What Do We Mean by “Governance”?

Global governance, good governance, failing governance: like so many buzzwords in the field of international development, the word has come to mean different things to different groups. So what is it? In its purest form it describes the structures and decision-making processes that allow a state, organization or group of people to conduct affairs. The most obvious among these is the government running your country, as well as the administrations and groups that ensure its safety and efficiency. But it’s not just governments that govern: institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and United Nations, for instance, have an authority that is recognized the world over. These bodies take a multilateral approach to world affairs, bringing together leaders of public and private sectors, as well as members of wider society, to achieve commonly accepted goals and tackle threats to international security.

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