On behalf of UNDP Resident Representative, Beate Trankmann
Distinguished guests and colleagues, I’m delighted to welcome you to this key event to develop an increasingly fashionable, and green commodity – sustainable cashmere.
Today’s Consultation is on the Draft Road Map for the Establishment of Mongolia’s Multi-stakeholder Sustainable Cashmere Platform. This follows the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration for Systemic Change: The Case of Sustainable Cashmere in Mongolia earlier this year. I am delighted to see representatives from key organizations in the sector again, including: The Office of the President of Mongolia, ministries such as the Ministry of Finance, MET, MOFALI, as well as the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association. It’s also wonderful to be joined by non-profit, non-governmental organizations implementing sustainable cashmere projects, along with national producers, as well as bilateral and multilateral development partners. We are excited to have you be part of our next round of dialogue on building a a national platform for collective action on sustainable cashmere in Mongolia.
June’s conference was widely attended by members of the Government, CSOs, academics domestic industry groups as well as, crucially, representatives of leading global brands, including Gucci and H&M. Textile Exchange, a global non-profit representing nearly 400 international companies, also attended. This allowed us to lay the foundations of not only a national umbrella for combined action, but also a roadmap for making Mongolia’s role in the global cashmere business truly sustainable and inclusive
Participants developed four priority areas calling for national collaboration going forward. Firstly, delegates acknowledged consensus on sustainability was required; secondly, that skills must be developed across the value chain; thirdly, that finance and incentives for suppliers are crucial; and fourthly, that market access is vital too.
To show the insights of the value chain and what social, economic and environmental impacts it would bring to the livelihoods of herders, we embarked on a 3-day field trip with our international guests in Tsagaan-Ovoo Khentii after the conference. There, we were further convinced that sustainable agricultural and animal products, including cashmere, can help improve the lives of herders who make up 30% of Mongolia’s population and depend on intact ecosystems. This also enables the country’s wider efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – to end poverty, reduce inequality and ensure the planet can continue sustaining life, by 2030.
Healthy pastures and rangeland management approaches that respect the ecological balance are critical to supporting sustainable cashmere. Currently, about 70% of Mongolia’s land is degraded; while a quarter[U1] of the country has turned to desert. We know over-grazing is a key cause of land degradation, and climate change. And Mongolia’s livestock numbers are at record highs, with 110 million sheep in 2018, putting unprecedented strain on the land, and the herders who live off it.
To address this, Mongolia is expanding rangeland use agreements, including grazing and herd management plans, which herders increasingly accept. As of last year, 830 Pasture Users Groups (PUGs) in over 11 aimags had rangeland use agreements signed by the local governor and herders, with more than 15000 nomadic families working to sustainably manage 16 million hectares.
I met with herders in Tsagaan-Ovoo who said they realize the need to reduce and regulate animal numbers - but many do not know how. This calls for greater technical support for herders to meet resilient rangeland agreements, as well as policies that encourage herd quality over quantity. For example, i) a permit system such as a grazing fee or livestock tax[NP2] , as well as ii) linking herder cooperatives with processing companies and iii) using traceability systems to ensure product quality and sustainability. There are plenty of opportunities to effect such changes and ensure Mongolia’s rangelands for generations to come. But it is crucial to act now, before those options are lost.
So, in order to boost the tools for sustainable cashmere, we agreed that a national platform - to position Mongolia as a leading cashmere producer– is needed, to allow value chain stakeholders to consider the environmental and social impacts of each transaction. Over the summer, a draft Roadmap has been prepared in consultation with over 10 organizations, including the GoM, private sector, researchers and development partners, which form the basis of today’s discussion.
We are here with the hope of galvanising collective action for responsible, sustainable cashmere production and translating this commitment into a National Multi-stakeholder Platform and Action Plan for Sustainable Cashmere in Mongolia. Today’s meeting aims to discuss[NP3] and see where we stand as a group on the structure of the multi-stakeholder national platform, the principles of engagement, decision-making and consensus building (such as the Steering Committee Technical Working Group or plenary meeting compiosition and membership) , as well as the , budget and next steps.
As the world continues to explore the ways to achieve the SDGs, our collective attempt to facilitate a global, green value chain for products like cashmere offers a concrete example of an alternative growth model. And momentum is building, with herders, processors, government partners and agencies keen to make each stage of the value chain adhere to sustainability criteria and buyers and financial actors increasingly interested in investing in sustainability and in sourcing sustainably. Importantly, the government is leading the way by incorporating sustainability in the implementation of its National Cashmere Programme 2018-21. And by featuring sustainable cashmere in important bilateral trade negotiations such as through the Third Neighbor Act that President Battulga discussed with President Trump during his recent US visit.
All of us are working towards one goal – advance Mongolia as a leading producer of quality, sustainable cashmere.
Today’s consultation is designed with a view to providing the space for further in-depth discussion how we can jointly make this vision happen. We would like to hear from you as key partners active in the area of sustainable cashmere how we can take our collective efforts forward, building on each other’s strengths and complementarity and develop a nationwide platform and implementation roadmap for sustainable cashmere in Mongolia.
I would like to thank UNDP’s Global Green Commodities Platform for supporting us in formulating this critical roadmap.
We expect its methods to be applied nationally and regionally in future, helping to ensure the same collaboration, planning and government support at every level. And giving herders the tools they need to keep Mongolia’s rangelands healthy, while earning a decent living - making Mongolia more sustainable, from cities, to steppes.