Photograph courtesy Goldman Environmental Prize/William Foerderer Infante
Name: Tsetsegee Munkhbayar
Place of birth: Khadan khoshuu bagh, Saikhan-Ovoo soum, Dundgobi province, Mongolia
Current city: Bayanzurkh district, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Occupation: Head, Onggi River Movement
What did you want to be when you were growing up?When I was a child my dream was to become a great herder.
How did you get started in your field of work?The first thing I did in my work was to expose the typical livelihood of the local people who are living along Onggi river. I then started my struggle to protect my river.
What inspires you to dedicate your life to freshwater?
When the Earth gets too damaged because of humans' unlimited and greedy needs.
What’s a normal day like for you?
A normal day to me is very simple: it consists of my morning prayers, my day-work and in the evening, my family environment.
Do you have a hero?
My hero is Chinggis Khaan.
If you could have people do one thing to help save freshwater, what would it be?
Refusing sedentary life as much as possible
What's been your favorite experience in the field? Most challenging?
My favorite experience were when I had to make decisive statements before the public, and when we were working on the law and its implementation.
What do you do in your free time?
I like traveling to beautiful and natural lands with my family, and I also enjoy ice-skating.
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Rivers run through the heart and soul of countless communities. But, increasingly, they run on human terms rather than on Mother Nature’s.
Tsetsegee Munkhbayar spent his childhood herding yaks on the banks of the Onggi, one of Mongolia's largest rivers. But in the early 1990s this essential life source began shrinking, grew contaminated, and by 2001 its waters had vanished. Tsetsegee has started a movement to bring the river back.
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