Strengthening national air quality management in Mongolia

Economically, socially, environmentally, scientifically, we will have to create sound policies and actually implement them

Continuing to build on our efforts to strengthen air quality management capacity in Mongolia, our Integrated Programme for Better Air Quality in Asia (IBAQ Programme) team worked with city officials from across the country in April to help shape the development and implementation of effective air pollution mitigation strategies and policies nationwide.

Air pollution, particularly in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, has been a growing public and government concern in recent years. The blanket of haze that shrouds Ulaanbaatar during the long winter months has fueled a public health crisis and accompanying calls for more effective government action. And with the growth of the mining sector, regional centers are also increasingly grappling with deteriorating air quality.

The “Strategic Air Quality Management for Mongolian Cities: Training Workshop on the Guidance Framework for Better Air Quality in Asian Cities” from April 9-12 in Ulaanbaatar – organized by Clean Air Asia, Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the National Agency for Meteorology and Environment Monitoring (NAMEM), the Air Pollution Reducing Department, the German Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – brought together officials from eight of Mongolia’s 21 provinces: Uvs, Khovd, Bayankhongor, Khuvsgul, Uvurkhangai, Umnugovi, Darkhan-Uul and Erdenet.

Based on the IBAQ Programme’s Guidance Framework for Better Air Quality in Asian Cities, the workshop was aimed at helping officials develop targeted strategies and policies focused on air quality improvement and climate change mitigation, and providing tools for policymakers and air quality managers to evaluate existing programs and develop local air quality roadmaps and clean air action plans. The Guidance Framework, organized around key areas of concern in Asia, equips countries and cities with the knowledge and direction needed to effectively reduce air pollution, and maps out the steps and actions to be taken by national and local-level policymakers and decision-makers to improve air quality.

Speakers included some of Mongolia’s leading air quality experts, who presented on a range of topics, including air quality monitoring and emissions inventory, control technologies and best practices, control measures and policy instruments, clean air action planning, and co-benefits.

The workshop included face-to-face lectures, the use of online learning resources, group activities, exercises and case studies, and experience and best practice-sharing. Participants were also taken for site visits to the Amgalan thermal power plant and to the air quality monitoring station in Bayanzurkh district.

“The training complemented ongoing capacity building efforts on a range of air quality management areas being undertaken in Mongolia, and built on expert analysis and findings, the outcomes of consultations with local stakeholders, and existing materials in the development of training content,” said Clean Air Asia Senior Air Quality Program Coordinator Dang Espita.

Air pollution is a priority issue for Mongolia’s government, with its impetus propelled by the approval in 2017 of the Action Plan of the National Action Program on Reducing Air Pollution, for which we provided input, and which has since paved the way for improving air quality nationally.

Dr Batbayar Jadamba, Director of NAMEM’s Environmental Monitoring Division, said it was important to involve everyone in the fight against air pollution.

“Everyone in Mongolia talks about the intensity of the air pollution,” he said. “But ‘everyone’ is the source of pollutants as well. We have to involve everyone to help fight air pollution. How? Economically, socially, environmentally, scientifically, we will have to create sound policies and actually implement them.”