OYUN-ERDENE LUVSANNAMSRAI MC/MPA 2015 became prime minister of Mongolia in January. Mongolia established itself as a democracy and market economy in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Born in 1980, he brings the voice of a new generation to Mongolia’s leadership.
Q. You represent a generational shift in Mongolia’s leadership. What’s the significance of the transfer of power for someone born in the 1980s?
This generational shift is instrumental in deepening democratic concepts and values in Mongolia. During the past 30 years of democratic rule, most of our leaders were educated under the former Soviet system. As you can imagine, it may not have been easy for them to accept and lead a new social and political system after the democratic revolution in 1990. Despite the difficult circumstances, the Mongolian People’s Party’s leadership at the time peacefully embraced democracy and called for multi-party elections, which I believe reflects the open-minded and adaptive nature of Mongolians.
Those of my generation born in the early 1980s spent our teenage years in a transitional phase, experiencing firsthand the challenges and benefits of a democratic society in our daily lives. Our generation has a historic responsibility to bridge the old and the new while further strengthening democracy in Mongolia.
Q. Why did you decide to pursue a career in politics and policy?
I felt my country needed a drastic change. I worked in international development prior to entering politics. As I worked closely with local governments, I was saddened to see how bureaucratic, corrupt, and politically divided the country had become. I was also frustrated to see many opportunities were being simply wasted due to the irresponsible and unethical actions of civil servants. I think this sadness and frustration both influenced me to become a politician.
Q. Before you became prime minister, you led the development of Vision 2050, Mongolia’s 30-year policy agenda. What are some of the priorities, and how are you working to implement them?
Thirty years have passed since Mongolia embraced the transition to democracy. We felt it was the right time to review our achievements of the past 30 years and draw up our vision for the next 30. This process led to the development of Vision 2050, our long-term development policy. The document, approved by parliament, lays out a comprehensive vision and road map for the country, addressing critical issues such as economic diversification and reducing reliance on mining, job creation for a more prosperous middle class, and digital reform in government services. Having led the development of “Vision 2050” as cabinet secretariat, I feel privileged to lead its implementation in my capacity as prime minister. We have begun efforts to launch an initial set of priority projects to jump-start rapid socioeconomic development within the first 10 years of this development agenda.
Q. What do you have to say to young people who also hope to one day hold top positions in Mongolia’s government?
The government of Mongolia is calling out to young people trained at the world’s leading universities to return to Mongolia. We will continue to pursue this policy. In my opinion, there is nothing more honorable than being directly involved in policy development and decision making for your country. If you believe things need to be changed, perhaps it’s your time to jump in and simply do it.
Q. Why did you decide to attend HKS? What did you learn that you apply in your work today?
I chose HKS without any hesitation as my school of choice and did not apply to any other school. The academic training I received and the relationships I built during my time at Harvard have been an incredible help in my government career. I wish to convey to current students: It may not be apparent amidst classes, exams, and a busy social calendar, but as you leave Harvard, you will soon realize how significant your training from a school such as HKS will be in your career.
Photos courtesy of Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai