Our Perspective

Steppes Under Strain

18 Nov 2016

Mongolia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change on earth. Saving it calls for urgent action. By Beate Trankmann, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative With the conclusion of the COP22 climate summit in Morocco, there is new hope for the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, including Mongolia. During the conference, 50 countries signed up to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2030-2050, while more than 100 countries had ratified the Paris Agreement by the end of the summit, representing 77% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With 40 percent of its 3 million people dependent on herding, centuries of nomadic life in Mongolia are increasingly under threat by environmental degradation and climate change. In the last 70 years, temperatures in Mongolia have risen by more than 2 degrees centigrade - almost three times faster than the global average. The consequences are visible across the nation. According to official data, advancing desertification has turned one quarter of its land to desert. In total, 70 percent of land is considered degraded. Rising temperatures, summer droughts and a surge in livestock numbers, leading to overgrazing, add to the strain. In addition, melting glaciers in  Read More

Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Expanding Female Leadership in Mongolian Politics and Businesses

30 Sep 2016


For centuries, Mongolian women have played a central role in their society, holding positions of power ever since the Mongol Empire – hundreds of years before their counterparts in Europe, or elsewhere in Asia. Today, women remain integral to Mongolia’s economy, society and politics. In the home, they are often breadwinners, as well as caretakers. At work, they are increasingly influential, partly because they are often better educated, with more Mongolian girls completing school than boys. But partly also because their attitudes and those of their families have been changing as well.   In the recent parliamentary elections, the number of women in Mongolia’s parliament jumped to 17.1 percent from 14.5 percent previously, with 13 out of 76 female parliamentarians. “This brings Mongolia’s female political representation closer to the world and Asia-Pacific averages of 22.9% and 18.8% respectively,” said Beate Trankmann, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mongolia. “This is promising progress for a country that transitioned to democracy just over a quarter of a century ago and an important step towards greater gender equality in Mongolia,” she added. To reach full equality however, further change is needed in perceptions and traditional stereotypes about division of roles between  Read More

From mineral riches, to a sustainable future

15 Jul 2016


After years of rapid, resource-led growth, Mongolia has slowed down – presenting an opportunity to grow in new ways. With the eyes of the world on Mongolia as a result of the ASEM Summit and a newly elected Parliament and Government, the country’s development story deserves a closer look. Following the democratic transition in 1990, Mongolia has made significant strides, with a free market economy and a democracy that within a quarter of a century has become a role model in the region. The country has successfully rolled-out the Millennium Development Goals and lifted half a million Mongolians out of poverty. It has succeeded where many other countries have failed, namely in decisively reducing infant and maternal mortality. Mongolia has also entered the category of high Human Development countries for the first time last year. The land-locked country has vast deposits of mineral wealth. Following the conclusion of a $ 4.4 billion financing agreement with 20 international lenders last December, the second phase of exploration of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the Gobi desert - one of the world’s largest copper-gold mines and owned to one third by the Mongolian government and the remainder by Rio Tinto - is going forward.  Read More

Climate change is our biggest challenge. But great challenges also present great opportunities.

11 Dec 2015

Climate change is a reality and it is no longer a discussion as to whether there is such a thing as climate change and whether or not it is driven by us, the people of the planet. Climate change is impacting our lives and evidence show that climate change is a consequence of human activity. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities that contributes to climate change. While carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere, human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of earth to remove it from the atmosphere through the continued destruction of natural sinks, like forests, grass- and peat-lands. The main human activity that emits carbon dioxide is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation which corresponds to almost 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, it is likely that our planet will warm by at least 2.7 degrees by the end of the century if all countries stick to their commitments made in Paris at the ongoing UN Climate Conference. In the worst case of continued inaction temperatures could  Read More

Role of volunteerism in Mongolia’s development and needs for an enabling environment creation for enhanced volunteering

