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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The strategy areas that the document identifies are:

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

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

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

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

Preparations for International Mountain Day Celebration

On the morning of October 7, 2013, student leaders from several associated clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) gathered for an hour of discussion with Dr. Rusty Butler, Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU, regarding the 2013 observance and celebration of International Mountain Day on December 6, 2013. Dr. Butler is also a focal point coordinator at UVU for the activities of the Mountain Partnership, which in turn coordinates the global promotion of the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda of the United Nations.

In attendance were student leaders from the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of UVU student clubs and club-members including Mark Petersen, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development club; Marie Poudiougou, Foreign Affairs Club President;  Jesler Molina, President of International Student Council and Model U.N. club; and D. Candice Backus, President of the College Republicans. In addition to those in attendance were Carlos Alarco and Jordan Giles, UIMF outreach coordinators, and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, a former Kyrgyz Republic Ambassador to the U.S. and Canada, and current Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Department of History and Political Science. IMDPreparations1

The agenda for this initial gathering focused on several of the most important components of   the planning phase, such as:

  • Ensuring the fourth celebration of International Mountain Day at UVU will be successful with its goal of expanding to the regional level by inviting key representatives from Mountain Partnership elements from throughout North America;

  • Dedicating the main focus of the gathering to highlighting the results of the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey and the efforts of the North American members of Mountain Partnership to advance those goals through a regional approach;

  • Remembering the late Dr. Jane Pratt, world-renowned expert and scholar on sustainable development and mountain issues in North America and globally;

  • Distribution of responsibilities between student clubs, taking into account that UIMF will act as overall host for the event: UVU students will be responsible for everything from protocol & administration, to coordination, to logistics. Mark Petersen and the Sustainable Mountain Development club will lead UIMF efforts in planning and organizing the celebration. In addition, UVU students will be responsible for hosting Dr. Jed Shilling, Senior Advisor of the Millennium Institute and husband of the late Dr. Jane Pratt.

  • Sending invitation letters to all Mountain Partnership members as soon as possible: It was agreed that Dr. Butler will send letters of invitation to all Distinguished Visitors and Mountain Partnership members, and UIMF members will follow up with obtaining responses from each addressee; IMG_0821 copy

  • Resolving financial and logistic issues related to the celebration: Per preliminary conversations, several institutions at UVU agreed to fund a gathering. In addition to the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy funding a trip for Dr. Andrew Taber, current President of the Mountain Institute, as well as a reception, Dr. David Connelly, Chair, Department of History and Political Science and Dr. David Yells, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, have graciously agreed to co-sponsor the International Mountain Day celebration.

Overall, this meeting proved to be successful due to a significant expansion of involvement by students and faculty in every aspect of this celebration in comparison with previous years. The working group also resolved to follow up during the coming weeks to review accomplished tasks and assignments for each member in order to maintain momentum.

Travis Stroh

Vice President, UIMF

UIMF club coalition promotes itself at the bi-annual UVU Club Rush

Members of the Foreign Affairs club, the Sustainable Mountain Development club, and the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) joined forces at the bi-annual Club Rush at Utah Valley University (UVU) from September 11-12 to advocate for their respective issues to the student body and attract participation. Club members discussed mountainous environmental issues and the UIMF’s development programs with interested students. Many students showed interest, requested to be contacted with further information, and agreed to attend future meetings. The UIMF coalition aims to increase their membership and involvement through these recruitment efforts. The UIMF also met with representatives from other clubs, such as the Science Association of Women and the UVU Multicultural Club, and discussed potential projects for future collaboration. Despite the light rain during the outdoor event, it was perceived that the UVU students enjoyed the event greatly. UIMF members are honored to have participated in the event.

UIMF Representative in Peru 2013

UIMF Representative in Peru 2013

Samuel Hill, President of Utah International Mountain Forum

As part of our continuing effort to fulfill the goals of the 2012 Women of the Mountains International Conference, Carlos Alarco, UIMF International Outreach Coordinator, visited Peru during August of 2013 to build on the foundation laid at that conference.

Peru is a mountainous country located on the west coast of South America. Though its capital is the coastal city of Lima, much of the country is located within the Andes. Of particular note is Cuzco, ancient capital of the Inca. Three hours south of Cuzco is Acomayo, a town of 5500 at 3200 meters above sea level. Most of the inhabitants of Acomayo, and indeed of the region, work in agriculture, and have done so for generations.


