Opening Remarks by Ms. Elaine Conkievich
Resident Representative, UNDP Mongolia
10 December 2020
Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the virtual launch of the Haze Gazer platform today.
As you might know, today is the International Human Rights Day. According to United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every woman, man, girl and boy has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being.
Clean air is understandably fundamental for good health and well-being for each and everyone of us; therefore, access to clean air is a human right as well.
For years, Ulaanbaatar City, where nearly 1.5 million people live and work, had one of the worst air qualities in the world, that affected the health and safety of many.
Though progress has been made in recent years to improve the air quality in UB, the road ahead for fully restored healthy air still remains long. Poor air quality not only hurts the wellbeing of the city’s residents but also it causes significant socio-economic cost due to a variety of illnesses and loss of laboring capacity.
The majority of Ulaanbaatar City residents live in ger districts, where the air quality is usually at its worst in the country. Many of them are from vulnerable communities not able to effectively access public services.
As the whole world, including Mongolia, is facing unprecedented drastic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, marginalized and vulnerable individuals and communities are suffering the most, due to lack of necessary resources and tools to safeguard themselves against the pandemic, in addition to negative impacts on their lives due to poor air quality.
Early in 2020, UNDP Mongolia and UNICEF Mongolia’ proposal was selected through a highly competitive process and received funding from the Executive Offices of the UNDP’s Administrator Achim Steiner and UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore to jointly embark on a journey to build a platform that not only would show the air quality at specific locations in Ulaanbaatar City, but also would integrate the citizen generated data and monitor how different air qualities are affecting people socially, health wise, and economically.
Today, we are launching the Haze Gazer platform which set out to do just that. The platform will function as a public eye on air pollution using a combination of official statistics and citizen generated data through social media throughout the Ulaanbaatar City, especially in the ger districts.
Though we are excited about the prospects of the platform, we should also keep in mind that we are piloting this concept for the first time in Mongolia and there is still much more to learn as we press forward.
The successful outcome from the platform is one where there is strong civic engagement, accurate data based on crowdsourcing information from the public and informed decision-making to assist Mongolia to leave no one behind while building forward better to a healthier, inclusive, and sustainable future.
On behalf of UNDP Mongolia and UNICEF Mongolia, I would like to thank all of our partners, experts and expecially the People In Need team for successfully developing the pilot platform.
Thank you all.