event 22 Jul 2018

Sustainable Development Goals // GIZ Urban Nexus and Mongolian National Development Agency Sign Memorandum of Understanding

By Ruth Erlbeck and Ralph Trosse. On July 3rd 2018 the “Integrated Resource Management in Asian cities: the Urban Nexus project" signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mongolian National Development Agency (NDA) to cooperate in the area of implementation of the SDGs concentrating on the “Nexus” sectors of water, energy and food security.

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https://unsplash.com/photos/0fueMyff_uE (C) Benjamin Behre / unsplash.com

Introduction to National Development Agency and Government’s Development Policy approach

The Mongolian National Development Agency (NDA) is responsible for inter-institutional coordination regarding the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. In this context, the NDA also supports the identification of leading sectors, and the framing of suitable policies on investment, concession and partnership between government and private sectors.

The Mongolian Government has decided to emphasis a multidisciplinary approach that spans across many sectors and is based on science and scientific methodologies.

In elaborating development policy and planning the new approach hence concentrates on:

  • Participatory approach emphasizing planning of development by engaging representatives from various sectors and societal groups.
  • Science based approach elaborating development policies and planning based on studies and research evidences and findings.
  • People-centred approach based on human development and human well-being aspects.
  • Result or output-oriented approach, closely integrated with monitoring and evaluation.

Situational analysis is to be undertaken prior to defining vision, mission, goals and objectives carefully analyzing backgrounds, current situation, short and long term development, needs and requirements as well as international experiences.

A simple gross-impact matrix method introduced by the Environmental Institute of Stockholm/Sweden in their analysis of inter-linkages of Global SDG’s and identification of priority SDGs, is applied analysing inter-linkage/coherence and implications of the policy objectives.

Cooperation with GIZ Urban Nexus

On 3 July 2018 the “Integrated Resource Management in Asian cities: the Urban Nexus project”, financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in collaboration with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the area of implementation of the SDGs concentrating on the “Nexus” sectors of water, energy and food security by considering the linkages between these sectors, their synergies and trade-offs in a cross sectoral and multilevel approach “thinking out of the box”.

The goal of this cooperation is to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation with NDA in the lead reaching a transformative and integrated development planning within the SDG context strengthening policy for sustainable development. Concrete starting points are the areas of environment, land use, energy, water and sanitation as well as air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, the Capital of Mongolia, home of nearly half of the population of Mongolia.

However, the national level must first create the appropriate framework conditions to unlock the potentials of cities to promote sustainable development in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda. Consequently, the advice offered here aims at national policies and development plans geared more towards a resource-efficient and coordinated approach, to reduce conflicting goals, conserve resources, exploit synergies and integrate sectoral policies. The “circular economy” concept serves here as a vision of a societal transformation towards a decarbonized society.

NDA has been conducting very successful sector consultations and has elaborated a “Methodology of Defining Policy Priority Directions” recently presented to the Mongolian Cabinet for approval. From midst August 2018 onward eight working groups will be established to work on the priority SDG targets of Mongolia concretizing the indicators of the SDGs on a cluster basis (integrated approach). NDA has studied the existing indicators and came to the conclusion that for 113 out of the 244 indicators Mongolia disposes of available data from the National Statistical Office. For the remaining SDGs additional data would have to be elaborated.

Prior to signing the MoU a Nexus Training Workshop was conducted in collaboration with NDA to train integrated and efficient resource planning and management in the areas of energy, water & sanitation, air pollution and urban development planning. Related ministries, Ulaanbaatar City, Professional Associations and Utilities also participated in the Workshop making it an inter-institutional event in order to improve inter-institutional cooperation.

A first area of further cooperation in the framework of a circular economy concept serving also as a vision of a societal transformation is solid waste management. As NDA oversees foreign private investment NDA is leading a Working Group to give advisory service to the Mongolian Government concerning a planned private public partnership project on solid waste management for Ulaanbaatar.

Waste composition

Considering the waste composition in Mongolia with low moisture content, incineration is the right technology. The heat energy produced can be used for district heating and electricity production to be fed into the grid. The wastewater could be treated and recycled as Ulaanbaatar is running out of ground water reserves. However, many aspects have to be considered if incineration is to be used in an environmentally friendly manner, not polluting the already battered environment.

State-of-the-art filter technology/filters

The most important and most expensive aspects of incineration plants are the filters in order to reduce emissions. That’s where incineration plants often fail as they frequently do not use state-of-the-art filter technologies to reduce the air pollution and hence the environmental impact to a minimum.

Gasses (emissions)) coming from the chimneys of incineration plants can be very toxic if not burned and treated properly. High temperatures (above 1000 Degree Celsius) are required to burn the toxic gases.

Waste water management

Moreover, incineration plants also produce wastewater as the waste disposes of water (leachate). The wastewater of incineration plants is highly toxic and requires respective treatment, discharge and standards for discharge. It has to be checked what treatment and discharge options are considered.

Supervision and control

The emissions of the incineration plant have to be monitored and supervised continuously. A strict control is recommended in order to avoid air pollution with toxic gases. The “tricky” thing is that also if air pollution by toxic substances such as heavy metals, dioxin etc. takes place, it is not visible but can only by measured by measuring equipment installed around the incineration plant.


However, in order to supervise, Standards have to be in place and capacity building for the staff has to be undertaken. It is proposed to first use the respective European Standards which have to be approved by the Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology (MASM). Thereafter, an adaptation of the European Standards to Mongolian circumstances can be initiated.

Feed in tariff (FIT)

It has to be checked which FIT can be applied as the energy produced is neither renewable energy nor can it be considered as biomass. However, the FIT has to be attractive to convince investors to invest.

Technical Assistance by GIZ Urban Nexus

Counselling/advisory service of the GIZ Urban Nexus Project to NDA and Working Group on solid waste management will consist of:

  • Technical expertise on technical proposals/technologies proposed by investors (assessment of technologies proposed)
  • State-of-the-art technologies applied in Europe
  • Comparisons with similar investments in other countries (South and South East Asia as well as Europe)
  • Assessment of Feasibility studies
  • Standards and norms to be applied including support for translation from German or English into Mongolian
  • Capacity building for staff of supervision Authority
  • Regulatory Framework.


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