A preparation meeting was held in the Fulton Library on Wednesday Jan. 16 to prepare for the United Nations Civic Society Conference taking place on Salt Lake City August 26-28. The meeting was hosted by the UVU Civic Society, available to all members of the UVU community and live-streamed on YouTube for those unable to attend.
The purpose of the town hall meeting was to inform attendees of the details leading up to the event, including the conference’s current status, ways people can become involved, as well as a review of topics discussed at a previous town hall meeting held in New York.
Leading the town hall meeting was UVU’s Chief International Officer Baldomero S. Lago. Lago who was instrumental in bringing the conference to Utah’s capital, began by speaking on the main focus of the conference; “Sustainability Goal 11: Building Inclusive and Sustainable Communities.” This goal lays out a series of targets for cities to hit including plans to reduce environmental impact and improve air quality.
Lago discussed the important roles that local citizens, non-government organizations (NGO’s), and higher-educational institutions getting involved can play in the conference’s success. “Our goal is to be heard when it comes to global engagement and global understanding,” Lago said. “This is why we want to be involved.”
He addressed details on how the conference would be constructed, and the various entities involved in it’s composition. Comprised of a Conference Planning Committee, a Utah-based Host Planning Committee and many other groups, Lago emphasized the importance of the UN’s involvement in overall preparation for the event.
“Individuals from the United Nations will be involved very actively ensuring that this conference actually fits it’s intended purpose,” Lago said. “They are our mentors, they are guiding us through this whole thing.”
According to an official press release from Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s office, Utah’s capital was selected to host the 2019 United Nations NGO Conference in August 2018. The event which is the first to be held in a city in the U.S. other than New York City, is expected to attract between 3000-5000 representatives from over 300 non-governmental organizations representing more than 80 different countries.
The effort to establish SLC as a contender for the 2019 host-state began when Lago approached Mayor Biskupski about the possibility, according to the press release. With the university gaining associate membership of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN-DPI) in November of 2017, the Office for Global Engagement gained immediate exposure on the global stage.
“This became a dream a couple years ago. Through my office—the Office for Global Engagement here at UVU, we became affiliated with the United Nations,” Lago said. “We are able to work through their office and allow our students and faculty to present research and work directly at the UN.”
Annie Davis, the marketing and research manager for SLC’s Department of Economic Development was also present at the town hall meeting speaking on behalf of Mayor Biskupski’s office. Davis said that while Utah has been no stranger to hosting grand events such as the 2002 Olympics, (and potentially the 2030 Olympics), the state actively strives to make its mark time and time again.
“We talk alot about the fact that this is historic, and the fact that once again we will be placed on the international and global stage,” Davis said. “It really speaks to the testament of the incredible work ethic, attitude, partnership and mentality of working together to get things done.”
Davis added that many offices and officials throughout the city are involved in preparing for the event. “There are a lot of people involved at the city level— Mayor Jackie Biskupski is extremely excited about this conference,” Davis said. “I know that she would want me to pass along her enthusiasm for this.”
Following remarks from Davis, UVUSA President Marc Reynolds who also spoke at the meeting expanded on the involvement that students across the state intend on having at the conference.
“The student-body presidents of all private and public higher education institutions in Utah meet on a monthly basis already,” said Reynolds. “The Mayor, Annie and the rest of the team as well as Baldomero were nice enough to come visit us at the beginning of the month—simply put; we are very excited.”
Providing an email address and a link to an official Google Doc, Lago invited attendees of the town hall meeting interested in getting involved to sign up. The doc linked to a form for those interested in applying to become either a member of the youth-sub-committee or the general planning committee.
“I want to make sure our voice is also heard and placed in this conference,” Lago said.
For information on the event, official UVU Office for Global Engagement pages can be visited. Additional inquiries or questions about the event can be sent to [email protected].