Studio

The politics of earth is shifting to “sustainability” through the shared way of apprehending the world and its limits. The global leaders from 196 countries have committed to 17 sustainable development goals for the coming fifteen year period in September, 2015 at the United Nation’s General Assembly. Although mining, oil and gas sectors faces high controversy given their environmental footprints in the context of green radicalism and sustainability, Dr. Dirk Van Zyl articulates that it is not an oxymoron to talk about mining and sustainable development in the same sentence. He says “Metals and minerals are absolutely necessary for a sustainable future of everybody on the planet.” He continue on highlighting the importance of having a dialogue of how the mining can contribute to the sustainable development of the planet rather than how mining project can be sustainable.

Mongolia is emerging as an attractive destination for investments in its natural resources. The country is seeking to fast track its development through leveraging its mineral endowments. However, public perception is polarized around both the potential and threat of mining development on the issues of environmental, economic and social security. These concerns are not irrational given that mining constitutes 16.7% of Mongolia’s GDP, 88% of export earnings and 70% of tax revenues in 2015[1]. Consequently, the division over this complex and multifaceted issue of developing mineral resources impacts the whole country, not just invested stakeholders.

This paper explores the stakeholder dialogue theory and practical application in the mining at local scale in Mongolia with the objective to draw out a list of ingredients which contribute to the quality of the partnership. The next part of the paper emphasizes the immense potential of the stakeholder dialogue in improving the extractive sector governance by

1. building critical mass of citizen understanding the role that mining can play in sustainable development of their community and nation through integrating knowledge and learning
2. building solidarity and consensus (through open, equal and inclusive conversation;
3. And enforcing accountability and commitment (through ownership and participation).
In theory, stakeholder dialogue has the potential to enhance democratization, commitment of policy implementation and improve the quality of the decisions, all are areas the country is lagging behind.

The following part of the paper turns to a case of the Integrated Community Development Program, which is part of the Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative of the German Development Agency (GIZ). This is a program which facilitate the cooperation of local government, and different actors in order to facilitate inclusive, sustainable local development.
Although the stakeholder dialogue theory offers a cure for all symptoms, the local reality of the practices reveal much more complexity, ranging from the institutional structure of the stakeholder dialogue and its validity, perceived ( or actual) power, ranking, the pressures associated with time frame and resources, and lack of skilled facilitation, the utilization of language and changing landscape of local communication.

The exploration of the stakeholder dialogue theory and application in the natural resources management instigates positive initiatives and debates. However, simplistic, generalizing and uncritical use of toolkit should be avoided. The fabrics of the community, i.e culture, history, language, and common vision should be considered as important factors in building the “partnership” or dialogue among the stakeholders.

Bulgan Batdorj

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The conversation

The importance of having a dialogue of how the mining can contribute to the sustainable development of the planet rather than how mining projects can be sustainable