2 Nov 2012

Green European Foundation embrace the commons

As Green Party of England and Wales International Coordinator I am looking forward to getting involved with the European Green Party work promoting the commons.

"The commons" is a term that is gaining increasing currency in political debate today, as thinkers and activists look for alternatives to what appears to be the failing model of the market economy. While many people have a broad idea of 'the commons', a means of co-managing a resource for the community as a whole, what does it means in practice? And where and when can the idea of a commons be applied?

Many of these issues were discussed at the GEF seminar earlier this year. Since the idea of the commons was reintroduced to public debate by the likes of Elinor Ostrom, many new forms of commons have become viable. An example discussed at the seminar was the idea of genetics and DNA as a type of 'commons'.

The topic is a rich one for debate, and this publication seeks to continue the discussion that began last March in Brussels. The publication can be downloaded or ordered from our office by emailing info@gef.eu

“The commons” is a very broad term that ranges from common-pool resources (e.g. fish stocks, coal) to public goods (e.g. soil, air, knowledge, culture), if managed in a non-excludable way inside a community (meaning, that one person using the good doesn’t exclude others from doing the same).

Introducing the topic, Tine de Moor (professor at Utrecht University) started with a brief overview on the history of the commons with many examples from Belgium. In the history of Europe commons have been a successful concept mostly used by rural communities to manage common goods - such as land - to the benefit of all. By working together they could share risks and spare costs while also having more of a weight in negotiations with the authorities than they would have had as single individuals...


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