On Our Way to Ulan Bator!

Justin Kwan, MAAPPS // May 3, 2015

Although the semester has just finished, a group of 6 students from the Asia Pacific Policy Class will have the opportunity to travel to Ulan Bator, the capital city of Mongolia to present the findings from two different projects we have been working on. The first team has been formulating policy solutions to help bring further awareness to subnational reporting and attempt to further enhance the usefulness of the data to the general public through various public institutions such as libraries, soum level government and banks. Meanwhile, the second team has formulated a paper, which analyzes the success of subnational reporting on different dimensions, which include democratic governance, rule of law, civil society participation and perception of corruption. Both teams are most definitely excited to share their findings in Mongolia and hope that our research on subnational reporting can not only inform EITI better of the unique experiences countries have faced in their attempts to implement local level reporting but how this information can be used to better civil societies around the world.

Before flying off this past week, some further research for the trip to Mongolia has taught me a few interesting facts. Most fascinatingly, I discovered that after Russian, German is one of the most widely spoken foreign languages in Mongolia, due to the country’s special historical relationship with East Germany. Although, though this trend is slowly giving way to English, the Korean language is also gaining momentum due to the large population of Mongolians working in South Korea. From this, we can see Mongolia as the intersections of various histories; from the historical legacies of socialism to the ways even the Korean Wave has also made an impact on Mongolian society and youth culture. While in Ulan Bator, I am curious to know what influences have impacted the city the most, visually through its architecture but also through the collective public memory in various institutions such as museums, statues and other public places.

In reflection upon the course this year, I realized that a concept like subnational reporting, although now a common word in our team’s vocabulary is still a relatively new concept to most of our EITI candidate and compliant countries. In a country like Canada, interprovincial government transfers and the coordination amongst our federal and provincial governments represent a complicated but relatively effective process that regulates provincial level coordination with our own federal government. In my case study country of Indonesia, the Presidential Regulation RI No.26 2010 which although regulates and legally enforces subnational reporting, the enforcement of such policies have not been as easy. Indonesia is still trying to test out how it is best equipped to deal with the task of subnational reporting implementation, although its initial plans of decentralization and the issuing of local mining permits has somewhat slowed down the process due to the lack of local of coordination amongst local governments to issues licenses. Rather than looking at this as a failure, I see this as one of the many projects that are part of the testing period that will eventually help subnational reporting projects to be successful. It will be interesting to see how our meetings in Mongolia will represent the ways in which the people view and regard subnational reporting within their own country and abroad.

For now however, the land of blue skies awaits the team in Mongolia!

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