Nomin Chinbat on Mongolia and the World Economic Forum

Recent Features

Interviews | Economy | East Asia

Nomin Chinbat on Mongolia and the World Economic Forum

In an interview with The Diplomat, Mongolia’s culture minister underscores the intersection of the economy and culture.

Nomin Chinbat on Mongolia and the World Economic Forum
Credit: Facebook / Nomin Chinbat

The 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum convened in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from January 15 to 19. Mongolia’s continued participation in the WEF highlights the country’s global engagement, with the forum – often simply referred to as “Davos” – serving as an international platform to mingle with leaders, showcase economic and investment opportunities, and strengthen partnerships. 

This year, Mongolian Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai, Minister of Culture Nomin Chinbat, and Temuulen Enkhbat, the vice curator of the Global Shapers, among others, attended the WEF representing Mongolia. Minister Nomin gave an interview to The Diplomat focusing on Mongolia’s participation in the WEF, touching on economic, cultural, and digital sectors.  

This year’s Davos theme, “Rebuilding Trust,” aimed to “restore collective agency, and reinforce the fundamental principles of transparency, consistency, and accountability and leaders.” What has been Mongolia’s situation, and in what ways it has improved? Can you give examples of how Mongolia is strengthening relations between government and business, or between government, business, and civil society?

Mongolia is a nation that is proud of the integrity of its democratic and judicial institutions. Though we have been described as an “oasis of democracy” within the region, the government is pursuing further measures that will strengthen transparency and accountability in our society. This approach is in line with this year’s Davos theme, “Rebuilding Trust.”

One example is Mongolia’s commitment to combatting corruption in all its forms, aligned with the National Anti-corruption Strategy and other key anti-corruption initiatives. And we are already seeing some results. Since the announcement of this strategy in 2023, 40 of the international standards and recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force have been put into action. Mongolia is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve this. 

Also, in 2024, Mongolia will see the strengthening of its judicial institutions through key legislation the government is introducing. The [2023] amendment to the Constitution creates a role for the Constitutional Court in reaching a final decision on citizens’ petitions that allege a breach of constitutional civil rights and freedoms. We are using Davos to highlight our strong actions on “Rebuilding Trust” and to work on the next stage, which is to ensure transparency and accountability across all government levels and businesses. 

The government of Mongolia has already joined forces with some of the biggest brands across the globe in a wide range of sectors, from digital infrastructure to renewable energy, and emerging technologies, to unlock the endless opportunities our country has to offer. These are not only exciting investment opportunities for international businesses seeking to expand their market, but they also have tangible benefits for our people and our economy. When businesses help connect Mongolia to the global market, our citizens are also taken on this exciting journey. 

Through joint, private-public ventures, we are ensuring that all segments of society are equipped with the skills and the infrastructure to capitalize on our economic growth. One recent example is the partnership with Starlink, which can enable millions of internet users in Mongolia to have access to high-speed internet. This historic collaboration underscores Mongolia’s commitment to technological advancements and positions Mongolia at the front of digital innovation. 

The WEF’s Global Risk Report 2024 included lack of economic opportunity, pollution, and cyber insecurity as top threats. How are Mongolian leaders navigating these issues? What can we expect in terms of policy changes this year? 

Through Mongolia’s flagship economic plan, the “New Recovery Policy,” Mongolia’s economy experienced a remarkable post-pandemic recovery, and projects to expand by 6.8 percent in 2024.

Also, Mongolia’s strong debt management strategy was highlighted recently through the government of Mongolia’s full repayment of the $200 million “Samurai” bond. This gives confidence to new investors and shows the world that Mongolia stands by its financial commitments and is ready for further investment. 

Keeping Mongolia’s cyber and information space secure from external threats is a priority of the government’s “Vision 2050” long-term development plan. The government will develop a system to reduce technological dependence on other countries and strengthen our capacity. Keeping our citizens and our country safe online will become an increasingly pivotal role of the state in this digital age. 

Mongolian leaders are joined by other global leaders at Davos. What does Mongolia hope to achieve from this year’s Davos gathering?

The Forum stands as a pivotal moment for Mongolia, providing a platform where our leaders converge with global counterparts to further diplomatic objectives and advance Mongolia as an investment destination. 

