Bringing Value to the Mongolian Cashmere Wool Sector Through Sustainability

A cashmere wool sweater is considered a luxury product in Europe. Even though Mongolia has the second largest cashmere wool output in the world, the local infrastructure is not developed enough to process the raw material, and at the same time, unsustainable herding practices are ruining pastureland – the very basis for cashmere production. Our new project, STeP EcoLab aims to change that dynamic through sustainable practices.

The Mongolian cashmere wool sector is an important pillar of the country’s economy, supporting about a million nomadic herders. Unfortunately, the sector is experiencing a dilemma: It is lacking the infrastructure to process wool into high value products. Therefore, almost all revenue is made by selling the raw material cheaply to manufacturers in other countries and profits can only be increased by adding goats and producing more wool. Unfortunately, production practices do not sufficiently consider social and environmental aspects. Overgrazing, deforestation and erosion of the landscape, especially due to goat farming, are increasing threats. While the farmers struggle with disappearing pastureland, changing practices is difficult. They lack support and an understanding of how to implement more sustainable production processes.

Within STeP EcoLab we therefore strive to address these issues. Based on an in-depth, on-site analysis of the sector’s present challenges, we will draft a voluntary code of practice  together with the farmers and other stakeholders (like national financing and regulatory institutions.) Its implementation will be accompanied by capacity building programs for the farmers which will ensure necessary changes are understood. Ultimately, this process ensures a continuous and long-term improvement of the industry’s ecological and social performance.

In order for these tools to successfully establish more sustainable value chains, consumers need to be aware of and recognise.

The CSCP contributes its key competences: Sustainable Value ChainsHand- and Footprint AssessmentsMulti-stakeholder Engagement, as well as Participatory Strategy Development and Design and Communication.

The STeP EcoLab Mongolia project is funded by European Switch Asia Programme and will be implemented with Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières, the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association, the Environment and Security Center of Mongolia, as well as the National Association of Pasture Users Group in Mongolia and the Mongolian Bankers’ Association.

For any furthre information, please contact Pawel Zylka.


Image source: sunriseOdyssey / Flickr