End of a first week in Mongolia

End of a first week in Mongolia

My first stint of just over a week in Mongolia is coming to an end when I return home tomorrow morning.  While I fly home via Beijing towards Amsterdam and Eindhoven (and while I spend quite a few hours in the airport in Beijing) I will be able to consider the very interesting aspects of the country.  Naturally, I will try to find issues and aspects of Mongolia that are similar with other countries where I have worked, and there are many.  However, there are also significant differences.  I run the risk of making a judgement based on a single visit over a very short time, but I believe the country compares very well with other countries where I have been involved in governance-related projects.

Most importantly, all the people we have met, whether in government service, or in the private sector, are very interested indeed in building improved systems in the country.  There is an acceptance that the current legislative framework is far from perfect, that the draft mining law that is being worked on, also requires further work, but notwithstanding everybody's specific point of view, people are prepared to work hard towards something better.  This presence of a will to work towards change that is required, and to listen to other opinions, is very refreshing.  In that sense, there is a similarity with my experiences from Colombia.

Today we also met with World Bank and IFC consultants.  This required a very pleasant walk through the streets of Ulaanbaatar, and over Sukhbaatar Square.  Below, you can see my colleague David Butcher next to our able assistant and translator, Bayarmaa Surenkhorloo, on that square, in front of the statue in honour of Damdin Sukhbaatar, who declared Mongolia's independence from China in 1921, on the same square in Ulaanbaatar.

David and Bayarmaa in front of Sukhbaatar

There are quite significant challenges posed by the current draft mining policy, the laws and the institutional setup, which will not be simple to resolve.  They never are, anyway, no matter where in the world you may work.  But I do look forward to my next assignment here.  This is largely due to the fact that we are working together with very pleasant and capable people.