The role of governance for improved environmental outcomes

1 January 2012

Climate change and escalating environmental degradation risk becoming key constraints to economic growth and human development. Poor women and men in developing and transitional countries are disproportionally affected by pollution, land degradation and other environmental problems due to high dependence on natural resources and high exposure to risks. Managing the environment is important for the well-being of all citizens, particularly for the least well-off. There has been progress in terms of policies and creation of environmental authorities and international environmental commitments. However, there is a growing gap between the environmental commitments made and the actual implementation to improve environmental outcomes.

Environmental policy design is embedded in a political context with multiple actors and interests. In many cases measures that strengthen important human rights principles, such as the rule of law, transparency and public participation, may be equally or more important than specific environmental policies or projects in order to improve environmental management. It is increasingly recognised that technical solutions to environmental problems are not sufficient to obtain sustainable development. Instead, there is a growing attention to the importance of governance to manage the wide range of environmental challenges and impacts. 

The purpose of the report is to explore the linkages between governance and the implementation of environmental legislation (including multilateral environmental agreements) and other environmental measures. The report is intended as a source of information and inspiration to individuals and organisations working with environment and development. It attempts to demystify the concept of governance and show how greater attention to specific governance aspects can help improve environmental outcomes.


The report is coauthored with Gunilla Ölund Winqvist and Martin Sjöstedt

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Publication | 15 September 2012