Statement by Amb. J. Enkhsaikhan,
Permanent Representative of Mongolia
to the United Nations, on item 98
“Environment and Sustainable Development”

 October 31, 2001                                                                                        New York

 Mr. Chairman,

             Out of all the challenges the world is facing today, achieving balanced social and economic progress, and ensuring environmental sustainability are, truly, global challenges, in scope and nature, and these require equally global response.

             In responding to these challenges the international community has undeniably made great progress in policy formulation, standard-setting and institution-building, at both national and international levels. In Stockholm, and then Rio, the blueprint for international action and cooperation for the promotion of sustainable development, Agenda 21 and other outcomes of UNCED, have been put in place. It contributed significantly to advancing the understanding and awareness of sustainable development principles and practices worldwide.

 As the Secretary-General underlines in his proposed Road map towards implementation of the Millennium Declaration, “the will to carry our commitments already given and to implement strategies already worked out”, and “significant additional resources” in order to implement them are needed now more than technical and feasibility studies.

 Mr. Chairman,

 My delegation is hopeful that these expectations will be met at the World Summit for Sustainable Development to be held in September 2002. The summit is expected to undertake a comprehensive and critical look at the achievements and shortfalls in the implementation of Agenda-21. While States have agreed that funding for the implementation of Agenda 21 and other international commitments should mainly come from countries' own public and private sources, they have also reaffirmed time and again the need to mobilize and provide new and additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to meet the targets of poverty reduction as well as protection of the environment and economic growth.

 Beyond financial concerns, the outcomes of the Summit should have special political impact on further strengthening international consensus on sustainable development. We would like to see this Summit give an impetus for more vigorous cooperative efforts and more robust multilateralism. This opportunity must not be missed.

 Landlocked developing countries are among the most vulnerable in the global economy. Heavy dependence on few export-based sectors, mostly in primary commodities, for economic and social growth increases drastically pressures on natural resources in landlocked developing countries. Resulting depletion of natural resources and pressures on the environment, in its turn, decrease productivity, especially in the agricultural sector, and inhibit economic growth. Thus, in case of Mongolia, increased production of cashmere, one of its leading export items, requires increase in livestock population. This leads to increased pressures on pastures. According to recent data, 78.4 percent of pastures in Mongolia have already been affected by different degrees of degradation. Land degradation, in its turn, has already resulted in heavy losses in animal husbandry during the past two consequent years of extensive drought and heavy snowfall. What we have now, at the end of the day, is both drastically increasing pressures on the environment and a threat of decreased production in agriculture, the backbone of Mongolia’s economy. 

 In this regard, we believe that the World Summit should seriously address the issue of helping these most disadvantaged and vulnerable, including landlocked developing countries, to reap the benefits of globalization and ensure sustainable development. New opportunities should be sought at the World Summit to relieve pressures on the world’s most vulnerable through assistance and cooperative efforts.       

 The regional Agenda 21 round tables, to be held prior to the Summit, should play an important role in this context. They need to focus on elaborating practical proposals and innovative approaches aimed at expediting progress in the implementation of the Rio commitments, drawing on the considerable experience and expertise of independent experts in the field of sustainable development.

 Mr. Chairman,

 As a country with extremely low population density, weak infrastructure and high susceptibility to natural disasters, Mongolia is faced with a host of sustainable development challenges, including drought, desertification and deforestation. While Mongolia is the 17th largest country in the world in terms of its territory, much of the land is non-arable. While over 40 percent of the country’s territory is currently covered by desert, by and large, 95 percent of the total land is considered to be highly susceptible to desertification. In addition, droughts covering as much as 25 per cent of the country’s territory occur every two to three years, entailing a costly burden to its fragile economy.  Over the last 20 years the forested area has significantly shrunk mainly due to forest fires that are caused by tinder dry weather and timber production.

             As a country highly susceptible to natural disasters, where much of the economy is dependent on the environment, Mongolia attaches special significance to full implementation of the objectives of the Agenda 21.

 Therefore, given the particular importance of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), my delegation welcomes the progress achieved at its resumed session in Bonn. We hope that the current Marrakesh meeting will build on the progress achieved at COP 6 in Bonn and will accelerate implementation of the Kyoto Protocol so that before the next year’s World Summit it will become “a political and institutional reality”.

 My delegation also wishes to underline the necessity of continued efforts to combat desertification. In this connection my delegation fully supports the views expressed by the representative of IFAD this morning on the need to strengthen the financial support for the CCD activities and projects. Bearing in mind the overarching role played by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), governments have the responsibility to ensure the adequate replenishment of the Facility as well as to identify ways and means to improve access to its resources. Furthermore, consideration of the scope of GEF's programme activities, particularly with regard to land degradation and desertification, is to be welcomed.

 Nationally, Mongolia attaches high priority to implementation of the provisions of the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification, a convention that has been recognized as the only environmental convention that integrates all the three pillars of sustainable development. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Amb. Diallo, Executive Secretary for CCD on his recent well-deserved reappointment by the Secretary-General for another term and wish him further success in his noble and highly important endeavors.   

 Mr. Chairman,

 Mongolia was the forth country in Asia to adopt its National Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. Within the framework of the National Plan of Action, 14 projects in such areas as sand movement monitoring, forestry rehabilitation, improvement of legal environment and public awareness have been implemented at the national and local levels.

 Cooperation with neighbors, Russia and China, and countries in the immediate neighborhood such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgysztan is developing in areas of environment protection and monitoring, water resource management and trans-boundary water resource usage.

 Despite these efforts, the country faces tremendous difficulties in the implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification. Financial and human resource constraints limit the impact of the Action Plan in most crucial areas such as research, monitoring and coordination. Thus, research on the state of desertification in Mongolia as a whole is still lacking and, consequently, the assessment of the impact of desertification on the overall socio-economic development is still unavailable.         

 Despite the above difficulties, the Government of Mongolia stands resolved to fully implement the National Action Plan in close cooperation with its bilateral and multilateral development partners.

 In conclusion, allow me to reiterate that Mongolia will continue to work actively to make the World Summit a success