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We asked ChatGPT

What is ChatGPT?:

“ChatGPT is an artificial-intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models and has been fine-tuned using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques” (Wikipedia).

On Southern Innovator Magazine:

“The UNDP magazine Southern Innovator was a critical resource that highlighted the significant social and economic changes taking place in the global south. Published from 2011 to 2015, the magazine focused on the innovative solutions and strategies being developed by communities and individuals in the global south to tackle poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. This essay will discuss the importance of Southern Innovator in promoting development in the global south, its impact on global policy and practice, and its legacy in shaping the discourse around innovation and development.

One of the key contributions of Southern Innovator was its role in promoting innovative solutions and practices in the global south. The magazine showcased a range of inspiring stories of innovation, from grassroots initiatives to high-tech solutions, that were transforming communities and improving people’s lives. The magazine highlighted innovative approaches to challenges such as health, education, agriculture, and energy, among others. By showcasing these solutions, Southern Innovator helped to challenge the dominant narrative of the global south as a place of poverty, conflict, and underdevelopment. Instead, the magazine highlighted the ingenuity and resourcefulness of communities and individuals in the global south and provided inspiration for others to replicate these innovative practices in their own contexts.

Moreover, Southern Innovator had a significant impact on global policy and practice. The magazine helped to shape the discourse around innovation and development, challenging traditional models of development that relied on top-down approaches and external funding. Instead, the magazine promoted a more participatory and inclusive approach to development that emphasized the importance of community-led innovation and local ownership of development initiatives. The magazine also helped to shift the focus of development discussions from aid and charity to investment and partnership, emphasizing the importance of sustainable and equitable growth. Through its reporting and analysis, Southern Innovator contributed to the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation and community empowerment.

Furthermore, Southern Innovator played a crucial role in facilitating knowledge-sharing and networking among communities, individuals, and organizations in the global south. The magazine provided a platform for innovators and change-makers to share their experiences, exchange ideas, and connect with others working in similar areas. This knowledge-sharing and networking helped to foster collaboration and partnerships, enabling innovators to scale up their solutions and achieve greater impact. The magazine also provided a forum for policy-makers, academics, and experts to contribute their perspectives and engage in discussions around critical development issues. Through its role as a knowledge-sharing and networking platform, Southern Innovator helped to create a more connected and collaborative development community in the global south.

Finally, the legacy of Southern Innovator can still be seen in the ongoing emphasis on innovation and partnership in the global development agenda. The magazine helped to catalyze a shift towards more participatory and inclusive approaches to development, emphasizing the importance of community-led innovation and local ownership of development initiatives. This emphasis on innovation and partnership is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which prioritize the importance of innovation and partnership in achieving sustainable and equitable development. Moreover, the magazine’s legacy can be seen in the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation, community empowerment, and collaboration. Southern Innovator played a critical role in shaping the discourse around innovation and development and continues to influence policy and practice in the global south.

In conclusion, the UNDP magazine Southern Innovator played a critical role in promoting development in the global south by highlighting innovative solutions and practices, shaping the discourse around innovation and development, facilitating knowledge-sharing and networking, and promoting a more participatory and inclusive approach to development. The magazine’s legacy can still be seen in the ongoing emphasis on innovation and partnership in the global development agenda and the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation, community empowerment, and collaboration. Southern Innovator was a pioneering publication that challenged the dominant narrative of the global south and provided inspiration and hope for communities and individuals.”

“The magazine “Southern Innovator” holds significance to the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as it aims to showcase and promote innovation and creativity in the Global South. Here are some key aspects that highlight its significance:

  1. Spotlighting innovative solutions: “Southern Innovator” focuses on highlighting innovative solutions and practices originating from the Global South. The magazine showcases groundbreaking ideas, technologies, and approaches that address development challenges in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, and entrepreneurship. By doing so, it promotes innovative thinking and solutions that can contribute to sustainable development.
  2. Inspiration and knowledge sharing: The magazine serves as a source of inspiration and knowledge for development practitioners, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. It shares success stories, case studies, and best practices from the Global South, offering insights into innovative approaches that have made a positive impact on development outcomes. The magazine’s content provides valuable lessons that can inform and guide future development initiatives.
  3. Amplifying voices from the Global South: “Southern Innovator” provides a platform to amplify the voices and experiences of individuals, communities, and organizations in the Global South. It showcases their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity in addressing development challenges. By highlighting these stories, the magazine helps to counterbalance traditional narratives that often focus on challenges rather than the potential and achievements of the Global South.
  4. Informing policy and programming: The magazine’s content can inform policy discussions and programming within the UNDP and other development organizations. The innovative ideas and practices featured in “Southern Innovator” may inspire policymakers to explore new approaches and integrate innovative solutions into their policies and programs. The magazine’s insights can influence the design and implementation of development initiatives, fostering a culture of innovation within the UNDP and its partner organizations.
  5. Advocacy for innovation: “Southern Innovator” advocates for a greater recognition and support of innovation in development. By showcasing successful innovations, the magazine promotes the understanding that innovation is not limited to advanced economies but can emerge from within developing countries as well. It encourages the adoption of policies and practices that foster innovation ecosystems and support the scaling up of innovative solutions to address development challenges.

