Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spent time with a traditional herder community in central Mongolia today as he highlighted the impact of climate change on landlocked countries on the latest leg of his official visit to Asia.
Mr. Ban met with members of the Bayansonginot herder community and is staying overnight in a ger, a type of traditional Mongolian dwelling, to understand first-hand the effects that desertification and other problems are having on the ways of life of many people worldwide.
The Secretary-General received a briefing on the impact of climate change in Hustai National Park, located about 100 kilometres southwest of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and home to the wild horses known as Takhi.
On the first day of Mr. Ban's three-day visit to Mongolia, he also held talks with Foreign Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar and visited the Tavan Tolgoi Peace Operations Support Training Centre, which trains Mongolian troops being sent to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
“At the United Nations, we appreciate all Mongolian peacekeepers for your discipline, your international perspective and your commitment to bringing peace and stability to war-torn countries, no matter what difficult conditions you may face,” he said in an address at the centre.
Earlier, he told journalists on arrival in Ulaanbaatar that he was pleased by the growing partnership between the UN and Mongolia on many fronts.
“Mongolia has also been taking a leadership in meeting the target of the Millennium Development Goals,” he said, referring to the series of targets for slashing social and economic ills which world leaders have agreed to try to reach by 2015.
“Mongolia is [a] model country among the Member States in achieving a successful transition to democracy and also achieving [a] market economy with an empowered population, and this is a very important example. I believe that many Member States should emulate from the Mongolian model.”
But the Secretary-General also stressed that the Mongolian Government and people face a real challenge in adapting to the consequences of climate change and ensuring sustainable economic development.
“You have a problem of desertification. You have also economic degradation problems. But these are all common challenges which we must address.”
During his visit to Mongolia, Mr. Ban is scheduled to speak with President Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Prime Minister Bayar Sanj, as well as with the country's Environment Minister.
Before arriving in Ulaanbaatar, he wound up a visit to China, where the issue of climate change also topped the agenda of his talks with senior Government officials, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.