Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) 

Country Overview

Mongolia is a landlocked country with vast mountainous plateaus sloping from west to east in the country.  Mongolia has a very low population density and many of its rural communities are traditionally nomadic pastoralists. The livestock and animal husbandry sector contributes to 80 percent of its agricultural production through a range of food and other products, such as sheep wool, goat cashmere, large animal hair, camel wool and milk. One-third of the country’s labor force is employed in agricultural work, and it accounts for 8.4 percent of the country's exports and 10.6 percent of its GDP. The agriculture sector, however, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Increased upper heat thresholds are projected to change annual precipitation patterns and increase the number of “dry days”, which will lead to significant volatility in agricultural productivity and livelihoods. In addition, the higher frequency and intensity of major climate-related hazards including storms (dust storms, windstorms, thunderstorms, and snowstorms), droughts, and extended harsh winters are expected to exacerbate conditions.  

Mongolia's climate change plans and priorities

The Government of Mongolia has key national policy documents, such as a National Action Plan on Climate Change (2011-2021) and the Green Development Policy (2014-2030). Mongolia’s first nationally determined contribution (NDC) was submitted in 2016 and was updated in 2020. Mongolia’s NDC mitigation target is articulated as a 22.7 percent reduction in total national GHG emissions by 2030 compared to the projected emissions under a business-as-usual scenario for 2010, focusing on the transport, industry, agriculture and waste sectors, among others. Additional key mitigation priorities include limiting and reducing the number of livestock while enhancing livestock quality and herd structures, improving the management of livestock manure, protecting pastureland soil and establishing forest strips around arable lands to preserve soil moisture and reduce wind and water erosion.

The NDC includes a distinct adaptation component with goals and targets for priority areas, such as animal husbandry and pastureland, arable farming, water resources, forest resources, and biodiversity. Under animal husbandry and pastureland management, adaptation priorities focus on maintaining balance in ecosystems and strengthening legal frameworks. The NDC also highlights the need for sustainable use of pasturelands by increasing forage cultivation and water supplies for livestock, as well as the enhancement of disaster management systems against drought. On arable farming, the NDC outlines plans to improve legal frameworks to overcome climate change adaptation challenges and aims to introduce advanced water and labor efficient technologies in the production of potatoes, vegetables, fruits and berries to enhance productivity. Additional adaptation measures include fencing and planting strips (forests, fodder plants and technical plants) around arable crop lands and introducing soil-conserving zero tillage methods with straw mulch to retain soil moisture.

The NDC mentions Mongolia’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process, initiated in 2018, as the primary means through which specific adaptation actions will be identified. These include improving pasture management, regulation of livestock numbers and herds’ composition by matching with pastures carrying capacities, improving animal breeds, and regional development of intensified animal farming.  

Overcoming barriers in the implementation of climate plans

The Government of Mongolia approved the NDC Action Plan in 2021 but continues to face certain challenges in implementing the NDC Action Plan, such as access to finance, inadequate institutional arrangements, and lack of human and technical capacities. To overcome these challenges, specifically on access to finance, Mongolia has to rely on international funding from developed countries. On strengthening institutional arrangements and technical capacity building, Mongolia will be supported by the SCALA programme over the next few years.

Moving ahead- 2021 and beyond

The SCALA programme will support the development of relevant tools and methodologies to enhance the evidence base for the fulfilment of Mongolia’s NDC and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) goals. Private sector engagement in adaptation and mitigation for the agriculture sector is also insufficient and there is a lack of good practices to adopt and scale up. Therefore, as one of the SCALA programme partner countries, Mongolia aims to learn from experiences and opportunities in other countries and regions to strengthen private sector engagement in Mongolia.

Mongolia’s NDC mentions an ongoing process to formulate a NAP, which was initiated in 2018 and is currently being drafted, as the primary means to identify specific adaptation priorities, adaptation and mitigation co-benefits as well as nature-based solutions to help guide its national climate change response. Priorities identified in the NAP informed the targets outlined in the updated NDC and activities undertaken through the SCALA programme are designed to be in alignment with both documents.  Improving pastureland management and maintaining appropriate livestock herd sizes is expected to contribute to the fulfilment of Mongolia’s adaptation and mitigation goals, as well as the preservation of its traditional nomadic heritage.