Darian Hackney | Staff Writer
Photo credit: Jon Gunnar Thorderson

On Nov. 11 students of the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of student clubs at UVU including the Young Americans for Liberty club, gathered signatures for an international petition. This petition requested that the United Nations discuss impacts of climate change on the mountain regions and ecosystems, including Utah, during the landmark 21st session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21).

This forum of the United Nations will gather in Paris on Nov. 30 – Dec. 11. A new international agreement on climate change will build a “Paris Climate Alliance,” capable of keeping the average global temperature rise below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels and adapt our societies to existing climate disruption.

UVU students have advocated the importance of sustainable development for mountain communities in the state of Utah and globally since 2006 when UVU joined the Mountain Partnership (MP), a United Nations alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.

UVU students were involved in the campaign to sign this petition since last June, when it was initiated by the MP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Since then UVU students were able to gather more than 1,000 signatures to help meet the global requirement of 5,000. They were most recently supported by their peers from Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Colombia, Mali and many other mountain nations in gathering these signatures.

When asked why he was signing the petition, Trevor Williams, a Peace and Justice Studies major, said that, “We as citizens of Utah witness firsthand how significantly reduced snow cover in the mountains, threatens vital water sources, especially during dry seasons, with devastating effects for local communities and populations further downstream, affecting regional food security and economic development.”

Another student, Mary Cisneros said, “I signed this petition to keep sustainable mountain development on the United Nations’ agenda and to have this issue properly addressed. It’s imperative that we continue to protect our mountainous regions on which we depend so much.”

The campaign to sign this petition was also included in the agenda of the Fourth International Women of the Mountains Conference under the umbrella of the MP, which was successfully hosted by UIMF on Oct. 7-9, 2015 at UVU campus. Climate Change Impact on Mountain Ecosystems and Communities was a major focus of attention during the conference.

Gathering the required 5,000 signatures allows for the MP and F.A.O-UN to include in the agenda of the Paris conference a number of events that focus on the effects of climate change on the resources and people of mountainous regions.

Rosalaura, Romeo, Program Officer at the Mountain Partnership Secretariat in Rome, Italy, expressed her thanks to UVU students for such dedication to the promotion of the United Nations goals, “The students at UVU have been our champions!”

Essentially, UVU students were able in a very practical way to contribute to the advancement of one of the important priorities of the United Nations and to promote the interests of the mountain communities of Utah and those around the world.