MISSION, VALUES AND APPROACH
A MISSION AND VALUES BASED ON RESILIENCE, ECOLOGY AND SOLIDARITY
In a global context of interdependent environmental, economic and social crises, which now pose a real risk of collapse on our thermo-industrial civilization, it has become necessary to undertake a transition toward a new society founded on ecological and solidarity values.
Based on these ideals, the Ecosoum association aims to be part of this international transition movement, by seeking to empower the rural populations so they can face by themselves the challenges they encounter today.
Thus, Ecosoum has set its mission to contribute to strengthening resilience and sustainability of rural Mongolia, by promoting jointly the protection of the environment, social equity and an economic development that is consistent with restrained and sustainable lifestyles in the soums.
Given the inseparable links between these three spheres, such an objective can be achieved only by working comprehensively on all the related issues, in order to create a virtuous circle able to reduce social inequalities and environmental damages, while revitalizing the countryside to slow down the rural exodus.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO INCREASE LOCAL RESILIENCE, AUTONOMY AND SUSTAINABILITY
The Mongolian context lends itself particularly well to a holistic approach of local and autonomous community resilience. Indeed, the low population density and the alveolar administrative subdivision define communities that are clearly identifiable and barely interdependent.
Each soum (district) comprises a central village of sedentary inhabitants, surrounded in the steppe by nomadic families administratively linked to that village. The interactions between the different soums are therefore very limited because of the isolation of each one.
Thus, rather than specializing on a specific topic at a larger scale, Ecosoum decided to initially focus its action on a "model" soum, using a comprehensive approach to simultaneously address its various environmental and socio-economic problems.
Nevertheless, as our ultimate goal remains to help all rural communities of Mongolia, Ecosoum tries to promote and support in the rest of the country the duplication of the successful activities carried out in the "model" soum.
KHISHIG-UNDUR, AN AVERAGE SOUM REPRESENTATIVE OF MOST OF THE COUNTRY
Ecosoum chose to start by developing its project in Khishig-Undur, in the Bulgan province, for two main reasons.
First, because its founders are native from there and have been living in the soum-center. Therefore, the association already had ties and contacts in this soum, as well as a real knowledge of the local issues and needs. This local anchorage is the core basis of Ecosoum’s legitimacy to operate in Khishig-Undur and has been facilitating its development.
Second, because this 3,000 inhabitants soum (of which two-thirds of nomads) doesn’t present any particular characteristic – its structure, geo-climatic environment or socio-economic context being quite average. To succeed in turning this regular soum into a model of autonomous and resilient community, even though nothing particular predestines it, will prove that such a transition is possible anywhere in the country – which is the ultimate goal of the association.
A LOCAL LONG-TERM ASSOCIATION IN THE HANDS OF THE INHABITANTS
Created and registered in Mongolia, Ecosoum defines itself as a local activist movement in Khishig-Undur, representing all neglected rural areas.
In contrast to international solidarity organizations that rely on local partners to develop temporary projects, our association is a locally-based structure established in the long term.
As such, Ecosoum does not only want to involve some inhabitants of the soum in its projects but to be constituted almost exclusively of the maximum of them.
The aim is to build a participatory and inclusive organization, feeding on local skills, and able to create sustainable jobs that can benefit the whole community.