J. Lopez, addressed the delegation. He highlighted that Andorra, as a small country that has a minimum elevation of 2000 feet, is entirely mountainous. He referenced Andorra’s recent shift to sustainability as an indicator of future opportunities for growth. Following the PRs and DPRs, the panel of assembled experts had the opportunity to address the delegation.

First to address everyone was Landry Riba, the representative from the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Sustainability in the Principality of Andorra. He addressed the topic of adapting agriculture and livestock sectors to climate change impacts in mountainous areas. He talked about how 90% of available land is used for cattle grazing and management. He mentioned that an additional 8% of land is used for tobacco farming, which provides 78% of income from the natural land resources. He established that this is a worrying statistic and that the Principality of Andorra has found that they must diversify economically to sustainably develop the mountain. Following Mr. Riba, Dr. Benjamin S. Orlove, Professor of International and Public Affairs at Colombia University addressed the delegation and spoke on responding to climate change in mountain communities. He highlighted the COP24 Conference that has been held during the month of December and its implications for sustainable mountain development. He also highlighted the IPCC Special Report and Assessment and their partnership with the UNFCCC. Next, Giorgio Grussu, Project Coordinator of the FAO- Mountain Partnership Secretariat, who we met with during our trip to the HLPF in 2018. He addressed the delegation, highlighting the #MountainMatter movement and how the Mountain Partnership is working with developing countries throughout the world to bring attention to the issue of mountain communities. He addressed the need to work together in partnerships for mountain-related SDGs. The next speaker was Ms. Yoko Watanabe, the Global Manager of GEF Small Grants Programme for the UNDP, who we met at HLPF 2018 during a side-event hosted by the Principality of Andorra. She spoke on the UNDP’s experience in protecting livelihoods and biodiversity in mountain ecosystems. She spoke of the Small Grants Programme and how it has impacted different developing countries around the world. She highlighted that the average grant receives $50,000 of funding and that these project shave helped to develop many projects around the world.

(R to L) Samuel Elzinga, Andrew Jensen and Yoko Watanabe during panel discussion 

Finally, Samuel  Elzinga and Andrew Jensen had the opportunity to address the delegation, using statements that we had prepared before the conference. We addressed the panel by focusing on UIMF and UVU  commitments and contribution to the sustainable mountain development agenda.  We also presented  distinguished panelists folders with copies of the official invitation letter from Dr. Lago to Mr. Mastrojeni to host a side event on mountains during the conference, copies of written statements made in 2018 at three ECOSOC forums,  a copy of written statement accepted for the 63rd session of the Commission on Status of Women, a a copy of the statement of Congressman John Curtis about UIMF, a copy of the Report on SMD in North America for RIO+20 with the UIMF contribution and the 2017 issue of the journal Youth and the Mountains.

After the event, H.E. Carla Mucavi, the moderator of the events and the Director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York, and Andrew Jensen talked about UVU’s future implications in the international community. She said she was impressed to see people so young and active in the United Nations. She talked about our increased need to work towards climate resiliency because we are the generation that will inherit many of the problems of today. Overall, the event was an excellent opportunity to network with United Nations professionals and learn more about mountain development in a sustainable way.

Samuel Elzinga, President, Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU and Andrew Jensen, President, Model United Nations Club

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Concept Note of the FAO-UN liason office to the UN about IMD 2018

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Statement of Samuel  Elzinga      Statement of Andrew Jensen

STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAY

Andrew Jensen-Meeting with GUS in New York City

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DOCUMENTS PRESENTED BY UIMF DURING IMD2018

Letter of invitation from Dr. Lago to Mr. Mastrojeni

Report on SMD in North America for Rio+20

2017 issue of the Youth and the Mountains journal \

Written statement for 53rd session of the Commission on Social Development 

Written statement for 62nd session of the Commission on Status of Women 

Written statement for High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development 2018

Written statement for 63rd session of the Commission on Status of Women 

Statement of Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) about UIMF from the Congressional Record

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ECOSOC Publishes UIMF Statement on Mountain Women for CSW63

On December 7, 2018, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) published a statement  submitted by the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Utah-China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC for the 63rd session of the commission on the status of Women (CSW63). It was prepared by Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) under the title “Mountain women and mountain targets have to be in the focus of 2030 Development Agenda.” The statement outlines UIMF’s concern that mountain women are left out of the UN 2030 Development agenda and calls for changes in the process of reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by relevant ECOSOC forums, as well as highlights the effectiveness of UVU’s student engaged learning model for students’ professional growth, international recognition and for the advocacy of mountain women and sustainable mountain development agenda of the United Nations.

