Governance refers to how multiple institutions and organizations influence policy. Governance institutions include not only city, county, state, and national governments, but also businesses, community groups, and small non-profit organizations, as well as large national and international NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, and multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Based on multiple studies conducted over many years on systems as different as policing and forest management, Elinor Ostrom concluded that, relative to top-down government, multiple layers of governance do not produce inefficiencies but rather enable societies to more effectively address complex challenges. This is because the various organizations bring a variety of ideas to the table, which become experiments that can lead to better solutions. Community organizations conducting civic ecology practices are one of many organizations involved in such polycentric governance systems. Additionally, civic ecology practices play a role in the civic environmental movement, which as opposed to the more antagonistic environmental movement that emerged in the 1970s, focuses on collaborations among the non-profit and government sector in environmental management and policy formation.
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