Perspectives

Eternal Mongolia: Harnessing the Power of Conservation to Create a Sustainable Future

Mongolia has long had some of the most ambitious conservation goals in the world. Now it has a roadmap to achieve them.

Aerial landscape of an extinct volcano in eastern Mongolia.
Zotol Han Uul, Mongolia. Since 2004, The Nature Conservancy has worked in Mongolia alongside the government, local herding communities and other partners to conserve the country’s diverse ecosystems. © Bayar Balgantseren

Thirty years ago, Mongolia adopted a conservation vision revolutionary for its time: to formally protect 30% of its lands—a goal now shared around the world. What was at risk in Mongolia in the early 1990s remains at risk today: the largest intact temperate grasslands on Earth, as well as sweeping sand dunes, rugged mountains, and over 4,000 rivers that feed much of central and northern Asia.

For thousands of years, Mongolia’s nomadic communities have grazed their livestock alongside millions of migratory gazelles and birds, wolves and snow leopards. But today the existence of those species is under threat from overgrazing, habitat loss, desertification and the impacts of climate change. These changes are also affecting Mongolia’s people, challenging their traditional culture and livelihoods, and reducing their access to clean air and fresh water. Such large-scale difficulties require new and innovative solutions.  

a yurt and cattle in a wetland with a volcano in the background.
Grazing Lands Nomadic community in the shadow of Jargalant Khairkhan, Mongolia. © Bayar Balgantseren

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Now, a solution is in sight. In 2024 the Government of Mongolia, in collaboration with local herding communities, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Enduring Earth, will launch the Eternal Mongolia Project Finance for Permanence (PFP), an endeavor that engages stewards of the environment to secure the sustained funding and longterm commitments needed for Mongolia to achieve its 30x30 conservation ambitions, to protect its lands and freshwaters, conserve rare and endangered species and sequester greenhouse gases.

Hunter to Ranger: Protecting Mongolia's Wildlife (5:12) The Eternal Mongolia initiative will protect more of Mongolia's places and people, now and into the future. Produced and directed by Asher Svidensky.

Building on Two Decades of Conservation Successes

Since 2004, TNC has worked in Mongolia alongside national and regional governments, local herding communities and other partners to conserve the country’s vast grassland, desert, alpine, forest and freshwater ecosystems. 

Together, we developed a nationwide blueprint of priority areas for conservation protections and built relationships with herding communities across the country to strengthen their rights and management of grazing lands. The results speak for themselves: a dramatic expansion of Mongolia’s national protected areas—now about 21% of all lands—and significant improvements in sustainable management.

a snowy hillside with a path running through the foreground.
Managing Protected Areas Winter scene on the mountain steppe of the Hustai National Park in Mongolia. © Susan Antenen/TNC

Eternal Mongolia: A new plan to help Mongolia achieve its conservation ambitions

Eternal Mongolia is a locally-led initiative that will protect the future well-being of its people. Mongolia’s vast grasslands directly support over 200,000 herder families, many of whom will be the most immediate beneficiaries of the program. Eternal Mongolia will work to boost the green economy, build nature-based tourism and ensure equitable and sustainable livelihoods for the next generation. These efforts will also help ensure the future of Mongolia’s unique nomadic culture and the physical and spiritual connections between the place and its people.

By mobilizing approximately $198 million from public, private and domestic sources, Eternal Mongolia intends to:

  • safeguard an additional 14.4 million hectares of Mongolia’s unique freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems
  • strengthen the management effectiveness of Mongolia’s network of protected area systems, and
  • extend sustainable and climate-resilient community-managed practices to 34 million hectares outside protected areas.

 

Quote: Gala Davaa

The Eternal Mongolia PFP will create financial sustainability, support ambitious conservation goals and demonstrate Mongolia’s global leadership in conservation and sustainable finance.

Mongolia Country Director, The Nature Conservancy
An eternal vision for nature A winding stream meanders through the grasslands of northeastern Mongolia. © Bayar Balgantseren