Opening remarks by Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative, at the Inception Workshop of the Project “Land Degradation Offset and Mitigation in Western Mongolia”

Dec 9, 2016

Opening remarks by Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative, at the Inception Workshop of the Project “Land Degradation Offset and Mitigation in Western Mongolia”

09 December, 2016

  • Your Excellency, Mr.Batbayar, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism
  • Honourable Members of the Parliament
  • Distinguished Governors of Khovd, Zavkhan and Uvs aimag,
  • Representatives from line ministries,

Welcome to the launch of the “Land Degradation Offset and Mitigation in Western Mongolia” project. Thank you all for being with us today and for sharing your valuable expertise, to take this project forward.

Land degradation is one of the greatest environmental challenges in Mongolia. 70% of its land already degraded, and a quarter has turned to desert. Climate change and human activity are destroying the country’s remarkable landscapes, threatening its ecosystems and wildlife. It is therefore crucial that Mongolia develops and applies policies to mitigate such damage, and rehabilitate its land. 

In Western Mongolia, the project’s target area, ecologically diverse landscapes –lost in many parts of the world – are still relatively intact, providing habitats for seasonal migrations. While mining is currently less developed in the Western region, it is likely to see rapid development in mining in the years to come, as the economy grows. But herder livelihoods depend – and will continue to depend – on these unique landscapes, rangelands and ecosystems. It is therefore vital to put in place a system to reduce and offset or compensate for land degradation in Western Mongolia now. It’s also an opportunity to further develop good practices for working together on sustainable land use across the country in future.

In recent years, Mongolia has made great progress in green development and sustainable environmental management, thanks to the generous support of the organizations that you represent. “Land degradation offsetting”, which aims to ensure positive impacts of development activities is an emerging practice worldwide. Its introduction in Mongolia marks a major step forward in the country and will be a key part of this project.

The initiative aims to help the Government of Mongolia reduce negative impacts of mining on rangelands in the West, by using a “mitigation hierarchy.” This involves firstly, avoiding damage to the land to begin with. Secondly, keeping damage that cannot be avoided to a minimum. Thirdly, rehabilitating damaged land. And fourthly, offsetting damage to one area, by preventing future damage to other areas at risk.

This project will reach across many areas. It seeks to strengthen the policy, legal and planning frameworks, to address the environmental impacts of mining. It will also apply the best practices for land restoration and enable cross-sector collaboration, for sustainable land use.

For UNDP in Mongolia, it represents an essential contribution to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by world leaders last year and included in Mongolia’s own Sustainable Development Vision. It will boost the capacities of different sectors to ensure Mongolia’s natural resources are managed sustainably in order to protect rural livelihoods, reduce poverty and adapt to climate change.

With strong commitment and support from the Government of Mongolia and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, I am confident that this project will play a key part in mitigating the impact of mining on the environment in Mongolia’s West. Your recommendations will be of great help to the project team, in rolling it out effectively.  The project will be carried out by the Government of Mongolia, with financial support from the Global Environment Fund and the UNDP.

Today, with the project’s official launch, an MoU will be signed between Governors and Mining Companies of three pilot sites of the project, along with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism so these plans translate into action. With this joint statement of intent, mining companies are showing their willingness to make Sustainable Land management part of their businesses.

Your participation is crucial to protecting some of Mongolia’s most vulnerable places and people. We look forward to working with you all, as this project gets underway!

Thank you.

 

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