Notes and Power Points for Climate Side Event

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see the material available here at (archived)


"Global Commons Climate Discussion – Side Event (Draft Notes – please feel free to correct/supplement)

If REDD mechanisms etc are ways of mainstreaming nature into the financial markets then we’re not developing a relationship to nature that are based on the commons

Fire and energy are central to ways the commons is managed – consider how energy fits in

Eigg – community grid which functions as a commons because capacity is limited so people need to accept limits

Charlotte Hess:

- experience on the ground but also there needs to be information and knowledge, to understand you have the power to do something, there are so many different projects, there’s a lot of knowledge that is not pulled together - the coordination costs are huge, it’s a huge network of networks, (e.g. international group working on legislation on the commons), there are few effective websites - I’m not seeing the visibility, there is so little you can learn about the global commons,

Burn out of commoners needing income

Eva Ressel(?) :

On which level can I intervene: people want national level but at the same time TT wants local and global (who cares about the national level), small is important but its not enough they say – you have to scale it up: Ostrom’s nested approach is a good thing [JK: SCALE ACROSS not up]

Gwendolyn Hallsmith(?) :

I’ve thought of commons as public resources, but I understand here the commons as different. How to manage the commons


Distinction between the common pool resource and the commons as a way of managing of such resources. For each level of nestedness there are tasks and roles which are not appropriate at another level (e.g. at one level there needs to be an agency for protecting commons or developing legal strategies – you need arrangements appropriate to that level – which the smaller levels share as a service to them not as a boss over them). Find out what meta-structure will be helpful.

Lili Fuhr from Heinrich Boll:

I like the nested approach, rethinking climate crisis from the local up, and can see how sharing experiences would be helpful, what kind of structures would develop and hope it would be focused on all kinds of issues not just climate. Post-Copenhagen experience means there is now a reframing taking place, there is an anti-fossil fuel movement (e.g. 350, anti-coal movements) – potential link between these.

Soma Kishore Parthasarathy:

Appreciate bringing the state into the story. How state imposes model on communities who are concerned and seeking to claim (we have a new Forest legislation: the movement drafts it as community rights and households having rights – the state takes the second as if it is distributing land, and the state sees community rights as being hospitals, schools, etc.) – the state is seeking to create individuals as the beneficiaries, and reconstructs everything as individual rights. Proposal that the commons are taken over by local authorities – the State is happy with that because they see themselves as being able to dominate it. Women as the ones who’ve been managing the commons. Community can become another level of hierarchy – requiring equality norms. Issue of land reform: communities are saying they should have a means to manage, but the state makes fenced boundaries for grazing land to be able to make as state the rest of the land.

Susan Witt:

I can use the water, the soil, the wood for my own household use but if there is excess it belongs to the land trust, but in regional land trust bylaws it says if there are international resources (e.g. oil) it wouldn’t belong to the people of the Berkshire but to a higher up trust, which gives an imperative for the [nested] structure. Shouldn’t funding for these globally nested structures come from the commons itself. I can imagine going to our local group and saying we want $20 a year from each of you 20 to fund a global structure. Would the city of Berlington put a proportion of its budget to supporting a globally managed commons? This would also be a way of educating.

Hendro Sangkoyo:

Problematic that the commons is being framed as a new discovery. There are very diverse grammars of governance: managing is not part of the language. People say we want to live this way, and when we divide things up we destroy the commons. Fire, water, earth, fire does not include space – the way commons is destroyed is the crisis of life itself: the water part of our water system decreased by 65%, what we need is not rescue managers, it is can you help us to say no to the whole system? I invite you to join the struggle and confusion in understanding how to reclaim the value which is a socio-ecological integrity. You cannot separate the sense of crisis from the real crisis that is deepening. There should be a more democratic and humble way of understanding the energetics of the situation – it is really war out there. And people risk their lives to say I want to live this way. People have set up a school themselves and we have become the administrators – it centres on the sea not the island. Deep sea explorations for hydrocarbons covers the area. The problem is not reviving the old values, people still formally believe that if you say no to the dynastic power then you will be transformed into a monkey – people have been divided against each other. Very complex work. It is not fair for you in your comfort zone to use the commons to attack the atavistic capitalist state. Java is almost collapsed, but over the last 2 semesters people have been mapping.

Tom Walker:

Thinking about a global governance to rebalance things doesn’t take in Govts as being much more complex that involves managing the commons. A term for a lot of places Govt is commonwealth – Govts have shifted in the direction of autocracy. Labour unions early history and they resemble very much commons organisations. These organisations have revenue streams they have diverted from the commons, so we need to change the nature of Govt so it is a commons orientated Govt, so you hold up the good and bad Govt to show how they could be rather than thinking in terms of the 3rd element of an independent commons movement.

BC woman (Jan Inglis?):

We haven’t developed a global commons movement, but our body keeps itself coordinated so we can do this viscerally – I’m coming from an industrialised body, but how can we pass info rapidly. Exchange meaning not just info.

Italian prof from private university (Christian Iaone?) :

Subsidiarity. The Govt is not they it is us. The Govt has to serve the people. In urban contexts you have common pool resources – parks, streets, squares that are felt by people as the commons – being perceived as becoming scarce. Commons sees itself as separate from market and state, and doesn’t address the urban context where people live. The Govt doesn’t need to be he enemy, and the corporations can become allies because they are reshaping themselves as needing to embed producing something good for the community (rethinking CSR as investing in the commons). After all we are tax payers and consumers. If we don’t treat them as enemies then commons will take off.

Local authority woman (Gwendolyn Hallsmith?):

Local Govt can be an ally.


We are seeing the head as no long belonging to us.

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