The statement is the result of efforts to start preparations for the 2019 advocacy campaign at ECOSOC by UIMF from our group, which includes UIMF members, such as Andrew Jensen, Angela Landa, Colin Fuller, and myself with mentorship from Dr. Butler and Dr. Abdrisaev Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, and Michael Hinatsu.

In addition, we have sent the statement copy and letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of ECOSOC Inga Rhonda King, and 46 member-states who provided Voluntary National Reviews at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development. UIMF’s main priority in contributing to the agenda of CSW63 in this way is to get language concerning mountain women – who have been neglected in high-level forums on sustainable development in 2018 – into the final agreement of CSW63.

UIMF is continuing preparations for CSW63 by preparing to host a parallel event at CSW63 that will advocate for mountain women and showcase student engaged learning. The parallel event is currently scheduled at the second floor of the Church Center of the UN for Tuesday, March 19, at 8:30am. UIMF also continues to contribute to the preparation of the Zero Draft Outcome Document for CSW63 by participating in online sessions organized by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women (NGO CSW/NY).

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member

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Written statement for CSW63 

A Review of UIMF Efforts to Contribute to the Zero Draft for CSW63

Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), has been participating in online conference calls led by the NGO Commission on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY) to prepare the Zero Draft Outcome Document for the  63rd Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in 2019. The Zero Draft consists of policy recommendations relating to the priority theme of CSW63 (social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) that member states agree to support and is the foundation for their negotiations on agreed conclusions at Commissions on the Status of Women.

Since November 2nd, 2018, UIMF has made substantial contributions to the document by adding specific language about mountain women and citing important UN documents, agreements, and studies showing the need to include mountain women specifically in global forums on sustainability. At the first online session, UIMF added multiple references about mountain women and sustainable mountain development (SMD), but only one of UIMF’s contributions—a reference to a 2015 FAO-Mountain Partnership Secretariat study showing how mountain communities are more vulnerable to food security—was kept by the Zero Draft committee.

Realizing the importance of citing UN documents, agreements, and other studies and documents from civil society, UIMF came more prepared to the second online session on November 16th and added references to UN Secretary-General reports A/64/222 and A/68/307  about how education can help sustainable mountain development. UIMF also cited UN documents E/CN.5/2018/NGO/71; E/CN.6/2018/NGO/37/Rev.1; E/2018/NGO/17 and a presentation given by the UIMF delegation at CSW62 describing Utah Valley University’s student engaged learning model, as well as the importance education plays in implementing SMD. By providing detailed language and citing important sources such as UN documents, studies, and official statistics, UIMF was much more successful in this session with contributing in a meaningful way to the potential Zero Draft document.

At a third online session on November 29th, UIMF added references to UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/71/234 describing the vulnerability of mountain ecosystems to climate change, natural disasters, and land use; the 1992  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992 about the fragility of mountainous ecosystems regarding climate change, and a UN Secretary-General report describing the unique roles of mountain women and their neglect from education, policies, and other measures that would improve their lives. UIMF was also able to direct the attention of session moderators to UIMF’s additions.

On December 7th, UIMF added references to the Paris Agreement at COP21 which, while not having specific language about mountain women, contains language asserting the importance of approaches to address climate change among vulnerable groups and communities, especially of women. UIMF also referenced a Declaration on Mountains and Climate Change for COP21, in which a number of civil society participants specifically called for Paris Accords mechanisms to specifically address mountain areas and concerns relating to climate change and SMD.

UIMF’s participation in these online sessions are important in bringing mountain women into the focus of high-level forums and for implementing the mountain targets into the 2030 Development agenda. UIMF will continue to work with other participants who have similar concerns about empowering women and advocating for often-ignored groups of women, particularly through education. UIMF will continue to attend subsequent sessions to contribute to the Zero Draft, which will be crucial in making sure that mountain women are included in the negotiations for both the agreed conclusions of CSW63 and global sustainability efforts.

