Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology or environmental policy related to defining the elements needed to achieve sustainability. All human activities -- political, social and economic — should be understood and managed as subsets of the environment and ecosystems.Governance includes not only government, but also business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of dynamic forces, Environmental governance often necessitates founding alternative systems of governing, for example watershed based management.
Natural resources and the environment should be seen as a global public good, belonging to the specific category of goods that are divided up when they are shared. The global nature of these goods stems from the presence of each of the constituent elements that form an integrated system. This means that everyone can benefit from the atmosphere, climate and biodiversity, to name a few, whilst the entire planet suffers the dramatic consequences of global warming, reduced ozone layer and the disappearance of species. This planetary dimension requires a collective management approach.
A public good is non-rivalrous — a natural resource acquired by one person can still be acquired by someone else — and non-excludable — it is impossible to prevent someone consuming the good. Nevertheless, public goods are recognized as beneficial and therefore have value. The notion of a global public good thus emerges, with a slight distinction: it covers vital necessities that must not be under the control of one person or state.
The non-rivalrous character of the good therefore calls for a management approach that is neither competitive nor plundering, free market characteristics which would lead to its extinction. It also entails attributing an economic value to the resource, since the lack of such value would lead to the same result. Water is possibly the best example of this type of good.
However, environmental governance as it currently stands is far from meeting one or more of these imperatives. The need to deal with the complex character of environmental issues calls for the adoption of coherent multilateral management by a great variety of stakeholders. However, the global community has proved incapable of meeting this challenge and environmental governance is currently victim to a great many afflictions. Thus, despite a great awareness of environmental questions from developed and developing countries, there is environmental degradation and the appearance of new environmental problems. This situation is caused by the parlous state of global environmental governance, wherein current global environmental governance is unable to address environmental issues due to many factors. These include fragmented governance within the United Nations, lack of involvement from financial institutions, proliferation of environmental agreements often in conflict with trade measures; all these various problems disturb the proper functioning of global environmental governance. Moreover, divisions among northern countries and the persistent gap between developed and developing countries also have to be taken into account to comprehend the institutional failures of the current global environmental governance.