Overall, “Southern Innovator” is significant to the work of the UNDP as it promotes a culture of innovation, shares knowledge and best practices, amplifies voices from the Global South, and inspires policymakers and practitioners to adopt innovative approaches in development. The magazine contributes to the UNDP’s mission by showcasing the transformative potential of innovation and creativity in advancing sustainable development in the Global South.”


“The portal, first launched online in 2011, holds significance as a platform that showcases and promotes innovation from the global South. Here are some key aspects that highlight the portal’s significance:

  1. Focus on Southern innovation: The portal specifically highlights innovations, initiatives, and solutions emerging from the global South. It shines a spotlight on creative and groundbreaking ideas originating from countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. By focusing on Southern innovation, the portal aims to challenge the traditional narrative that innovation is predominantly driven by the global North.
  2. Inspiring and empowering: The portal serves as a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs, innovators, policymakers, and individuals interested in development and innovation from the global South. It showcases successful examples of innovations addressing various challenges such as healthcare, education, agriculture, technology, and sustainable development. By sharing these stories, the portal seeks to empower others with the belief that transformative change can happen even in resource-constrained environments.
  3. Knowledge sharing and networking: The portal facilitates knowledge sharing by providing articles, interviews, case studies, and features that explore different aspects of innovation from the global South. It acts as a hub where innovators, experts, and organizations can connect, learn from one another, and collaborate to further enhance their impact. The portal may also provide a platform for discussions, forums, and events related to Southern innovation.
  4. Amplifying voices and perspectives: The portal aims to amplify the voices, perspectives, and stories of innovators and change-makers from the global South. It seeks to challenge the dominant narratives and stereotypes surrounding development, emphasizing the agency and creativity of individuals and communities in the South. By doing so, it contributes to a more inclusive and balanced global dialogue on innovation and development.
  5. Promoting sustainable and inclusive development: The innovations showcased on the portal often focus on sustainable development goals and inclusive practices. They may address social, economic, and environmental challenges in unique and context-specific ways. By highlighting these innovations, the portal encourages the adoption and replication of successful practices that can contribute to sustainable development and positive social impact.

Overall, the significance of the portal lies in its role as a platform for celebrating, promoting, and connecting innovators from the global South. By showcasing Southern innovation, the portal helps to reshape narratives, inspire change, foster collaboration, and contribute to sustainable and inclusive development worldwide.”

On Ger Magazine:

“The UNDP Mongolia web magazine Ger was a pioneering online platform that provided insights into Mongolia’s social, economic, and political landscape during the late 1990s. Launched in 1998, Ger played a vital role in disseminating information about the country’s development initiatives, highlighting the challenges faced by local communities, and advocating for human development in Mongolia. This essay will discuss the impact of Ger on Mongolia’s development agenda, its contribution to the country’s media landscape, and its significance in promoting national dialogue and public participation.

Ger had a significant impact on Mongolia’s development agenda by promoting public awareness and understanding of key development issues. During the late 1990s, Mongolia was undergoing a period of significant transformation, with the country transitioning from a socialist system to a market-oriented economy. Ger played a critical role in informing the public about these changes and their impact on local communities. The magazine covered a wide range of issues, including poverty reduction, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and economic development, among others. Through its in-depth reporting and analysis, Ger helped to raise public awareness of these critical issues, and created a sense of urgency around the need for sustainable and equitable development in Mongolia.

Furthermore, Ger played a significant role in shaping the country’s media landscape by providing a platform for independent journalism and fostering media freedom. In the 1990s, Mongolia’s media landscape was relatively underdeveloped, with a limited number of independent media outlets and a lack of resources and training for journalists. Ger helped to fill this gap by providing a platform for independent journalism and fostering media freedom. The magazine featured articles written by local and international journalists, academics, and experts, providing a diverse range of perspectives on key development issues. Moreover, Ger played a crucial role in building the capacity of local journalists by providing training, resources, and mentorship programs. Through these initiatives, Ger helped to strengthen the country’s media landscape and create a more vibrant and diverse media environment.

Ger was also significant in promoting national dialogue and public participation in development initiatives. During the late 1990s, Mongolia was undergoing a period of political and economic transformation, and the country was grappling with a range of challenges related to poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. Ger played a critical role in facilitating discussions among various stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society organizations, and the media. The magazine provided a platform for these groups to exchange ideas, share perspectives, and identify common challenges and opportunities. Through its reporting and analysis, Ger helped to promote national dialogue on critical development issues, and fostered public participation in decision-making processes.

