On the 23 November 2011, Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, UN RC and UNDP RR in Mongolia gave a lecture on Human Development to students from the School of Foreign Service (SFS) of Mongolian National University (MNU).
During the one hour lecture, Ms. Sinanoglu addressed several key questions regarding Human Development (HD) such as what does HD mean and how it is measured. The concept of the Human Development Rank (HDR) was introduced and how Mongolia’s performance in terms of HDR has changed over time. Special attention was also given to how the mining sector can help promote HD in Mongolia. The major points to come out from some vigorous and very interactive discussions were:
- The Human Development Index (HDI) looks at the lives people lead, not just the commodities or income they happen to possess. Based on three key elements – life expectancy, education (literacy & mean years of schooling) and income – the HDI has been used since 1990 as an alternative measurement of nation’s development.
- Mongolia is considered a medium HDI country currently ranked 110 out of 187 countries in terms of Human Development with a HDI of 0.653 in 2011, up from 0.647 in 2010.
- Many countries ranked below Mongolia have a higher Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. Therefore high GNI per capita is necessary, but not sufficient, for achieving improvements in HDI.
- Revenue from the mining sector now makes up more than a third of Mongolia’s GDP. With the economy forecasted to grow by 20% in 2011 and a continued surge in mining revenue expected, Mongolia should be able to achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle income country (GNI per capita of US$3,976 to US$12,275) in the near future. Mongolia is currently classified as a lower middle income country with a GNI per capita of US$1,890.
- However, increasing incomes is not enough on its own and is only one factor in achieving higher human development - the ultimate goal.
- Mining revenues provide a wonderful opportunity for any country to improve the lives of its people. At an international conference organized by UNDP in October 2011, participants discussed how natural resource wealth can be a transformative source of domestic revenue for developing countries - if managed properly. Conference details are available at <www.undp.mn/mining>
- Mining revenue also carries considerable risks. In many cases the discovery and extraction of mineral resources has been associated with economic mismanagement, political instability, and domestic conflict. Mongolia can utilize extractive industry wealth prudently to promote human development and reduce poverty by investing in sectors such as: education, health, infrastructure, employment creation and social protection.
- It is important to make sure that growth is inclusive, allowing all groups to participate in the development process and benefits all citizens of Mongolia.