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International policy
China-Mongolia environmental agreements
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China has only a few environmental protection agreements with Mongolia, but in many cases they are more comprehensive than those between Russia and China.


Mongolia-China Agreement on protection and utilization of transboundary waters

The agreement was signed on 29 April 1994 in Ulaanbaatar within the framework of the Treaty on the Sino-Mongolian Boundary System.

The agreement addresses the scarce and vulnerable water resources shared by the two countries, namely the Bulgan River (outside the Amur-Heilong basin) and the Kherlen and Khalkh Rivers and Buir-nur Lake (within the Amur-Heilong Basin ). This agreement brings together all aspects of aquatic ecosystem management, including hydrology, river-bed processes, aquatic wildlife and plant life, pollution, and other issues. Ideally, the agreement would serve as the basis for integrated river basin management in the sub-basin comprised of Dalai and Buir Lakes, and their main tributaries, the Kherlun and Khalkh Rivers .

The agreement prescribes joint monitoring and research, coordinated development of water use and water infrastructure, protocols for agreeing volumes of water withdrawal, and exchange of related information. The agreement also stresses the issue of excessive fishing on Buir Lake. It gives priority to cooperative protection and utilization, but sets aside fishing quotas for special consideration in separate consultations.

The Water Agency of Mongolia (part of MONE) and MWR of China are required to conduct bi-annual meetings of the Joint Committee for implementation of the agreement. While the Mongolian Water Agency is authorized to deal with the full spectrum of issues addressed by the agreement, MWR lacks authority for aquatic bioresources and shares responsibility for water quality with SEPA.

While the Agreement helps to sustain dialogue and information exchange, it has not yet led to resolution of existing controversies.

China does not negotiate annually with Mongolia on water withdrawals from the upper Khalkh River, nor is Mongolia keen to negotiate with China on planned water transfer from the Kherlen River to the Gobi Desert. However in 2007 Mongolia informed China about this intention. Management of biological resources (mainly fish) is often raised by Mongolia, but discussion is deferred by China because MWR is not authorized to discuss biological resource management.

According to the Mongolian Water Agency, the exchange of information has improved in recent years and joint expeditions are planned for the near future.


Sino-Mongolian Agreement on Cooperative Conservation of Nature (1990)

The objectives of the agreement are:

•  bilateral cooperation to prevent soil erosion; anti-desertification; grassland protection; establishment of transboundary nature reserves and hunting bans along the borders;

•  the joint study and development of techniques to control sand-storms and soil erosion;

•  the joint study and conservation measures for protection, breeding, and utilization of Mongolian gazelle and other wildlife and wild plants along the common border;

•  cooperation with the UN on development of conservation organizations (including NGOs).


A Memorandum on cooperation between China 's SEPA and Mongolia 's MONE (1990) addressed the establishment of protected areas for wildlife conservation along the border; the need to conduct surveys and research to control pollution on border rivers and lakes, especially Khalkh River and Kherlen River; and the regular exchanges on nature conservation and management.

Terms of Reference were signed in Hohhot in December 2000 for The Third Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (CTEC). The committee coordinates development of bilateral relationships between China 's Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia and the Mongolia Ministry of Industry and Trade. Planned activities include cooperation on environmental issues.


Trilateral agreement was signed by China, Mongolia, and Russia to establish Dauria International Protected Area (DIPA) to protect globally important grasslands in the headwaters of the Amur-Heilong basin. Signed in Ulan Baatar, Mongolia (more information on cooperation between nature reserves)

Map: Overlapping GEF projects in Amur-Heilong River basin (PPT SLIDE)


Photo: International cooperation


Water resources on China-Mongolia border are scarce and vulnerable. March thaw on Daurian steppe stream. Inner Mongolia. (Photo by E. Simonov)

Also look:

Need for a Cooperation Framework

Russia-China agreements on environmental protection and natural resources(table)

Mongolia-Russia cooperation

Ramsar convention in Amur Basin

Participation in biodiversity conventions

Examples of bilateral and regional conventions and action plans

GEF in Amur Basin


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