The Sustainable Development Goals in Mongolia
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Mongolia:
22 December 2022
Year in Review 2022: UN Mongolia highlights
A new phase of cooperation for 2023-2027 The Government of Mongolia and the United Nations in Mongolia signed a flagship document that will strategically guide the UN’s development cooperation with Mongolia over the next five years. The United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for Mongolia 2023-2027 is closely aligned with the national development agenda articulated in Vision 2050, Mongolia’s long-term development policy, and UN development system reforms. The Government of Mongolia and the UN have agreed to work together for Mongolia to advance in sustainable development as a prosperous country characterized by an inclusive, resilient, healthy, and safe environment, and a cohesive society based on the rule of law and human rights. UN Secretary-General’s visit and other high-level visits from the UN In 2022, Mongolia received several high-level visitors, including the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who paid an official visit at the invitation of the President of Mongolia, Ukhnaa Khurelsukh. The visit highlighted that Mongolia is a valued UN partner, “a symbol of peace”, and an increasingly important contributor to the work of the UN. UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix visited Mongolia in June and attended the International Women Peacekeepers’ Conference. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay’s visit to Mongolia in 2022 will strengthen the UN’s cooperation with Mongolia in education, science, and culture. Prioritizing the SDGs in the national development agenda The UN in Mongolia has strongly advocated for making the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a national priority throughout 2022. More than 150 partnering organizations, ranging from government entities to leading national companies and civic movements, showcased their work towards the SDGs for the first-ever SDG Open Day at Sukhbaatar Square. The event, attended by at least 5,000 people, provided an excellent opportunity to see where Mongolia is and what needs to be done to inspire and further mobilize actions to achieve its development goals. Mongolia’s efforts to accelerate the implementation of SDGs focus on localizing SDGs and the adoption of nationalized targets and indicators. Some provinces (Darkhan-Uul, Orkhon, and Dundgovi) have already taken up the challenge and championed the localization of the SDGs into their regional development plans and pushed for a climate agenda. Transforming education in Mongolia The Ministry of Education and Science led the first nationwide consultation with education stakeholders from across the country. Supported by the UN system, represented by UNICEF and UNESCO under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mongolia successfully presented its unique initiative to close the gap in the digitalization of the education sector at the Transforming Education Summit held during the UN General Assembly in September 2022. Global Digital Dialogue The UN in Mongolia collaborated with the Mongolian Ministry for Digital Development and Communications (MDDC) to organize the first-ever Global Digital Dialogue (GDD) – a virtual event with over 400 participants from over 30 countries and five continents. Close to 800 people joined the event for more than one Deep Dive Session. The GDD was a platform for countries to exchange their experiences, challenges, and solutions for implementing digital transformation at the country level to help accelerate the SDGs. Developing a multisource information surveillance system for COVID-19 The UN in Mongolia continued its support to strengthen Mongolia’s response and preventive measures in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to WHO’s support, the Mongolian healthcare sector’s data collection system was strengthened. Daily aggregated data on services from all 700 state healthcare facilities in Mongolia and 28 private clinics/hospitals are used for critical decision-making processes, such as healthcare capacity and hospital bed management during emergencies. International women peacekeepers’ conference In June, Mongolia hosted the three-day international conference Strengthening Roles of Women in Peacekeeping. The conference, attended by female peacekeepers from 30 countries, spotlighted Mongolia’s leadership in promoting women in peacekeeping to reduce gender parity in international peacekeeping operations. Mongolia pledged to increase its female peacekeepers by 15 percent by 2027, responding to the UN Department of Peace Operations call. Accelerating climate action and youth engagement In partnership with leading partners, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, UN Mongolia advocated for stronger actions in reversing climate change and leveraging youth power in leading action to save the planet. Facilitated by the UN Association of Mongolia’s Environment Leadership Programme, youth delegates further amplified the voice of Mongolian youth at COP 27. Platforms like the Nationally Determined Contributions: Climate Change and Cities Forum, held in Erdenet in August, are examples of how we facilitated stronger inter-sectoral coordination and the promotion of green finance, technology, innovation, and other solutions for greening Mongolia. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment As a fundamental human right, gender equality has been a top priority for UN Mongolia. To promote women’s leadership at the decision-making level, with the leadership of the UNDP, UN Mongolia provided crucial capacity building directly to over 27,000 beneficiaries nationwide, including aspiring women leaders and politicians, young voters, political party members, and journalists, all of whom would have a substantial impact on their communities and society in general. The UN system also collectively led a campaign on combating gender-based violence in Mongolia. More than 34,000 people from over 260 public and private organizations joined this year’s campaign. They carried out various activities towards ending gender stereotypes, directly reaching over 1.3 million people through social media, traditional media, and other channels. Completion of two joint programs An important milestone in 2022 was the successful completion of two groundbreaking joint programs that facilitated the coordination of collective support from the UN system. The Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) is a key vehicle for mobilizing, aligning, and leveraging resources for SDGs in Mongolia. On August 12, the National Committee for Sustainable Development, Mongolia’s top SDG governing body, fully endorsed the draft Integrated National Financing Strategy, which is now pending final approval from the Ministry of Finance. A joint program on Shock Responsive Social Protection carried out by four UN agencies in 2020-2021, including the ILO as a lead, and UNFPA, UNICEF, and FAO, collectively contributed to a five percent increase in social and health insurance coverage among herders at the national level, according to the General Authority for Social Insurance. In the five target soums in Zavkhan Province, the program saw a 10 percent increase in coverage.
