27 June 2018

Young advisers to the UN Mongolia: Youth engagement is vital for prosperity of the country

UNYAP members Erdenedalai Odonkhuu, Khaliunaa Naranbayar and Zolboo Dashmyagmar (L-R) in front of UN House in Ulaanbaatar. ©UNICEFMongolia/2018/Sabina Netrvalova
Addressing the needs of young people in Mongolia, promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and advising different UN agencies from the youth perspective. These are just some of the activities of UN Youth Advisory Panel (UNYAP) in Mongolia. How can one become a part of UNYAP? And what are their plans for the coming months? We talked about it with UNYAP members Zolboo Dashmyagmar, Khaliunaa Naranbayar and Erdenedalai Odonkhuu. 

What is the role of UNYAP in Mongolia and what are you trying to achieve?
Zolboo: The role of UNYAP is to support the UN agencies on youth related projects and share information about these projects with young people of Mongolia. The members work on voluntary basis, but we are gaining experience very much needed in our personal lives and job market.
Khaliunaa: Mongolia is a country with relatively young population. We see that young people’s engagement is needed for sustainable development and prosperity of Mongolia. Our main goal is to let young people be engaged, let them be empowered, come up with concrete solutions and make better not only Mongolia, but the whole world.

When was UNYAP founded?
Z: UNYAP first started in 2006, but back then it was initiated by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The formal beginning under the UN Youth Working Group was in 2008, so this year is our 10-years anniversary.

How many members do you have?
Z: We have fifteen members aged 15 to 24. Each one of us has a different background, thus we represent different groups of young people. It is nice to give the perspective of high school students, university students and young working professionals to the UN projects.

Does every member represent a different organization?
Erdenedalai: Yes. For example, I represent Mongolian Students and Youth Federation in the World, Khaliunaa represents PACE 48, an international youth organization in Asia-Pacific countries.
Z: Some of our members are from DemoCrazy NGO, Princess center… All organizations aim for different sustainable goals and causes.

Can you mention some of the projects you have been working on or you are planning to?
Z: During my time at UNYAP, we have been engaging with the “Orange Sessions” event* to bring younger voices for the message of ending violence against women and girls. The last thing we have done was the “Let’s discuss at the UN” event, whose aim is to inform young people of Mongolia about the emerging issues. This event was organized together with UNICEF and its topic was air pollution. Our main goal was to offer various thoughts and opinions on the topic and listen to the participants as well.
Another thing we do is “Book Corner”. We collect reports and books from all the UN agencies and put them in corners of five places, including National Library of Ulaanbaatar and three university libraries. Young people can read all reports which the UN is producing, and use them for research purposes. We also used to do “Movie Talk” event, when we talked about a movie we just watched and discussed what it has taught us, but it has been transferred to different organization.
K: Another annually organized event is “Model UNESCO” conference, in cooperation with UNESCO Beijing office and Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO. We have organized it already three times and it has become a highly-anticipated youth event in Mongolia.
UNYAP Coordinator Zolboo Dashmyagmar during the Let’s discuss at the UN event.
Can you tell us more about it?
K: Model UNESCO is a one day conference for young people aged 15 to 24. Most participants are university level students. The main aim of the conference is to raise awareness of UNESCO’s objectives and mandate. The young people represent the roles of UNESCO member states and they come together to discuss the problems the world is facing. For example, last year we had three committees – culture, education and humanities – and we were dealing with topics of gender equality, cultural heritage or youth employment. In the end of the conference, the participants pass a declaration and the best delegates are chosen to attend some conferences at international level.
The number of applications is increasing every year, as well as young people’s engagement and social media traction. Last year we received over 800 applications for only 100 spots. There are some plans to organize the conference on international level, but for now they’re just under discussion.

Every UNYAP member stays for two to three years. How does the application process work?
K: First we have an online call with the applicant. After the screening, we invite selected people for case challenge study at UN House, where they form teams and work on various types of issues, which young people are facing. The third and final round is an interview with UNYAP members and potentially also UN representatives from various agencies. To be selected, the applicant must be a representative of a youth organization willing to be a voice of young people, and to be 15 to 24 years of age. 
Z: People are often really concerned about why they must be between 15 and 24. It’s because this is the age which the UN recognize as youth.

How interested are young Mongolians in the UNYAP activities, beside the Model UNESCO conference?
K: One of our objectives is to raise awareness of Sustainable Development Goals among young people across the country. Our events and activities are in line with that objective and we see that each year more and more people are becoming involved and more interested in volunteering activities, and they want to hear and learn more about sustainable development and how they can personally contribute. Young people are very engaged in all the activities we do and they are also becoming more interested in becoming the UNYAP members.

Do you also cooperate with UNYAPs from different countries?
K: There are about fifteen UNYAPs across the world and also the UNYAP Association, of which we are planning to become a member. Some of our members are being invited to attend international conferences, where they represent Mongolian young people’s voice, our activities and talk about the issues, which the young people of Mongolia are facing.

*Orange Sessions Event is a UNFPA’s youth-centered event that features local musicians who volunteer to use music to bring together young people, raise awareness for the problem of gender-based violence and make a commitment to help eliminate it.
UNYAP Mongolia has 15 members aged 15 to 24.
©UNICEFMongolia/2018/Sabina Netrvalova


Zolboo Dashmyagmar started her journey with UNYAP in April 2015 as a representative of Forever Young Crew, a singing group covering popular songs. In October 2017, she became the UNYAP Coordinator.
Khaliunaa Naranbayar is the Secretary General of UNYAP in Mongolia. She works at Unread, Mongolian media startup company.
Erdenedalai Odonkhuu joined UNYAP in 2017. He represents Mongolian Students and Youth Federation in the World and studies law at National University of Mongolia.

Written by 
Sabina Netrvalov√°
UNV in Communications


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