Social Good Summit Mongolia: Opening remarks by Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Sep 24, 2016

Participants to the 2016 Social Good Summit in Mongolia….

As we begin this year’s Summit, I would like to take you on a journey.

Imagine, for a moment, that we are in the year 2030. What kind of Mongolia do you want to be living in?

A country in which every child in the countryside can afford to finish school?

In which young girls, too, can grow up to become President?

A Mongolia that protected its steppes and skies, in the course of economic progress and development?

That shared its mineral wealth with every citizen?

A nation in which every family, in every ger, has clean water, heating, light?

In which every district, the air was safe to breathe?

A Mongolia that has ended poverty, preserved its natural resources, and where everyone benefits from development, leaving no one behind?

As you start your discussions, I would like to remind you that these are not just dreams. They are what Mongolia can become.

One year ago, leaders from 193 countries, including Mongolia, adopted the most ambitious agenda of our time: Sustainable Development Goals. They call on governments, companies and citizens to end poverty, to fight inequality and protect our planet.

To achieve this, we need not just political will, good governance, corporate funding and the perseverance of many, many people: we need technology.

Today, we bring together some of Mongolia’s most pioneering young people, activists and academics; politicians and artists; civil society, media and business leaders; to discuss the challenges facing Mongolia and how technology can help to solve them.

Mongolia has already taken great strides towards a more inclusive, sustainable future. According to the latest National Human Development Report, 99 percent of its children are in primary school. 96 percent are in high school. Since 1990, half a million people in this country were lifted out of poverty.

Yet – one in five still live below the poverty line. More than half of the capital’s residents live in ger districts, many without running water or sanitation facilities. And, according to the government, about a quarter of Mongolia’s land has turned to desert, threatening centuries of nomadic life.[1]

Fortunately, Mongolia was an early adopter of the SDGs, incorporating the Global Goals in the government’s new Sustainable Development Vision.  To help translate that vision into reality, the United Nations is committing $79 million in joint initiatives to tackle poverty, create jobs, enable access to social services and protect Mongolia’s environment, from 2017-2021.

Young people are the torchbearers of that vision. Mongolians aged 15-34 years old are the biggest demographic group in this country. They account for more than a third of all citizens. You are more informed, more tech-savvy and more connected than any generation before you. You represent the chance to diversify Mongolia’s economy onto a more sustainable path, harnessing new technology, the Internet and services. I hope you find ideas towards that here today.

Thank you to all of those whose time and contributions have made this event possible: the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, the Cabinet Secretariat of the Mongolian Government, the National Information and Technology Park, the Centre for Citizenship Education, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the Mongolia Youth Council, the UN Youth Advisory Panel and volunteers, along with the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, FAO and UN volunteers.

Finally, thank you to our 30 speakers, moderators, and panelists,, as well as to the performing artists, journalists and all our 150 young participants, for getting up early on a Saturday and being here today. You are part of a global movement, with tens of thousands of people from more than 80 countries attending SGS summits globally, creating billions of social media impressions. This is not just a talking shop. I hope that the ideas shared here will be acted on.

In the words of the polar explorer and environmentalist, Robert Swan (OBE): “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

With that in mind, I wish you all a productive and inspiring Summit.

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