(May 3, 2017—Ulaanbaatar) The International Republican Institute formally opened a May 2-5 conference for emerging leaders from Mongolia, Burma, Bhutan, and Kyrgyzstan. While in Ulaanbaatar, participants will have the opportunity to discuss democratic transitions, network with peers, and refine their advocacy skills. The conference is part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) project, which is grooming the next generation of young leaders to champion democracy in Mongolia.
U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt delivered a keynote address highlighting the United States’ continued support for Mongolia’s young leaders and celebrating 30 years of U.S.-Mongolia diplomatic relations. She noted that this conference seeks to “expand connections among opinion shapers and democratic decision makers across the region.”
Ambassador Galt was joined at the conference by Mongolian Deputy Foreign Minister B. Battsetseg, who also delivered remarks, and Dr. Susan Brems, USAID Mission Director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands, and Mongolia.
Launched in September 2016, USAID’s $2.5 million LEAD project exposes emerging Mongolian leaders to best practices in democracy and good governance, strengthening their ability to engage constructively with and within their government. The project also promotes international exchange opportunities, such as this week’s conference, among Mongolia’s youth to build the foundations for sustainable democracy.
The project is implemented by World Learning, the International Republican Institute, and the Center for Citizenship Education. Through exchange visits, civic education, and mentoring, project participants deepen their knowledge and skills in areas that fall under three broad policy themes: urbanization and poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, and environmental degradation. Earlier this year, 30 participants aged 25-40 spent three weeks in Washington, D.C. honing their leadership skills and learning about conflict management, transparency in media, government, civil liberties, and democratic values. Participants put their new knowledge and skills into practice by competing for small grants to undertake community projects.
“Whether we are working in the private sector or civil society, we are contributing to a more democratic and open civil society within our country,” said LEAD Fellow and educational activist Bolorsaikhan Badamsambu. “I have realized that every person needs to contribute to the well-being of Mongolia.”
“As we celebrate 30 years of U.S.-Mongolia relations, it’s an exciting time to be working with these inspiring young leaders,” said Ashleigh Whelan, Resident Program Director for the International Republican Institute in Mongolia. “This project is a conduit to share Mongolia’s story of peaceful democratic transition with the wider region, while paving a path for the next generation of leaders to develop personally and professionally.”