Economic Section hosts a “Coffee & Roundtable”
June 13, 2012
The Economic Section recently hosted a “Coffee & Roundtable on Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility” that drew 39 people representing government, business, NGOs, academia, and journalism. Attendees included representatives from several ministries, the National Development and Innovation Committee, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the Nature Conservancy, World Bank, UNDP, Peabody Energy, Oyu Tolgoi, General Electric, Wagner Asia, USAID, the journal “Mongolian Economy,” and the Embassy.
The gathering successfully fostered networking, dialogue, and an exchange of ideas on ways to promote and achievable environmentally sound and sustainable development in Mongolia. It was also an opportunity to say farewell to our departing environment, science, technology and health (ESTH) officer, Susan Russell, and introduce her replacement, Charles Montgomery, to key contacts.
Our discussions confirmed growing engagement on these issues by ordinary Mongolian citizens and the sense of empowerment that comes with it. We learned that companies see environmental stewardship less as an “add-on” than as part of an integrated approach that is simply smart for business. And we learned that the attendees would welcome more such opportunities in the future. Some suggested that we consider making it a regular event held at appropriate intervals.
Post plans to use the comments and observations we heard in policy discussions and to guide design of ESTH-related programs and initiatives. These comments and observations include:
- Focus on developing renewable energy as well as the large coal resources in Mongolia.
- Create social development funds from mining income and distribute fairly using transparent criteria.
- Strictly enforce “best in class” practices in any activity that impacts or potentially impacts the environment, such as surface mining.
- The need to improve the legal and institutional framework surrounding environmental and commercial issues.
- Increase local citizens’ participation in sustainable development efforts.
- Improve management of water resources.
- Improve ecological education of pre-school children.