Ambassador Klecheski’s Earth Day Op-Ed

We at the United States Embassy in Ulaanbaatar are delighted to be celebrating Earth Day with our friends and partners in Mongolia.  While these days we are all limiting our travel to help contain the spread of COVID-19, I have fond memories of traveling across Mongolia and seeing so many incredible landscapes.  Earth Day is an occasion for all of us to reflect on how vital it is to work together to protect our beautiful natural spaces here in Mongolia, the United States, and around the world.     

Launched 51-years ago by former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970, Earth Day matters more than ever this year as unprecedented climate change events present Mongolia, and the world, with existential challenges.   We have seen the tragic effects of climate change in Mongolia, with more extreme and frequent dzuds and dust storms leading to loss of life, livestock, and livelihoods.   

Severe weather threatens local herders and the country’s cashmere industry, as well as food security, public health, and infrastructure.  The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is partnering with Mongolia to find solutions to mitigate and prevent climate change.  This includes programs to help build resiliency against natural disasters for Mongolian herding communities; investments to help develop a more sustainable, independent, and modern energy sector; and support to help the cashmere sector effectively compete in international markets.     

Access to ample, clean water is essential to a healthy environment.  Earlier this month I joined with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Battsetseg and Mr. Mahmoud Bah, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to celebrate the historic Entry Into Force of the Millennium Challenge Account Mongolia Water Compact.  The United States is providing a grant of $350 million and working closely with Mongolian partners to increase Ulaanbaatar’s water supply by 80 percent.  Sustainability and climate resiliency are central in the Compact, which comprise a wastewater-recycling plant that will replace freshwater currently used by the city’s two largest power plants and an advanced water purification plant to preserve the integrity of the city’s aquafer and its principal river, the Tuul.   

President Biden is taking swift and bold steps to address climate change at home and around the world.  The United States rejoined the Paris Agreement on his first day in the White House, and one week later he announced he would convene a summit of world leaders to tackle the climate crisis together.  This week, April 22-23, President Biden will lead a discussion with 40 Heads of State to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.  This Summit will stream live and I invite you to join in virtually.   I am so happy that Mongolia’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, Dr. Batjargal, will be participating in the ministerial roundtable ahead of the Summit.    

On Earth Day 2021, as a third neighbor and strategic partner, the United States Embassy reaffirms its commitment to work with Mongolia, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, to address climate change for a more prosperous, healthy, and green future for us all.