Mongolia’s natural resource boom must benefit all citizens, says UN Development Chief

Oct 20, 2011

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with a felt processing entrepreneur who is part of the Enterprise Mongolia project. (Credit: UNDP)

Ulaanbaatar The revenue generated from Mongolia’s abundant natural resources should benefit all of its citizens, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said today wrapping up her three-day official visit to the country. 

“I am convinced that natural resources can drive human development if they are managed in transparent, inclusive, and sustainable ways,” Clark said today at an international conference on extractive industries.

“UNDP exists to support human development, and we want to see the wealth that a country has actually flow through to lift living standards on a more uniform basis,” she added.  “We’ve seen so many cases where extractive industry booms generate a lot of GDP growth and wealth, but it doesn’t affect poverty reduction.”

Mongolia has experienced huge growth in its mining sector during the past decade, with mining representing 70 percent of exports.  Coal is the largest commodity, followed by copper.  The conference, co-hosted by UNDP and the Government of Mongolia, addressed how countries have handled their extractive industries’ sectors, and how the wealth generated can best be used to support sustainable human development and avoid the “resource curse.”

She said that with good government policies and a sound long-term development plan, countries can avoid the effects of “the resource curse”, and provide quality public services such as education and health care to their citizens.

During her visit, Helen Clark met with Mongolia’s Prime Minister Sukhbaataryn Batbold, Minister of Finance, S. Bayartsogt, senior government officials, and civil society organizations.  In all of the meetings she discussed the country’s progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—eight internationally-agreed goals which seek to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2015—and how to address the areas that are lagging.

Mongolia has shown an average growth of nine percent per year, largely due to copper prices and gold production, and good progress towards the MDGs, but poverty has persisted: More than 30 percent of the population live on less than US$1.25 a day.

At a celebration yesterday marking Mongolia’s 50th anniversary of United Nations membership, Helen Clark cited Mongolia’s significant contributions to UN peacekeeping, its participation in important decisions related to global security and development, and its cooperation in a wide range of social and economic mandates of the UN agencies.

Miss Clark also met with more than a dozen Mongolian women leaders to exchange ideas on promoting women’s political empowerment. Women are active in most arenas of the economy and society in the country, but significant gender-based disparities persist including in political decision-making where there are only three female Members of Parliament.

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