Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability (sustainable development) as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Governance includes government, business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of elements, environmental governance often employs alternative systems of governance, for example watershed-based management.
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It views natural resources and the environment as global public goods, belonging to the category of goods that are not diminished when they are shared. This means that everyone benefits from, for example, a breathable atmosphere, stable climate and stable biodiversity.
Public goods are non-rivalrous—a natural resource enjoyed by one person can still be enjoyed by others—and non-excludable—it is impossible to prevent someone consuming the good (such as breathing). Public goods are recognized as beneficial and therefore have value. The notion of a global public good thus emerges, with a slight distinction: it covers necessities that must not be destroyed by one person or state.
The non-rivalrous character of such goods calls for a management approach that restricts public and private actors from damaging them. One approach is to attribute an economic value to the resource. Water is an example of this type of good.