Shared Resources: Issues of Governance

IUCN is pleased to announce “Shared Resources: Issues of Governance,” a selection of case studies on transboundary governance frameworks and the latest publication in the IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Series. This book was prepared by IUCN with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Former IUCN Environmental Law Centre Legal Officer Ms. Sharelle Hart edited the publication with contributions from fifteen co-authors.


The publication reviews a selection of transboundary governance systems from around the world tackling the issue of shared resources and environmental impacts affecting them. Given that political boundaries generally do not neatly mirror the borders of naturally-occurring systems such as water and air resources, ecosystems or migratory species patterns, there is a growing appreciation of the need for collective international action in addressing shared resources. Recent years thus have seen the expansion of a collection of agreements and mechanisms for addressing transboundary resources, many of which have had to navigate complicated sovereignty, political and jurisdictional difficulties in addition to already-challenging environmental science and policy questions necessitating their creation.

“Shared Resources” offers a selection of case studies of transboundary governance systems covering a range of ecosystems and shared resources. Cases in this publication highlight governance of issues such as fisheries management in the Pacific and the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, single shared ecosystems, such as the Antarctic, shared watercourses in Southern Africa and Lake Chad, and transboundary air pollution in the 10 South eastern Asian nations forming ASEAN.

From the diversity of environmental, legal and political challenges presented in the case studies, a number of familiar issues can be discerned by the reader. Examples of such common themes include practical tools such as environmental impact assessments, lessons in implementing framework laws, guidelines and precautionary mechanisms, and general principles in participatory and integrated decision making.

This publication will soon be available for download and can be requested from the ELC. It was the vision of contributors to “Shared Resources” both to demonstrate the need for political will in making transboundary governance structures effective and to offer practical lessons in their creation, implementation and long-term maintenance.

IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper No. 72

Work area: 
Environmental Law
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