Bolormaa Purevjav is a chair of the Centre for Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainable Development (SESD), a national NGO in Mongolia. She visited UBC for four months in early 2017 as a CIRDI fellow.
Bolormaa is an engineering graduate from the Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic, and has also earned an MBA from Griffith University in Australia.
During her CIRDI fellowship, Bolormaa produced a research paper comparing Peruvian and Mongolian government and company practices related to mining sector water use. She also collaborated on a case study on artisanal and small-scale mining in Mongolia and presented on her SESD work in Mongolia at a Women in Mining BC luncheon and at a CIRDI Seminar Series event at UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Studies.
In August 2017, she will return to UBC to begin a PhD program with a focus on integrated water resource management in mining.
Here are her reflections on her time as a CIRDI fellow:
Tell us about your work in Mongolia, your interests, concerns and hopes.
For the last 15 years I’ve worked on development projects for United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Asia Foundation. Since 2007 I’ve worked on facilitating dialogue, developing a common understanding and promoting collaboration between stakeholders in areas where mining and traditional livelihoods cross. I’m interested in engaging stakeholders in a constructive way that would produce sustainable results and positive change in the community. We all need to understand that with industrial development should come attention to environmental sustainability including rehabilitation and restoration. To promote sustainability, a portion of revenue should be allocated to environmental rehabilitation, which can also become an economic activity for local communities.
In Mongolia many changes are happening so fast that there is a little time to reflect and learn. This is dangerous because we could move too fast in a wrong direction with negative consequences. So, it is important for a government to assess the impact of policies and revise them accordingly, rather than making changes without good research, analysis and reflection of impacts.
We should focus on educating citizens to increase their knowledge and skills and enrich their experiences.
I hope Mongolia can succeed on its path to develop a bright and dynamic society. The young generation of Mongolians will be the main force making bold moves for better quality of life.
What interested you about coming to UBC?
I want to learn from Canada’s experiences in mining and environmental management, with a focus on water resources. UBC is a great place to meet new people and to learn and is consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. I like the idea that at UBC “bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.”
My interest in Vancouver began a year ago when I was researching Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan to inform the August 2016 North East Asian Cities Mayor’s Forum and the municipal government of our capital city, Ulaanbaatar (UB). We want Mongolia’s capital, to be a green city too, but currently it has a lot pollution issues.
Half of Mongolia’s population lives in UB and 70 per cent are children and youth. We need to create a better natural environment to raise them in. I’m happy that UBC is in Vancouver and that I had a chance to see the greenest city initiatives in action.
What do you hope to achieve from this knowledge exchange?
My experience at UBC has reinforced for me the importance of balancing mining development with environmental management. I think people make negative generalizations about mining and it’s unfortunate that a bad example affects the whole industry. The mining industry has the potential to generate revenues to build infrastructure across Mongolia, like roads, energy and water facilities.
Mongolia is a big country with a small, scattered population. Therefore, continuous education and awareness raising among the population is very important. On my return to Mongolia, I will be training, educating and facilitating dialogue and possibly implementing projects on environmental rehabilitation.
What have you learned at UBC and in Canada and how will it inform your life and work in Mongolia?
I appreciate all the help and support I received from CIRDI staff and people at UBC. UBC has exceptionally good resources and research facilities with many opportunities to meet with people and participate in the workshops and talks organized by UBC departments. My experience was very positive and enriching. I will share it with others and inspire young people to study at UBC and learn about life in Vancouver.
I was impressed by the positive attitude of people in Vancouver, and by their shared vision and responsibility: to keep the city clean and green and to embrace diversity.
I strongly believe that a positive attitude towards others, one of respecting and accepting diversity, is a number one factor to develop your country. People with the right attitude, and equipped with knowledge, can create a society that would provide equal opportunities for men and women.
I learned not just about mining and environmental management; but I observed and saw in my daily life in Vancouver the positive attitude most people have.
Who will benefit from what you have learned in Canada?
Certainly I benefitted directly and I will share the knowledge I gained to influence and change perceptions in my country. I will contribute to policy making through different activities such as advising community organizations and promoting engagement of civil society, the Mongolian government and the private sector to discuss implementation of the SDGs, work with youth, organize events and be part of initiatives towards sustainable development and green growth.