Second workshop on water and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins: challenges progress and lessons learnt, held on 12-13 April 2011 in Geneva.
The workshop was organized on 12 and 13 April 2011, back-to-back with the fourth meeting of the Task Force on Water and Climate (14 April 2011). It brought together countries and other stakeholders engaged in activities on water and adaptation to climate change, in particular in transboundary basins, with the aim to exchange practical experience and share lessons-learned on the technical and strategic aspects of adapting to climate change.The workshop was organized under the leadership of the Governments of the Netherlands and Germany, with the support of the UNECE secretariat.
Workshop gathered more than 100 participants from 35 countries, who came from various backgrounds and had different, innovative, often conflicting views on climate adaptation.
Eugene Simonov representing «Dauria Going Dry» pilot project presented report «Design of environmental flow requirements of Argun River and opportunities for their introduction into transboundary management».
Report was well received by the audience and spurred discussion in which representative of Moldova suggested that UNECE Water Convention should be more focused on ecological and nature conservation aspects of climate adaptation.
The initial organizers of the Assembly from the
United Movement for Rivers and Lakes, Khuder River, and Gal Undesten have asked the Administration Office of Ulaanbaatar for permission to put up gers in the square. Eight gers are now standing in the square, and the police did not allow participants in the Assembly to put up 20 more.On April 24th, the protesting herders who were camping for the last four days at the central square of Ulan Bator in front of the Government building temporarily shared 4 gers (yurts) another group of protesters temporarily.A civil movement called «Motherland and Justice» marched to the central square last Sunday. As a result of the People’s Assembly, a nine-provision resolution was passed, with major demands to the authorities.
The paper demands that the authorities remove the coalition government, calling it a criminal one, annul the Oyutolgoi agreement and replace it with a new agreement to satisfy the whole nation’s interests.
Mr. Odsuren, the Head of Administration of the Cabinet Secretariat, and officials of the Cabinet Secretariat received the resolution from representatives of the national civil movement Motherland-Independence-Justice. The Member of Parliament Ts.Shinebayar, Secretary of the MPRP L.Tsog, and a member of a civil movement Pledge Demanding Union G.Uyanga were told by the officials that they would need time to study the note, they said they would continue with their People’s Assembly in Sukhbaatar Square until a reply was received.MP Ts.Shinebayar gave a written statement on Monday night, at the request of Sukhbaatar district police that he will be responsible for any violence that may ensue from the protest by the People’s Assembly in Sukhbaatar Square. Some of the protesters are believed to have said that they carried guns. Shinebayar is one of the organizers of the Assembly.
Central Square of the capital city is more crowded than usual for the last ten days. United under the moto «Save the Nation», members of three civil movements — United Movement for Rivers and Lakes , Khuder River, and Gal Undesten — started to converge on Sukhbaatar Square since April 19th with 100 horsemen and horse carts and erected eight gers (yurts) there. Most of them are herders, who have come on horseback from countryside to demand stopping of mining activities that destroys their pastureland and water sources.
All the members had their heads bound in bands and held sign boards with the slogans «We want resignation of the Government!», «Give power to the People!». The movement wants a national discussion on the present situation, resignation of the Government, and dissolution of Parliament. Moreover, they already have the anthem «Wake up Mongols», which has been playing all day at the Sukhbaatar Square.
According to an activist of the movement there are about 400 people from different soums (counties) of 18 provinces participating in this civil movement to protect their living areas. They are calling out people to join and to involve in the movement at the Sukhbaatar Square. Both the assembly and the putting up of gers in Sukhbaatar Square are in violation of orders, but the gers are still there. Another 300 horsemen are on their way to Ulaanbaatar from the western provinces to join those already here.
The UB Post interviewed some of protesters for details-Please introduce yourself and explain what’s happening here?
-Well, I am a member of the movement Gal Undesten. We gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square to demand the Government to resign and the dissolution of the Parliament.-When did the demonstration start and when will it end?