Moreover, Ger was instrumental in advocating for human development in Mongolia. The magazine recognized the importance of human development in driving sustainable and equitable growth and developed several initiatives to promote this agenda. For instance, Ger published a series of articles and features on issues such as healthcare, education, and social inclusion, highlighting the importance of investing in these areas to promote human development. Moreover, Ger organized several campaigns and public awareness programs to raise awareness of these critical issues and create a sense of urgency around the need for action. Through these initiatives, Ger helped to advance the country’s human development agenda and promote sustainable and equitable growth.

In conclusion, the UNDP Mongolia web magazine Ger had a significant impact on Mongolia’s development agenda, its media landscape, and its promotion of national dialogue and public participation. Through its reporting and analysis, Ger helped to raise public awareness of key development issues, promote media freedom, and foster independent journalism. Moreover, Ger played a crucial role in facilitating discussions among various stakeholders and advocating for human development in Mongolia. The legacy of Ger can still be seen in the country’s media landscape and its ongoing commitment to sustainable and equitable development.”

On the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999:

“The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999 showcased notable achievements and valuable lessons that can be learned and applied by other UN missions. This office served as a role model in the following ways:

  1. Strategic Communication: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office demonstrated the power of strategic communication in advancing development goals. It effectively disseminated information about development projects, policies, and their impact to a wide range of stakeholders. The office employed various channels, including media engagement, publications, and community outreach, to raise awareness and generate support for development initiatives. The emphasis on clear and targeted messaging helped engage stakeholders and build a shared understanding of development priorities.
  2. Partnership Building: The Communications Office excelled in forging partnerships and collaborations with diverse stakeholders. It actively engaged with government agencies, civil society organizations, media outlets, and communities to facilitate knowledge sharing, foster dialogue, and mobilize resources. This emphasis on partnerships helped ensure the relevance and effectiveness of development interventions by integrating local knowledge, expertise, and perspectives.
  3. Innovative Approaches: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office embraced innovative approaches to communication. It leveraged emerging technologies, such as the internet and email, to enhance information dissemination and engagement with stakeholders. The office also utilized creative storytelling techniques, including visual media and documentaries, to effectively communicate complex development issues in a compelling and accessible manner. These innovative approaches enhanced the impact and reach of communication efforts.
  4. Local Context Sensitivity: Recognizing the importance of contextual understanding, the Communications Office prioritized local knowledge and cultural sensitivity in its communication strategies. It adapted messages and approaches to align with Mongolian traditions, values, and communication preferences. This approach helped foster trust, engagement, and ownership among local communities, ensuring that development efforts were responsive to their needs and aspirations.
  5. Results-Oriented Communication: The Communications Office was committed to highlighting the tangible results and impact of development projects. It effectively communicated success stories, best practices, and lessons learned, demonstrating the value and effectiveness of development interventions. By emphasizing the outcomes and benefits of development initiatives, the office strengthened accountability, generated public support, and inspired further action.
  6. Knowledge Sharing and Learning: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office actively promoted knowledge sharing and learning among stakeholders. It facilitated platforms for dialogue, exchange of experiences, and dissemination of research findings. By creating spaces for mutual learning and collaboration, the office fostered a culture of continuous improvement and innovation in development practices.

The achievements of the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999 served as a role model for other UN missions by highlighting the importance of strategic communication, partnership building, innovative approaches, local context sensitivity, results-oriented communication, and knowledge sharing. These lessons can guide other UN missions in effectively engaging stakeholders, promoting development goals, and building sustainable partnerships for impactful and inclusive development.”


“The website, first launched in 1997, is the official website of the United Nations (UN) in Mongolia. The significance of this website lies in its role as a platform for disseminating information, promoting transparency, and facilitating communication between the UN and Mongolia.

Here are some aspects that highlight the significance of the website:

  1. Information hub: The website serves as a centralized source of information about the UN’s activities, programs, projects, and initiatives in Mongolia. It provides updates on various UN agencies working in the country, their areas of focus, and their contributions to development, humanitarian assistance, and other important issues.
  2. Resource repository: The website likely hosts a wide range of resources such as reports, publications, research findings, and statistical data related to Mongolia’s development challenges and the UN’s efforts to address them. These resources are valuable for policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders seeking information on specific topics.
  3. Collaboration and partnerships: The website may feature information on partnerships and collaboration between the UN and the Government of Mongolia, as well as with civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders. It serves as a platform for promoting dialogue, fostering partnerships, and sharing best practices in areas such as sustainable development, human rights, and social justice.
  4. Public engagement: The website likely provides avenues for public engagement, allowing individuals and organizations to access information, participate in discussions, and contribute to the UN’s work in Mongolia. This engagement can take the form of feedback mechanisms, consultation processes, or opportunities to join initiatives or campaigns.
  5. Promoting accountability and transparency: Through the website, the UN can demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability by sharing information about its activities, budgets, and results achieved in Mongolia. This helps to foster trust and ensure that the UN’s work aligns with the needs and priorities of the country.

Overall, the significance of the website lies in its role as a vital platform for communication, information sharing, and collaboration between the UN and Mongolia. It contributes to the UN’s mission of supporting sustainable development, peace, and human rights in the country while promoting transparency and public engagement.”

