PR of Austria to the UN, Ambassador Jan Kickert discusses mountain targets with UIMF

On Tuesday, January 19th, 2019 the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU), met with the Permanent Representative (PR) of Austria to the United Nations, Ambassador Jan Kickert. The event was held prior to his lecture on campus, which was titled What Foreign Policy for a Small Country? The Case of Austria. Being able to present to Mr. Kickert was not only a great way to highlight UIMF’s advocacy efforts at the United Nations, but it was also a great way for me to follow up with Mr. Kickert our previous interaction, when we both participated at the International Mountain Day Celebration in New York on December 11, 2018.

As part of established tradition, several members of UIMF participated at lunch with Ambassador Jan Kickert before his presentation. These lunches with the dignitaries that visit are a great way to network not only with the visiting UN dignitaries, but also with other distinguished guests at the lunch. After the lunch, several UIMF were given the opportunity to meet VIP-guest and present on their past successes with advocacy of the UN sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda as well as plans for participating in the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) in March.

During UIMF members meeting with Ambassador Jan Kickert 

I began UIMF’s presentation by welcoming everyone to the event and thanked the UVU Office for Global Engagement the chance for us to meet with Mr. Kickert during his visit to UVU. After that, I introduced Ms. Megan Davis, a freshman at UVU who has been active in UIMF since fall 2018. Megan provided UIMF members and Mr. Kickert with a brief history of UIMF and who it strives to involve. During her presentation, she presented Mr. Kickert with relevant documents relating to UIMF’s most recent activity, among which included the statement by Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) commending UIMF members for SMD advocacy, the written statements copies for CSW62, CSW63 and others. After Megan presented, I welcomed Brandon Pedler, President of the German Club and a non-traditional student, to inform VIP-guest about UIMF focus on mountain targets as part of the UN Agenda 2030 Development agenda.

Mr. Pedler went into further detail about UIMF’s successes at the United Nations, particularly its contribution to the adoption of three mountain targets among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during 2013-2015. Mr. Martin Sajdik, the predecessor to Mr. Kickert, was the president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) when UIMF members advocated for the adoption of mountain targets. This was very interesting to Ambassador Kickert.

Abeir Isawy presents folder with UN documents to Ambassador Jan Kickert

Following Mr. Pedler presentation, I invited Ms. Abeir Isawy to present on SDG 4.7 about engagement all adult learners in SDGs implementation, and how UIMF implements this goal by presenting at CSW63.

After Abeir, I spoke about our participation at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018, a trip I went on and presented at. I made sure to keep my presentation short as we only had a short amount of time to present.

Then, Ms. Hailee Hodgson spoke about UIMF efforts to participate at CSW63 and push for adoption of the language in the final document of it by hosting in particular a parallel event. Her presentation was critical to ensure our agenda for CSW63 was clear and also to make sure Mr Kickert was aware of the event as we head to CSW63. Hailee then asked Mr. Kickert how we can better jointly advocate for mountain women at CSW63, and we are hoping to garner some increased coordination with his mission. Ambassador Kickert explained that the mountain targets and women are important for him also personally, because he was involved in hosting a conference “Women of the Mountains” in Austria two years ago. He agreed to assist in any ways possible and during CSW63 in particular.

As one of the last presenters, Mr. William Gum spoke as a representative of the model UN team. He said that UVU MUN team will participate in the Model of the United Nations of the Far West in San Francisco in April this year by representing Austria. He had some specific questions for Mr. Kickert regarding Austria’s foreign policy goals at the UN, as well as other questions on human rights and women empowerment. Ambassador Kickert answered in details to Mr. William Gums questions.

Group photo of UIMF members with Ambassador Jan Kickert

I then closed the session by thanking Mr. Kickert for so attentively listening to our presentations and being gracious enough to answer our questions. Overall, the event was a success that not only prepared our students attending CSW63 for working with diplomats, but also allowed UIMF to highlight their past successes. I hope we can continue to foster a partnership with the Austrian Permanent Mission to the UN in the future.

Samuel Elzinga, President – Utah International Mountain Forum, Foreign Affairs Club


Samuel Elzinga-Austria Task List 



Hailee-Hodgson-Discussing a sustainable mountain development with the PR of Austria to the UN, H.E. Jan Kickert


Brandon Pedler-UIMF meets with Ambassador Jan Kickert


Hannah Bieker-PR of Austria to the UN Ambassador Jan Kickert speaks at UVU


Dirk Gum-Discussing Model UN Agenda With Ambassador Jan Kickert


Lacee Meyer- An Event in Relation to the Individual


Megan Davis-PR of Austria to UN, Mr. Jan Kickert visits Utah Valley University


Ezra Pugliano-Meeting with PR of Austria to the UN, Ambassador Jan Kickert