Global Commons Stewardship Index 2022

Sectors and Themes
Forestry and Other Land Use
Expertise Level
Resource Type
Guidance and Frameworks
Developer or Source
Center for Global Commons
Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy

The Global Commons are increasingly at risk, and actions are needed now. This year’s 2022 Global Commons Stewardship (GCS) Index (3rd edition) provides the latest information on countries’ domestic and spillover impacts on the Global Commons. The GCS Index report builds on and supports other conceptual and policy work in the consortium. This year’s edition generates three major findings:

Rich countries bear major responsibilities for domestic and international spillover impacts on the Global Commons. The 2022 GCS Index emphasizes how unsustainable production systems – but also unsustainable consumption in high-income countries – drive negative impacts on the Global Commons. Rich countries obtain the poorest results in this year’s Index. Overall, no country has successfully managed to achieve high levels of human development (measured, for instance, by GDP per capita or the Human Development Index) while fully mitigating their negative impacts on the environment. The G20 presidencies of India (2023), Brazil (2024), and South Africa (2025) can provide momentum for concerted global actions and further efforts to reduce negative impacts on the Global Commons in producing and consuming countries.

Spillover impacts on climate, the land biosphere, or the water cycle are driven by different economic sectors and commodities. Taking advantage of the latest advances in trade data, environmental research, and industrial ecology, the 2022 GCS Index provides detailed analyses of impacts embodied in international trade flows. Demand for clothes & textiles and construction materials drive most greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions spillovers. Deforestation spillovers are driven by demand for forestry & logging and cattle, and water stress spillovers are driven by demand for rice and cereals. The flows of environmental impacts embodied in trade vary across countries and regions, and this report provides additional features for 10 countries and entities, including major G20 economies. A more granular understanding of negative spillovers, as presented in this report, can support stronger multilateral, national, industrial, and corporate actions to safeguard the Global Commons.

Strong data systems at various levels – international, national, industrial, and corporate – are needed to monitor and curb negative impacts on the Global Commons. The adoption of comprehensive and ambitious policies to curb international spillovers requires strong data and information systems for effective implementation. The 2022 GCS Index relies on the latest advances in both scientific research and global analyses of international trade. Yet further work is needed to make the underlying data timelier, more comprehensive, and more granular – and to integrate these data systems into official national reporting and policies. The GCS Index identifies persisting data gaps and limitations to track negative international spillovers.

These results suggest that economic systems and national policy frameworks need to better incorporate the value of natural capital – and the costs of failing to protect it – and to address international spillovers.

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