International, national & local governance

International, national & local governance

Why is governance relevant to sustainability?

The term 'governance' is used to describe the way in which a country is governed. It covers the range of political, economic and administrative decisions made by the government, business and civil society sectors as they manage a country's resources and affairs. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) defines good governance as: 

  • participatory,
  • consensus oriented,
  • accountable,
  • transparent,
  • responsive,
  • effective and efficient,
  • inclusive
  • following the rule of law.

It assures that corruption is minimised, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.'

The characteristics of good governance guarantee civil, political, social and economic rights. Citizens are able to freely express views and influence the government for change without the fear of being arrested, tortured or discriminated against. Citizens are legally protected in relation to their property, personal security and liberty. Adequate provision of basic needs, education and health services and pay enables people to fully participate in the community and decreases corruption.

Key questions for this area

If you are studying or teaching in this area, or looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • What are the links between good governance and human rights?
  • What makes for good governance?
  • Who or what should govern?
  • How should citizens be involved in governance?

Useful resources 

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.

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