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 country—a goal now shared around the world. Now, Mongolia is taking the lead again with the announcement of Eternal Mongolia, an initiative that commits all the funding and policy commitments needed for Mongolia to achieve its 30x30 conservation ambitions while providing a secure environmental and economic future for Mongolians.

Eternal Mongolia will dramatically expand conservation of one of the world’s most intact and connected temperate grasslands—one of the least protected ecosystems on earth, as well as sweeping sand dunes, rugged mountains, pristine lakes and over 13,000 kilometers of winding rivers that support rare wildlife and feed much of central and northern Asia. 

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Through a proven model called Project Finance for Permanence, Eternal Mongolia will unlock USD $198 million of new conservation investment over 15 years and provide new conservation protections to an area the size of the US State of Iowa.  This is The Nature Conservancy’s third PFP, and the first as part of Enduring Earth, a global initiative to accelerate conservation worldwide.  

Eternal Mongolia will safeguard an additional 14.4 million hectares of Mongolia’s intact grasslands, forests, deserts, wetlands and rivers; strengthen the management effectiveness of 47 million hectares of Mongolia’s network of national protected areas; and extend sustainable and climate-resilient community-managed practices to 34 million hectares outside protected areas. 

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

Building on Two Decades of Conservation Successes

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. 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. 

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.

Keeping Communities at the Heart of Conservation Solutions 

Eternal Mongolia is a locally-led initiative that will support the future well-being of its people. Overgrazing and desertification are affecting Mongolia’s people, challenging their traditional culture and livelihoods, and reducing their access to clean air and fresh water. Mongolia’s vast grasslands directly support over 200,000 herder families, many of whom will be the most immediate beneficiaries of the program. 

Life in a Changing World (4:12) Overgrazing and desertification are affecting Mongolia’s people, challenging their traditional culture and livelihoods, and reducing their access to clean air and fresh water.

A new approach to help Mongolia fund its conservation ambitions

Eternal Mongolia will work to boost the green economy, build nature-based tourism and ensure equitable and sustainable livelihoods for the next generation. It will develop and implement activities and income sources that generate money for parks, build livelihoods, and encourage high- value, low- volume, nature-based tourism that treads lightly on the landscape. 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.

In Mongolia, Nature is a Way of Life (4:01) Eternal Mongolia will encourage high-value, low-volume, nature-based tourism that treads lightly on the landscape.

Funding both conservation and sustainable community development

Eternal Mongolia is a negotiated partnership that will unlock USD $198 million of new investment over 15 years to support Mongolia’s ambitious goals and deliver lasting conservation and sustainable community development in and around protected areas. This includes a US $71 million transition fund from private and other global donor sources. This transition fund provides time to develop sustainable financing mechanisms to ensure protected areas can be managed sustainably in the long-term and that Mongolian people benefit from nature, now and for the future. 

Donor funding will be managed by the Mongolian Nature’s Legacy Foundation, an independent conservation trust fund established specifically to administer donor funds committed to Eternal Mongolia.

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