Girl with a herd that Caritas gave her family two years ago after they were hit by extreme frosts. Credit: Caritas Czech

Tegshbayar Sanduijav, agronomist and research officer at Caritas Mongolia, has flown all the way to Qatar, to participate in COP18 as a member of the CI delegation. This is his first COP, and his expectations are built on his experience of climate change in Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, is one of the most polluted cities in the world. This is not due to industrialization, but to vulnerability. The most vulnerable people live at the outskirt of the city in small houses or traditional ger (yurt). These gers are heated using mostly coal and wood, and since Ulaanbaatar is situated among four high mountains, the pollution settled does not divert away even though Mongolia is very windy.

During the summer, many poor families and households use poly-houses to grow vegetables, producing high CO2 emissions. Yet, the use of poly-houses is being increased.

Even though – in the eyes of climate change decision-makers – the problems of Mongolia may not even amount to 1% of the world’s climate change issues, they are gradually worsening. On the ground, Caritas Mongolia intervenes by implementing a Food Security Project introducing Passive Solar Greenhouses, absorbing natural solar warming and releasing it to the vegetables.  By doing so, Caritas Mongolia aims to improving the food security of the most vulnerable along with preventing climate change.

“I expect to learn from the other countries experience on pollution and how to prevent it” says Tegshbayar. “How we can make a change in Mongolia and how we can help the world on climate change issues”. Environmental legislation is very poorly applied in Mongolia. Many mining companies enter the country to get hold of the minerals we have, and since government officials want to make ‘dirty money’, they sell off licenses to them. The mining areas that are sold are mainly situated where also rivers, lakes, hills, forests are. Rehabilitation does not exist at the moment.

Nearly 40 percent of Mongolians are herders: they are the first to suffer from water and fodder shortage, extreme and unpredictable weather. Winter has got even harsher, provoking the death of livestock and crop losses in the countryside. Less rainfall, coupled with strong winds and the absence of vegetation have made almost 90 percent of the entire country vulnerable to desertification.

To properly implement legislation and appropriate programs, strong advocacy is needed. “Advocacy is something we miss in Mongolia” says Tegshbayar. “I hope to learn the best practices whereby small organizations like Caritas Mongolia can advocate towards their governments and other political authorities to mitigate climate change”.