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Speaker Series – Introducing the Gobi Framework Project: Mediation Model for Sustainable Infrastructure Development

December 4, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


This ESRC-GCRF funded project develops a Mediation Model for Sustainable Infrastructure Development (MMSID) to promote inclusive economic development and social welfare in the context of Chinese mega infrastructure initiatives in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. While large-scale infrastructure projects represent a key mechanism of economic growth and development, they also bring unintended and negative consequences to local populations and environments. These challenges can be compounded by specific regional contexts. This is the case in contemporary Asia where China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR), representing more than £1 trillion in investments, is set to transform societies, economies and landscapes through infrastructure megaprojects. The speed and scale of OBOR investments present particular social and environmental challenges to China’s neighboring states of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Tajikistan. This includes project siting, use of scarce resources such as water, and land degradation. In addition, these states have limited capacity of national government agencies and fragile, dryland and mountain environments and the prevalence of Sinophobia. These  hallenges result in the need to foster trust, transparency and cooperation between stakeholders to maintain social cohesion and ensure inclusive economic development. The need to find a new path which combines economic growth and investment with social inclusion is pressing for political stability in the region.

About the Speakers

Stephen Lezak is an independent researcher and writer based at the University of Oxford. Currently he consults on two projects at the Oxford School of Geography and the Environment. He also leads a module for MSc and MPhil candidates on “Critical Ecologies.” His past research in climate change psychology has been featured in media outlets such as The Washington Post. His current research interests include the regulation of infrastructure and extractive industries in Central Asia and conservation and biodiversity practice in the Gobi region. ACMS provided crucial logistical support to Stephen’s first research project in Central Asia, a study of the Sustainable Artisanal Mining project.

Dr. Ariell Ahearn is the Course Director for the MSc/MPhil in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance and a departmental lecturer in the School for Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Since 2004, she has worked extensively in rural Mongolia with mobile pastoralists around land use and rural development issues. In 2016 she engaged as an expert on a multi-disciplinary team to conduct a qualitative analysis of herder livelihoods and socio-economic changes in relation to the Oyu Tolgoi mega mine in the Gobi desert as part of the facilitation of a complaint through the IFC’s Office of Compliance Ombudsman. She has published on rural development in Mongolia on topics covering household separation, education, gender and local administration of land. Currently she is a co-investigator for an ESRC-GCRF funded project called ‘Gobi Framework: Mediation Model for Sustainable Infrastructure Development.’ Ariell has been a member of ACMS since 2004 and considers it to be one of her intellectual homes in Mongolia.

Byambabaatar Ichinkhorloo is a social anthropologist whose research explores the relationships between humans, society and environment in postsocialist Mongolia. His research interest ranges from diverse economies, social networks, exchanges, natural resource management, pastoralism, mining impacts and Development intervention. He has focused on ideas about environmental justice and equality through ractices of collaboration, resistance, and reciprocal help. He is currently examining how local communities use their ‘customary’ laws, practices and different tactics on their relationship and communications with national and local governments and foreign companies. To examine this relationships, Byamba aims to explore how the projected depletion of resources and harmful effects of bigger projects frame people’s everyday experiences, make near futures and shift powers.

About American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS)

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. The ACMS Speaker Series are organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Natsagdorj Library and provides an important platform for researchers engaged in Mongolia to share their experiences and findings with the public. The event promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia and is free and open to the public.


the Gobi desert


December 4, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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