Monocentric UB to become multicentric

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Migration is defined as the phenomenon of people changing their geographical location, source of income and social environment in order to lead a better life. Ulaanbaatar was first planned in 1950 to have a population of 600,000. However, after only 20 years, migration increased dramatically and the city population increased by about 200,000 people. Since then, the population has continued to grow and now, there are 1.6 million officially registered people in Ulaanbaatar. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people who moved to Ulaanbaatar reached 78,000. Specifically, 13,000 citizens immigrated in 2019, 39,500 in 2020 and 25,700 in 2021 and became citizens of Ulaanbaatar.


Ulaanbaatar’s urban and rural development balance and implementation of the soft policy of decentralization combined with the city’s development goals have become a priority. Therefore, we interviewed Mayor of Ulaanbaatar D.Sumiyabazar on this topic.

Can you share your opinion on Ulaanbaatar’s urban and rural development balance and the overpopulation of the city?

Excessive density, traffic congestion and concentration, insufficient schools and kindergartens have increased, and the load on roads and bridges has tripled in Ulaanbaatar. The population of Ulaanbaatar is 1.6 million people. If unregistered people and those who come and go frequently are included, it will reach about 1.7 million people.

The population of Ulaanbaatar is mechanically increasing by an average of 45,000 per year. Also, car consumption increases by 80,000 per year. Our development is not keeping pace with these growths. Ensuring the balance between urban and rural areas is the main issue of development. Supporting enterprises operating in rural areas with proper tax regulation will create conditions and foundations for people to live in local areas. By using all of these as the basis for the development of government policy, conditions will be created for 3.4 million people to live equally and accessibly. As result, the facing issues in the capital will be solved gradually.

What works are being implemented to decrease centralization for Ulaanbaatar?

Policy documents related to land, population density and settlement planning are in progress at the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the Construction Development Center. Also, the regional development model is being developed by the National Development Agency. Additionally, the General Development Plan of Ulaanbaatar 2020-2050 is being formulated. These policy documents are incoherent. Thus, they must be coordinated and connected to each other. Moreover, the Law on Legal Status of Ulaanbaatar has been successfully amended.

Chairman of the National Committee for Reducing Traffic Congestion in Ulaanbaatar or the Minister for Ulaanbaatar city has been appointed. What are your expectations from the minister?

The newly-appointed minister is being very supportive. Particularly, inter-sectoral coordination is being regulated. Congestion is not only an issue of Ulaanbaatar but a national problem. The capital is the main social, economic, transport, logistics and trade center. A total of 63 percent of social and economic activities, 70 percent of the economy, 77 percent of enterprises, 95 percent of universities and 53 percent of the population are concentrated in the city. We have to solve the issues of Ulaanbaatar within a short period of time. Thus, issues of the nation’s development in the future will be solved. There will be an urgent need to make legal changes at the level of Parliament and the government. The main thing is the result. It doesn’t matter who does it.

For the first time in its history, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar had the opportunity to independently define its development policy, develop strategies and plans and implement them. The Law on Legal Status of Ulaanbaatar has been successfully amended after 27 years. Within the framework of the law, a goal has been set to expand Ulaanbaatar and turn it into a multicentered city from a monocentric city. Decentralization and urban expansion are not easy matters that can be resolved today or tomorrow. Therefore, the city authorities are rolling up their sleeves to implement the phased works step by step.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan