Yanko graduated from Utah Valley University (UVU), with a degree in B.S. in Political Science with an emphasis in World Politics and International Relations. He joined UIMF in January 2015 as a Vice President of Global Affairs and Outreach. He has worked on various projects with UIMF including the organizing of the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference in October 2015 in Orem, UT. Yanko has also contributed to global initiatives organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) for the inclusion of three mountain targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015, and to a petition signing campaign about the inclusion of the mountain issues in the agenda of the 2015 Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP21).
At the beginning of January 2016, Yanko joined as advocacy and communications intern the MP Secretariat under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN), in Rome, Italy.
His previous activities at UVU and contribution to the Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) advocacy during 2015 provided him with experiences and professional background on a level, which allowed him at the beginning of May 2016 to be accepted for another internship within the Office of Legal Affairs at the United Nations in New York.
As a UIMF representative, Yanko has been advocating the SMD agenda at the UN level, while also working with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC), responsible for the implementation of the SDGs. Further, he has been exploring opportunities for UVU students to be involved with the UN. He has represented UVU and UIMF at global forums and meetings including the 2016 UN High-Level Political Forum, organized by ECOSOC, and a FAO presentation at the UN headquarters of the Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity study, as a representative of the only educational institution along with UN diplomats and Permanent Representatives to attend the event.
He was actively involved in the discussions about the contribution from UVU and UIMF to gender and SMD agendas during 2013-2016 to the draft submission of the UN Secretary-General’s report on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD). The report was released in July 2016, and featured the UIMF for the first time as contributor to the gender and SMD agendas of the UN and implementations of the SDGs globally.
Yanko continues to contribute to SMD agenda both by serving as an advocacy and outreach representative of UIMF at global level and by working closely as a consultant with the Mountain Partnership, assisting with advocacy campaigns and producing the MP monthly newsletter “Peak to Peak.”
Originally from Bulgaria, Yanko has been working towards applying the sustainable development model developed in Utah, as one of the most economically advanced mountain regions in the world, to vulnerable mountain communities globally.