Mongolia: UNDP chief calls for people-centred sustainable development as country faces mining boom

Oct 19, 2011

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark meets a herder family in Hustai National Park. (Credit: UNDP)

Ulaanbaatar - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark traveled 100 kilometres west of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, today to Hustai National Park to meet with herders, women entrepreneurs, representatives from the national Chamber of Commerce and other beneficiaries and partners of UNDP programmes in the country. Inside a cluster of gers, which are Mongolian traditional round felt dwellings, Helen Clark toured a range of UNDP project exhibitions and spoke with those who have been involved with the initiatives in the areas of environment, livelihood creation and local governance.

“I’m coming to Mongolia at a time when it had a mineral boom taking off and a lot of things are changing in Mongolia very fast,” Helen Clark said. “For UNDP, we’re interested in Mongolia being able to lift the human development of its people as all of these things are happening.”

Miss Clark and project staff and beneficiaries discussed the work on sustainable land management to combat desertification, energy efficient building techniques, and community based conservation. The environment is a priority focus of UNDP’s programme in Mongolia because desertification and degradation of pastureland, forests and water are an increasing challenge in the vast grasslands, forested mountains and open steppes of the country.

“UNDP has been working with Mongolia as it prepares its position for the Durban convention on climate change, and looks to how it can benefit from the future climate finance,” Helen Clark said.

She also spoke with Mongolian women who benefited from training and business management for generating income, particularly in rural areas or regions affected by the devastating dzud—an extremely snowy winter which causes animals to starve—that wiped out much of the country’s livestock and herders’ income source. UNDP-supported vocational training has enabled women to run small businesses such as felt and wool processing, dairy processing, and organic farming. The Administrator viewed their crafts and organic vegetables that were part of the exhibit.

A third ger, or dwelling, focused on projects that foster democratic governance, such as providing local governments with grants to carry out development projects with the participation of area residents. UNDP’s access to justice projects support the Mongolian government in offering a range of free legal services, especially to the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

The field trip brought the Administrator through parts of Hustai National Park where she saw Mongolia’s Takhi horses in the wild. She was presented with a foal as a gift adoption in support of this breed of horse that is being re-introduced into the wild in Mongolia after near extinction in the 1960s. The Administrator named her adopted foal, Aroha, the Maori word for ‘love’. She ended the day with a visit to a traditional herder family in their ger to learn more about how herder families live and work.

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