The Government of Mongolia’s latest initiative on “Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Maintain Water Security in Critical Water Catchments in Mongolia” to be implemented by the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, with support by UNDP, commenced with an Inception Workshop held on June 15, 2012 in Kempinski Khan Palace Hotel, Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia.
Mr. Batsuuri. N, State Secretary of Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism (MNET) and Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, Resident Representative of UNDP Mongolia opened the Inception Workshop of Stakeholders and emphasized the important contributions the project is expected to make for climate change adaptation efforts nationally and globally. The workshop was chaired by Dr. Dagvadorj. D., the National Project Director and a Special Envoy on Climate Change, and Chairman of the Climate Change Coordination Office at MNET.
The project is the first in Mongolia to be funded by the Adaptation Fund, a climate finance mechanism established to support concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The new project will be implemented in Ulz River basin in Khentii and Dornod Aimags in Eastern Mongolia, and in the basins of Turgen and Kharkhiraa Rivers in Uvs Aimag in the West of the country.
Following a series of consultations with local stakeholders in the target areas of the project, the objective of the Inception Workshop was to validate project design, expected results and the implementation arrangements through a final review process before commencement of project activities. Representatives from the relevant government agencies at national level, from the Aimags and Soums with shared responsibilities for river basin management, from research institutions and non-government organizations participated in the workshop’s discussions.
The first workshop session provided background information on the emerging architecture of climate finance to support low emission and climate resilient development, background on the Kyoto Protocols’ Adaptation Fund, and on “Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EBA)”, one of many ways to address emerging challenges of climate change. Presentations on the topics were delivered by Dr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Senior Technical Advisor, Adaptation (Global), Energy and Environment, UNDP, Dr. D. Dagvadorj, Mongolia Special envoy on climate change, and by Ms Midori Paxton, Regional Technical Advisor on Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Energy and Environment Group, UNDP.
In the second session, presenters from national agencies provided updates on legislation and on the status of the ecosystems and water resources in the target areas. Dr. Batbayar, Z. Deputy Director of the Water Authority of the Ministry for Nature, Environment and Tourism, elaborated on the recent amendments to the legislation on water, which provides for the establishment of in total of 29 administrations mandated with integrated river basin management in Mongolia as well as river basin councils which will be civil society organizations with advisory and monitoring functions. Dr. D. Davaa of the National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM) gave details on the hydrology and status of water resources in the target river basins.
The National Project Coordinator, Ms. Munkhjargal Ts., introduced the general project design and Ms. Sumiyasuren, J., Strategic Planning Expert of the project, and Dr. Sabine Schmidt, Expert for Project Inception Support, shared the findings of stakeholder consultations that the project team had held in the target areas in May and early June. These consultations had been organized as a series of workshops bringing together government officials and citizens, namely herders, from the Aimags and Soums that use and manage the landscapes and natural resources of the river basins.
During the afternoon session, Inception Workshop participants worked in groups to review key activities, baselines, targets and indicators. They presented their suggestions to the plenary and the final project framework was agreed by all participants.
In total, 80 men and 52 women, took part in the Inception Workshop, representing national government organizations, research and science institutions, Aimag and Soum Governments, and NGOs including WWF, Environmental Citizens Council and local NGOs.
Local level discussions
Local meetings with participants from all three Aimags and 17 Soums took place in Undurkhaan City (Khentii Aimag Center), in Bayan Uul Soum of Khentii Aimag, and in Choibalsan City (Dornod Aimag Center) in the East, and in Ulaangom City (Uvs Aimag Center) in the West. A participatory planning process had guided participants through a threat analysis, defined causes of impacts and threats to ecosystems, and initiated local planning and collaboration to address the threats and implement adaptation measures. Both climate change and challenges in local resource management practices were identified as causes of the degradation of ecosystems in the river basins; livestock and pasture management featured as high priorities to address integrated land-use and water resources management, followed by mining and forest management.
