The United States and the global community currently face a variety of challenges, and it is becoming increasingly clear that no one actor is capable of solving all of our global problems. In particular, issues related to the environment need to be resolved collectively, since many environmental concerns do not respect borders or sovereignty.
These issues range from the preservation of biodiversity to the maintenance of clean watercourses. Many natural resources are labeled as common-pool resources, since single proprietary ownership is not possible and many different groups of people are able to use the same resource simultaneously.1
These resources often face collective action problems due to actors' inability to work together for a common purpose due to self-interest. Moreover, there are also free-rider issues; it is difficult to force all actors to follow actions beneficial to the group if they can receive benefits without doing so.2 This issue is often conceptualized as the tragedy of the commons, which is defined as "the degradation of the environment to be expected whenever many individuals use a scarce resource in common."3
However, these results are not inevitable and can be avoided with effective governance strategies. These strategies need to incorporate the wide variety of actors that use the same resources, and in cases of transnational resources (such as trans-boundary river basins), it is important to coordinate actions between state actors.