By Bilguun N
ICF Workshop “State’s Role in Large Resource Projects” – Perspectives of Civil Society
When Ts Munkhbayar, was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, he was interviewed by Anthropologist Bumochir Dulam. He explained a truthful reason to come to the parliament house with a weapon, which was to be shot not to hurt or punish somebody. His extreme activities illustrate how civil society is willing to catch the public eye on some mining companies that do not care about the environment and local people’s living. The mining sector, where a quarter of GDP of Mongolia comes from, is obviously the most influential one to the country’s economy because of beneficial market location and rich reservoir.
The interest of three main corners, which are government, operation, and civil society, should be balanced.
The topic of Panel 5 at the Mining Governance Workshop was “Perspectives of Civil Society” and it was observed from the content of discussion that existing attitude of relation among 3 stakeholders has a tendency to be suspicious or trying to find negative side from each other. Moreover, sometimes they accuse or name each other as “treason” as Mr. Tur-Od mentioned. In other polite words, it could be determined that civil society has the aim to monitor the other stakeholders. Mr. Abdrakhmanov Saginbekov, Vice president of Kyrgyzaltyn JSC, said “There is a tendency to believe more in civil society organizations rather than the government among the people. If civil society organizations fight for people, they should be supported without any doubt.” In fact, seventy percent of 28,000 NGOs, 7,000 of which run actively in Mongolia, is funded by foreign organizations. Therefore, there may be some conflict of interest or imposed views from funding parties. If civil society organizations raise their funds from public donations or support and publish their expenditures open, it would be an ideal system.
On the other hand, it is an institutional industry, since 25,000 people work for NGOs, half of whom are women, and it is beneficial in terms of creating employment, paying tax or payroll, and so on. For example, the Ongi River Movement, which is founded by Ts Munkhbayar, raises funding by themselves by planting sea buckthorn trees and herding livestock. In addition, we need to remember that any professional association belongs to civil society. The professionals of this sector have already started to create associations in the institutional way to deliver their voice to decision makers, which is one good practice.
The Mongolian government has become more pro-active in setting regulations and refining existing legislation which used to contradict each other. Their relevance goes well beyond each level of state and a private sector. One of them is Glass Account Law (Budget Transparency Law), which states that each transaction of state organizations above MNT 5 million (~US$2,500) will be disclosed. Also, there are several NGOs running to make awareness of transparency to other organizations. This initiation has created a data base for any statistic of budgets and expenditures of organization and it leads to the net positive impact on their responsibility. The conclusion agreed all delegates and panelists was that the three corners need to realize they have shared values which they all fighting for and to support each other instead of seeking the worse from each other.
About Bilguun N
Bilguun (Bill) Nandinbilig is a Master’s student at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering of the University of British Columbia. His research interests are Mining economics and finance, and Sustainable development. He is working for Oyu Tolgoi Mine as a mining engineer in Mongolia.