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Joint Brazil-China-Mexico Session
The Challenges of Social -Environmental governance

November 21-27, 2003
Bras¨ªlia and Piren¨®polis - Brazil


Governance is on the agenda of international institutions. Various programs developed by the United Nations give priority to governance in their debates, research and projects. The World Bank and the IMF address the topic in their policy papers and their directives make great reference to the notion of governance.

Despite their coincidental interest in the subject, both the World Bank and the IMF, along with other institutions, have very different definitions of governance and what it embraces.

The World Bank, for example, defines governance as: "the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised for the common good. This includes (i) the process by which those in authority are selected, monitored and replaced, (ii) the capacity of the government to effectively manage its resources and implement sound policies, and (iii) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them".

UNDP has the following definition:"Governance can be seen as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country's affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences".

These different definitions reveal distinct approaches to development, society and whom governments serve.

Citizens, particularly those with leadership responsibilities, need to have a deeper understanding of governance. On one hand, this is because understanding the dynamics of relations between governments and societies, as well as the internal processes of governments, is essential in order to have a clearer standing and to bring about a more efficient intervention in reality. On the other hand, because being prepared to discuss the theme of governance is key to a more profitable relationship with the main players in the international political scenario.

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