Over the past twenty years, Mongolia has moved towards a vibrant multi-party democracy with a growing economy. To ensure sustainable and inclusive growth, Mongolia needs to build institutional capacity to manage public revenues, allocate resources effectively, reduce poverty and offer equal opportunities to all citizens in urban and rural areas.
For low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with large‐scale natural resource extraction projects, social, health and environmental assessment regulations can help leverage protection and mitigation activities, particularly in sensitive areas, and especially for communities living close to extractive industry sites. Although human health issues are typically included within environmental assessment regulations, in actual practice, coverage of health within Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is often limited to physical environmental considerations such as air, water, soil and pollution/emissions. Other factors that influence the broader determinants of health are rarely included.
Health impact assessment (HIA) is foundational to ensuring that health and its wide array of determinants are core considerations in current and future growth. This program was designed to build capacity for public officials and citizens to manage the public health and health system implications of extractive industry activities in order to contribute to social and economic growth and sustainable development. The program’s overarching objective was to “seed” capacity for the undertaking of HIAs, and the development and implementation of health action plans in Mongolia and other LMICs.
Curriculum was developed combining Canadian expertise in HIA with a systematic review of the health impacts of mining in LMIC-extractive sector contexts. The Learning and Development Program was held in Dalanzadgad and Ulan Bator, Mongolia from April 27-May 7, 2015. The program aimed to:
The project delivered a 10‐day intensive learning program focused on implementing HIAs within the currently legislated EIA framework in Mongolia. Twenty-eight professionals from various parts of Mongolia (20), Tanzania (1), Canada (4), Korea (2) and Zambia (1) participated in the residential program. Participants represented diverse professions and work contexts, including government ministries, academia and non-governmental organizations.
The Mongolia Health Impact Assessment Learning and Development Program was part of broader research initiative led by health researchers from Canadian and Mongolian universities and non-profits.
This project also intersects with capacity-building initiatives as part of CIRDI’s IMAGinE Mongolia project, supporting good governance of emerging natural resource sectors in Mongolia and other LMICs.
The program’s curriculum was applicable immediately and over the long term because it focused on foundational concepts, skills and tools to build common ground and language. The program provided a place for participants and the project team to learn together, support each other, solve problems and ultimately, through face‐to-face learning activities, set the foundation for innovative ideas to integrate HIA in ways that have positive impacts on the public health of communities in mining regions. The program participants identified high value in the learning and activities throughout, and reported increased knowledge of HIA methods, processes and approaches and how to lead change.