President Tsakhia Elbegdorj of Mongolia, who was among the leaders of the peaceful democratic revolution that ended communist rule in 1990, has realized his commitment to putting a green agenda at the forefront of policies since coming to power in 2009.
Elbegdorj has turned his attention to decreasing air pollution, triggered by over-population and coal usage, in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, through the submission of the Law on Decreasing the Capital City Air Pollution, which was approved by Parliament. In addition, the Mongolian government is establishing a satellite-city near Ulaanbaatar for the purposes of limiting coal-burning in the capital, transferring energy-saving technology, importing and increasing the use of thermal stoves, promoting population decentralization and imposing air-pollution tax in some regions of Ulaanbaatar.
In 2010, Elbegdorj suspended the issuance of all new mining licenses until fresh regulations were drawn up, citing the protection of the mineral-rich Asian country's environment and herdsmen's livelihoods. "Half of the territory is covered by exploration licenses. I think that's enough. We have to save our wealth (for) our next generation." he said in an interview in on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly.
He has enhanced youth understanding of environmental protection through a project that educates young Mongolian students on the impacts of climate change and the importance of environmental stewardship. In an effort to combat desertification, Elbegdorj declared the second Saturday of May and October â€śNational Tree Planting Dayâ€ť and appealed to individuals, communities and the private sector to make tree-planting a habit. Since 2011, over two million trees have been planted across Mongoliaâ€™s vast desert regions.
Elbegdorj is also exploring ways to utilize solar power, especially in the sparsely populated Gobi region. According to the Mongolian Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, 70 per cent of the country has been classified as having high insolation (Incoming Solar Radiation) of 5.5-6.0 kWh/m2 per day, creating huge potential for solar power generation.
Since July 2011, Elbegdorj has been chairing the Community of Democracies, a grouping of countries that works to strengthen democratic norms and practices worldwide. In 2009, he was a member of the World Economic Forumâ€™s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change and has lectured on environmental protection abroad.