Mongolia: Top Mongolian
officials donned dark green baseball caps reading "Save our
planet" and set up chairs and tables in the sands of the Gobi
desert for a Cabinet meeting aimed at drawing attention to
The meeting of 12 government ministers was held in
scorching heat Friday in Gashuunii Khooloi, a sandy valley in
South Gobi province, about 670 kilometers south of Ulan-Bator,
the country`s capital.
The ministers, dressed in suits and ties, arrived in the
desert in jeeps after a 15-hour journey. Officials planted a
Mongolian flag in the ground, set up long tables and chairs in
the fine, golden sand and discussed climate change against the
backdrop of a vast expanse of desert and a bright blue sky.
"Mongolia is feeling the impact of global climate
change," Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar said at the
Batbold pointed to the recent winter as an example of
problems Mongolia faces. The winter was the harshest in
decades and a fifth of the country`s livestock died.
The government blames global warming for a decrease in
rainfall and says that rising average temperatures have caused
many rivers and springs to dry up and snow cover to melt. It
also says the frequency of natural disasters and drought has
The site for the meeting was chosen because parts of it
used to be arable land, said Badarch, head of social policy
for South Gobi province, who like some Mongolians uses only
"Five years ago, there used to grow many edible plants
in this valley and there were fewer sand dunes. Now look
here," he said. "The valley is completely covered with sand.
The sand dunes are moving and taking more space each year."