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12 January 2023
Enhancing social protection and disaster response in rural Mongolia
20th February 2020 in Tosontsengel soum, Zavkhan Province. The temperature is -30°C, and the air is fiercely cold at the herders’ camp in the snow-covered hilly countryside. The deep snow made it difficult to continue our journey in 4-Wheel Drive vehicles, requiring us to walk uphill to reach our final destination – the mountainside winter camp of a group of herding families. This was my first experience with Mongolia’s cold, harsh winter after arriving in Mongolia as UN Resident Coordinator. The joint UN team, including UNICEF, UNFPA, ILO, and FAO, was on a mission to launch the first-ever joint UN program funded by the Joint SDG Fund in western Mongolia’s Zavkhan Province. Mongolia, a vast, sparsely populated, landlocked country, is prone to multiple natural disasters and shocks induced by climate change. At the time of our site visit, Mongolia’s western region was experiencing dzud – a natural disaster of extremely harsh and icy winter conditions due to a dry summer, which causes livestock to die in vast numbers due to the cold and a lack of pasture feed and green fodder. We were also assessing the preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing couldn’t have been better for the launch of the UN’s Joint Programme (UNJP) on Social Protection to reduce the vulnerability of Mongolia’s herders, who make up one-third of the country’s population, to natural disasters and other shocks through comprehensive social protection measures. A semi-nomadic lifestyle, constantly moving in search of better pastureland for their herds, makes Mongolian herders and their families most vulnerable to poverty, pushing them to further margins. They also face many challenges in accessing basic social services due to the nature of their lifestyle. Extending social insurance coverage to herders Social protection is a means to reduce the negative impact of any shocks induced by natural calamities. Our joint programme determined that enrolling herders in social insurance is an effective approach to extending their social protection. We found that less than 20 percent of herders enrolled in social insurance schemes, and only 40 percent had health insurance. In our efforts to reverse the reluctance of herders to enrol in social insurance, we had to find innovative and non-traditional approaches while building on existing institutional frameworks and resources for a quick win. More creative incentives and flexible ways to pay the premium were highly encouraged among herder cooperatives. Non-traditional partners such as the National Center for Lifelong Education (NCLE), cooperatives and pastureland user groups, trade unions, employer organizations, and social insurance offices were invited to partner with us in advocating for the benefits of the social insurance program. Herders who had benefited from social insurance were also good advocates. With the approval of the amended Labour Law in 2021, the UNJP further promoted key principles of labour rights, including freedom of association and collective bargaining. The project supported the trade union in expanding its membership to assistant herders, which was elevated to a nationwide campaign with support from ILO. Enhancing shock responsiveness One of the gaps identified in Mongolia’s social protection system is shock responsiveness. When a shock hits, assistance should be immediately available to those who are hit hard and the most vulnerable. Children are among the first to be hit hard and need the most support. Negative impacts on children can include mortality and injury from extreme weather events, as well as disruptions in school attendance, heightened risk of food insecurity, and malnutrition due to declining livelihoods. Our team visited Munkhjargal’s family, with four children aged between 1-15 years old, living in the most challenging and coldest area of Zavkhan Province. They raised their animals in a remote mountainous area and earned seasonal income mostly from their livestock. Many rural children who were at risk due to dzud benefited from the financial support. The families said the cash assistance was timely and useful, enabling them to take early action for their children to prevent further suffering. Seeing the direct benefit of such interventions to reduce vulnerability, the Government of Mongolia scaled up the programme to all children in Mongolia up to 18 years of age as of December 2022. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people struggled through prolonged lockdowns, and Children’s Money was a means for many to survive hardships. Using existing systems, the cash grant pilot went smoothly without causing additional burdens for the national and local social welfare systems. As the cash grant was not subject to any bank fees and not used to pay for household loans or interest payments, piloting the programme through the existing system was the least costly administrative solution for directly reaching beneficiaries and meeting their needs. Therefore, it is ground-breaking in terms of taking early and timely action to protect the well-being of children from extreme weather events, which are increasing because of climate change. Further benefits of shock-responsive social protection measures It was my utmost pleasure to witness some of the impactful results at the event held toward the close of the project when I visited Zavkhan again in April 2022. Ultimately, the project sought to increase herders’ resilience to shocks and vulnerability through sustainable interventions that will make them more