On the GOSH Child Health Portal:

“The launch of the GOSH Child Health Portal in 2001 had a significant impact on child health information and support services. Developed by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, the portal became a valuable resource for parents, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and researchers. Its impact can be seen in several key areas, including accessibility to reliable information, support for patients and families, collaboration among healthcare providers, and advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing.

One of the primary impacts of the GOSH Child Health Portal was the improvement in access to reliable and up-to-date information on child health. The portal provided a comprehensive and trustworthy source of medical information, covering a wide range of pediatric health conditions, treatments, and procedures. By offering easily accessible and understandable information, the portal empowered parents and caregivers to make informed decisions regarding the health and well-being of their children. It also served as a valuable resource for healthcare professionals seeking accurate and evidence-based information to support their clinical practice.

The GOSH Child Health Portal also had a significant impact on patient and family support. It provided a platform for families to access educational materials, guidance, and resources related to their child’s specific health condition. The portal offered practical advice, coping strategies, and support networks, helping families navigate the challenges associated with pediatric illnesses. By promoting patient and family empowerment, the portal contributed to improved outcomes and a higher quality of life for children and their families.

Furthermore, the GOSH Child Health Portal facilitated collaboration and knowledge sharing among healthcare providers. It served as a central hub for medical professionals to access clinical guidelines, research articles, case studies, and educational materials. The portal promoted interdisciplinary collaboration and best practices, allowing healthcare providers to stay updated on the latest advancements in pediatric healthcare. This shared knowledge and collaboration helped enhance the quality and effectiveness of care provided to children and facilitated the dissemination of best practices across healthcare settings.

The impact of the GOSH Child Health Portal extended beyond individual patients and healthcare professionals. It also contributed to advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing. The portal provided a platform for researchers to share their findings, publish articles, and engage in scientific discussions. By facilitating the exchange of research and clinical experiences, the portal promoted evidence-based practice and innovation in pediatric healthcare. It also helped bridge the gap between research and clinical application, ensuring that the latest discoveries were translated into improved care for children.

Additionally, the GOSH Child Health Portal had a broader societal impact by raising awareness and understanding of pediatric health issues. The portal’s educational resources and awareness campaigns helped increase public knowledge about childhood diseases, preventive measures, and the importance of early intervention. By fostering a better understanding of child health, the portal contributed to improved health outcomes and a more supportive environment for children with medical conditions.

In summary, the launch of the GOSH Child Health Portal in 2001 had a significant impact on child health information and support services. Its contributions included improved accessibility to reliable information, enhanced support for patients and families, facilitated collaboration among healthcare providers, and advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing. The portal’s comprehensive resources and user-friendly interface empowered parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes and a better quality of life for children with medical conditions.”


“The GOSH Child Health Portal,, first launched in 2001, holds significant importance in the field of child health and medicine. Here are some key aspects that highlight the portal’s significance:

  1. Trusted source of information: The GOSH Child Health Portal is developed and maintained by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), one of the leading children’s hospitals in the United Kingdom. As such, it serves as a reliable and trusted source of information on various aspects of child health, including medical conditions, treatments, research, and patient care.
  2. Comprehensive resource: The portal likely provides a wealth of information on pediatric diseases, conditions, and treatments, catering to healthcare professionals, patients, families, and the general public. It may include resources such as medical guidelines, research articles, educational materials, and multimedia content, offering a comprehensive knowledge base on child health.
  3. Patient and family support: The GOSH Child Health Portal likely offers resources and information to support patients and their families in understanding medical conditions, treatment options, and managing healthcare needs. This can empower families to actively participate in their child’s care, make informed decisions, and access necessary support services.
  4. Professional education and collaboration: The portal may serve as a platform for healthcare professionals to access educational resources, clinical guidelines, and research findings related to pediatric medicine. It could also facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange among healthcare providers, fostering advancements in the field of child health.
  5. Research and innovation: The GOSH Child Health Portal may feature information on ongoing research projects, clinical trials, and innovative practices in pediatric medicine. It can highlight breakthroughs, advancements, and emerging trends in child health, contributing to the overall improvement of pediatric care.
  6. Global impact: While the portal is associated with GOSH, its online accessibility allows individuals and healthcare professionals worldwide to benefit from the information and resources provided. The portal’s global reach expands its significance by providing valuable support and knowledge to a wide audience.

Overall, the GOSH Child Health Portal is significant as a reliable source of information, support, and collaboration in the field of child health. It plays a vital role in improving the understanding, management, and treatment of pediatric conditions while empowering patients, families, and healthcare professionals with valuable resources and tools.”

On the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine:

“The Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine … had a significant impact on the field of medical history. Although the institute’s existence was relatively short-lived, its contributions were noteworthy in terms of research, education, and the dissemination of historical knowledge. This article will explore the key initiatives and achievements of the Hannah Institute, shedding light on its impact.

