Environmental Governance

Environmental Governance is the means by which society determines and acts on goals and priorities related to the management of natural resources. This includes the rules, both formal and informal, that govern human behavior in decision-making processes as well as the decisions themselves. Appropriate legal frameworks on the global, regional, national and local level are a prerequisite for good environmental governance.

The IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP) is undertaking different activities that contribute to laying the foundations for good environmental governance.

Rights-Based Approaches to Conservation

 In the context of livelihoods and human well-being, new responsibilities and rights in environmental governance have emerged in the recent years. Rights-based approaches (RBAs) are being promoted as a way to effectively reconcile development, conservation and rights of people, and to realize their positive synergies.

The ELC developed a step-wise approach for implementing RBAs to conservation which was presented in different international and national forums and is further explained in the IUCN publication entitled Conservation with Justice – A Rights-based Approach (Greiber, T. (ed.) 2009), also available in Spanish.

Since 2011, the ELC has been working with IUCN regional offices to apply RBA in Central America, South America and Asia in order to secure the rights of vulnerable communities, improve their livelihoods and promote conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Policy and Law Guidance

The Precautionary Principle Guidelines were approved by the IUCN Council in 2007. This document is the result of consultations within the Commission on Environmental Law based on the "Guidelines for Applying the Precautionary Principle to Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resource Management", developed over a number of years by the Precautionary Principle Project.

Click here Publications

Advice on Multilateral Environmental Agreements and National Legal Reforms

The ELP is also providing advice on the development as well as the implementation of international environmental agreements.

For example, WCEL, together with IUCN members and other partners, has developed a Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development which has been presented to the Member States of the UN General Assembly and now exists in its third edition. This covenant is a framework or umbrella treaty that bridges the issues of environment and development by knitting together the principles reflected in the many sectoral treaties.

The ELP has produced guidebooks that introduce, explain or analyze different Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) in order to facilitate their implementation. Based on these experiences, ELC is supporting IUCN delegations during the Conferences of the Parties of biodiversity related MEAs. Together with WCEL, ELC is also assisting in the preparation of positions of working groups or advising on the implementation of different programmes of works.

Apart from its global focus, the ELP is also analyzing legal trends of a cross-cutting nature in different regions of the world.


Environmental Law Information Services

Together with FAO and UNEP, the ELC provides a web-based platform that enables people from around the world to get access to legal and policy information that shapes environmental governance.

The ELC acts as the management unit of ECOLEX - the gateway to environmental law an internet-based information service on environmental law, operated jointly by FAO, IUCN and UNEP. It is the most comprehensive global source of information on national and international environmental and natural resources law. The portal includes extensive information on 2,145 multilateral and bilateral environmental treaties, 101,154 national legal instruments, 1,567 court decisions and 34,660 bibliographic references to law and policy literature (at March 2013).

Click here
IUCN's work on Environmental Governance