Half of Mongolia’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar, one of the most polluted capital cities on earth. Nogoonbaatar (Mongolian for Green Hero), the first eco-art festival in the country, hopes to change this critical situation. The festival is staged in the Ger District, notorious for heavy pollution through coal burning. Local artists, European artists-in-residence and environmental educators are using a people-to-people approach, developing art projects and events in community centres, schools and public spaces. All festival activities highlight the effects of air pollution and promote best practices for a more sustainable lifestyle.
The project convinced the selection committee with its clearly defined local needs, strongly built partnerships, and well argumented understanding of innovation in relations to the local context. It is important that such a burning issue for Mongolia as ecology is being addressed in a way that is not very known to the local context. The jury agreed that this project can be seen as one of the models for European ‘Houses’ of Culture due to its turn to socially engaged art as an environment for knowledge and advocacy, as well as a platform of mutual learning and exchange between different partners. It is clear that the project is built on a thorough research and understanding between the partners.