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member

Ninth International Mountain Day Celebration at Utah Valley University

On December 5, 2018, the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) hosted the Ninth International Mountain Day (IMD) event at Utah Valley University (UVU). This was an opportunity for UIMF to highlight the achievements of students, faculty, and the community in promotion of mountain targets within the year of 2018. These people were recognized with an official certificate from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). This year’s event ran along with the theme of #MountainsMatter. During the event four guest speakers shared on the importance of mountains and what they had accomplished within the past year. The audience also heard from UIMF President Mr. Samuel Elzinga, who spoke first.

Samuel Elzinga speaks before the audience

Mr. Elzinga started by talking about all of the achievement that UIMF was able to accomplish in 2018. One of these being the opportunity that Mr. Elzinga himself and two other UVU students had to speak for three minutes at the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development in July 19, 2018 on advocacy for mountain targets. He then spoke about all of the foreign dignitaries that UIMF was able to co-host in coordination the UVU Office of Global Engagement. He referenced the Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to UN, His Excellency Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, who visited UVU earlier in the year. Guest from Tajikistan then famously said that “if the mountains go, everything else will go to.” Mr. Elzinga also announced his recent invitation from the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to speak at the UN on December 11 in New York City in commemoration of the International Mountain Day. He will be attending with Mr. Andrew Jensen, who also spoke at the HLPF in July and is a student at UVU. After Mr. Elzinga’s presentation, Ms. Megan Davis presented him with an official certificate from the FAO-UN commending his advocacy for mountain targets in 2018. After this, a video clip was played of the three students speaking at the HLPF.

Dr. Baldomero Lago speaks before the audience

Mr. Andrew Jensen, a student at UVU and President of the Model UN Club, introduced the next guest speaker, Dr. Baldomero Lago. Dr. Lago is the CIO/Vice-Rector for Global Engagement at UVU. He plays the key role in bringing the United Nations DPI conference in August to Utah, which UVU will co-host with the Salt Lake City. Dr. Lago spoke about the conference that will be coming to Utah next August and how it came to be. He also spoke a great deal on the UVU student’s involvement in all of these activities. Without student engaged learning, none of this would be possible. Dr. Lago emphasized that students are the future and will pick up everything that is happening now. So being involved at such a high level now will result in great progress when students in the audience will graduate and start to take over. Finally, Dr. Lago spoke on how popular Utah is becoming at the United Nations. He answered questions for hours during a teleconference discussing details of the UN DPI conference coming to Utah. He read a letter of invitation to Mr. Mastrojeni and the Mountain Partnership to be part of the side event on mountains during the next year conference. After his presentation, Dr. Lago was presented with a gift on behalf of the UIMF and a FAO certificate presented by Ms. Megan Davis, for his contributions to the 2018 International Mountain Day campaign.

Mayor Richard Brunst speaks before the audience

Mr. Michael Hinatsu, who is studying political science at UVU and is a member of UIMF, introduced the Mayor of Orem City, Mr. Richard Brunst. Mayor Brunst’s presentation focused on why mountains matter. He gave examples of how almost everything we have either comes from mountains or is connected to them. He advocated for the protection of mountains, especially for water, lumber, and clear air. Finally, he commended UIMF and UVU for the progress made in 2018 and committed Orem to helping in UIMF goals and in the future. Mayor Brunst also received a gift from UIMF and was presented with a FAO-UN certificate from Ms. Megan Davis.

Mr. Joseph Lloyd, Vice President of UIMF and student at UVU, introduced the next speaker at the event, Dr. Ross Butler. Dr. Butler is the main representative at the United Nations for the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS). RANS is an NGO in general consultative status under ECOSOC since 2002. Dr. Butler discussed the importance of NGO involvement at the United Nations. He also recognized the role that students have in working with his NGO, RANS. He addressed the example of letting the three students speak at the High Level Political Forum in August, instead of himself. He mirrored some of Dr. Lagos’s points about youth involvement. He stressed how important it was to allow the youth to be able to participate and have a voice on issues that matter. He stated that himself and RANS would continue to work with the students at UVU, in particular UIMF, to bring them to the UN and give them a chance to have their voices heard. Dr. Butler was also presented with a gift from UIMF and an official certificate from the FAO-UN, recognizing his contribution to the 2018 International Mountain Day campaign and advocating for mountain targets.

