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  • Griffin Taggart

Putting Utah on the Global Map: Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities

The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference was held right here in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to the Conference Chair, Maruxa-Cardama, who spoke in the opening plenary of this historic gathering, the conference is the first time the UN Civil Society has been held outside of New York City, New York,... ever. So why make Salt Lake City, Utah the location of choice? There are many reasons; Utah’s thriving economy, our sustainable city projects, our charitable NGOs who serve people worldwide, the natural beauty that surrounds our state, and many more. Utah has plenty to offer, but for me I recognized one reason why the conference was held here and that is because of Salt Lake City’s mayor.

Salt Lake City is led by an outspoken mayor who has declared that cities and local communities play a much more important role in the health and well-being of the world than ever before. In her speech to kick off the conference Mayor Jackie Biskupski said, “We are creating coalitions with other local communities, NGOs, and businesses, to maximize our impact. There is a phrase my fellow US mayors have begun using regularly. ‘The world can’t wait, and neither will we’”.

With this historic conference, Mayor Biskupski has helped to put Salt Lake City on the global stage. More than 8000 people from over 130 countries came together in our thriving desert state to share ideas, build global partnerships, unite under common goals, and learn from each other. Many local and global groups, like our own non-profit organization, hosted exhibits and panel discussions throughout the three day event. Many of these exhibits and discussions focused on the empowerment of women and youth, climate change, technological innovation, and promoting world-wide civility. Does that sound familiar? In other words, the topics discussed aligned with what we call the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit). This is why we believe so strongly in the triple-bottom line—it stands as the basis of a global civil society who are indeed building inclusive, sustainable cities and communities. This historic conference was an unforgettable experience that I hope will help continue to transform our cities and world for the better.

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