Culturally, we aim to position Mongolia as a Global Ambassador, showcasing the richness of our heritage and our contemporary arts. This year’s Davos gathering provides a stage to not only strengthen cultural ties but also leave a mark that transcends the diplomatic arena and resonates with people worldwide.

Economically, we seek to highlight Mongolia’s investment potential and underscore the nation’s commitment to sustainable development. By engaging in new investment discussions at Davos, we aim to attract foreign investment, stimulate economic growth, and diversify our partnerships.

Mongolia views Davos not merely as a summit but as a transformative opportunity to shape the narrative of our global engagement. Through diplomacy, cultural showcasing, and investment opportunities, we endeavor to position Mongolia on the world stage as a nation ready to contribute, collaborate, and thrive. 

The Global Risk Report 2024 speculated in 10 years that natural resource shortages will be among the top risks. How Mongolia can strategically use its natural resources to be a credible global partner while protecting its environment, and improving the people’s lives? 

Our partnership with Rio Tinto, epitomized by the successful Oyu Tolgoi expansion in 2023, serves as a testament to responsible resource management. The operation, employing approximately 20,000 people, of whom 97 percent are Mongolian, exemplifies the potential for natural resource development to positively impact our economy and livelihoods. 

Simultaneously, Mongolia is committed to diversifying beyond mining. Our pursuit of renewable energy aligns seamlessly with international goals, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Initiatives such as the “Billion Trees” project and the commitment to invest 1 percent of the total GDP in nature conservation by 2030 are tangible expressions of our resolve.

By envisioning Net Zero by 2050 and actively planning the construction of hydroelectric dams and solar farms with foreign investors, Mongolia strives to diversify its energy sources, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure domestic energy security through renewable sources. 

As a minister of culture of Mongolia, how important is culture in an economic forum like this, and what role can culture play in promoting Mongolian interests abroad? What have been your key focuses at the WEF this week?

With the international community coming together at Davos this week, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with leaders from politics, business, and elsewhere about Mongolia’s cultural heritage and the economic growth potential that our cultural and creative industries possess.

Tourism sits at the intersection of our cultural and economic offerings. Cultural tourism revolves around preserved cultural attractions in a destination. The intent is to showcase adventure and cultural tourism alongside a respect for Mongolian nature and ancient culture, underscored by the paramount importance of sustainable tourism development.

Aligned with this commitment, the government of Mongolia has declared 2023-2025 as “The Year to Visit Mongolia” and established the National Committee on Tourism Development. As of December 20, 2023, Mongolia has experienced a record influx of tourists, reaching a historic milestone of 640,000 visitors. 

“Go MonGOlia, always moving” was also launched at the start of the year as a brand to amplify Mongolia’s global promotion, continue the increase of our tourism sector and attract increased investments. It encapsulates our nomadic heritage with our cultural ambitions for the future. 

Recognizing the importance of promoting Mongolia’s cultural heritage abroad, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism have intensified efforts to boost the tourism sector internationally through collaboration that showcases Mongolia’s cultural richness on the global stage and fosters a positive image of the country’s unique heritage.

As a WEF Young Leader since 2016, my journey has been one of active involvement in economically significant activities, bridging the worlds of youth leadership and economic development. Also, my role as the deputy chair of the Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF) in 2023 was a testament to my commitment to fostering public-private collaboration. The MEF is a vital platform bringing together diverse stakeholders to tackle pressing issues such as sustainable growth, environmental concerns, and barriers to increased investment. 

Over the past year, the Ministry of Culture has worked with our partners around the world to strengthen ties between our cultural and creative industries, raising global awareness of Mongolia’s unique history and vibrant culture.

It was an honor to speak at a breakfast hosted by the Davos Baukultur Alliance, an organization conducting vital work highlighting the importance of embedding a nation’s culture into its infrastructure and policy decisions. Our discussion also covered how increased exposure to a nation’s culture can help highlight the opportunities available for foreign investors and provide economic benefits to Mongolians working in the cultural sector.   

Looking ahead to 2024, I am excited to continue my engagement with the MEF as the deputy chair. The upcoming forum will be instrumental in charting a course for Mongolia’s economic trajectory. The focus on reducing obstacles to business growth aligns with my belief in the potential of public-private partnerships to sustain and enhance Mongolia’s economic success.