Ulaanbaatar, June 13, 2013 — Today, the Engaging Stakeholders for Environmental Conservation (ESEC), implemented by The Asia Foundation in Mongolia with generous funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Foundation itself, held its closing workshop. The ESEC program started in August 2010, building on the Foundation’s previous environmental work under the Securing Our Future Program implemented from 2006-2010 with funding from EKN.
The goal of the ESEC program was to advance responsible resource use and environmental conservation by engaging stakeholders—government, mining companies, and citizens—in the development of Mongolia’s mineral sector contributing to sustained prosperity for all Mongolians. The program had two main objectives: (i) Facilitate positive negotiations between local communities, mining communities, artisanal miners and local government at the soum level and (ii) Achieve positive changes in environmental behavior at the soum level. In the 45 soums (counties) of 14 aimags (provinces) out of a total of 21 in Mongolia in which the program has been implemented, it has worked with government agencies, local citizens, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and mining companies to promote responsible mining practices, to mitigate negative environmental impacts, and to reduce conflicts between stakeholders.
Key results of the ESEC program
Key results of the program include the establishment and institutionalization of 31 local Multi-stakeholders Councils consisting of mining companies, selected artisanal miners, local governments and communities in 14 aimags (provinces) as a successful mechanism to facilitate dialogue at local level on responsible mining practices, mitigation of negative environmental impacts and reducing the potential for conflicts between stakeholders; the implementation of a model land reclamation project on two hectares of an abandoned artisanal mining site in collaboration with local artisanal miners, the local government and a local environment NGO; the implementation of an agricultural alternative income generation project for single mothers working in artisanal mining; and improved environmental protection through the establishment of local environmental monitoring groups in 34 soums of 13 aimags using simple, low-cost water and soil quality monitoring scientific methods to monitor river water and soil quality.
Environmental program continuation and future directions
Since June 2013, in partnership with UNICEF, the Foundation is implementing the 1.5 years “Environmental Protection and School and Household Level Water Treatment and Safe Storage” project in Khuvsgul aimag. The project builds on the water quality monitoring work of the ESEC program and aims to reduce the incidence of water borne diseases by building the capacity of local institutions and partners, and to monitor water quality at the point of source and point of use. The Foundation is planning to continue its environmental work under a potential second phase of the ESEC program focusing more specifically on environmentally responsible sustainable artisanal mining. For more information on the ESEC program, click here [Mongolian language website].