Mongolia’s MDGs: early achiever for reducing the infant mortality

May 22 22:13 2012 Print This Article

From May 21 – 23rd the 68th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) is being held in Bangkok, Thailand under the theme of “Enhancing regional economic integration in Asia and the Pacific: Towards a Comprehensive Framework.”

Delegates, Ministers and Deputy Ministers from ESCAP member countries have arrived to take part in the session to discuss and review current and future economic and cooperation issues concerning the Asia Pacific. 

During the opening ceremony of the Session, the ESCAP Executive Secretary Ms. Noeleen Heyzer made the first speech, highlighting this Session’s focus on regional economic integration. “Rapid economic growth is creating important opportunities for intra-regional trade, investment and employment. Economic dynamism has shown its great potential to reduce poverty and close development gaps across the region,” she said. 

Steven Barnett, Assistant Director of the International Monetary Fund Office for Asia and the Pacific, warned that although Mongolia’s economy is growing at a fast pace, the gap between the rich and poor is still the same; with unemployment also remaining constant. Ms. Noeleen Heyzer warned that explosive economic growth could pose risks such as putting pressure on natural resources, saying, “The toll is especially hard on poor and vulnerable people who can suffer greater poverty and exclusion as a result.” She also noted the Rio+20 UN Sustainable Development Conference – which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 – “[it] will offer a chance to make progress on key issues, including energy, oceans, water, cities, food and nutrition security, employment, social protection and the empowerment of women and young people.” 

The ESCAP is the biggest of five UN commissions both in terms of populations served and areas covered – “I count on this Forum to articulate the Asia-Pacific voice on regional and global issues, and wish you great success in your deliberations. If we get it right in the Asia Pacific, we get it right for the two thirds of the population in the world,” Ms. Noeleen Heyzer said.

During the Commission, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia, G. Tenger, spoke on Mongolia’s agreement and support for the ESCAP vision of regional economic integration and sustainable development; and emphasized on the importance of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“For achieving MDGs and other development goals and priorities, domestic financial mobilization is critical. The recently established Development Bank of Mongolia is to support critical sectors such as infrastructure, mining industry, energy and roads, thus laying ground for sustainable development.”

On the question of foreign investments, he said “foreign investors find Mongolia attractive and we do our best to create a favorable investment climate. However, we are still in need of meaningful integration into regional and world economy, favorable trade access, improved transit transportation, environment, introduction of green technologies and innovate sources of financing for development.”

The ESCAP was established in 1947 in Shanghai and currently has 62 members including Mongolia, which joined in 1961. The ESCAP is committed to improving and expanding macroeconomic policies, developing in-depth social and economic statistics, trade, investment, transport, sustainable development and social development for the Asia Pacific region. It established the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966. The bank has several active projects in Mongolia aimed at improving transport, energy and water supply infrastructure, increasing Mongolia’s regional economic cooperation and also focusing on Mongolia’s health and education systems.

G. Tenger, representing Mongolia thanked the UN secretariat, “for its technical support and assistance extended to Mongolia in the process of acceding to the Asia pacific Trade Agreement and look forward to the continued support in negotiating its first free trade agreement.”

A major part of the Commission was the discussion on the MDGs; with the ESCAP urging the delegates and representatives of countries to do a ‘final push’ for the MDGs, which is needed.

According to a report compiled by the ESCAP, ADB and UNDP, Mongolia’s rate for achieving MDGs are moderate. The progress rate was subdivided into four categories: early achiever, on-track, slow and no progress/regressing. 

Mongolia was considered an early achiever for reducing the infant mortality rate for children below five years of age and increasing access to basic sanitation. Mongolia was considered slow in reducing maternal mortality and right on-track for increasing access to safe drinking water.
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