Ms. Hannah Bieker, a member of UIMF who is studying national security at UVU introduced the fourth speaker, Ms. Wendy Jyang, the President of the Utah China Friendship Improvement Sharing Hands Development and Commerce. Her organization was granted the special consultative status of NGO with ECOSOC in 2015. Mrs. Jyang focused on the family as a factor in lifting people out of poverty. She also used the power of education as a salient factor in doing this. Her organization takes people from all over the world, provides them the opportunity to come to the US to pursue higher education and teaches them the importance of family. Mrs. Jyang shared stories from her experiences and had pictures to go along with them. Her NGO, along with RANS, played a key role in UIMF advocacy at the UN in 2018. Mrs. Jyang received a gift on behalf of UIMF and an official certificate from the FAO-UN, presented by Ms. Megan Davis.

The final guest speaker to present was Ms. Rebecca Bindraban, a current student at UVU and vice president in UIMF. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Youth and the Mountains journal, an on-campus journal that highlights students’ work on sustainable mountain development topics. Ms. Bindraban gave a brief presentation on this year’s journal issue and presented journal copies to William Crist and Derk Horlacher, student authors in the issue. Ms. Megan Davis presented Ms. Bindraban and both authors with official FAO-UN certificates for their contributions to mountain target advocacy.

After the guest speakers presented, the event moved to presenting certificates to students and faculty at UVU that advocated for mountain targets and causes in 2018. The ceremony was started with those who participated and helped with the 62nd Session on the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. All of these people received official certificates from the FAO-UN. Next, certificates were presented to faculty and staff who contributed to the mountain agenda. The first in the list was Dr. Alexander Stecker, who was faculty at UVU and one of the main organizers of the first Women of the Mountains Conference in 2007. His contribution to the advocacy of mountain sustainability was recognized through the Honorary Professorship at the International University of Kyrgyzstan. After Dr. Stecker received his certificate, the rest of the faculty who contributed were given certificates as well. Finally, the event was ended with the presentation of FAO-UN certificates to students who contributed to the mountain sustainability targets.

UVU faculty and students during IMD 2018

This year’s International Mountain Day was a great success. This was my first time organizing an event like this and it was a great learning experience. This event did a great job of honoring all of those who contributed this year and can be used a springboard into next year, which will also be a fantastic year for UVU, UIMF, and the sustainable mountain development goals. The focus of UIMF will be on advocacy of mountain targets at UN forums in New York City and during the UN NGO conference in Salt Lake City in August 2019.

In addition, Samuel Elzinga and Andrew Jensen participated at the IMD commemoration at the United Nations on December 11, 2018.  The event titled “Tackling climate change and building resilience in mountainous and rural communities,” was co-hosted  as a side-event by the Permanent Missions to the UN of the Kyrgyz Republic, Canada, Austria, and the Principality of Andorra.

Hagen Isaackson, member, UIMF

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UIMF leaders spoke at IMD at United Nations

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Rebecca Bindraban – Presentation

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Mountain Partnership about IMD at UVU         

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IMD at UVU at FAO-UN web-site

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Photos of the IMD2018 celebration at UVU

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Letter of invitation to Mr. Mastrojeni and the Mountain Partnership  

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Brochure

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Task List – International Mountain Day 2018

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An announcement about IMD Celebration at UVU

STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Michael Hinatsu – Reflections on UIMF Celebration of International Mountain Day

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Mark Driggs-UIMF and IMD A Celebration and Reminder of Why Mountains Matter

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Kyle Williams-Ninth celebration of International Mountain Day at UVU

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Cory Levin-UIMF celebrates the ninth International Mountain Day

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Laila Mitchell – Ninth Annual IMD Celebration at Utah Valley University

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Hailee Hodgson – My contribution to the ninth International Mountain Day Celebration at UVU

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Taylor Bell Ninth International Mountain Day celebration at UVU

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Mary Nelson-IMD at UVU recognizes Youth and the Mountains journal

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Mary Nelson-UVU IMD hosts Wendy Jyang

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Victoria Bindrup-International Mountain Day at Utah Valley University

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Joseph-Lloyd-United Nations Ninth International Mountain Day at UVU

 

UIMF Continues to Discuss Online Zero Draft Outcome Document for CSW63 (Part 3)

On November 29 at 10:00am, Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), participated in a third conference call session led by the NGO Commission on the Status of Women, New York (NGO CSW/NY). This session was the continuation of a session held on November 16th, 2018, in which a number of civil society participants from around the world, led by Winifred Doherty, Main NGO Representative to the United Nations (UN), and Jourdan Williams, Youth Representative to the UN for the International Health Awareness Network, gathered via video call to discuss topics, concerns, and groups of people that will be included in the Zero Draft Outcome Document of CSW63 (see http://utahimf.org/archives/3980). The November 29th session continued in-depth contributions by the participants with a focus on the topics of human rights and access to justice.

