Environmental Governance

Our Planet Earth is in an environmental crisis. Poorly governed economic development and international competition are polluting the oceans, changing the climate, depleting natural resources, causing extinction of many animal and plant species, threatening the collapse of entire ecosystems and jeopardizing our common future. Relying on the goodwill of nation states to implement environmental protection is ineffective and insufficient. Better global governance of the environment is required. WFM’s environmental governance projects include:

Earth Trusteeship Initiative

Earth Trusteeship is a political, legal and social relationship with nature and the earth based on non-ownership. Earth Trusteeship involves legal protection and management (governance) of territories and eco-systems to ensure sustainability for current and future generations. The initiative is established in cooperation with the World Future Council, Right Livelihood College Bangkok and New Zealand Center for Environmental Law. In April 2023, the initiative launched the book Reflections on Earth Trusteeship: Mother Earth and a new 21st Century governance paradigm which explores ideas, examples and actions for Earth Trusteeship in communities, regionally and globally. 

International Court of Justice and environmental protection

The International Court of Justice is an important governance body available to ensure legal protection of the environment through the application of treaty-based and customary law. WFM highlights case history of the ICJ on environmental issues, e.g. the Nuclear Tests Case (1974), Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons case (1996), Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project/Hungary v Slovakia case (1997) Whaling in the Antarctic case (2014) and Costa Rica v. Nicaragua case (2018). We also engage in current environmental cases in the court, e.g. the ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change. And we advocate for improved use of the ICJ for environmental cases such as including jurisdiction of the Court in global environmental agreements. 

Global environmental council

WFM advocates for the establishment of a global environmental council. This could be done through the UN Secretary General’s proposal to re-purposing of the UN Trusteeship Council to provide governance for the global commons and/or a UN General Assembly established council similar to the UN Human Rights Council. 

Global alliance on environmental governance

WFM is working with the Climate Governance CommissionCitizens for Global Solutions and other organizations to establish a global alliance on environmental governance. The initiative, entitled Mobilising an Earth Governance Alliance (MEGA), will be publicly launched in November, 2023. It will be guided by the recommendations arising from the 2023 Report of the Climate Governance Commission plus the Reflections on Earth Trusteeship book and other relevant reports on environmental governance.

UN Summit of the Future/Article 109 conference

The UN Summit of the Future, which will take place in September 2024, provides a special opportunity for the UN to establish global environmental governance mechanisms. WFM is engaging in the preparatory process for the Summit in order to build like-minded government support for specific proposals. The Summit is likely to limit its decisions to proposals that do not require UN Charter reform. However, it might set in motion a follow-up UN Charter Article 109 conference to consider specific Charter reforms to further strengthen global governance.