Mongolia’s Water Challenges
Increasing water consumption, driven by rapid urban population increase and economic activity, is placing severe demands on the groundwater supply of Mongolia, a landlocked country in east-central Asia. Consequently, groundwater reserves – the source of approximately 80% of Mongolia’s water consumption – are deteriorating. The extractive industry, which accounts for 87.5% of Mongolia’s total export revenue, and manufacturing activities pollute existing groundwater, further depleting available water resources and increasing the risk to economic output. Up to 40% of the total population is supplied with unsafe drinking water, a trend that has continued for the last three years.
Ulaanbaatar, the capital city and home to roughly half the population, is equally at risk from water scarcity. In a high-demand scenario, approximately 43% of the total water demand in Ulaanbaatar is estimated to be unmet by existing supplies by 2030.
Approach and Results
The Mongolia MSP is serving as an innovation engine to drive needed policy, regulatory, and institutional reform, as well as implementation of water efficiency and circular economy solutions to help protect against water-related risks. 2030 WRG has conducted a hydro-economic analysis to identify cost-effective solutions for reducing water demand and augmenting supply. The program is focused on developing projects and financing for water-use efficiency within industry and mining clusters, while also developing circular economy solutions for wastewater.
A groundwater monitoring dashboard that will facilitate informed decision-making and feed into forward-looking policies on groundwater use is nearing completion. 2030 WRG has also started developing a digital architecture that aims to use IoT techniques to detect water pollution and machine learning algorithms for analysis. Still at an early stage, and awaiting funding, the project will initially focus on big water users (using over 50 cubic meters a day).
The Mongolian platform is also supporting the design of the Golden Drop, a prestigious award to recognize leading industry partners on their water stewardship efforts, while encouraging companies to innovate further and develop state-of-the-art practices in water management.
The Steering Board of the Mongolia MSP is chaired by the State Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Partners and stakeholders include organizationssuch as the Ministry of Green Development and Tourism (MGDT), multiple River Basin Councils, International Finance Corporation Mining Roundtable, PwC, Amec Foster Wheeler, and Ground-Water Solutions.