independent in the long run. FAO supported Herders for enhancing resilience through the Resilience Index Measurement and Analysis (RIMA) tool One of these interventions was supporting their entrepreneurial skills and helping them set up start-ups led by UNFPA Otgondemberel, a herder from Ikh-Uul, Zavkhan Province, presented some of his work to the UN Secretary-General when he visited Mongolia in August 2022. Thanks to support from the UN’s joint programme, he started a small project to process sheepskin and hides for animal husbandry products. He was able to earn extra income that helped him to purchase social insurance for himself and his family. Looking back at the work completed by the project, 14 start-ups have already stood up on their feet, contributing to the betterment of the livelihood of herders. These start-ups benefited from the project’s business incubation service, including financial and marketing training for improved entrepreneurship skills. While assisting herders with their hard skills, we needed to address their physical and social health by offering them life-skill training. Building their soft skills, like better communication, avoiding substance abuse, managing stress, awareness raising on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and the prevention of gender-based violence, was an essential part of a holistic approach. Through these practical approaches orchestrated by UN Mongolia, social and health insurance coverage increased by five per cent among herders at the national level, according to the General Authority for Social Insurance. In the five target soums in Zavkhan Province, the program saw a 10 percent increase in coverage. Moreover, thanks to the SDG Joint Fund, the four UN agencies in Mongolia joined forces and pooled funds for greater coherence and stronger impact to make a difference in delivering a development program that aimed to improve the resilience of herders – one of the vulnerable groups at risk to be left behind. Each agency brought its best and unique assets to the successful implementation of the program. This proved that through a unified and collective offer, the UN system can fulfill the promise to bring about substantial positive change in its partner country.
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06 December 2022
Kana Endo: Voluntarism is a gate for you if you want to make a difference
Hello. I am Kana Endo, an international UNV from Japan at the UN’s Resident Coordinator Office (RCO) in Mongolia. On this International Volunteer Day, please let me use this opportunity to introduce my UNV (United Nations Volunteers) experience in the hope to promote voluntarism among youths in Mongolia. Currently, there are a national UNV and three international UNVs at United Nations in Mongolia. I am one of the international UNVs here, working as a Communication and Advocacy Assistant at the RCO in Mongolia from September 2022 to February 2023. Looking back on my childhood, I liked learning new things but at the same time was very shy and introverted. However, I was very passionate about learning English and cultures in different countries. Therefore, I chose a high school with English course had been dreaming of one day studying abroad. My childhood dream came true when I went to Oregon, the United States for starting my whole new life at Lane Community College in 2019. This was one of the most engaging and eye-opening experience in my life. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted my plan to explore my future in the United States just as it disrupted many people’s lives and plans. The pandemic stirred up some prejudice and discrimination against people from the Asian race in the United States. This has made a profound impact on me and made me rethink my future plans, which resulted in my return to Japan once. Now, I am a senior student at Meiji Gakuin University in Japan majoring in international studies. I was transferred to this university from my college in the States the due to the hardships related to the pandemic. Now, I am grateful for the life experiences and opportunities that influenced and helped shape my worldviews and set my life values, which I will use to the fullest. I found more purpose and ambition to make more impact on the world we live in. Therefore, I jumped on the opportunity to join the UN Volunteers when I heard about this international opportunity to make a difference. As mentioned earlier, even now I am an introverted and shy person, especially in the new environment and with people. However, it does not matter if you have some courage and passion about something to dive into a whole new world. I believe that I am the only person who can change me and make things possible. For this reason, I always challenge myself even keeping away from my comfort zone to learn and improve myself. As a volunteer, I support communication and advocacy at the RCO in Mongolia. To do so, I create visual content and messages on social platforms to raise awareness of global issues, as well as communicate on what the UN is doing in Mongolia. One of the most challenging parts of my work is how to localize global topics and find the most effective and interactive ways to communicate with people. Moreover, I am doing the best I can and learning at the same time. This UNV experience also validated my life goal and dream to serve in an international organization like the UN as I am majoring in international studies. Before joining the UNV program, I thought I was well aware and knowledgeable about global issues. However, I found out that there is so much to learn. Joining the world’s largest organization – the UN – and seeing its