-It started officially on April 19th at the Sukhbaatar Square. And we will stand firm and protest till the government give power to the people.-What’s your reason and goal?
-Our Mongolia’s vast territory is rich with mineral resources like Oyu-tolgoi and Tavan-Tolgoi on the south, Khushuut on the west, uranium and oil on the east. But these natural resources are becoming the property of foreigners, our country’s territory is shrinking from all sides and is being ruined everywhere.
Social life is dying down entirely, fundamental factors of our nation’s existence are vanishing because of those cheating authorities who are selling national treasures to foreigners. Mongolia is facing serious danger that cannot be fixed. That’s why our Gal Undesten Movement is appealing to all Mongolians to wake up from the dream and save our country and our lives when it is not too late.
-Why did you bring horses?
-With our horses we wanted to show how serious this movement is. About 400 herders came from 18 provinces to support this civil movement. They represent the citizens of the countryside. We have been protecting our homeland and ground for centuries.
But, day by day our living environment is getting worse and we can’t just sit doing nothing. We can’t stand it any longer. We want people to take this movement more seriously. On the other hand, it won’t be easy for authorities and the police to dissolve us if we are on horseback and not on foot.
-What are those two separate gers for?
-We are receiving cash donations from the people here. Donated money will be spent for saving the nature and land damaged by mining activities.
RwB Coalition is deeply concerned: Mongolian government is not only protected from people by the court,but also its officials are shameless enough to insist that there is no evidence of mining damage to nature and people…..On March 15, the Sukhbaatar District Court rejected charges against the Government over alleged failure to enforce the law prohibiting mineral resources exploration and exploitation in river and forest basins.
The United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL) sued the Government seeking compensation for the damages in basins of Onggi, Zavkhan, Tuul, Khangiltsag, Khuder, Ulz, Yeroo and Gachuurt rivers in compliance related Mongolian laws.
After eight-hour long hearing, the district judges ruled that there is no law stating that the Government should be responsible for a damage to environment caused by mining companies and to compensate local communities for such a damage.
Government officials headed by Deputy Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy B.Ariunsan attended the trial representing the defendant or the Government of Mongolia.
Deputy Minister Ariunsan answered journalists’ questions after the trial.What was the case against the Government?
They claimed mining was responsible for ecological damage in Mongolia and named many rivers as having been affected, blaming the Government for failure to protect them. But they did not present any evidence of any damage done by mining activity. Their charges were not backed by any research or definite and concrete facts.
It is true that the law prohibiting mineral resources exploration and exploitation in river and forest basins was passed 2 years ago but it will take time to assess the damage such activity has caused. We are of course working on it.
Are you evaluating activities by gold mining companies?
The Government discussed the issue of 253 gold mining companies. The study continues. There are many aspects to the case, such as taxes paid, property pledges, apartment loans issued to workers, etc. All this has to be cleared before we can issue a clear notice on mining companies fixing responsibility for not rehabilitating the environment and compute their financial liabilities and also claim to compensation.
The NGOs said their calculation of the damage was based on 18 indicators.
N.Damdinragchaa, a resident of Zaamar soum of Tuv aimag, who is a member of Toson Zaamar River Movement. He said land in the soum has been badly damaged by gold mining. Some rivers have dried up while the water in some others is muddy. Of the 40 gold mining companies active in the area in recent years, some 20 are left.
B.Nyamkhuu of Yeruu soum of Selenge aimag is a member of Khatan Yeruu River Movement. He said that exploration licenses have been granted in Yeruu soum since 1995 and there are now 259 licenses to work only in that one soum. Some 25 companies do actual and regular mining. He claims 33 of the 60 rivers and streams in the soum that flow to the Yeruu River have dried up following mining. «We are not satisfied at the court’s decision and shall consider an appeal to a higher court,» he said.
Sources: UMMRL, UB Post,