Speech by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative - Launch of Mongolia National Human Development Report 2016

Jun 14, 2016

Mongolia National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2016

“Building a Better Tomorrow – Including Youth in the Development of Mongolia”

Speech by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative

 14 June 2016, UN House, UN Auditorium

Honorable Minister, Mr. S. Erdene, Minister of Population Development & Social Protection

Government officials, members of the international community, youth representatives and distinguished participants,

Welcome to the launch of the sixth Mongolia National Human Development Report, Building a Better Tomorrow: Including Youth in the Development of Mongolia.

Since the introduction of the concept in the first Human Development Report in 1990, human development has been about expanding the richness of human life, rather than simply the richness of economies. This idea focuses on people, and explores the opportunities people have to live the lives they choose.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators. Mongolia has done well on many of the health and education related Millennium Development Goals and this is reflected in commensurate improvements in the HDI.  

Last year, it entered for the first time into the high human development category having passed the 0.7 threshold on the HDI. Out of 188 countries, it is currently placed in 90th position, alongside China. Since 2000, Mongolia improved its HDI by an annual 1.35%, moving quicker than most of the countries ranked above it.

Mongolia is a young country. Accounting for over a third of the population, youth aged 15–34 years represent the largest demographic group in Mongolia, and a significant share of working age people. Even by 2040, when the country’s population is expected to reach 4 million, almost 30 percent will still be young. That is why this 6th National Human Development Report for Mongolia zooms in on young men and women aged 15-34 years old.

What opportunities do they have - to choose and lead the lives they value in present day Mongolia?

This National Human Development Report analyses the opportunities and challenges facing Mongolia’s youth. A key, overriding message is the significant contribution young people can make to the country’s future development. However, this contribution depends largely on the capabilities and opportunities open to them today. Young people are the leaders of our global future. They merit an environment that allows them to live healthy, productive lives and develop their full potential.

While Mongolia has made significant strides in improving lives of its people overall, this progress has not always translated in better opportunities for young women and men. There are three indicators that stand out in particular:

1) Relatively high unemployment: 17 percent of Mongolians aged 20-24 are unemployed, well above the national average of 7.9 percent.  Also, among youth looking for suitable jobs, 63 percent have been looking for more than a year, and 40 percent have been looking for more than three years. This suggests that young people are more vulnerable to long-term unemployment.

2) Slow growth in life expectancy among youth: While life expectancy for the population in general increased by 9 years between 1990-2014, young women added only two to three years to their lives since 1990. At the same time life expectancy among young men has declined one to two years across all youth age cohorts. Deaths by accidents, injuries, poisoning and other external causes are the leading cause of death among young people. Risk factors also include alcohol abuse, inactive lifestyles, unbalanced diets and tobacco with 1/3 of young Mongolians smoking.

3) The reverse gender gap in school enrolment and other disparities in access to education: the unusual situation of fewer school enrolments among boys – is narrowing. The shares of girls and boys up to lower-secondary school are almost equal. However, the gap is still evident among 16- to 19-year-old boys in rural areas. Among youth with disabilities only 66.2% in the compulsory education age-group are enrolled.

Generally, youth also don’t seem to be sufficiently represented in politics and there are signs of growing apathy when it comes to participation in elections. Compared to a 65% overall voter turn-out in the last parliamentary election, 45% of young people between 18-34 years of age indicate that they have participated in some way in elections since 1990, and only 18% say they have voted in most elections.

As pointed out in the report recommendations, addressing these challenges will require:

  1. closer cooperation between the education sector and private companies to better gauge employer needs and ensure an improved skills match of graduates with labor market requirements
  2. behavioral changes  to facilitate healthy lifestyles among young people which should be promoted through a mix of public policy, education and prevention measures;
  3. rethinking support required for low-income families and students with disabilities to complete higher level education, especially in rural areas.
  4. Finding new ways to engage youth in politics by encouraging participation in volunteerism, civil society groups and by using social media. 

We hope this report will continue to contribute to a wider debate and shape the Government’s youth policy. While the draft youth policy is already available, continued discussion throughout society is needed to address the challenges highlighted. With this, I would like to thank the Honorable Minister of Population Development and Social Protection for his presence here today, a testimony to our growing cooperation that we trust will continue.

Let me also thank to the report’s many authors and contributors for their tremendous efforts in preparing the report.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the young Mongolians, without whom this report would not have been possible. Many young women and men gave up their time to be interviewed individually as well as in groups, online and face-to-face throughout the country. They shared with us hopes for their future, revolving so much around the education, health care and employment options they have today.

Young people are critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 global Agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and create prosperity for all. To realise this Vision, contributions of young Mongolians under age 35 will be essential, be it through active participation in economic and public life, the upcoming elections or in shaping government’s decisions in the future. We believe their many voices can and should be heard if Mongolia is to develop to its full potential. And we hope that young Mongolians will take ownership of this report and grasp the opportunity to become active drivers in advancing sustainable human development in Mongolia.

The UN and UNDP stand ready to support Mongolia and its young people in this endeavor.

With this, I would like to wish you fruitful discussion on the findings and recommendations of this report.

Thank you.

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