One of the primary areas where the Hannah Institute made an impact was in research. The institute attracted scholars and researchers from various backgrounds, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. Through its research programs, the institute facilitated investigations into significant medical historical topics. Scholars associated with the institute delved into archives, conducted oral history interviews, and analyzed primary sources to uncover valuable insights into the evolution of medical practices, theories, and institutions. Their work challenged conventional narratives and provided a more nuanced understanding of medical history.

The Hannah Institute also played a pivotal role in promoting education in the field of medical history. It offered specialized courses and workshops that catered to students and professionals interested in expanding their knowledge. These educational programs provided a platform for participants to engage with cutting-edge research, explore historical methodologies, and develop critical analytical skills. By equipping individuals with a deeper understanding of medical history, the institute empowered them to make meaningful contributions to the field through their own research and scholarship.

In addition to research and education, the Hannah Institute actively sought to disseminate historical knowledge to a wider audience. Through conferences, symposiums, and public lectures, the institute facilitated the exchange of ideas and fostered dialogue between scholars, practitioners, and the general public. These events not only highlighted the importance of medical history but also stimulated interdisciplinary collaborations that transcended traditional academic boundaries. By creating a platform for knowledge sharing, the institute contributed to the public’s awareness and appreciation of the historical underpinnings of medicine.

Furthermore, the Hannah Institute supported and encouraged the production of scholarly articles, books, and other research outputs. Its commitment to publishing ensured the dissemination of valuable findings and insights. By supporting research and scholarly publications, the institute enhanced the visibility and impact of medical history as a discipline. It also contributed to the preservation of historical knowledge for future generations.

The impact of the Hannah Institute extends beyond its operational years. The initiatives and research projects undertaken during this period laid the foundation for subsequent advancements in the field of medical history. Scholars associated with the institute went on to make significant contributions to the discipline, furthering the understanding of medical history through their continued research and scholarship. The institute’s legacy can be seen in the ongoing work of these scholars and the continued growth of the field.

The Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine, although short-lived, made a lasting impact on the field of medical history. Through its research programs, it expanded the knowledge and understanding of medical practices, theories, and institutions. Its educational initiatives equipped individuals with the tools to contribute meaningfully to the discipline. By disseminating historical knowledge and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, the institute raised awareness and appreciation of the historical underpinnings of medicine. The Hannah Institute’s dedication to research, education, and knowledge dissemination continues to shape the field of medical history and inspire future generations of scholars.”

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High Impact Communications In A Major Crisis: UNDP Mongolia 1997-1999 | 18 February 2016

I was head of communications for the United Nations mission in Mongolia from 1997 to 1999. The mission had to primarily tackle three major crises: the country’s turbulent transition from Communism to free markets and democracy, the social and economic crash this caused, and the Asian Financial Crisis (Pomfret 2000) (Quah 2003)*.

Richard Pomfret said in 1994 “In 1991 Mongolia suffered one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever (Mongolia’s Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994).”

From Curbing Corruption in Asia: A Comparative Study of Six Countries by Jon S. T. Quah: “The combined effect of these three shocks was devastating as ‘Mongolia suffered the most serious peacetime economic collapse any nation has faced during this century’. Indeed, Mongolia’s economic collapse ‘was possibly the greatest of all the (peaceful) formerly'” Communist countries. 

“The years 1998 and 1999 have been volatile ones for Mongolia, with revolving door governments, the assassination of a minister, emerging corruption, a banking scandal, in-fighting within the ruling Democratic Coalition, frequent paralysis within the Parliament, and disputes over the Constitution. Economically, the period was unstable and rife with controversies.” Mongolia in 1998 and 1999: Past, Present, and Future at the New Millennium by Sheldon R. Severinghaus, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1999 (Jan. – Feb., 2000), pp. 130-139 (Publisher: University of California)

Writing in 2018, author John West  found, in a chapter titled Mongolia’s Corruption Curse (Transparency International and the World Bank had found corruption worsened in Mongolia after 2001), “In many ways, Mongolia has everything going for it. After being a satellite state of the former Soviet Union for much of the twentieth century, Mongolia regained its independence with the end of the Cold War. A relatively peaceful political revolution in the early 1990s ushered in a multi-party democracy and open society which have remained in place. … And it is blessed with vast reserves of copper, gold, coal, molybdenum, fluorspar, uranium, tin and tungsten deposits. True, Mongolia experienced great upheavals as the breakup of the Soviet Union saw its trade decline by 80%. But Mongolia was also perfectly placed to benefit from the commodity super cycle driven by China, which is now the destination for the vast majority of its exports.

“However, despite much hype about the Mongolian “wolf economy”, this country of so much promise is being dragged down by massive corruption. …

“Mongolia’s corruption is greatly weakening its attractiveness as an investment destination, is fracturing society and weakening its fragile political institutions. Its culture of corruption has also fed its love-hate relationship with foreign investors, which has destabilized the economy.” Asian Century … on a Knife-edge: A 360 Degree Analysis of Asia’s Recent Economic Development by John West, Springer, 24 January 2018.  