Acomayo Terrestrial Terminal

During his time in Acomayo, Carlos met with two professors from local schools, Gregorio Delgado de la Torre, a teacher at Tomas Ttito Condemayta secondary school, and Marlene Quispe Vasquez, a teacher at Daniel Alcides Carrion secondary school. They spoke about the possibility of providing additional educational content for students via the Internet. Some proposed solutions were the use of online learning spaces designed with Google or WordPress, or social media as a tool to build connections between leisure and learning.


Acomayo Centro de Salud (Medical Center)

Carlos also met with Dr. Diego Chipa Gullen of the Centro de Salud, Acomayo (Health Center). This government-funded clinic provides doctors, nurses, and specialists who treat the population in the area. While the discussions generally centered on the needs of the locals, of particular concern was access to modern birthing techniques. Many women prefer traditional birthing methods, and while in normal circumstances this is of little concern, those whose dwellings are very distant cannot benefit from assistance in times of crisis.

In the Capital City of Lima, Carlos met with Dr. Jorge Recharte, the director of the Instituto de Montana    (www.mountain.pe) to discuss possible joint projects that would forward the ends of the mountain institute. The seeds of three collaborative projects came out of this meeting: First, a set of online development activities which could be shared with the universities in the Andes regions. Second, the creation of a regular online Quechua-language radio program to promote community and cultural awareness among the people of the Andes regions and the international mountain community. Third, a project to encourage women of the Andes regions to participate more fully in the political, business, and public squares. This collaborative effort in Latin America will be an additional initiative to the activities and projects, which UVU, UIMF included, developed with its traditional partner, the Mountain Institute in Virginia, USA.

Near the end of his visit, Carlos visited the Pontifica Universidad Catolica Peruana, one of Peru’s premier and top ranked Universities, located in the San Miguel District of Lima. There he presented copies of the Sustainable Mountain Development in North America report to the University’s Central Library.  They will add the report to their collection, and send copies to other academic institutions in Lima. 


Sustainable Mountain Development

in North America report





UVU Delegation Prepares for 4th Annual Mountain Partnership Meeting in Erzurum, Turkey

UVU Delegation Prepares for 4th Global Meeting of the

Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey


A delegation from Utah Valley University (UVU) which includes Dr. Baldomero Lago, Senior Director International Center and Multicultural Studies at UVU, Jordan Giles and Mark Petersen, UVU students and vice-Presidents of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU, have been making preparations for the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey. The summit will feature a gathering of many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations with focus on promotion of the United Nations agenda of sustainable mountain development (SMD) in order to help address, as well as bring awareness to, the many urgent issues facing mountain communities, including climate change with its impact on the environment, water and energy resources and supplies, poverty alleviation, gender, and creating stable institutions, among others. The important mission of that high-level international forum will be to adopt a four-year long strategy to promote SMD-agenda by members of the Mountain Partnership.


During the Conference Call with partners from Aspen, CO

As part of these preparations, members of the delegation have coordinated their efforts with many colleagues within UVU and within the newly formed North American Mountain Partnership Hub in order to pursue common goals and priorities during the Meeting.  For that purpose, they held a conference call with Karinjo DeVore, Co-director of VERTEX, and host of the North American hub for the Mountain Partnership on Wednesday, September 11, 2013. In addition, they were able to prepare and print as a special contribution to the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership a volume of papers written by students of UVU and high-schools from Utah, addressing a variety of topics relating to mountains and mountain peoples. Editor-in-Chief of the volume is Dr. David Connelly, Chair of the History and Political Science at UVU, a scholar on rural development and sustainability. During the Global Meeting in Erzurum, Turkey, the UVU delegation plans to make a presentation about UVU’s contribution to the regional cooperation between MP members in North America. As a part of the presentation they prepared an exhibition of 12 posters. The UVU delegation raised funds for the trip thanks to a GEL-grant provided by UVU and additional private sources in Utah valley through their own fundraising campaigns.


Mark Petersen, UVU student ( L ) and Dr. Baldomero Lago ( R )

discuss details of the trip to Turkey. 

With the continuing conflict in Syria, the UVU delegation experienced some challenges before getting approval for the trip from UVU officials due to a warning issued by the State Department for U.S. citizens to avoid trips to the south-eastern part of Turkey. Now, after resolving all issues with travel authorization and making so many efforts in order to go to Erzurum, Turkey, the UVU delegation is very eager to contribute to the Global Meeting agenda and adopt a contemporary strategy for MP member’s action during 2014-2017.

Brendon Carpenter, UVU student, member of UIMF

Remembering our dear friend, Dr. Jane Pratt

Jane Pratt

Utah Valley University (UVU) lost a great friend and supporter, Dr. Jane Pratt, Monday, August 12. Jane brought an enthusiasm as well as a wealth of experience and professionalism in her interactions with students at UVU. Jane was passionate regarding mountain issues, specifically sustainable mountain development, and was a great advocate of educating students and others about the many issues facing mountain communities today.

Jane has supported and was personally involved in many actions and projects that UVU initiated in promoting the United Nations-related sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda since 2006, when UVU joined the Mountain Partnership. She was among the organizers and contributors of the Women of the Mountains conferences, as a grass-roots initiative in the North America to promote gender and SMD-agendas, which regularly have been hosted by Utah Valley University jointly with the International University of Kyrgyzstan since 2007.

At the same time Dr. Pratt was especially passionate about UVU and Utah students’ involvement in SMD-advocacy.

Several UVU students were able to work with her when UVU was invited to contribute to the Rio+20 North American Report. Jane was thoughtful and passionate on this project and served as a great mentor and motivator for all the students involved.

UVU Student and Vice President of the Utah International Mountain Forum, Jordan Giles, said the following regarding his relationship with Jane:

“Jane was the type of mentor that every college student hopes to find. She was kind and possessed a wealth of knowledge that she was happy to share. Even though we lived on opposite sides of the country, Jane was always willing to help me in any way that she could whether with research projects or sharing professional contacts. I am going to miss her warm and friendly personality and mentorship. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Jane, she was very motivating to me and I hope to one day to follow in her footsteps. Her family is in my thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.”

Because of weakening health conditions during last couple of years, Jane participated in many interactive online guest lectures and would regularly interact with UVU students via email. When UVU offered its first Sustainable Mountain Development class, Jane was an enthusiastic supporter and offered many insights from her wealth of experience regarding these issues.

Jane also was thrilled to write warm greetings letter to the people and community in Utah when Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF) celebrated at UVU for the third time dedicated by the United Nations “International Mountain Day” on December 06, 2012.

Those of us here at UVU who have had the opportunity to work closely with her on a variety of projects will miss Jane’s enthusiasm and passion. She served as a great example of advocacy for mountain issues and will continue to be in our hearts and minds here at UVU as we continue along the path of advocacy regarding mountain issues.

We are grateful for our association with Jane,

-Members of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University



Dr. Jane Pratt served in a different capacities at the international organizations, including lately as a Trustee at the Mountain Institute, VA and was one of the most respected scholars and advocates for the mountain cause in the United States and internationally.

Kyrgyz Republic Ambassador Visits UVU

The Visit of Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States of America, His Excellency, Muktar Djumaliev, to Utah Valley University.

Utah Valley University (UVU) has developed a special relationship with Kyrgyzstan since 1999 when the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the USA and his wife first visited UVU.  Since then this relationship has continued to progress through other high level exchanges between Kyrgyzstan and UVU as well as the government of the State of Utah.  Examples of such high level exchanges are the visit of the Governor of Utah, Olene Walker, to Bishkek and the visit of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to Utah, both visits occurring in 2004.  In 2005 Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev former ambassador of the Kyrgyz republic to the United States became a member of the teaching staff at UVU which has helped to further facilitate the partnership between Utah and Kyrgyzstan.  Kyrgyzstan and Utah have similar size, population and geographic features i.e. mountainous terrain.  These similarities are the basis of Utah’s common interests with Kyrgyzstan and are also the basis for the partnership that has been created to promote the agenda of sustainable mountain development under the auspices of the United Nations.


Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States of America and Canada,  His Excellency, Muktar Djumaliev, during the presentation at Utah Valley University

In 2013 Dr. Rusty Butler,  UVU’s Associate Vice President of International Affairs, invited the Kyrgyz Republic’s current ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Muktar Djumaliev, to visit Utah and to give a lecture at UVU.  The lecture was given on Monday June 3rd on the topic of the political reforms in Kyrgyzstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Ambassador Djumaliev spoke about the challenges that the Kyrgyz republic has had in changing from an autocratic form of government which they had under the Soviet system to a constitutional democracy as an independent state. He reported that the road to becoming a constitutional democracy has not been an easy one for the Kyrgyz republic.  Their first constitution was adopted in 1993 and provided a basis for building a democratic, legal and social state.  However several changes were made to the constitution which dramatically reshaped it.  Many of the constitutional changes benefited only the president.  This led to a political crisis and in 2005 President Askar Akayev was ousted.  From 2005 to 2010 a new constitutional regime was implemented but this regime was to prove similar to the first.  The new president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, also used the constitution to consolidate his own power at the expense of the people of Kyrgyzstan.  This regime too came to an end with President Bakiyev being ousted from power and a new regime established.  This new regime and constitution has been set up to protect the people and has a number of checks and balances to ensure that governmental power is distributed.  Ambassador Djumaliev stated in his presentation that “the 2010 Constitution gives opportunity to strengthen statehood, sovereignty of the country, to achieve serious success in economic and social development, to tackle the corruption and unlawfulness.” He also added that “All necessary conditions for better protecting the interests of the nation and state, human rights and freedoms were created.”  During the question and answer section after the lecture it became clear that one of the main focuses of this new regime is to clear up government corruption and produce a stable economic system under the rule of law that will attract foreign investment.  The VIP guest from the Kyrgyz Republic pointed out that his nation became a member of the WTO in 1998 and that even though they have big trade deficits they have learned in the process to trade with other countries by international standards.

After his lecture Ambassador Djumaliev went on a tour of UVU during which he made a courtesy call on UVU Academic Vice President Ian Wilson.  During the lunch with members of the UVU Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy and selected other UVU faculty members and students, Ambassador Djumaliev recognized that universities are where new ideas and perspectives often came from and engaged the group in a discussion on what Kyrgyzstan might do to promote their interested in the United States and around the world.


Dignitary from the Kyrgyz Republic members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU

After leaving UVU the Kyrgyz VIP-guest made several other important visits in Utah to help strengthen Utah/Kyrgyzstan relations including meetings at Brigham Young University about educational exchanges and with Orem City Manager, Bruce Chestnut, to discuss the possibility of a sister city relationship between Orem and one of the cities in Kyrgyzstan.  He had dinner with State Senator John Valentine and his wife in addition to making a presentation at the Utah Women in Business conference in Salt Lake City. He met with the Lt. Governor of the State of Utah Greg Bell, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and toured the LDS humanitarian center.  During the lunch co-hosted by the World Trade Center Utah and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Ambassador Djumaliev spoke about business opportunities in the Kyrgyz Republic and why it is important for his country to have strong connections to the mountain states of the United States, like Utah.  At the end of his visit, Ambassador Djumaliev met with Dr. Fred Esplin, the University of Utah’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement.


Ambassador Djumaliev during lunch with Utah State Senator John Valentine

This UVU sponsored trip to Utah of the Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic Muktar Djumaliev has been in the long standing tradition of the partnership between UVU and the Kyrgyz Republic.  By coming to Utah, the VIP from the mountainous nation in Central Asia was able to promote this relationship not just with UVU but with many other institutions of the State of Utah as a whole.

Mark Petersen, President of the Sustainable Mountain Development club, UVU student 

UIMF Again Featured in FAO’s “Peak to Peak” News letter

Rocky Mountain-Central Asia exchange

As part of the partnership in sustainable mountain development between the Rocky Mountains and Central Asia, Utah Valley University (UVU) hosted Kyrgyz parliamentarian Kurmanbek Dyikanbayev and Bishkek city court adviser Sultangazy Kasymov for a week in March. The guests agreed to cooperate with the University of Utah on genetic research, water management and utilization of uranium tailing wastes in addition to continuing legislative, educational and trade exchanges through UVU. Read more

Click the following link for the full “Peak to Peak” Issue:

Peak to Peak April 2013

A Coalition of UVU Clubs