Our work in Mongolia

Our Role

The 2030 WRG has brought together public, private, and civil society stakeholders at the national-, sectoral-, and river-basin levels to promote sustainable water solutions on the foundation of the 2030 WRG’s guiding principles – inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and integrity. The 2030 WRG Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) in the country is serving as an innovation engine to drive needed policy, regulatory, and institutional reform, as well as implementation of water efficiency and circular economy solutions to future proof the economy against water-related risks.

The 2030 WRG is currently working on critical themes of national priority, including wastewater treatment and reuse, river basin governance, and incentive-based water sustainability.


Enabling the legal environment of wastewater treatment and reuse

  • Chaired by Ms. T.Bulgan, Head of Green Development Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET); co-chaired by Mr. L.Erdenebulgan, Head of Water Resources Division, MET
  • Although the Mongolian government introduced several laws and guidelines to preserve water resources through Integrated Water Resources Management, such regulations were ineffective in curbing water pollution and promoting wastewater treatment and reuse. Implementation of wastewater reuse was also weak due to an underdeveloped legislative environment and lack of knowledge on global best practices. In this context, the 2030 WRG supported a legal and operational framework of wastewater management at the national level. Within the framework, the 2030 WRG has supported a new tariff model for water pollution, introducing polluter pays principles and economic incentives to drive greater wastewater treatment. Through assessments and analyses, the 2030 WRG has also developed guidelines on implementing the law. These amendments support the avoidance of discharge of over 61.2 million cubic meters of inadequately treated effluent into the Tuul river.
  • In addition, the 2030 WRG led a multi-stakeholder process in 2017-18 to develop standards for reusing treated wastewater in different ways such as car washing, fire-fighting, urban gardening (all in Ulaanbaatar), and dust suppression in mining industries, based on international best practices. The guiding principle behind the standard is that the treatment level for reuse of wastewater depends on the end use, ensuring cost-effective wastewater treatment and fit-for-purpose reuse.
  • The standard was discussed and officially approved for implementation by government at two levels, namely the Mongolian Technical Committee of Environmental Standards, which approved the standards on June 15, 2018, and the Mongolian National Technical Committee on Standardization, which endorsed the draft on June 21, 2018. With these approvals, treated wastewater will be counted as a new source of industrial water supply in areas where water access is limited. Within the framework of this workstream, the 2030 WRG is currently assessing demonstration projects for implementation. By spearheading the development of standards based on best practices of wastewater treatment, recycling, and reuse, the 2030 WRG provided the Government of Mongolia with a critical tool to implement key national priorities and policies, including the national water program and the policy on Green Development. 

Improving water valuation and incentives for water efficiency

  • Chaired by Ms. T. Bulgan, Head of Green Development Policy Planning Department, MET
  • Building upon its interventions on wastewater treatment and reuse, particularly to support the implementation of projects, the 2030 WRG at the request of the MSP is supporting a multi-stakeholder process to develop a practical, simple, and effective system for water supply tariffs in the urban areas of Mongolia, focusing on Ulaanbaatar. The water tariff system will be guided by the following objectives: 1) resource use efficiency: incentivizing careful use of freshwater and encouraging wastewater reuse; 2) social equity: enabling fair access to freshwater of different segments of consumers; 3) sustainability: targeting recovery of operational costs to facilitate sustainability of assets and services.
  • To achieve a more appropriate balance between social, financial, and environmental objectives, the team is assessing potential tariff structures, accounting for the specific context of Ulaanbaatar as the capital city and development hub.

Promoting other instruments for water sustainability through private sector action

  • Although the Mongolian Water Law (2012) includes economic instruments such as water service charges and water usage fees, their current design does not provide adequate incentive to drive water stewardship. With the aim of promoting water use efficiency and circular economy solutions, the 2030 WRG supported an assessment of potential incentives and regulatory reform in the Mongolian mining sector. The assessment and subsequent stakeholder dialogues highlighted the need to implement non-financial incentives through the initiation of an award to recognize corporate good practices.
  • The Mongolian platform is supporting the design of the Golden Drop, a prestigious award to recognize leading industry partners on their water stewardship efforts, while encouraging companies to innovate further and develop state-of-the-art practices in water management. The 2030 WRG is engaging with key stakeholders to design the award, particularly the MET, National Water Committee, Mongolian Mining Association, Chamber of Trade and Commerce, water users, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The award will be based on a robust nomination and selection framework to give it credibility nationally and internationally. The workstream is in the process of finalizing the guidelines for the award.

 Strengthening water governance at river basin level

  • Chaired by Mr. N. Battulga, Head of River Basin Administration Division, MET
  • With the successful application of the MSP mechanism at the national level in Mongolia, the 2030 WRG has extended it to the local river basin level for inclusive, impact-oriented, and integrated river basin management planning. For this purpose, the 2030 WRG supported the reform of existing river basin councils into river basin MSP councils. Revised guidelines on river basin governance, based on a detailed assessment supported by the 2030 WRG and the workstream’s recommendations, were accepted by the government as an official administrative act on March 13, 2018.
  • To help operationalize the guidelines, the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation provided financial support to implement the guidelines within three river basin councils in the South Gobi, Orkhon, and Ulaanbaatar regions. Activities include capacity-building of stakeholders on the revised guidelines; operationalization of the councils; and collaboration between local river basin multi-stakeholder councils, government-led River Basin Authorities, and the national government (MET) in Mongolia. As an outcome of the intensive collaboration and intervention of MET and other workstream members, and as an endorsement of the relevance and value of the approach to local stakeholders, the engagement was extended to other regions such as the western and eastern aimags, and all 21 river basin MSP councils in Mongolia have been operationalized in the course of this year.

Our Future

The 2030 WRG is working with key stakeholders to deliver concrete results within the three workstreams. The partnership is focused on:

  1. Reducing water demand and augmenting supply: looking forward to at least two projects
  2. Developing incentives for sustainable water resources management: An updated pricing methodology is being developed and should be presented to the cabinet in October 2019 (work on incentives will be presented later).
  3. Building the capacity of stakeholders and encouraging collaboration: The development of an integrated database, capacity-building, as well as setting up the Tuul river basin council is ongoing.