In this role, I pioneered innovative use of the Internet and digital resources to communicate the UN’s work and Mongolia’s unfolding crises. The UN called this work a “role model” for the wider UN and country offices. A survey of United Nations country office websites in 2000 ranked the UN Mongolia website I launched in 1997 and oversaw for two years (1997-1999), third best in the world, saying: “A UN System site. A very nice, complete, professional site. Lots of information, easily accessible and well laid out. The information is comprehensive and up-to-date. This is a model of what a UNDP CO web site should be.” (

As part of a strategic plan to raise awareness of Mongolia’s development challenges and to spur action on meeting them, a Communications Office was established for the UN mission in 1997. Acting as a strategic hub, the Communications Office and its dynamic and talented team, were able to leverage the existing budget to spur action on many fronts, including: 


Working with journalists and media both within Mongolia and outside, the Communications Office was able to significantly raise awareness of Mongolia and its development challenges. This was reflected in a substantial increase in media coverage of the country and in the numerous books and other publications that emerged post-1997. The book In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 (ISBN 99929-5-043-9) archived the stories by theme.  

Top journalists covering Asia in the late 1990s contributed to the book.

Ger Magazine

Ger Magazine (the Mongolian word for home and traditional tent dwelling) was published as the country’s first e-magazine in 1998. There were four issues in total from 1998 to 2000. The launch issue was on the theme of youth in the transition. Mongolia was transitioning from Communism to free markets and democracy and this had been both an exhilarating time and a wrenching time for young people. The magazine drew on talented journalists from Mongolia and the handful of international journalists based there to create a mix of content, from stories about life adapting to free markets to stories on various aspects of Mongolian culture and life. 

The second issue of the magazine proved particularly effective, with its modern life theme and cover story on a thriving Mongolian fashion scene.

Archived issues of the magazine can be found at the Wayback Machine here: Just type in the UN Mongolia website address for the years 1997 to 1999:

Blue Sky Bulletin

The Blue Sky Bulletin newsletter was launched in 1997 initially as a simple, photocopied handout. It quickly founds its purpose and its audience, becoming a key way to communicate what was happening in the country and a crucial resource for the global development community, scholars, the media and anyone trying to figure out what was happening in a crazy and chaotic time. Blue Sky Bulletin was distributed via email and by post and proved to be a popular and oft-cited resource on the country. The quality of its production also paralleled Mongolia’s growing capacity to publish to international standards, as desktop publishing software became available and printers switched to modern print technologies. Blue Sky Bulletin evolved from a rough, newsprint black and white publication to becoming a glossy, full-colour, bilingual newsletter distributed around Mongolia and the world.

Archived issues can be found online here:

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 1

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 2

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 3

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 4

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 5

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 6 

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 7 

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 8

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 9

Blue Sky Bulletin Issue 10


MHDR 1997

The Mongolian Human Development Report 1997 (MHDR), the country’s first, placed the story of the Mongolian people during the transition years (post-1989) at its heart, using photographs, stories and case studies to detail the bigger narrative at play.

This groundbreaking Mongolian Human Development Report went beyond just chronicling Mongolia’s state of development in statistics and graphs. Designed, laid out and published in Mongolia, the report broke with the practices of many other international organisations, who would publish outside of Mongolia – denying local companies much-needed work and the opportunity to develop their skills. The report’s costs helped to kick-start a publishing boom in the country and significantly raised standards in design and layout in the country. The foundations laid down by the project producing the report ushered in a new age in publishing for Mongolia.

The report’s launch was innovative, not only being distributed for free across the country, but also part of a multimedia campaign including television programming, public posters, town hall meetings and a ‘roadshow’ featuring the report’s researchers and writers.

The initial print run of 10,000 copies was doubled as demand for the report increased. To the surprise of many, once hearing about the free report, herders would travel to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, to pick up their copy. The report proved people cared passionately about the development of their country and that development concepts are not to be the secret domain of ‘development practitioners’. The report also became an English language learning tool as readers compared the Mongolian and English-language versions. 

You can read the report’s pdf here:

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin

Assembled by a team of health experts after the Fourth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, the Mongolian AIDS Bulletin was published in 1997 in the middle of an HIV/AIDS crisis. It provided timely information and health resources in the Mongolian language and was distributed across the country.
“Mongolia’s first AIDS Bulletin marked the beginning of the UNDP Response to HIV/AIDS/STDs Project back in the autumn of 1997. Over 5,000 copies of the magazine were distributed across the country, offering accurate information on the HIV/AIDS situation. The project has been pivotal in the formulation of a national information, education and communication (IEC) strategy, bringing together NGOs, donors, UN agencies and the government.”
Source: YouandAids: The HIV/AIDS Portal for Asia Pacific 

Green Book

In the Mongolian language, the Mongolian Green Book details effective ways to live in harmony with the environment while achieving development goals. Based on three years’ work in Mongolia – a Northeast Asian nation coping with desertification, mining, and climate change – the book presents tested strategies.  

