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Earth Day in Mongolia: Onggi River Movement receives Award PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 April 2007

The Asia Foundation and TheGoldman Environmental Prize announced today that Tsetsge Munkhbayar ofMongolia, founder of a mass citizen's movement to protect Mongolia'snational waterways, has won a 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize -- the largest accolade in the world for grassroots environmentalists. The $125,000 annual award recognizes outstanding individuals who are combating pressing environmental challenges and was created to allow these people to continue their important work. A current grantee of The Asia Foundation's San Francisco-based Environment Program, Mr. Munkhbayar is the only Asian recipient, among five awardees. He will be awarded the prize at an invitation-only ceremony on Monday, April 23 at 5:00 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House.

Mr. Munkhbayar, 40, successfully pressured 35 of 37 mining operations working in Mongolia's Onggi River basin -- a precious drinking water supply for rural Mongolians -- to permanently stop harmful, ruinous mining and exploration activities. Beginning in 2001, and with a volunteer staff of more than 2,000 people, Mr. Munkhbayar's Onggi River Movement organized multi- province roundtable discussions and launched high-profile radio and television campaigns to build public awareness. Then, in 2006, he inspired the creation of the Mongolia Nature Protection Coalition -- a collective of eleven separate river movements in Mongolia actively fighting destructive mining, forestry, tourism, and agriculture activities. "Munkhbayar was chosen because of the huge impact he has had on the issue of responsible mining and water protection in Mongolia. Not only has he worked with governmental leaders in crafting appropriate legislation, but he has also made it a point to continue educating the public about their water resources and their democratic right to have a voice in protecting them," said Richard N. Goldman, founder of the prize. "His award acknowledges his vision and personal risk." "The health of Asia's environment is fundamental to the health of all its citizens," said Doug Bereuter, president of The Asia Foundation. "As a grantee, Mr. Munkhbayar epitomizes our long-standing commitment to empowering people and organizations on the grassroots-level to creating a healthful, prosperous Asia. We congratulate and commend him on this significant award and his lasting work." About The Asia Foundation's Support to Mr. Munkhbayar Beginning in early 2006, The Asia Foundation supported the creation of the Mongolia Nature Protection Coalition with financial grants and technical assistance, such as workshops in organizational management. The Foundation's first grant to Mr. Munkhbayar and the Onggi River Movement was made in 2004.

Asia Foundation in Mongolia

The Asia Foundation's new environmental initiative in Mongolia addresses responsible resource use by supporting a strong coalition of citizen activists to advocate for increased transparency and accountability in environmental decision-making, and to promote public awareness and civic engagement in environmental issues. The Foundation facilitates constructive public, private, and NGO sector dialogue on environmental policy and legal formulation, on the enforcement of laws and regulations, transparent licensing and permitting, and on oversight which includes community and student engagement in water quality monitoring. By facilitating open, participatory, and productive discussions between stakeholders, the Foundation is promoting environmentally responsible mining and resource use that protects human and environmental health, and fuels economic development and prosperity. In addition, the Foundation is supporting the development of new markets for "green" gold and other metal and minerals products from Mongolia with cross-sector stakeholders.

The Foundation is also engaging citizens and students to collect environmental data through a pilot watershed-monitoring network comprising of citizens, government, industry, and teachers.


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