Second national forum on Nature conservation communities

Apr 21, 2017


By Ms. Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative

Second National forum on Nature Conservational Communities

  • Excellency Mr. Erdenebat, Prime Minister of Mongolia
  • Excellency Ms. Oyunkhorol, Minister for Environment and Tourism
  • Honorable Mrs. Garamjav, Chairman of Standing Committee on Environment, Food and Agriculture of the Parliament  
  • Representatives of Community Based Organisations,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

“The earth is what we all have in common.” Those are the words of environmental activist, Wendell Berry. On behalf of UN and UNDP Mongolia, it is my great pleasure to join you at this second National Forum on Nature Conservation Communities. For, it is in our communities that conservation must be carried out first and foremost.

Mongolia’s Sustainable Development Vision 2030 and National Green Development Policy show clear commitment to green development.  Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, they set ambitious environmental targets to be achieved within the next 13 years. These include a 14% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; preserving Mongolia’s ecosystems; and saving at least 60% of its water resources.  

Achieving these goals calls for balancing all aspects of development. It means pursuing economic growth that the environment can sustain, while improving the livelihoods of both rural and urban communities. It also calls for a whole-of-society effort, including not just the government, but also political parties, the private sector, civil society and communities.

Indigenous people and local communities play a pivotal role in protecting some of the Earth’s most fragile ecosystems. Herders in Mongolia, are in many ways their guardians, realizing that their protection has direct impact on the quality of their day-to-day lives, and the lives of their children. In the Altai Mountains and Dornod Steppe UNDP has therefore worked with local communities so they can carry out and monitor ecosystem based adaptation measures, such as protecting water springs and regulating pasture use. Empowering communities to play such a role is critical for protecting Mongolia’s water and land in future.

Expanding such practices nationwide involves creating an enabling environment that clearly spells out at least three things:

  1. Firstly, land and forest use rights and ownership,
  2. Second, formal recognition of community conservation areas as a separate category of the national protected areas, 
  3. And third, social and economic benefits of those ecosystems, such as their value for sustaining the livelihoods of the poor.

Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Minister of Environment and Tourism for making enormous efforts to improve the legislation around community-based natural resources management to protect the livelihood base of rural communities in Mongolia.

Let me also touch upon another important point and that is financing. I know it is something that is on the mind of many CBOs and organizations spearheading these efforts.

Although the overall sources of financing for sustainable development and the SDGs have expanded globally, external funding from development partners won’t be remotely sufficient to support the SDG agenda. In Mongolia, ODA for example represents about 3% of GDP, which is in fact higher than in most other Middle Income Countries.

Domestic finance must therefore remain the key focus. This includes funding coming from the state, but also importantly from the private sector. Globally it is estimated that 70% of financing for sustainable development and the SDGs until 2030 will have to come from private sector. Introducing incentives such as tax breaks, green subsidies but also policies that encourage companies to invest in sustainable development will be key to realizing this. The central role of the national budget process as a way of coming up with the best mix of financing to achieve sustainable development and the SDGs cannot be emphasized enough.

And we will need to start attaching a monetary value to nature and pricing nature into our economic activities. Measures that can help with this are the application of ‚polluter pays’ principles, but also fees to offset negative impacts of economic activities on ecosystems and putting that money towards restoration and conservation efforts.

UNDP has a long standing tradition of cooperating with the government and local communities in Mongolia on sustainable land use, natural resources management and better environmental governance. We will continue to work in these areas under our new 5 year country programme as they are indispensable to meeting the SDGs and SDV in Mongolia.

The success of the SDV and the SDGs in Mongolia will depend on many things. But a key element will surely be the country’s ability to make use of local knowledge and encourage local communities to play and active part. 

Let me conclude by thanking the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and partners such as GIZ & ADB for joining forces on these efforts today, as well as in years to come. 

I wish you fruitful deliberations today and a successful outcome of the Forum.

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