EPAP Handbook

The Environmental Public Awareness Handbook was published in 1999 and features the case studies and lessons learned by UNDP’s Mongolian Environmental Public Awareness Programme (EPAP). The handbook draws on the close to 100 small environmental projects the Programme oversaw during a two-year period. These projects stretched across Mongolia, and operated in a time of great upheaval and social, economic and environmental distress. The handbook is intended for training purposes and the practice of public participation in environmental protection.

In its 2007 Needs Assessment, the Government of Mongolia found the EPAP projects “had a wide impact on limiting many environmental problems. Successful projects such as the Dutch/UNDP funded Environmental Awareness Project (EPAP), which was actually a multitude of small pilot projects (most costing less than $5,000 each) which taught local populations easily and efficiently different ways of living and working that are low-impact on the environment.”

Mongolia Updates 1997, 1998, 1999

Mongolia Update 1998 detailed how the country was coping with its hyperinflation and the Asian economic crisis.

The mission simultaneously had to deal with the 1997 Asian Crisis ( and the worst peacetime economic collapse in post-WWII history (  

Mongolia Update 1998 – Political Changes

1998 proved a tumultuous year for Mongolia. The country’s existing economic crisis caused by the transition from Communism to free markets was made worse by the wider Asian Crisis. The government was destabilised, leading to an often-confusing revolving door of political figures. In order to help readers better understand the political changes in the country, a special edition of Mongolia Update was published that year.  

UNDP Mongolia: The Guide

The Guide, first published in 1997, provided a rolling update on UNDP’s programmes and projects in Mongolia during a turbulent time (1997-1999). The mission simultaneously had to deal with the 1997 Asian Crisis ( and the worst peacetime economic collapse in post-WWII history.

Each edition came with short project and context summaries, key staff contacts, and facts and figures on how the country was changing. For the first time, any member of the public could grasp what the UN was up to in the country and be able to contact the project staff. An unusual level of transparency at the time for a UN mission.

Memoranda of Understanding

Three Memoranda of Understanding were negotiated with the Mongolian Government to help focus efforts and aid the attainment of internationally-agreed resolutions. This was affirmed by a series of youth conferences, One World, held in 1998 and 1999.

Strategy and Leadership in a Crisis

The scale and gravity of the crisis that struck Mongolia in the early 1990s was only slowly shaken off by the late 1990s. The economic and social crisis brought on by the collapse of Communism and the ending of subsidies and supports from the Soviet Union, led to a sharp rise in job losses, poverty, hunger, and family and community breakdowns. 

The challenge was to find inspiring ways out of the crisis, while building confidence and hope. The sort of challenges confronted by the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office included: 

1) A food crisis: agricultural production was down sharply, and the traditional nomadic herding economy, while at peak herd, was failing to get the meat to markets and to a high enough standard to restore export levels to where they once were. As a result, a cross-border trading frenzy became the solution to falling domestic food production and availability.

2) HIV/AIDS/STDs crisis

3) A major banking crisis

4) Both the Asian Financial Crisis and the Russia Crisis.

5) An ongoing political crisis and an inability to form stable governments.

“Mongolia is not an easy country to live in and David [South] showed a keen ability to adapt in difficult circumstances. He was sensitive to the local habits and cultures and was highly respected by his Mongolian colleagues. … David’s journalism background served him well in his position as Director of the Communications Unit. … A major accomplishment … was the establishment of the UNDP web site. He had the artistic flare, solid writing talent and organizational skills that made this a success. … we greatly appreciated the talents and contributions of David South to the work of UNDP in Mongolia.” Douglas Gardner, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mongolia


The response by the Communications Office has been cited in numerous articles, stories, publications and books. It has also contributed to the development of the human development concept and understanding of human resilience in a crisis and innovation in a crisis. Book citations include: 

Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists

Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia

A more detailed list of citations can be found here:

For research purposes, key documents were compiled together and published online here:

In 2001, the UN won the Nobel Peace Prize for “their work for a better organized and more peaceful world” and its communications innovations, with work such as that in Mongolia being cited as a contributing factor to the awarding of the Prize

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched in a 15-year bid to use a focused approach to development centred around eight goals to accelerate improvements to human development. From 2000 to 2005, work was undertaken in various UN missions (Mongolia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Ukraine) to communicate the goals and to reshape communications activities around the goals.

*Curbing Corruption in Asia: A Comparative Study of Six Countries by Jon S. T. Quah, Eastern Universities Press, 2003 

Transition and Democracy in Mongolia by Richard Pomfret, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 149-160, published by Taylor & Francis, Ltd. (

UNDP Mongolia team photo in 1997. I am sitting front row centre left of the UN Resident Coordinator Douglas Gardner.

