Transnational governance of natural resources for the 21st century

Natural resources—whether they are water, land, underground, or in the air—should be seen as common goods, meant to be shared by all. That means their governance arrangements—to be tailored according to the specific property of each resource—should be in harmony at the local, national, regional, and global levels to ensure they are used sustainably and in a way that protects the environment and the people who depend on them. This has proven to be very complex.

Throughout history, harmonious sharing of common goods has seldom been achieved. Today’s scramble for natural resources by major powers is far from new. It stems from a long-standing and fundamental asymmetry between advanced and less-advanced economies—not only in terms of access to and demand for natural resources, but in terms of advances in technology, military might, and state and private sector capabilities in general.

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