Governance and Rights

Governance and Rights-based Approaches

Securing rights and sharing power and responsibilities through strengthened natural resource governance benefits both people and biodiversity.  Effective and equitable governance is a necessary foundation for a just world that values and conserves nature and contributes to the achievement of global sustainable development goals.
Producers clubs in Mozambique practice climate-smart agriculture

Natural resource governance refers to the norms, institutions and processes that determine how power and responsibilities over natural resources are exercised, how decisions are taken, and how all citizens - including women, men, indigenous peoples and local communities - participate in and benefit from the management of natural resources. The effectiveness and equity of governance processes critically determine both the extent to which ecosystems contribute to human well being and the long-term prospects for successful conservation of nature.

Good governance enables all actors with natural resource rights, roles and responsibilities to engage in positive actions to sustain ecosystems in ways that take account of and help advance social equity and human rights. Good governance also allows for the effective operation of appropriate accountability and redress mechanisms to address failures and negative environmental or social impacts. Good governance of natural resources is at the heart of IUCN’s contribution to the achievement of global sustainable development goals by ensuring that decisions affecting natural resources at local to international levels are well-informed, implemented equitably and gender responsive.

An IUCN Natural Resource Governance Framework

The Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF) is an IUCN initiative created for the purpose of providing a robust, inclusive, and credible approach to assessing and strengthening natural resource governance, at multiple levels and in diverse contexts. The overarching goal of NRGF is to: set standards and guidance for decision-makers at all levels to make better and more just decisions on the use of natural resources and the distribution of nature’s benefits, following good governance principles, such that improved governance will enhance the contributions of ecosystems and biodiversity to equity and sustainability.

A central part of the NRGF is a framework (the “NRG Framework”) of key elements that need to be in place for effective and equitable natural resource governance. These elements include:

  • Values – normative views regarding the foundational ethics and goals of good governance
  • Principles – key elements that need to be in place to realize effective and equitable governance of natural resources
  • Criteria – standards by which to judge whether a principle is fulfilled

In addition to consolidating the development of this overarching NRG Framework, IUCN is working in the context of its 2017-2020 Programme to:

  • Use the NRGF to build coherence and consistency across IUCN Secretariat work on governance
  • Strengthen knowledge and action on natural resource governance by using the NRGF to assess and identifying governance gaps and needs
  • Promote the NRGF as a conservation standard for the broader conservation and natural resource community

The NRGF is managed as a collaboration between the IUCN Global Programme on Governance and Rights (GPGR) and the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).

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