MISSION, VALUES AND APPROACH
A MISSION AND VALUES BASED ON ECOLOGY AND SOLIDARITY
In a global context of interdependent environmental, economic and social crises, 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 the sustainable development of rural Mongolia, by promoting jointly the protection of the environment, social equity and economic development in the soums.
Given the inseparable links that exist 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 environmental damages, revitalize the countryside, and slow down the rural exodus.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO LOCAL AND AUTONOMOUS DEVELOPMENT
The Mongolian context lends itself particularly well to a holistic approach of local and autonomous sustainable development. 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 has decided to focus its action – at least initially – on a "model" soum, using a comprehensive approach to simultaneously address its various environmental and socio-economic problems.
The ultimate goal remains – in a second phase – to promote in the rest of the country the duplication of the model developed by the association and the inhabitants, in order to truly reach all rural populations.
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 currently live in the soum-center. Therefore, the association already has ties and contacts in this soum, as well as a real knowledge of the local issues and needs, which will facilitate its development and legitimacy.
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 local and autonomous sustainable development, even though nothing particular predestines it, will prove that such a development 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 citizen movement in Khishig-Undur.
In contrast to international solidarity organizations that rely on local partners to develop temporary projects, the association wants to become itself this local structure established in the long term.
As such, the association 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.