Environment & Energy: In-depth

Alt text for imagePhoto: UNDP Mongolia

Mongolia’s rapid economic growth driven by natural resources extraction, is amplifying threats to the environment leading to land degradation, water and air pollution, loss of biodiversity, in addition to overexploitation of forests and pastureland. Environmental degradation combined with rising climate change impact makes the livelihood of local people dependent on natural resources most vulnerable. Strengthening human and financial capacities for sustainable natural resource management and enhanced coordination within and across sectors become highly important for increased resilience of ecosystems andadaptation to climate change. Environment, Energy and Disaster risk reduction portfolio is the largest within the UNDP Mongolia’s programme. 

Current Programme

UNDP’s Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction portfolio focuses on the development of a range of strategies that enhance the country’s ability to conserve and protect its environment for resource efficient development, and to empower local communities and enhance institutional capacity for sustained environmental management, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation. UNDP also supports Mongolia in linking up to global climate financing and other relevant initiatives. This includes UNDP’s role in ensuring Mongolia’s access to expertise through Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) initiative and UN REDD+, Biodiversity financing (BIOFIN), as well as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Climate Adaptation Fund (AF).

Within the MDG7, UNDP Mongolia helps improve access to safe water and adequate sanitation particularly in rural areas that was successfully linked with a national large-scale programme on rural infrastructure improvement. Several consecutive programmes on building energy efficiency was successfully implemented contributing to the improvement of National Building Codes, Norms and Standards (BCNS) System and direct and indirect emission reduction. The on-going portfolio consists of projects worth of US$11 million (total co-financing over US$20? million) and above US$ 14 Mln is in the pipeline for next few years. Within the current programme period of 2012-2016 and in-line with the UNDP’s Strategic plan (2012-2017), UNDP’s Environment, Energy and DRR programme focuses on five distinct areas as below.

Environmental Governance

UNDP supports capacity strengthening of concerned national and local institutions to fulfill their commitments to implement the provisions of International conventions, implement and monitor related policies, and enhance coordination among them. Support to improvement of a national environmental legislative and regulatory system encompasses the key part of the governance programme.

UNDP supported institutionalizing Environmental Auditing as a tool to enable stronger enforcement of environmental legislation and introduction of environmentally friendly standards that have become legally binding. UNDP also cooperates with local governments, civil society organizations, academia and media for wider awareness of environmental issues and increased involvement of citizen in decision making on environmental matters. UNDP continued promoting informed decision making in many areas such as the development of a National Green Development Strategy and through development of Mining Cost benefit Analysis tool, economic valuation of a national protected area system, economic and ecological valuation of ecosystem services and climate change adaptation options, as well as assessments of forest sector financial flows and economic values.

Natural Resources Management

In partnership with the Government of Mongolia, UNDP supports empowerment of community-based organizations and local institutions in sustainable management of land, water and forest resources and strengthening and expanding the protected areas system (National parks). UNDP supports the Government to amend the Special Protected Area Law, and update the National Protected Area Programme, enabling Protected Area management by NGOs and local communities, as well as novice income generation options for Protected Areas among others.

UNDP is assisting the Government in reducing negative impacts of mining through building appropriate legal framework and institutional capacity to apply mitigation hierarchy and offset principles into the landscape level planning and management, and in introduction of multi-purpose forest inventory methodology.

With UNDP’s support in collaboration with other UN agencies, the National REDD+ Roadmap was formally approved by UN-REDD Policy Board in 2014, which would greatly contribute to reduce deforestation and improve forest resources management.

In addition, UNDP focuses on biodiversity conservation in “hot spots” such as the Altai-Sayan, Khangai and Gobi regions. These regions host a number of species that are endangered and threatened by extinction, such as the snow leopard, gobi bear, argali sheep, musk deer and Bactrian camel. A focus of UNDP’s work is to identify self-sustaining financing options for protected areas.

Climate Change

In support of national efforts on climate change adaptation and mitigation, UNDP supports the implementation of the national action programmes for climate change and combating desertification and nationally appropriate mitigation actions in energy, construction and forestry sectors.

UNDP prioritizes demonstration of proven adaptation measures to maintain ecosystem functions and services and minimize vulnerability of local communities. Through the UN-REDD programme protection and sustainable management of forest assets is being supported to produce globally significant lessons considering Mongolia’s considerable size of boreal forest. UNDP collaborated with partners the economic valuation of ecosystem services and climate change impacts, vulnerability analyses for adaptation interventions, and development of permafrost distribution map for the country.

In a country with long, harsh winters, a total of eight months of space heating is required in Mongolia, which represents a substantial opportunity to reduce emissions in this sector. Furthermore, it is paramount for reducing air pollution in Mongolia but also for the overall preservation of the global environment and the reduction of carbon-based greenhouse-gas emissions. UNDP supports energy efficiency through strengthening the national system of BCNSs, introduction of new building technologies and materials and energy audits, and promotion of a better insulation. .

Water and sanitation

With the support of donors such as Australia and Korea, UNDP develops capacities of State and non-State actors, at national and local level, to deliver safe drinking water and sanitation services. This also includes the demonstration of such systems in rural areas. To promote better water and sanitation technologies, support provided to update the system of BCNS. UNDP’s water and sanitation interventions were successfully aligned with Government’s large-scale public infrastructure improvement programme for rural settlements. UNDP led the development of and negotiation on an innovative co-investment model that was instituted in eight localities scaling – up the national programme.  

Disaster Management

In partnership with the Government of Luxembourg, UNDP supports capacity building of the Government of Mongolia for effective disaster management since the establishment of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in 2004 as the nodal institution to manage and coordinate all aspects of disaster management. UNDP continues to support institutional and human capacity development of NEMA the central and local levels, provides technical assistance for planning disaster management including cross border threats mining related environmental disasters such as chemical spills and promotes partnership with key stakeholders to improve public education and awareness for disaster prevention. The current programme focuses heavily on disaster risk prevention rather than response measures, capacity development at the local level and improved resilience of local communities. Through UNDP support, Law on Disaster Management was amended, the National Programme on Community Based DRR developed and the National Disaster Management Plan updated.   

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