Opening Remaks by Beate Trankmann, UN RC and UNDP RR: 4th National Forum on Protected Areas of Mongolia

Oct 12, 2015

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN RC and UNDP RR

Forth National Forum on Protected Areas

Chinggis Hotel, 12 October 2015

Your Excellency Mr. N. Battsereg, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism,

Honorable Members of Parliament,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of UNDP, I am honored to welcome you to the 4th National Forum on Protected Areas.

Ladies and gentlemen, the well-being of our planet and that of current and future generations is dependent on the successful protection of biodiversity and the conservation of our ecosystems. Time is of the essence as we have long exceeded the self-generative capacities of Mother Nature and the global consumption pace of biocapital exceeds the self-healing powers of the earth. The UN Secretary General often says that there is no “planet-B”.

From a development perspective, protected areas and the ecosystem services they provide play an essential role in reducing poverty, mitigating climate change and promoting resilience. With the poor in rural communities of many countries generating up to 70% of their household incomes from free ecosystem services, it will be impossible to fight poverty & hunger and protect livelihoods without protecting these ecosystems. Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks generate significant social and economic benefits and are cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change. But to fulfil their potentials, protected areas need to be effectively governed and managed, and sustainably financed.

Just two weeks ago, the Sustainable Development Goals were approved by world leaders at the United Nations in New York. They put sustainable development at the core of the new global development agenda and include specific goals to halt the alarming pace of environmental degradation and climate change that pose unprecedented threats to humanity. The SDGs very much take a holistic approach to development and explicitly link poverty, hunger, climate change, environmental protection, governance, jobs, infrastructure, health and education. As such the SDGs provide an opportunity to mainstream biodiversity and promote a transformational shift in how economies and societies use and value biodiversity.

Globally, financial sustainability has been recognised as one of the key barriers limiting the successful implementation of the Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD), to which Mongolia is a signatory. When we talk about sustainable financing and investment in protected areas, this should be put into perspective with the economic value that protected areas generate and their contribution to the national economy. 

Although Mongolia’s protected areas cover 17.4% of the territory which is higher than the world average of 15%, there is some way to go to reach the MDG target of 30%.    

At the same time, Mongolia’s existing 99 protected areas provide ecosystem services worth 11.5% of its GDP as quantified by a study that UNDP conducted in 2012. This by all means is a significant share and contribution to Mongolia’s economy.  

For Mongolia’s protected areas to be sustainably managed in the long run, policies and regulations need to allow the application of innovative measures to increase their financial base. This can include different forms of concessions, payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity offsets for mining companies and so on. At the same time, collaborative management models should be applied that include communities and other sectors in the administration and utilization of protected areas. Local communities should always be given the opportunity to participate in decisions or actions to conserve their environment and be able to benefit from decisions that impact the ecosystems that they depend on. This has been practiced in Namibia where resource rights have been granted to local members of communal conservation areas that now cover 14% of Nambia’s territory. In Mongolia, Khustai National Park and Ikh Narth Nature Reserve are managed by CSOs.

In addition, there is room to improve simple financing mechanisms such as entry fees for nature reserves and land use fees. They should be adjusted to ensure that fees and levies collected by the state authorities are fully reinvested into conservation activities.

I hope these considerations will be taken into account in deliberations on the Law on Protected areas and the National Programme for Mongolia’s Protected Areas that are currently being amended, as well as in implementing the country’s Green development policy and National Biodiversity Action Plan that was approved recently.

The National Forum on Protected Areas, which was jointly initiated by UNDP and the Ministry for Environment, Green Development and Tourism, provides the perfect platform for exchange to sharpen the thinking around specific challenges related to Protected Areas in Mongolia and generate policy recommendations for their long term sustainable management.

I wish you the best of success in your deliberations today and look forward to your suggestions how to strengthen Mongolia’s protected areas and maintain the country’s significant natural capital for the benefit of communities to reduce poverty, mitigate climate change and improve resilience while contributing to the overall well-being of our planet.

Thank you. 

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