UN honors Elbegdorj  with “Champion of the Earth Award” 

President Ts. Elbegdorj is among six winners of the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth 2012 award, given to those whose actions and leadership have had a positive impact on the environment. UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Program (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner presented the awards at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on June 4. Under the category for “Policy Leadership,” Elbegdorj was cited “for delivering on promises to put the environment at the forefront of policies.”  In accepting the award, Elbegdorj said his formative years as a herdsman living close to nature helped shape his outlook on sustainable growth. “This is a great honor, not only for me but for our nation,” he said.

The other five leaders honored were Brazilian banker Fabio Barbosa,renewable energy entrepreneur Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Swiss aeronaut Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Dutch scientist Dr. Sander van der Leeuw and Kenyan Maasai conservationist Samson Parashina. 

Steiner said the awards are meant to inspire attendees at Rio+20, the UN"s global  conference on Sustainable Development taking place in Rio later in June 2012,  20 years after the landmark UN Earth Summit that set many of today"s environmental programs in motion. 

The following biographical citation of President Elbegdorj was  issued by the UN Environmental Program to describe his accomplishments: 

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 “National Tree Planting Day” 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 Mongolia’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 Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change and has lectured on environmental protection abroad.


President Ts. Elbegdorj