03 Dec 2015


In 2015, Mongolia has garnered good attention on issues surrounding volunteerism, including but not limited to youth engagement, disaster management and sustainable development. Various open dialogues shed light on the important role of volunteerism in the development of Mongolia and people’s engagement over the course. It was also reaffirmed the necessity and benefits of having a law on volunteerism and volunteer programmes in Mongolia.  Firstly, One Asia 2015 in May was organized to better recognize youth’s role in the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a global citizen and through various forms of civic engagement. Another was the High Level Development Dialogue on Strengthening the Coherence between Disaster Reduction, Response to Climate Change and Sustainable Development, where the contribution of volunteers were mentioned several times by national stakeholders. The National Consultation on Volunteerism in June aimed at helping all stakeholders to keep abreast of the recent development concerning volunteerism in Mongolia and to suggest constructive recommendations for collaboration. Following this, the North-East Asia Forum on Youth Volunteerism was held, with focus on strengthening the contribution of youth engagement and volunteerism to enhance peace and development. Scaling up of successful programmes and models involving youth and multilateral partnership was discussed. And of  Read More

Inequality in Mongolia

13 Aug 2015


Mongolia has recorded very high economic growth rates in the last 15 or so years. The economy has grown at an average annual rate of 8 percent since 2000 and in double-digits for three consecutive years in 2011-13. Although the growth rate has now slowed down and estimates are much lower, the result is that Mongolia is now classified as an upper middle-income country and a country with medium human development. In the same time, poverty in Mongolia continues to decline, falling from 27.4% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2014. This improvement is very positive and the pace of poverty reduction remains high compared to most other countries, however, poverty is still persistent in Mongolia and a huge development challenge. What about inequality? The feeling, and the “word on the street”, is that the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer. What does the evidence say in this regard? This short blog post reviews some of the existing data and statistics on inequality. Why worry about inequality? Increased inequality means people are left behind in the development of a country. Inequality can be a threat to social and political stability as well as to sustained growth. Inequality is a root  Read More

Make change happen: Op-ed for International Day of Volunteers - 5 December

03 Dec 2014


5 December is the International Volunteer Day (IVD). Join me in recognizing the commitment of volunteers in Mongolia and applaud their contribution to the development of Mongolia. To volunteer is to care about the betterment of society and taking personal action to change things. In Mongolia as elsewhere, volunteerism is an invaluable development asset. Above all, volunteers are ready, able and willing to respond to needs as they occur, which we can see across the world especially in times of crisis or disaster. By volunteering, people enhance their skills and experiences. Also, anyone can volunteer irrespective of background, race, gender or age. Promoting volunteerism in Mongolia is important and strongly linked to Mongolia’s development agenda. It can enable active civil society participation and more participatory development. Creating an enabling environment for volunteering activities could be a strategic investment to strengthen human and social capital – and it will pay off. The “Citizens’ Hall Open Discussion on Volunteerism” that took place at the Government House on 24 October 2012 came up with some key recommendations. It is time today to take action. Recommendations included to issue a Presidential decree on promoting volunteerism in Mongolia, incorporating the issue of promoting volunteering into key  Read More

Leave No One Behind: Think, Decide and Act Together Against Extreme Poverty

17 Oct 2014


This article is written by Thomas Eriksson, the Deputy Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia.              Globally, the number of extreme poor has dropped by 650 million in the last three decades, a level of progress humankind had never seen before. Similarly, in Mongolia, poverty has been significantly reduced. But still there are more than a billion people living in extreme poverty around the world and poverty in Mongolia remains too high at 27.4 percent. On 17 October each year, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, people of the world are invited to demonstrate solidarity with people living in poverty. People living in poverty face a multifaceted reality. It is not simply a lack of adequate income; it is a cruel mix of human deprivation in food, decent housing, health, knowledge, dignity and rights as well as obstacles to participation and lack of voice. It is a lack of freedoms, opportunities and choices. Economic growth alone will not produce jobs and cut poverty unless it is inclusive and equitable, and unless the needs of the poor and marginalized are at the centre of development priorities. When men and women have equal  Read More

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