The overall aim of the visit was to provide the delegation of high-ranking Mongolian officials with opportunities to gain inspiring insight from the Swiss experience. The delegation consisted of representatives from the Office of the President, the Parliamentary Secretariat, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Ministry of Economic Development, and local governments. The program was very interesting for everyone. Here, we’ll give insight into just four of the many meetings held.
In Geneva, the delegation focused on selected international organizations. The first visit took place at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), and members of the State Great Khural of Mongolia discussed further expanding their cooperation. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the State Great Khural and the IPU at the House of Parliament, marking the expansion of cooperation between the two institutions and, most importantly, the Government of Mongolia’s commitment to strengthening parliamentary democracy in Mongolia. The strengthening of parliamentary education and Parliament’s digitalization are going to be priority issues in the future.
The delegation had a special moment with Thomas Gass, Deputy Director of SDC. SDC has been present in Mongolia for over 20 years as part of a long and excellent friendship. Both parties expressed their appreciation for fruitful cooperation between the two countries and agreed to ensure the successful implementation of ongoing projects until the bilateral cooperation program phases out in 2024. Achievements and sustainable results in agriculture, vocational education, and governance are solid grounds for expanding economic, cultural, and diplomatic cooperation between Switzerland and Mongolia beyond 2024. Since the establishment of a permanent parliament in Mongolia, the Swiss Cooperation Office in Mongolia has been working closely and successfully with the Secretariat of the State Great Khural to implement projects such as Capacity Strengthening of Local Self-Governing Bodies, Support to Participatory Legislative Processes, and Strengthening Representative Bodies in Mongolia.
Water management in Switzerland and beyond - At the request of the Mongolian delegation, three separate meetings were organized to share the Swiss experience on water management. Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of Bern (unibe.ch) and Professor Emmanuel Reynard from the University of Lausanne presented the key features of water management in Switzerland, explained how water strategies and policies are made and implemented in Switzerland and shared the key challenges of cooperation between the central, cantonal, and local level in Switzerland.
Regional water association - Wasserverbund Region Bern AG (WVRB AG) showcased water management experiences at the regional level. WVRB AG (www.wvrb.ch) is responsible for supplying the population in and around the municipality of Bern with clean water in the required quantity. It obtains water from natural groundwater or springs, which can be used without costly treatment. The task of distributing drinking, service, and fire-fighting water to households, industry, and commerce, as well as the provision of fire protection, remains with the municipalities, which cooperate to deliver high-quality services in a sustainable way.
The Mongolian delegation also visited water facilities and met with municipal water authorities in Beatenberg municipality in the region of Interlaken to learn about managing drinking water services at the municipal level. The parties discussed the responsibilities of municipalities in water management and challenges at the local level, particularly the constant monitoring of water services and investment in maintenance to ensure quantity and quality, and the ways municipalities cooperate with neighboring municipalities to provide water supply and sanitation services.
The working visit to Switzerland of the high-level Mongolian officials was a success. The visit has shown that direct and personal exchanges, formal and informal, are very fruitful and important, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. They are an ideal way to learn from each other and create new ideas for the future.