ULAN BATOR — UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited herders in Mongolia on Sunday to highlight the impact climate change is having on people's everyday lives, his office said.
Ban was visiting a traditional Mongolian herder community to see first hand how their livelihoods were being hit by water shortages and desertification, his office added.
The secretary general was in Mongolia to talk about the need for governments to invest in helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change so local economies can be more resilient against extreme weather and other environmental problems.
The secretary general arrived in Mongolia less than a week after rain storms triggered the worst flooding to hit the landlocked nation since 1966, according to the Red Cross.
More than 20 people died and more 120 homes destroyed in the floods.
The rains show the extremes Mongolia faces. Its grassland is rapidly turning into desert, the environmental ministry warned last month. Grassland is thinning out in three quarters of the country, while seven percent has already become part of the Gobi desert.
Ban said last month that an estimated 24 million people worldwide have had to flee their land due to desertification and land degradation, adding that number could rise to 200 million by 2050.
The secretary general has said he will host a summit at the United Nations on the sidelines of the General Assembly in September, to galvanise support for a global deal in Copenhagen in December on "a fair, effective and scientifically ambitious new climate framework."
Negotiations to seal a climate change treaty have been dogged by disagreements over targets for cuts in carbon emissions and a fund from rich nations to help developing countries tackle climate change.
The planned treaty, due to take effect from 2013 as the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, will shape planetary action up to the middle of the century.
Ban travelled to Mongolia from China, where he urged Beijing to show greater leadership in world efforts to curb climate change, saying a new global framework deal cannot be reached this year without China.
Ban on Sunday also visited a Mongolian military training camp 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of the capital, where he reviewed troops training for international peacekeeping missions, an AFP reporter travelling with him said.
Mongolia has embraced overseas peacekeeping and security missions as a way to step from the shadow of its much larger neighbours, following centuries of domination by China and Russia.
Meanwhile, Mongolia's defence ministry announced on Thursday it would send at least 150 soldiers to Afghanistan in its biggest contribution to the international coalition fighting Taliban militants there.
The Afghanistan mission follows Mongolian peacekeeping operations in Iraq, Sierra Leone and other countries.
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