The notion of environmental space, based on the principles of environmental limits and sharing environmental resources equitably, offers a starting point for a positive approach to the global “return of scarcity” challenge, notably by providing a basis legitimating and strengthening the global governance of environmental and resource limits. First, it provides a cognitive framework for determining limits and for dealing with these more comprehensively and effectively, at all levels of government. Second, the environmental space approach supports, notably at the global level, a more equitable distribution of access to, and/or the benefits from, increasingly scarce resources. Third, it can be used as a basis for designing and introducing institutions and processes that enhance democracy and community control over the use of resources. Although the adoption of the environmental space approach at the national, international and global levels faces formidable obstacles, more people stand to gain from it, materially, socially, and politically, than from the nationally based “environmental security” approach. The basis of support and agency for the environmental space approach is most likely to be strengthened by the development of institutional designs that enhance economic democracy, giving all people a material and political stake in the management of resources.

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