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  • Writer's pictureAbdul Rafay Afzal

Exploring the Environmental Efforts of Mongolia's Green Diplomacy

Mongolia's "One Billion Trees" National Campaign is a bold response to the environmental crises faced by our planet. In an era where green diplomacy is increasingly significant, this initiative positions Mongolia as an exciting, emerging player in the global environmental arena.


Taking the Bull by the Horns

As Oyunsanaa Byambasuren, Director-General of the Forestry Agency of Mongolia, elucidates, this ambitious project, inspired by the Mongolian President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, is being meticulously implemented in three phases: "preparation, activation, and stabilization". Each stage showcases a considered approach towards environmental conservation and climate action, allowing Mongolia to demonstrate its commitment to these globally crucial causes.



Air Pollution and The Role of Trees

Mongolia, particularly its capital Ulaanbaatar, is grappling with severe air pollution. During the winter, smoke from stoves and power plants often blankets the city, creating hazardous air quality conditions. Forests, often dubbed as the 'lungs of the Earth', can significantly aid in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, hence improving air quality. By prioritizing tree planting, Mongolia is taking a direct approach in tackling its air pollution crisis head-on.


Mongolia's green diplomacy

The recent figures shared by Byambasuren reflect promising progress, with the successful planting of 28 million trees so far, and the number of seedlings boosted from 7-8 million to 60 million. It's an encouraging start that signals the campaign's potential to significantly mitigate Mongolia's air quality issues in the long-term.


A Progressive Approach: Local Solutions for Global Challenges

Another commendable facet of the campaign is its endeavor to source 100% of its seed and sapling resources locally. This aligns with sustainable development goals of boosting local production and mitigating globalization-related environmental impacts. Simultaneously, it ensures that the planted trees are well-suited to the region's unique climate, optimizing their chances of survival and growth.

The proactive engagement from a myriad of sectors, including private enterprises, professional organizations, banking, and foreign investment entities, suggests the campaign's wide acceptance and support within Mongolia's socio-economic fabric. Additional engagement from international organizations further underscores the global impact of the campaign.


Overseer of Credentials and Quality

As Mongolia ventures into extensive afforestation, concerns around the quality of seeds and seedlings, their prices, direct purchases, and their eventual evaluation become paramount. By pursuing a market-driven principle for procurement and pricing, Mongolia is ensuring fairness and encouraging competition, which in turn would enhance the quality of the input resources. This balancing act between economic dynamics and ecological requirements further contributes to the nuanced and comprehensive approach of the campaign.


The campaign also prompted the establishment of the Forest Genetic Resources Center and the upcoming Soil Innovation and Technology Center, both operated by the state-owned Erdenet Mining Corporation. These establishments serve to endorse Mongolia's commitment to sustainable forestry and land management, bolstering the nation's green credentials and resilience.



Drawing Global Lessons

Mongolia is setting an example for nations worldwide, demonstrating that sustainable development and climate diplomacy can coexist and synergize each other. Encouragingly, the campaign is also instigating relevant legal discussions around the Law on Forest and the Land Law. These dialogues show promise in laying a robust legal groundwork that could aid future forestation campaigns and potentially influence global environmental legal frameworks.


Even more critically, these actions underscore Mongolia's understanding that effective climate action will need a concurrent and supportive financial architecture. As Byambasuren shared, the country is currently considering a central fund to manage resources for the campaign, signaling the priority placed on financial discipline and management.


In conclusion, the "One Billion Trees" National Campaign is more than an afforestation initiative—it is a national, real-time experiment in green diplomacy, sustainable development, inter-sector cooperation, and governance.


As Mongolia strikes a delicate balance between environmental, economic, and legal aspects, it stands as a testament to positive climate action in the face of considerable challenges. Thus, an ambitious idea conceived in the steppes of Mongolia is now reaching maturity, bearing fruit not only domestically but setting the stage for significant international reappraisal and influence. Indeed, through its billion trees, Mongolia is planting the seeds of a sustainable, green future for us all.


Abdul Rafay Afzal is from Lahore, Pakistan currently a law student at Liverpool John

Moores University, UK. He writes perceptive columns on geopolitics, international

relations, and legal affairs in more than 8 countries providing unique insights

into the global landscape in different Pakistani and International Newspapers and

Media outlets in English and Urdu languages.

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