Governance is the means by which society defines goals and priorities and advances cooperation. It includes policies, laws, decrees, norms, instruments and institutions. Governance is not the province of governments alone, and includes informal institutional arrangements like voluntary codes of conduct for private businesses, professional procedures and partnerships among all sectors. These include numerous and varied arrangements, but an essential element is that they mobilise diverse constituencies to agree on common goals and help realise them.
Natural resource access and use often involves important governance issues. In many countries, natural resources are the property of the state, but of paramount importance to the livelihoods of millions of people. Laws, rules and regulations affecting their management and use are often restrictive, incomplete, vague or discriminatory. This leads to confusion and even conflict, abuse of power and discrimination. Stakeholders such as local indigenous and peasant communities, small farmers and others often do not have sufficient opportunities to participate in decision-making processes related to the management and use of the natural resources on which they depend. IUCN believes it is of prime importance to clarify and improve such governance issues so as to ensure equitable and fair distribution and use of natural resources. Because those most directly dependent on natural resources are often the poorest in the region, improving governance is an important factor in securing livelihoods and promoting sustainable natural resource use and conservation
IUCN, across its portfolio, is working towards facilitating improved governance arrangements over natural resources to deliver rights – based and equitable conservation with tangible livelihoods benefits.