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Lessons learned from Mongolia NCAP Project

Building an institutional environment for adaptation

Having realized that adaptation measures will be hard to implement without a strong and committed institutional framework, the project team has sought to contribute to the process of institution building and has actively engaged with policymakers at different levels to bring up the issue of climate change adaptation.

Developing a strong institution for adaptation was considered to be a necessary step because experiences from the past have shown that policy measures often only exist on paper and are rarely implemented because of the lack of institutional capacity, vague mandates and lack of financial resources. The National Action Plan for Climate Change in Mongolia, for instance, which was already approved in 1999, has not yet been implemented due to lack of financial resources and political commitment. This and other documents will need to be updated in order to make them compact, easy, executable and measurable.

Therefore, the project has suggested the development of a permanent unit within the government, which will be responsible for climate change adaptation and will receive secured funding from the government budget. To this end, the project team has worked closely together with representatives from the Mongolian Parliament to put together a draft resolution for establishing a Permanent Sub-Committee on Climate Change Adaptation. The draft has been introduced to the Permanent Standing Committee for Food, Agriculture and Nature and Environment of the Mongolian Parliament.

Formulating adaptation measures

Many of the adaptation measures that have been formulated in the past, are often characterized by their generic approach and in many cases little thought went into how they can be financed and implemented. The project team has tried to formulate a set of adaptation measures that are specific, realistic and clear in terms of space and time, and most importantly, they are executable and measurable. The formulation of adaptation measures was further guided by a couple of principles. Firstly, the project team is convinced that traditional livelihoods based on livestock herding will continue to exist in the coming decades. Consequently, the starting point for the formulation of adaptation options is the traditional herding communities. Secondly, rather than focusing on livestock as a point of departure for developing adaptation measures the project team has sought to bring the herders to the centre of the discussion and has tried to design adaptation measures that can support their communities.

To support and complement the list of adaptation measures, the project team also developed a climate change adaptation model for herders. Core ideas of the model include:

  • designing comfortable mobile accommodation for herders with secured water, energy and communication supplies and which meets basic sanitation requirements;
  • creating a network of ‘water filling stations’ similar to the network of petrol stations in other parts of the world;
  • cultivating fodder for animals in areas with favorable climate conditions and developing a forage distribution system, possibly linked to the ‘water filling station’ network; and
  • increasing and supporting education, awareness and information exchange capacities of herders.

Policy Recommendations

One of the main lessons learned from this project was that, without a strong institutional environment, it is very hard to implement any adaptation policy or measure. Consequently, this project has sought to contribute to the establishment of a Permanent Sub-Committee on Climate Change Adaptation as part of the Standing Committee on Food, Agriculture and Environment of the Mongolian Parliament. At the time of writing, the proposed sub-committee had not yet been approved. Hence, it is recommended that further efforts are taken to realize this aim.

In addition, and based on the observation that there are already a significant amount of policy documents relevant to the issue of climate change adaptation available, it is also recommended to revise and update existing policy documents and to start enforcing existing laws and regulations.

Finally, more efforts need be made to create a more favorable financial and economic environment for herding households so that some necessary investments can be made for coping with the adverse impacts of climate-related hazards. Possible ways of improving the financial and economic environment include:

  • the establishment of favorable long term loan conditions;
  • the creation of clear rules for property and ownership;
  • facilitating the establishment of small enterprises; and
  • the development of insurance packages for climate related risks.

Suggestions for further research

One of the key outcomes of this project has been the development of downscaled climate data using the PRECIS model. As was mentioned before, one should, however, be careful in interpreting the results from only one climate model because of the uncertainties that are inherent in all the existing climate models. Recently, many authors have started to argue for the use of multi-model approaches which combine the results from many different climate models and, as such, proved a better basis for decision-making. More downscaling work needs to be done in Mongolia in order to start using the multi-model approach and to provide better climate information to decision-makers.

The studies carried out under the NCAP project in Mongolia include both biophysical and socio-economic studies. In the end, however, it proved difficult to combine both the biophysical and socio-economic information in order to better understand the vulnerability of rural households to climate change. Further research is needed to better understand these dynamic interactions between biophysical and socio-economic systems and to link both systems.

One of the key areas that has received insufficient attention so far in the climate change community is the impacts of climate change on the availability and distribution of groundwater resources in Mongolia. As many rivers are drying up, more and more rural households are starting to depend on groundwater resources. A better understanding of the availability and distribution of groundwater resources will be necessary in order to improve the management and use of these valuable resources by rural herding communities.

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Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP)

Mongolia NCAP Project

Methodology of Mongolia NCAP Project

Key findings from Mongolia NCAP Project

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