The duration of this session consisted of presentations by interns and representatives affiliated with NGO CSW/NY on a number of topics relating to human rights and access to justice. These topics were outlined in a number of papers presented at an Expert Group Meeting held by NGO CSW/NY in September, and dealt with how human rights and justice are related to the priority theme of CSW63 (social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls).  The presentation also discussed the need to make the CSW63 priority them as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, especially for groups not normally considered in related agreements and work. A number of presenters also focused on the role of education to empower women in relation to the CSW63 priority theme.

Because much of the session’s time was taken up by such presentations, other participants along with UIMF were not able to bring up further additions to the Zero Draft, nor voice additional concerns. However, UIMF was able to further contribute to the Zero Draft in a positive way by adding more references to UN official documents and high-level agreements that focus on mountainous areas and mountain families, women, and girls. UIMF specifically added language to sections of the Zero Draft on climate change and sustainable infrastructure, further adding the influence of UIMF’s advocacy for mountain women and sustainable mountain development in this important draft document. Via messaging, UIMF was able to direct the attention of session moderators to UIMF’s additions, which were relevant to the topics addressed by the NGO CSW/NY interns regarding education and marginalized groups of women.

Overall, this session was an additional important step in bringing mountain women into the focus of high-level forums and for implementing the mountain targets into the 2030 Development agenda. UIMF’s contributions to this draft document continue to increase and provide a necessary component of the future Zero Draft. Additionally, UIMF will continue to build bridges of cooperation with other participants who have similar concerns about empowering women and advocating for often-ignored groups of women, particularly through education. UIMF will continue to attend subsequent sessions to contribute to the Zero Draft, which will be crucial in making sure that mountain women are included in the negotiations for both the agreed conclusions of CSW63 and global sustainability efforts.

UIMF continues to prepare for CSW63 by lobbying the UN Secretary-General, President of ECOSOC, and 46 member states who gave Voluntary National Reviews at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development. UIMF also will be focusing efforts on 14 of those member states who are also members of the Mountain Partnership. Furthermore, UIMF is pleased to announce positive feedback and encouragement from the permanent missions of Malta and Australia to the UN, in response to letters sent on October 29 describing UIMF’s concern about the lack of transparency in negotiations of final documents for CSW and ECOSOC forums by member states, as well as the lack of implementation of mountain women and girls into the global sustainability agenda.

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member

UVU Hosts UN DPI Director of Outreach Division, Mr. Maher Nasser

The Utah Valley University (UVU) Office for Global Engagement hosted Mr. Maher Nasser, the Director of the Outreach Division in the United Nations (UN) Department of Public Information (DPI) on November 28, 2018. Mr. Nasser visited UVU after taking part in the press-conference a day before together with Mayor of Salt Lake City Mrs. Jackie Biskupski to announce about Salt Lake City with UVU hosting the 68th UN DPI/ NGO Conference to be held in Salt Lake City 2019. The conference next year will bring together thousands of civil society members from NGOs and other groups around the world to discuss the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Mr. Maher Nasser speaks at UVU 

While promoting the conference, Mr. Nasser spoke on the need for multilateralism and why achieving the SDGs is a collective responsibility. In his presentation, Mr. Nasser advocated for working with the UN at local, regional, national, and international levels to implement the SDGs and foster international cooperation.

Mr. Nasser began by addressing misconceptions about the UN, stating that while the UN is a collection of diplomats and international organizations, the issues that it addresses cut across all borders and affect the global population. In arguing why multiculturalism matters, Mr. Nasser said that all aspects of life are touched in some way by a part of the UN, and that the most important global issues cannot be solved without the UN. In describing the pillars of UN work—peace and security, development, and human rights—he mentioned terrorism, organized crime, disease, , human rights, natural disasters, and climate change in particular as examples of interrelated issues that cannot be solved without the UN and multilateralism.