work towards the global issues from inside gave me a different perspective. I am now more confident than ever that our actions and engagement as youth are more important to bring positive changes in our communities. I am very grateful for the opportunities to engage with youths in Mongolia through different existing platforms within the UN in Mongolia, such as UNYAP (United Nations Youth Advisory Panel), Youth Delegate event by the UN Association, and the Model United Nations Event at the National University of Mongolia. I am amazed to see how youths here are highly active and committed to learning about global issues and taking action. So far, my UNV experience here has been remarkably interesting and meaningful. Before joining RCO in United Nations Mongolia as a UNV, to be honest I never pictured myself living in Mongolia. Even though Mongolia and Japan are only five hours of flight away but just didn’t have any chance to visit this country. In conclusion, my message to you is to challenge yourself to gain meaningful knowledge. Sometimes the decision that seems difficult will turn out to be the best opportunity for your growth and give you new perspectives. Be confident and try to take a step away from your comfort zone! With these, you might see a new world. I am sure that UNV experience is one of the best ways to find your passion and skills. It is also a great chance to practice for your future career. So, if you are interested in something and have a chance, please give it a try!
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16 June 2022
People for Peace: Brigadier General Bolor Ganbold
Every day, United Nations peacekeepers work to protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in the world’s most fragile political and security situations. Civilian and uniformed personnel in peacekeeping missions support ceasefires, prevent and respond to violence, investigate human rights violations and abuses, and help build peace, recovery, and development in many conflict-affected countries. As Mongolia marks its 20 years of UN peacekeeping deployment by hosting an international conference on women in peacekeeping from 16th to 18th June 2022, we spoke to the country’s first woman General who is also a former Blue helmet. Brigadier General Bolor Ganbold from Mongolia currently heads the Military Training and Education Department of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces. In 2010, she was deployed to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2013. She also worked as a Peacekeeping Affairs Officer within UN Peacekeeping’s Current Military Operations Service (CMOS) in New York after her peacekeeping deployments. Then-Colonel Ganbold was conferred the rank of Brigadier General on Mongolian Military Day (celebrated on March 18th), making her the country’s first female general. “When I was a teenager, most people of my generation could not fully enjoy the freedom of choosing their own career paths. Instead, we were guided by our parents. Following that tradition, I chose the military school as my mother advised me to. Luckily,r when I graduated from high school, the Military University of Mongolia started recruiting female cadets for the first time. An aspiration for young women In 2010, I was deployed as the first Mongolian female staff officer to MINURCAT. Fast forward to March 2022, when I became my country’s first female general; I was proud of myself, but I was also feeling anxious. I knew this was bigger than me. It was an aspiration for thousands of uniformed female personnel in my country. I find it very valuable that young women can be inspired by my promotion and believe that they can achieve the same thing I did. In a male-dominated environment, women (peacekeepers) help reduce and prevent friction and conflict and bring positive approaches to effectively address the needs of the communities, especially for women and girls during or after conflicts. Women’s presence should no longer need to be justified However, in my early deployments, I observed that Mongolia’s female peacekeepers faced various barriers preventing them from fully developing their potential as peacekeepers. For example, one of the significant problems experienced by female peacekeepers, especially in the military contingents, was that they were seldom allowed by their contingent leadership to leave the base to interact with the locals. Having access to the host communities is particularly important in principle, but in practice, it was very much restricted to inspiring, assisting, and engaging with the women in the peacekeeping compound. Therefore, it is important to allow more opportunities for female peacekeepers to perform the tasks that men do. History shows us that there have been female warriors since ancient times, and there are women currently serving in conflict zones. However, men still outnumber women in the armed forces, and women are still too often confined to supportive roles rather than combat roles. This traditional gender roles attribution prevents women from being promoted and blocks them from advancing in careers and rank in the security sector. Women’s presence should no longer need to be justified in peace operations.” This story was first published on the UN Peacekeeping blog Note of the editor: Mongolia currently deploys up to 890 uniformed personnel to UN peace operations, among which women make up 21.43% of their individual military officers and 7.77% of troops, in line with its commitment toward the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
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14 July 2022
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