Governance | WWF

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Governance

© © Shutterstock / ArtisticPhoto / WWF

Governance is about how decisions are made, who makes them, how they’re applied and who’s accountable.

Decisions affecting nature

Every day, we make decisions that affect our natural world – from international treaties, government policies and business strategies to community decisions on local development and resource use. If we’re going to reverse nature loss and share resources fairly, then good governance is essential. Whether tackling corruption, poaching and illegal logging, or supporting local communities to govern natural resources, making sure that development plans take into account environmental impact and the needs of local people, governance is a vital part of WWF’s work.

Fish stocks collapse when fisheries are poorly regulated. Protected areas fail if they’re not well-managed and don’t involve the people living in and around them. And infrastructure projects and industrial activity can have disastrous consequences when they don’t take full account of their impact on people and nature.

This failure is often the result of deeper underlying problems. Discrimination, unequal power relationships and lack of transparency exclude many from decision-making. The rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and women are frequently ignored. And strong legislation is undermined by corruption and weak enforcement.

WWF has years of experience in bringing different groups together to find solutions to shared challenges – an essential part of good governance.

© WWF

Governance in Adria

Globally, governments have made commitments to the environment and human rights, and have passed laws to protect nature. Many businesses are becoming serious about creating a better future for people and nature − and have become more open about their actions. Community groups and civil society organizations have successfully challenged and influenced decisions that affect them.

Our region is not excluded from this. Adria’s countries share the same political history; all except Albania were part of Yugoslavia, and all were part of the eastern bloc. But their current political context differs significantly. Slovenia and Croatia are EU member countries with legislation frameworks and policies aligned with the EU, while other countries are committed to the EU accession process with varying efficiency and success of transition reforms.

However, signing treaties or accepting new legislation doesn’t mean we are implementing it accordingly. The legal framework defining nature management is generally weak and too flexible, the capacity for enforcement inadequate, allowing a range of unsustainable practices and making efficient conservation difficult to achieve.

Logging can be unsustainable or even illegal; marine protected areas can be without functional no-take zones; gravel extraction can seriously jeopardize our rivers and forests… 

Nature is essential to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals. By working with nature, we can develop effective solutions for peaceful, prosperous and equitable societies.

© Ružica Stanković

WHAT WE'RE DOING

There are many examples of good environmental governance in practice – locally-managed marine areas where fish stocks are recovering; certification schemes that balance production with conservation and workers’ rights; businesses, communities and local government working together to manage shared water resources.

A key task is helping people take the lead in protecting the areas where they live, by strengthening their rights and helping them understand the benefits of conserving nature.

We’re also finding new ways to tackle corruption, which is one of the biggest barriers to preventing environmental crimes like poaching, wildlife trafficking or illegal logging. Corruption undermines our efforts to ensure that the benefits coming from nature are equitably shared. 

And we’re helping governments and businesses put their sustainability commitments into practice, including EU legislation and international agreements.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Support our conservation work and stay up to date on our work with governments to improve the legislation that safeguards nature. 
Let’s stop plastics choking our oceans – and harming people and nature. We urgently need a global, legally binding agreement that involves every country in ending this crisis by 2030.

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