AMBASSADOR GALT: Members of the Leaders Advancing Democracy team, distinguished guests, members of the press – good morning, everyone.
I am delighted to be here for today’s launch ceremony.
Since my arrival in Mongolia a year ago, as Adam noted, one of my priorities has been to engage with young people across this country.
I am truly excited at the opportunity to deepen our engagement with Mongolia’s next generation of democratic decision makers through our new Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) -Mongolia project.
For more than 25 years, Mongolia has served as a model of peaceful and successful democratic transition.
The leaders who championed this transition nearly three decades ago are rightfully proud of Mongolia’s democratic advancements.
Mongolia has established a multi-party, competitive political system that allows for a broad range of views, and it boasts a vibrant civil society with strong, active non-governmental organizations.
These are hard-won gains, and today Mongolia is well positioned to share its experiences with other emerging democracies and to serve as a role model in the region.
To build on this democratic foundation and to ensure that democracy in Mongolia continues to thrive, it is essential, in my view, that Mongolia’s young people have a voice in the democratic process.
There is a new generation of up-and-coming democracy advocates who want to play a greater role in policy and governance.
Through the LEAD project, we aim to support their efforts and enhance their capacity to more effectively participate in – and, yes, one day lead – Mongolia’s democracy.
Those of you who are part of this new generation are not unlike your peers in many parts of the world – you want to be heard, you want to be included, and you want to effect positive change.
That said, many of you are in a uniquely different position from the democracy advocates of the previous generation in Mongolia.
Many of you have lived most of your lives under a democratic form of government.
You have the advantage of this experience and exposure.
But, you are also charged with an immense responsibility to uphold and build on that democratic tradition: to defend it, advance it, and make sure other young people are engaged in improving it and carrying it forward.
Since I arrived in Mongolia last September, I have had the extraordinary privilege of speaking with many young people who are dedicated to ensuring a positive future for Mongolia.
You are an incredibly motivated, inspired, patriotic group of emerging leaders.
You represent different fields and different interests.
You come from government and civil society.
You represent the media and the private sector.
You represent different paths of life and different ideas.
And perhaps most importantly, you come from all corners of this beautiful country.
Yet, in spite of these differences, what you have in common is more important – a resolve to push forward Mongolia’s democratic future and to see your country succeed.
I continue to be inspired by your commitment, and we at the United States Embassy want to support you in the pursuit of positive change.
We recognize that your voice matters.
We acknowledge that young people should participate in the decision making process that is taking place in institutions across Mongolia.
We have heard you say that your voices are not heard or heeded, that Mongolia’s emerging leaders need more opportunities to engage in decision making, to find opportunities to bring about the change you seek.
This is where the Leaders Advancing Democracy or LEAD project comes in.
The United States Agency for International Development has partnered with World Learning and IRI to launch LEAD-Mongolia to support the development of the next generation of change agents whose leadership will combat indifference and forge a common vision for Mongolia’s future successful democratic trajectory.
Mongolia needs a strong cadre of emerging democratic leaders with the skills, knowledge, and networks to continue to advance Mongolia’s democracy into the future.
LEAD-Mongolia seeks to help make this happen.
Over the next two years, LEAD will work with some of Mongolia’s best and brightest emerging leaders, ages 25 to 40, to help them achieve their vision for positive change.
LEAD-Mongolia will accomplish this through a variety of leadership programs, international exchanges, and civic education activities.
This project will enhance participants’ professional skills by providing opportunities for mentorship and peer networking.
At the conclusion of LEAD-Mongolia, these emerging leaders will have the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to engage constructively with the government and community organizations, as well as with other key institutions to push forward positive change.
What we are doing with LEAD in Mongolia is an essential element of President Obama’s focus on connecting young people as a cornerstone of American foreign policy.
As President Obama said when meeting with a group of young leaders on his historic visit to Laos earlier this month:
“While Presidents and Prime Ministers can help lay the foundation, it’s going to be young people like you who build the future of this region and the world. And because your generation is the most educated, and because you are all connected through your phones, you have more power to shape the future than any generation we’ve ever known.”
The United States Government is honored to support Mongolia’s next generation of democratic leaders.
Before I close, I’d like to thank World Learning – Carol Jenkins from Washington and Adam LeClair and his Mongolia team; IRI – Ashleigh Whelan and her team; CCE – Dr. Narangerel and her staff – for their commitment to LEAD-Mongolia.
I am excited to see the innovation that World Learning and its partners will bring to LEAD-Mongolia.
One final note, I would like to let everyone know that next year the United States and Mongolia will celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations.
We have had a rich history of partnership, and I am confident our close cooperation will continue to expand.
As we move forward and work with Mongolia’s future democratic leaders, I firmly believe our strong relationship will become even deeper and more robust.
I wish LEAD-Mongolia every success, and I look forward to meeting more of Mongolia’s emerging leaders in the months ahead.
Thank you very much.