Mongolia

Project title Sector SCP practice
Green Products and Labelling Food and beverage, Textile and leather industry Eco-labels, Product design for sustainability
Greener Construction Project Building materials industry Cleaner Production, Product design for sustainability
Recycling Building Materials Building materials industry Waste Management
Sheep Wool Building Materials Building materials industry Product design for sustainability

Focal point

Bulgan Tumendemberel

Head of Green Development Strategy and Policy Planning Department

Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism

Status of SCP policy framework

Mongolia is a landlocked country bordered by China and Russia. It has rich endowment of mineral resources, such as copper, gold, uranium and coal. Foreign direct investment is mainly directed towards the mining industry and this is as well an important source of government revenues. 
Due to its geographic location Mongolia is vulnerable to climate change and the effects have already been felt in the form of changing rainfall patterns and increasing incidence of grass and forest fires. Water resources are generally scarce and infrastructure for seasonal storage and irrigation are far from sufficient. Other environmental challenges include air pollution, mainly due to coal burning and emissions from vehicles in Ulaanbaatar, deforestation and forest degradation, partly as a result of illegal logging, soil erosion and desertification, caused mostly by overgrazing in combination with natural factors.

The development of Mongolia is mainly guided by its 15-year plan (2007-2021), entitled “Millennium Development Goals-based Comprehensive National Development Strategy of Mongolia” (NDS)
The document provides fairly concrete policy directions along with some details for the policy tools to be employed.

NDS represents fairly traditional development pathway based on strong economic growth. The country plans to expand its economy by exploiting its mining resources for export while gradually moving up the value chains by building up the capacity for industrial processing and manufacturing. 

One of the six priorities identified in the NDS deals with environmental protection. The strategy also contains a separate section on environmental policy, which lists five strategic objectives related to the following areas: pollution control, use of land and mineral resources, water resources, forests, and biodiversity. 

Mongolian Law foresees a large number of resource related fees, such as fees for hunting, forest use, water withdrawal, and mining. This trend is interesting from the perspective of SCP since this system applies the polluter-pays approach. However the fees were set in nominal terms and are not adjusted in line with inflation making this a relatively ineffective control measure but a good start to shape consumption patterns of the population. 

Resource consumption and production

Main Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (2010)

Population (thousands) 2800 (2011)
GDP (million USD) 8567 (2011)
GDP is in USD exchange rate based on year 2005 and deflated.
Source: UNSD database.
Subject Area Total Per person Per USD$ of GDP
Domestic Material Consumption, DMC
(tonnes, tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$)
60,171,488.00 22.18 0.007
GHG emissions
(kilotonnes,tonnes per capita, kgr per 1USD$)
24,860.38 9.16 2.90
Total Primary Energy Supply, TPES
(Petajoules, Gigajoules per capita, Megajoules per 1USD$)
187.92 69.27 2.19
Water Use
(Trillion litres, Kilolitres per capita, Litres per 1USD$)
0.55 203.10 6.4
Subject Area Indicator
Population density 2015 (UNESA 2012 revision), population per sq.km 2
GDP per capita (USD), 2013 WB 4,056.40
HDI Rank (2013) UNDP 0.698
Arable land (hectares per person) WB 2012 0.23
Forest cover in % (2010), UNSTATS 7
Material intensity (2010)UNEP 17.42
Per-capita energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita) 2011, WB 1,310
Energy intensity (total primary energy consumption per USD of GDP) 2011, EIA 27,918.09
GHG intensity (2010) UNEP 7.2
CO2 emissions (metric tone per capita), 2010, WB 4.2
Number of Middle Class consumers % (2010), ADB 52
Number of people with income < 2USD/day (PPP, USD, %), 2010, ADB 48

Trends in Resource Consumption and Resource Efficiency Indicators (1970-2010)

DE: Domestic Extraction;
MI: Material Intensity of the economy;
MF: Material Footprint.
All other abbreviations explained in the table above

In panel a) the most rapid growth for Mongolia was in GHG emissions and GDP, with most of the increase of GHGs concentrated in the period from 1970 to 1990, while GDP growth was stronger in later years. DMC also grew strongly for a brief period in the 1980s, but then largely levelled off. The trajectory of DMC clearly reflects an abrupt increase in DE of metal ores in 1984 (panel b), followed by commencement of recorded fossil fuel extraction the subsequent year. Renewed growth in DE in the latest years is driven by expanded fossil fuel extraction, while DE per capita of biomass has been in steady decline since 1980. Mongolia’s MF per capita, in panel c), began the period 1990 to 2010 much higher than DE in gross terms, but by the end of the period was less than one half DE. This indicates Mongolia has gone from a strong reliance on resources embodied in imports to being a net source of resources to other countries. Panels d), e) and f) indicate that there has been strong relative decoupling of economic growth from each of the six different metrics for material, energy, and GHG intensity. In most cases that decoupling was concentrated in the first decade of the period 1990 to 2010. Footprinting metrics are largely consistent in indicating lower consumption per capita and lower intensities than conventional DMC/TPES/GHG metrics.

(Source: UNEP CSIRO Indicators for a Resource Efficient and Green Asia and the Pacific, 2015).

Key references relevant to SCP

UNEP's relevant activities

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