United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with his wife Ban Soon-taek, arrived from China at Ulaanbaatar’s Chinggis Khaan International Airport in the morning of Sunday, 26 July. Speaking to reporters at the airport, the Secretary-General stressed the leadership role played by Mongolia in meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals. He came to Mongolia, he said, to see for himself the consequences of climate change on a small landlocked country.
Upon arrival, the Secretary-General met with Foreign Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar at Marshal Palace, who hosted a luncheon in the Secretary-General’s honour. The Secretary-General then visited Tavan Tolgoi Peace Operations Support Training Centre in Tuv Province, where he met with Ministry of Defence officials and the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces. He thanked the Eighth Contingent of Mongolian Peacekeepers for deploying with the United Nations to protect the witnesses and judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, praising their discipline and commitment to bringing stability to war-torn countries. (See Press Release SG/SM/12384)
The Secretary-General met with members of the semi-nomadic “Bayansonginot” herder community. He listened to their concerns as they face problems of desertification and scarce water resources. When he was invited to name a newborn takhi, one of the endangered species of wild horses in Mongolia, he called him Peace, “Enkhtaivan”, in Mongolian. The Secretary-General stayed overnight in a traditional ger, the one-room dwelling that herders share with their family, after a briefing on the impact of climate change on Hustai Park. Later, the Mongolian Minister for Nature, Environment and Tourism, Lulmed Gansukh, hosted a dinner and traditional entertainment.
Speaking in Ulaanbaatar on his second day in Mongolia, the Secretary-General said: “We must get very serious about adaptation and we must do so now. There is no time to lose.” During a key speech in the presence of the Mongolian President, the Foreign Minister and the Vice-Speaker of Parliament, the Secretary-General stressed the urgency of climate adaptation measures for the most vulnerable. He urged developed countries to contribute to transitional funding arrangements and to other mechanisms for providing urgent support to the people who are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. He added: “Ultimately, we will all benefit from adaptation. Climate change carries no passport. And no country is immune.” (See Press Release SG/SM/12385)
The issue of climate change and its impact on development was also at the centre of the meetings the Secretary-General had that day with Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia, with Prime Minister Bayar Sanjaa and with Foreign Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar.
The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister spoke to the press after their meeting, when the Secretary-General commended the Mongolian Government’s successful transition to democracy and market economy, citing it as a “good example as a developing country which I hope many developing countries will emulate”.
Mr. Ban also addressed that day the special challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, from their remoteness from major international markets to their inadequate transport structures and high transport costs, as he was launching the Think Tank on Trade and Land Locked Developing Countries in Ulaanbaatar. (See Press Release SG/SM/12387)
The Secretary-General ended his trip to Mongolia on Tuesday, accepting an honorary degree from the National University of Mongolia. Accepting the degree, the Secretary-General told his audience that, during his three days in Mongolia, he witnessed how much the country is striving to see to the well-being of its citizens and contributing to global progress. He recalled his meetings with Government officials, members of the herder community and Mongolians who will serve in United Nations peacekeeping, and added: “All of these activities have deepened my admiration for this country.” (See Press Release SG/SM/12388)
The Secretary-General returned to New York later on Tuesday.