The local consultations laid a foundation for river basin management based on shared responsibilities and engaged local governments and communities as key implementers of the local project activities. Participants drafted maps on the condition of key resources in their soum, identified priority sites for restoration and conservation activities and prepared plans on Soum and Aimag level to address ecosystem threats. Joint planning for integrated river basin management was discussed and joint objectives for up-stream to mid-stream communities, and for mid-stream to downstream communities were developed.
The joint plans reflect the needs to manage pasture lands within carrying capacity, to re-vitalize traditional nomadic pastoral practices, to effectively restore riparian areas, to conduct comprehensive baseline studies, to expand and enhance hydrological monitoring, and to build local capacity for these activities. A total of 228 representatives of from Aimag and Soum level contributed to the local consultations.
Following the consultations, the project team had revised the project framework of targets to be achieved and indicators to be measured and developed a work plan for 2012 and 2013. The revised framework was presented to participants of the national Inception Workshop by Sabine Schmidt, who also shared international experiences, namely from the NW United States, in ecological restoration in river basins, especially measures in livestock and range management in riparian areas that might be applicable to rural Mongolia. Ms. Munkhjargal presented the annual work plan.
Economic valuation workshop
The Inception Workshop was preceded by a one-day meeting to discuss Economic Valuation Studies to be undertaken alongside the implementation of project activities. While concrete measures in adaptation and ecosystem restoration and conservation under the second project component are a key feature of the project, other project components are concerned with the development of Ecosystem based Adaptation (EBA) strategies at landscape level (Component 1) in the two target regions, and with capacity development, institutional strengthening and mainstreaming of Ecosystem based Adaptation approaches in sector policies and national strategies (Component 3).
In this context, the Economic Valuation Studies are to quantify the economic impacts of ecological changes through climate change impacts, and to measure the economics costs and benefits of alternative adaptation strategies to cope with these changes. The studies will be an important prerequisite to develop the landscape level strategies.
The Workshop on Economic Valuation Studies took place on June 14, 2012, in the Ulaanbaatar Hotel in Ulaanbaatar City, Mongolia. It was opened by Mr. Dagvadorj D., National Project Director, and Mr. Thomas Eriksson, DRR, UNDP Mongolia. Participants were from among academia and research institutions, representing expertise both in natural sciences and in economics. Furthermore, key national experts on climate change monitoring and risk assessment, and decision and policy makers from government agencies and different sectors were present.
The workshop included presentations to share current experiences and policies in Mongolia with regard to the economic valuation of natural resources and ecosystem services, as well as international experiences. Specifically, an overview of currently accepted economic approaches and methodologies for valuation was presented by Prof. R. Mendelsohn, Yale University and discussed in the Mongolian context in order to gauge applicability to the economic valuation assessments to be undertaken as part of this project.
The first workshop session commenced with a presentation by Mr. Dagvadorj on “Government Policies, Programs, and Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation”, followed by an outline of “Economic Valuation of Natural Resources/Ecosystems - Approaches and Experiences in Mongolia, and their Role in Development Planning” presented by by Ms. Erdenetsetseg. S, of the Ministry for Nature, Environment and Tourism (MNET). Representatives of the Aimags (provinces) in the target areas (Khentii, Dornod and Uvs) made presentations on “Aimag/Regional Development Strategies, Climate Change Impacts and Key Issues in Livestock, Water, Mining and Tourism Sectors” in their respective Aimags.
The presentations by the Yale Study Team on the concept of and approach to Economic Valuation Studies generated extensive discussions and questions from the audience. The development of the implementation framework for the Economic Valuation Studies commenced with the proposed option that the National Development and Innovation Committee (NDIC) of Mongolia will take the lead in providing policy guidance and directing a Task Force to advance the studies. For the execution of the study components, national experts will be contracted; a series of trainings will provide capacity development in the field of economic valuation of natural resources/ecosystems.