UK in Mongolia 2019: a year of achievement in strengthening and advancing our bilateral relations
2019 was a year of great success in UK-Mongolia bilateral relations with a number of impactful visits, including by the Mining, Energy and Education Ministers to London and UK Asia Minister to Mongolia, along with numerous projects and events.
Our top priorities in 2019 were deepening our trade/investment and political relationship and supporting democracy and economic development in Mongolia, particularly in education, anti-money laundering, media freedom, combating climate change, illegal wildlife trading and conservation. As a sign of our long-term commitment to Mongolia, we also moved into brand new Embassy offices in the Shangri-La complex, right at the heart of Ulaanbaatar!
We kicked off the year by organising the memorable GREAT train journey on the famous Trans-Mongolian route to celebrate the culmination of our 55th anniversary year in Mongolia and to highlight business and historic links. We organised a number of trade-related visits, including a visit to Mongolia by our Trade Commissioner, along with trade missions to the UK to promote UK/Mongolia trade. We also supported and promoted UK investments in Mongolia, in particular Rio Tinto’s investment in the strategically important Oyu Tolgoi project.
In July, the British Embassy funded attendance by three Mongolian investigative journalists at the first global “Media Freedom” conference jointly organised by the British and Canadian governments in London. Global leaders, representatives from the media industry, journalists and civil society gathered there for two days. Media freedom is fundamental to democracy, as highlighted by one of the Mongolian participants, CH.Bolortuya, editor-in-chief of Ikon.mn, who reported that the conference helped everyone to understand media freedom is not only about journalists, but also a human right relevant to everyone.
In order to support Mongolia’s work to meet its Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, we organised a study visit to the UK by experts from the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Central Bank of Mongolia, Financial Regulatory Commission, General Intelligence Agency and Ulaanbaatar City Prosecutors Office. These officials met UK counterparts from the National Crime Agency, Bank of England, Treasury and Foreign Office among others, where they learnt about the UK’s experience implementing FATF recommendations, regulating the financial sector, tightening financial supervision and implementing and enforcing sanctions. We will continue this support in 2020 to enable Mongolia’s removal from the FATF grey list as soon as practicable.
The British Embassy has worked closely with Mongolia over many years to help tackle the illegal wildlife trade, the impacts of climate change and to support conservation. This support continued in 2019. The government of Mongolia’s “Wildlife Trade and Disease Expert Meeting” on 23-24 September, a commitment made by Mongolia at the 2018 London Wildlife Summit, was part sponsored by the UK. The UK’s Head of International Species Conservation attended and acted as rapporteur. The meeting convened North-East Asian experts who agreed to establish an ongoing sub-regional dialogue on transboundary wildlife conservation and management. The Zoological Society of London also launched its ‘Mongolia’s Silent Steppe II Report: Mongolia’s Wildlife Crisis-Ten Years Later’’ in the margins of the conference with support from the Embassy.
On climate change, we supported the launch of the Mongolian Ministry of Environment’s ambitious new greenhouse emissions reduction target (Nationally Determined Contribution) in November. The Ministry presented plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation priorities and sustainable development to over 300 stakeholders including high-level decision makers, representatives from government, the private sector, international partners, academia and the media. Climate change is an immediate and critical challenge. The UK plays a leading international role to address this issue and will drive urgent coordinated action as the host of 2020’s most important gathering on climate change: COP 26 in Glasgow in November.
The UK’s third “Inspire Me” education festival took place in September at the White Rock centre in Ulaanbaatar. Over 2000 visitors to the festival were introduced to various British educational institutes and universities who promoted their world-class education programmes. We also hosted an education-focused visit to the UK by members of the Education Standing Committee of the Great Khural to further promote our links in this important sector of co-operation.
In October, Mrs. Heather Wheeler, UK Minister for Asia, made her first official visit to Mongolia. The Minister met ministers and senior officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environment, Education and Mining and held wide-ranging discussions. Minister Wheeler also opened our new Embassy office.
With the UK leaving the European Union at the end of January and seeking to expand relationships all around the world, we will also increase our co-operation with Mongolia. We will have many more visits and events to look forward to in 2020, starting with attendance at the Education World Forum in London by Mr.Baatarbileg, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports in January. We plan to have more senior level visits in both directions this year.
Also in January, we will launch an air pollution awareness campaign jointly organised with the UK Alumni Association. This will focus on the importance - especially for children - of wearing anti-pollution masks. Masks will also be distributed to school children who are living in the most polluted areas of the city.
We would like to thank all of our Mongolian partners and government organisations for making 2019 a successful year and we are looking forward to working with you all in 2020 to further strengthen the UK-Mongolia relationship.