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GCF invests $23.1m towards building climate resilience of Mongolian herder communities

At the 27th meeting of its Board, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 approved a new $23.1 million grant towards strengthening the climate resilience of herder communities in Mongolia.

Mongolian herder
A Mongolian herder

Approximately 26,000 households (130,000 people), living across four of the country’s most remote and vulnerable Western and Eastern aimags (provinces) are set to benefit, with a further 160,000 households (800,000 people) to benefit indirectly – around one quarter of Mongolia’s national population.

The project brings together climate-informed natural resources management and sustainable livestock practices, building on traditional cooperative approaches among herders while also introducing innovative technologies for traceability of sustainably sourced livestock products.

It will enhance the generation and use of climate prognosis data in decision-making; rehabilitate degraded land and catchment areas; improve herders’ water and grazing land management practices; and strengthen herders’ access to markets for sustainably sourced livestock products. Crucially, it will also support the policy transformations needed to promote sustainable livestock and pasture management practices.

Mongolia is subject to a range of natural disasters, including harsh winters, drought, snow and dust storms. Climate change is multiplying the challenges: over the last decade, the magnitude and frequency of such disasters have increased several fold, with estimated economic costs around $10-15 million annually. The disasters take a heavy toll on livestock and rural livelihoods.

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Increased temperatures, coupled with decreased precipitation, have resulted in a drying trend affecting pastures and water sources, and shifting natural zones – in turn impacting the natural resources on which herders and livestock rely.

COVID-19 has further exposed the vulnerability of the livestock sector to shocks, with the fluctuations in demand compounding existing challenges, and reinforcing the importance of green recovery and resilient growth.

“The impacts of climate change are a major concern in Mongolia, contributing to land degradation and desertification,” said Minister for Environment and Tourism, Ms. Sarangerel Davaajantsan. “With the grant from the Green Climate Fund complementing $56.2 million from the Government, this project will contribute to a paradigm shift towards more climate-resilient sustainable development, particularly with focus on disaster risk reduction.”

“It will reap multiple benefits, including supporting vulnerable herder families’ livelihoods by offering more options but also improved access to markets in which they can sell their products – a significant socio-economic benefit. At the same time, it will also bring considerable long-term environmental benefits, including more resilient rehabilitated land and river basin areas, and improved conservation of water resources while strengthening disaster management and development planning to build forward Mongolia better.”

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Developed over several years with the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in close consultation with the Government of Mongolia, communities, development partners and academia, the new seen-year project will be led by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry as a key partner.

Among its key focuses will be to:

  • Work with the National Agency Meteorology and the Environmental Monitoring, and National Emergency Management Agency, towards climate risk-informed planning,
  • Work with herder communities to enhance cooperation on the sustainable use and stewardship of shared land and water resources,
  • Support the rehabilitation of degraded areas, including 2,500 hectares of catchment reforestation,
  • Improve water access through protection of natural springs, construction of new water wells, rehabilitation of existing wells and water harvesting measures,
  • Identify public-private-community partnerships for sustainably sourced, climate-resilient livestock products, and
  • Work with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry to improve traceability for sustainably sourced, climate-resilient livestock products.
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The project will also place a strong emphasis on the voices of female herders and female-headed households in decision-making, ensuring equal representation in training and community activities, and access and control over resources.

“As a trusted partner of the Government of Mongolia, UNDP is pleased to co-implement this transformative cross-sectoral project which comes at a critical time – a time in which the challenges of realizing SDGs have doubled due to the adverse impacts of COVID-19, especially, for marginalised and rural communities.” said Resident Representative for UNDP Mongolia, Elaine Conkievich.

“Taken together, the interventions will help to reduce volatility – and thus loss from climate shocks – help diversify households’ incomes, reduce pressure on rangelands resources, and promote responsible and fair usage of the limited resources.”

The project’s design links closely with Mongolia’s National Action Program on Climate Change, Vision 2050, and policies related to the livestock sector, as well as its Nationally Determined Contributions under the global Paris Agreement.

Implementation is expected to begin mid-2021.

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