Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UNRC



Ulaanbaatar, 11 June 2019



Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you. It’s is wonderful to see so many of you today at the stakeholder consultation meeting, and I am delighted to join you for this important event.

Like many developing countries, Mongolia is facing a crucial balancing act: the need to ensure economic growth – and environmental preservation. And nowhere is this struggle clearer than in cities.

With over two thirds of Mongolians living in towns and cities, urbanization – and the environmental degradation it has caused – is one of the greatest development challenges Mongolia faces. And with increasing economic growth, the generation of waste has also increased. Today, every urban resident creates almost 230-300 kilos of solid waste a year, which is exactly in the range waste generation rate of middle-income countries – 0.63 – 0.82 kg/day.capita.

About 90% of the capital’s solid waste is household waste. Most of it ends up on landfills. Because almost none is currently recycled. But here’s the good news: over half that so-called ‘waste’ – including paper, plastic, metal, bottles and glass – is recyclable. So there’s tremendous potential for Ulaanbaatar and other Mongolian cities to reuse, reduce and recycle their ‘waste,’ much more.

Managing our waste is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a world that, by 2030, is free of poverty, and can continue sustaining life. That’s only possible if we as humankind substantially reduce our impact on nature. Managing our waste is a vital part of that.

Important steps are already being taken by the Government of Mongolia. Both the Green Development Policy and Sustainable Development Vision for 2030 include specific targets to raise recycled waste to 40 percent of all solid waste. In 2017, the Law on Waste was also amended and the UN-supported National Waste Management Improvement Strategy and Action Plan until 2030 was approved. Following the approval of these policy documents, important new regulations were also passed, including on toxic waste management, banning of single-use plastic bags, and revision of waste service fees.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today we are gathered here to discuss the main challenges, solutions and the steps forward for a successful implementation, monitoring and enforcement of these policies. In order to plan for the practical implications, it is important to consider all aspects of development concepts, specially the socio-economic factors when it comes to waste service fees. For instance, studies show that with increased income level the waste generation rate also increases. Therefore, with the growing economy and increasing number of middle-class households, it is crucial to encourage them to manage waste wisely.

UNDP pilot project found that practicing ‘the 3Rs’ at source can cut waste by two thirds, reducing volumes on landfills, and the cost of running them. To incentivise households to reduce waste and support recycling a volume-based-waste-fee system presents a powerful tool and a viable alternative to the current per capita based waste-fee system and should be piloted more. It’s also vital to build capacities of everyone involved, by training them to carry out the 3Rs, and manage waste that needs special processing.

Furthermore, small changes by individual and social norms can directly affect our environment, for better or worse. That means spreading positive environmental messages and encouraging pro-social behaviors as well as sustainable choices. The rewards of changing public behavior and practices are high: a UNDP pilot also shows, when sustainable processes are made easier, and information is made available, littering in nature and protected areas can fall by as much as 86 percent.

The UN and all of our specialized agencies stand ready to support all parties, to make quality waste management in Mongolia a reality. By reducing, reusing, and recycling together, we can help keep Mongolia’s steppes green – and its cities healthy – leaving no one behind.

Thank you!

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