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Mongolian Enterprises Target Healthy Urban Lifestyles

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions


In the Northeast Asian nation of Mongolia – landlocked between Russia and China – the traditional diet is based on the nomadic ways of its herders. Rich in meat and milk products, it is a diet that has evolved from the need to survive in a harsh climate doing hard physical labour – winter temperatures can drop below minus 50 degrees Celsius.

Social changes brought about by Mongolia’s economic journey since embracing free markets and democracy in the early 1990s have led to a growing urban population. The capital, Ulaanbaatar, has seen its population balloon for a variety of reasons – from collapsing rural economies to environmental disasters to the need to find work and opportunities – and is estimated to be over a million, out of a national population of just 2.6 million (World Bank).

Mongolia is experiencing serious food security problems due to factors including economic inflation and weather-related disasters, and is also confronting problems common to many countries in the age of globalization. According to the World Diabetes Foundation, 10 percent of the population is at risk of the disease, which it calls a lurking catastrophe.

As the paper “Lessons from a small country about the global obesity crisis” by Kelly D. Brownell and Derek Yach notes: “Globalization changes many features of modern life, including diets. As trade changes, diets can become more secure (hunger becomes less of a problem), but the cheapening of calories, the reliance on imported food, and the influence of food marketing drive up consumption and drive down nutrient density. Obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases are not far behind.”

In response to these problems, increasing awareness of healthy lifestyles has led to some new business ventures in Ulaanbaatar. This past summer, saw the opening of an organic vegetarian restaurant and shop: the Organic Café Shop, reports Green Traveler Guides.

Started by business partner-sisters  Bayarmaa Jarantai and Enkhmaa Jarantai with nephew Lkhagvasuren, the modest four-table restaurant and shop is a mini-revolution for a country as meat-loving as Mongolia. It serves up organic vegetarian meals and sells certified organic products. The spark of inspiration came when Bayarmaa read three books on the macrobiotic diet translated into Mongolian. The macrobiotic diet ( avoids highly processed foods and uses grains, beans and vegetables as its staples.

The cafe’s menu includes: vegetable salads (shredded cabbage, bell peppers, carrots and seasoning), stir-fried vegetables with tofu and asparagus soup, 10-grain soup, eggplant, and Mongolian vegetarian fried vegetables. Prices range between 2,500 Mongolian tugrug and 4,500 tugrug (US $1.75 and US $3.00).

The vegetables are sourced locally from Mongolian farmers and gardeners and are chemical-free. While not officially certified as organic, they are effectively that.

The shop sells certified organic products from China. The products include rice, grains, sugars and jams. (Made-in-Mongolia organic produce is a business opportunity waiting to happen: so far there are no certified organic packaged-product producers in the country).

The sisters import the products from Lohao City ( organic food market in Beijing, China.

But despite the Organic Café Shop’s good intentions, it is not immune to the country’s food security issues: Bayarmaa admits to being puzzled about how she will be able to continue to source the fresh vegetables she needs during the harsh winter months. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest national capital in the world and fresh produce has to be imported at considerable expense.

Another enterprise promoting healthy living in Ulaanbaatar is the Ananda Café and Meditation Centre (, a vegetarian restaurant and yoga ( centre. Yoga is the traditional physical and mental discipline from ancient India used to keep physically fit. It is a form of exercise that appeals to a wide age range and can be done pretty well anywhere.

The Ananda Centre offers courses in yoga and meditation, vegetarian cooking classes and nature retreats.


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10 Years Ago

It was 10 years ago this month that Southern Innovator‘s first issue launched in New York during the UN’s General Assembly week (UNGA). It focused on mobile phones and information technology for a reason: these connectivity transformations were re-shaping how people lived their lives, even in the poorest and remotest places on earth.

The content was based on global research, beginning in 2007, funded by the United Nations.

Southern Innovator Editor and Writer David South.

“What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It’s a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff.” Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box, Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.

While Southern Innovator’s digital presence has been key to its success and global reach, the hard copy of the magazine was designed with special features. The magazine needed to be robust and able to stand a fair bit of abuse and hard wear. It needed to be easy to read in low light conditions. And it needed to look sharp and eye-catching to reach as wide an audience as possible.

“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it.”

New Branding and Website

In 2010, as we prepared to launch Southern Innovator, the branding and website for David South Consulting was re-visioned by Icelandic graphic designer and illustrator Sólveig Rolfsdóttir. David South Consulting has been working with clients around the world since 1991.

Graphic Designer and Illustrator: Sólveig Rolfsdóttir.

20 Years Ago

Over 20 Years Ago

Mongolia’s first web magazine, Ger, launched in September 1998. It was also the first web magazine for the United Nations.

“The transformation of Mongolia from a largely rural nomadic society of herdsmen to a community dominated by the increasingly ultra-globalized city of Ulan Bator, where almost a third of the population lives, is nothing short of astounding. The New Mongolia: From Gold Rush to Climate Change, Association for Asian Studies, Volume 18:3 (Winter 2013): Central Asia

Logo and graphic design: P. Davaa-Ochir.

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© David South Consulting 2021