UN Conference Day 3: Filled with optimism and gratitude for a history-making event

On Wednesday, we wrapped the 68th UN Civil Society Conference with celebration, pride and optimism for the future.

This has been an amazing experience and such a great honor for Salt Lake City and Utah.

The conversations and ideas we have shared with people from across the world have been inspiring, enlightening and will set the global community on a path to a more sustainable world.

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We all share a sense of urgency about the plight of our planet. We only have 11 years to halt and reverse the effects of climate change; we can’t wait another day to start to work.

The last three days have been historic in so many ways. It was the first Civil Society Gathering in the U.S. outside of New York City. We had a record number of participants — more than 5,000 — from more than 130 countries. More than 40% were young people between the ages of 18 and 32.

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Yet another history-making moment was the presentation of two important documents to Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the United Nations General Assembly. She was the first General Assembly leader to receive a UNCivil Society Conference outcome document.

The first — called the outcome document — outlines a global vision for building inclusive and sustainable cities and communities by 2030. Adopted unanimously by conference participants, the document proposes steps that communities around the world should take to meet that 2030 goal.

The steps include recognizing the need for adequate, affordable, accessible housing, infrastructure, mobility, and land management, along with understanding the pivotal importance of education and the potential for the ethical use and development of technology to address critical challenges faced by communities as they re-envision the way we live.

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The second, is the Youth Climate Compact, which lays out steps to reduce the devastating effects of the climate crisis and adapt our communities in both mindset and structure.

Among the 25 points in the compact are: a commitment to conserving current energy reserves and sources, reducing carbon output, prioritizing environmentally friendly mobility options, avoidance of single-use plastic products and packaging, protecting forests and rainforests, shifting to plant-forward diets and so much more.

In both instances, these are more than statements of need or intended purpose or ideas. They are calls to action for all of us.

I have been so deeply moved and impressed by these youth participants who filled the Salt Palace with their boundless energy and vision. Their sense of urgency is palpable. And they stand before the world without hesitancy, ready to take the reins and lead.

That gives me so much hope, both as a mother and the Mayor of this great City.

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I also want to give a big shout out to Utahns from across the Salt Lake Valley who volunteered to support the conference. As usual, you did not disappoint. You greeted our guests at the airport, worked the registration desks and security posts, and also helped all of us navigate the Salt Palace so we wouldn’t miss a moment of the conference.

Most importantly, you offered everyone the warm welcome that Utah is so famous for and I am deeply grateful for your time and service.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience and all who made the conference possible. How wonderful to experience commitment in action and have the opportunity to come together as a global society.

This has truly been one of the seminal moments of my time in office. One I will never forget.
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