Utah students promote mountain agenda


Jesler Molina, Andrew Allen, and Jared Reni, members of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) visited Washington, DC, to attend the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB) during the first week of February. The students had the unique opportunity to interact with NPB participants from different parts of the world in the presence of President Barak Obama, members of the US Congress and more than 3 500 delegates on 5 February 2015. In addition, the UVU delegation met with several federal and non-profit entities to share the UIMF gender agenda and invite them to contribute to the fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference, which the UIMF will host under the umbrella of the Mountain Partnership on 7-9 October 2015 in Orem, Utah, US. These entities included the US State Department, the United Nations Association of the USA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the American Councils of International Education and the Open World Program of the Library of Congress. During discussions at the State Department, the UVU delegation was joined by representatives from The Mountain Institute and the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, who have been crucial partners in hosting past International Women of the Mountains Conferences.

The trip to Washington, DC was supported by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of History and Political Science at UVU under the students engaged learning approach of the Carnegie Foundation which focuses on classroom and non-classroom-based projects, service learning, undergraduate research, learning communities and inquiry-based learning.  

Thanks to the project of the Office of International Affairs and Diplomacy to bring to UVU campus foreign diplomats and Ambassadors of different nations accredited at the United Nations in particular, UIMF members hosted His Excellency Martin Sejdik, Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Austria to the United Nations, currently the President of ECOSOC during his visit to the state of Utah on 12 February 2015. Students and faculty involved in promotion of sustainable mountain development (SMD) activities informed the distinguished guest about major initiatives in that area and about preparations to the Fourth International Women of the Mountains conference, in particular. The ambassador shared his thoughts about the importance of SMD activities in his own country in addition to ECOSOC. Ambassador Sajdik expressed his appreciation for the UVU students’ contribution to various areas of the Post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. He also promised to identify institutions in Austria that may be interested in attending the conference in Utah this coming fall.  

Later that day, Ambassador Sajdik spoke before the audience at UVU on “A New Global Strategy for Sustainability: The Post-2015 development agenda of the United Nations. Will It Make a Difference?” Ambassador Sajdik also supported efforts of UVU and Dr Rusty Butler, Associate VP for International Affairs and Diplomacy and focal point of the Mountain Partnership at UVU, in particular to gain consultative status under ECOSOC in order to provide UVU students and faculty more access to the UN and further promote SMD in the SDGs.

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