SDC Director Gabriella Spirli’s speech at the celebration of 55 years of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Switzerland and 15 years of SDC present in Mongolia: “Mongolia and his people will always be in my heart”

Press releases, 05.07.2019

“I am proud of the tangible results we have achieved together with our partners in all sectors that we are engaged in. Without modesty, I can say that we are making a difference - at national and provincial levels, but also at the level of people’s lives. The Mongolian artisanal small scale mining sector has been strengthened with ASM-related concerns anchored in important policies. More young people are attending vocational training schools and getting better chances to find a decent job. Local parliament members are empowered and better equipped to perform their duties, and recently initiated collaboration between the Mongolian Parliament Secretariat and Swiss Parliament Services have opened new avenues for partnership. The vegetables sector continued to be strengthened, e.g. by reducing vegetables imports from other countries. This list of our joint accomplishments is too long; I will never manage to be exhaustive.

Gabriella Spirli in Uvs aimag
Gabriella Spirli in Uvs aimag ©SDC Mongolia

Let me thus focus on our work to address urbanization challenges in Mongolia. Last winter, we launched a new programme on “Reducing the Impact of Air Pollution on Maternal and Child Health” which aims to reduce the exposure of children and pregnant mothers from air pollution as well as strengthen the healthcare system to better respond to air pollution-related sicknesses. We have big hopes and ambitions with this project, which we believe is very relevant.  Now, we need to focus on delivering the changes.  We are also working on urban governance issues to improve public service delivery, citizen participation, and capacities of civil servants. We have an energy efficiency project for schools and kindergartens, which combines much needed actions to improve the insulation of buildings and strengthen public investment management. And soon, we will support better management of internal migration to address specific policy challenges and contribute to reducing the vulnerabilities of urban migrants. 

Mongolia, however, is not only the city of Ulaanbaatar. There is also rural Mongolia where the Swiss Cooperation Office has been very active for many years, mainly with our Vegetable and Green Gold and Animal Health Projects. Healthy rangelands are the backbone of the livelihood of about 160,000 herder families. The Green Gold and Animal Health Project can showcase tremendous results. We are present in all aimags, expanding and replicating our good practices together with a solid network of partners. Market access for livestock products and their export is becoming a reality. Dreams are turning into reality. However, we know that the Mongolian rangeland is at the crossroads. Let me repeat the urgency that to curb rangeland degradation, we need to improve the regulatory environment for rangeland management and adopt a Rangeland Law which reflects good practices in sustainable rangeland management.

On a personal note, it is time for me to say goodbye to Mongolia and to all of you. It has been an incredible time, very rich and intense. My learning curve has been indeed very steep in all respects, and you have allowed me to learn, do mistakes, learn from them, and move forward. I’ve promised to my colleagues to try always do my best – I hope I have kept this promise. I will return to my home country, and I hope Switzerland will be as nice as Mongolia, giving me a lot in terms learning and professional satisfaction. Mongolia and its people will remain in my heart and my mind; this I can ensure you. 

Let me conclude by thanking you all for making our achievements possible. I wish you all a prosperous future, for you and your families.”