Most (global) environmental governance arrangements face a potential trade-off between attaining their goals in terms of environmental improvement and the just distribution of their social costs and benefits. Yet, just as mitigation of ecological problems is a core requirement for any environmental governance scheme, schemes that do not take distributional questions into account are fundamentally flawed from a normative perspective. So far, however, these two objectives have by and large been analysed separately: On the one hand, there is a vast amount of studies which apply different indicators of effectiveness to assess the potential contribution of different governance arrangements to improving particular environmental problems. On the other hand, there is a growing, yet mostly theoretical, research interest in the just distribution of costs and benefits from environmental measures. The contribution of this paper is to bring these two strands of research closer together by including the dimension of distributive justice in a more comprehensive model of effectiveness. In terms of environmental improvements the model employs goal attainment as the benchmark indicator. Thus it recognizes that goals are socially set and that they may be changed over time as most environmental problems are so enduring that they can only be mitigated in a continuous process. Regarding distributive justice, the paper draws on normative theorists such as Rawls and Sen to derive criteria for the just distribution of costs and benefits from environmental policy measures. The overall model of effectiveness may then lay out minimum requirements for goal attainment and distributive justice. Where both these thresholds are met one could speak of comprehensive effectiveness. Finally, the paper will provide hints how this notion of effectiveness may be operationalised for empirical research.