Recent surveys in Australia show that improving the global environment rates high as a public policy concern. Responding to these challenges at a global level requires more than finding the best or most appropriate scientific, economic and technical approaches. It also requires that global environmental governance be based on sound normative principles. Two of the most important principles respond to the challenge that, while humanity is outstripping its ecological footprint, contributions to global environmental change are uneven and the experience of environmental harm is being displaced across time and space. Improving the global environment should therefore take into account the precautionary principle and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Improving the global environment also requires a more robust institutional framework. The model favoured here is to build on UNEP to establish a more coherent, more authoritative and more independent environmental organization.