Mr. Nasser described how UN organizations have been working with governments, organizations, and other groups to coordinate a global response to such issues, highlighting the work of the World Food Programme (WFP), which assists nearly 92 million people each year with food and nutritional issues, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), which has provided vaccinations to 45% of the world’s children. Mr. Nasser noted that many UN successes go unnoticed or are eclipsed by a few instances of gridlock and reports about the failures of UN endeavors, but that overall, the UN has achieved many successes, citing the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, formation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the general improvement of living conditions and avoidance of war because of UN efforts.

Faculty and students during lecture of Mr. Nasser at UVU

Mr. Nasser also described one of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ main priorities, to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce mankind’s impact on the environment, adding that the world must do more in this regard. Mr. Nasser also emphasized the Secretary General’s priority to reform UN processes and to realize the interconnectedness of global issues and the importance of multilateralism.

On the SDGs, Mr. Nasser said that the goals are not simply UN development goals, but are really the goals of individuals, given the nearly 10 million people who contributed to the 17 goals and 169 targets’ language. In saying this, Mr. Nasser stressed that people, organizations, and governments should view the goals in this way, noting both the importance of local action and global coordination by the UN. Mr. Nasser specifically urged young people to take ownership of their futures and unitedly face global issues related to the world population, climate change, and food access. Mr. Nasser also called upon civil society in general to push politicians to be true to multilateral commitments, emphasizing that such action is about working for the good of the future, not about political goals or simple awareness.

In a brief question and answer period, Mr. Nasser again addressed climate change, noting that he finds it difficult to measure which country has done the most to respond to climate change, but that a measurement of success should go beyond specific countries and focus on coordination and effective solutions. Mr. Nasser cited a New York Times article about deforestation cause by the US palm oil biofuel mandate to show how responding to climate change should be comprehensive and reliant on multilateral decision making. Mr. Nasser also discussed how the UN works to promote human rights and give aid in the midst of opposition, describing the way that the UN has worked to shrink the deficit in funding to Palestinians.

Overall, Mr. Nasser’s visit constituted a timely discussion of the role and efficacy of the UN. Clearly, global issues require global responses and international-level work, and, as Mr. Nasser mentioned, the UN is the recognized, legitimate body in the eyes of nations that can coordinate and drive such efforts. While a discussion about the UN’s successes and failures, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and necessary reforms of the organization should not be ignored—especially given current geopolitical issues, transnational conflicts, and the current state of poverty and hunger—civil society, politicians, and other groups should also pragmatically consider how to work multilaterally to achieving solutions to global issues, especially the critical ones described in the SDGs, so that the benefits of globalization are extended more effectively and comprehensively.

Full video of Mr. Nasser’s presentation is available here.

Group photo of UVU faculty, students and Orem Rotary members with  Mr. Maher Nasser

Mr. Nasser’s visit also provided an important opportunity for students and members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU, to interact with dignitaries at both UN and local levels. It helped in their professional advancement and to make connections with influential officials to not only promote the UVU engaged learning model but also the specific issues UIMF advocates for. Sam Elzinga, UIMF President, Kyle Warren, Vice President, UVU Rotaract and myself were also invited to a luncheon in honor of Mr. Nasser with UVU faculty, and members of the Orem Rotary Club  in attendance. Personally, I was able to speak directly with Mr. Nasser to explain UIMF efforts to prepare for the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, highlighting UIMF’s written statement as well as advocacy of mountain women with permanent missions. Additionally, UIMF members and I introduced ourselves to members of the Orem Rotary, which will play an important role in the UN Conference next year as part of Rotary International. Rotary International is a respected globally institution, which is registered as a non-governmental organization under the UN Economic and Social Council since 1993. We had conversations with a number of Orem Rotary Club members about the mission of UIMF and the importance of local cooperation with implementing the UN sustainable mountain development agenda in Utah and the UN. From our interactions, it was clear that local action is highly effective at bringing high-level leaders such as Mr. Nasser to work with local causes, but also to advocate for global issues and more effectively have important voices heard.

Michael Hinatsu, UIMF member

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Deseret News about UN Conference

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STUDENT REFLECTIVE ESSAYS

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Laila Mitchell                             Hagen Isaacson

Brandon Pedler                        Nathan Wagstaff

Steven Thompson                   Cassandra Klindt

Kyle Williams                                    Megan Davis

Aldon Trimble                                       Cory Levin

Jesse Sandstrom                              Reagan High

Paige Graves                                             Taylor Bell

Joseph Lloyd                                         Mary Nelson

Awal T Momen                                    Titus Elanyu

A Coalition of UVU Clubs