Home Institution

University of Virginia

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Mongolia: Geopolitics and the Environment


The livelihoods of Mongolian herders depend on rangeland conditions, which are being threatened by land degradation and climate change. These changes may cause some Mongolian herders to move to a different land. Thus, the prevalence of ecomigration today and the perceptions and responses of herding communities to migrants were examined to understand ways government could form adaptation policy to climate change in the future. Interviews were conducted with both migrant and host herders as well as government officials in Mungunmorit, Tov and Delgerkhan, Khentii, including the state reserve Herlen Bayan-Olaang. A survey was used to evaluate the prevalence of ecomigration to the soum centers and Ulaanbaatar.

Ecomigration was present in all areas. Environmentally-induced economic reasons were often overlooked, cited usually only as job-related movement. Mungunmorit has had many new migrants arrive in recent years, so there has been some conflict over rangeland between the migrants and host herders. Delgerkhaan does not have many new migrants, but herders there blamed herders passing through their land on the way to the state reserve of Herlen Bayan-Olaang for land degradation. One bag also made the protectionist policy of allowing no herders to move to their land.

In the future as land degradation and the number of extreme weather events increase, the number of ecomigrants, including ones influenced by environmentally-induced economic reasons, will also increase. Based on the results, it is likely that ecomigrants in the future will face similar difficulties being accepted by host communities already witnessing environmental degradation themselves unless the right policies are implemented. The combination of more education about the environment and long-term options for families as well as better infrastructure and services would provide true freedom of choice to herders who need to move due to environmental reasons brought about by climate change


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agriculture | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Family, Life Course, and Society | Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | Labor Economics | Rural Sociology | Sustainability