Global Commons

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"Global commons is that which no one person or state may own or control and which is central to life. A Global Common contains an infinite potential with regard to the understanding and advancement of the biology and society of all life. e.g. forests, oceans, land mass and cultural identity and hence requires absolute protection." (


Charlotte Hess:

"Global commons are the oldest and most established “new commons”. There is a large body of literature on the global commons and the foci are broad—from climate change to international treaties to transboundary conflicts. For instance, a search on “global commons” in the Comprehensive Bibliography of the Commons (Hess 2007) results in 4183 hits. I am just going to give a very brief overview of this vast terrain in this paper.

Some of the early works on global commons are those by Christy and Scott (1965) looking at competition for the fisheries of the high seas which “are the common wealth of the world community;” Boot (1974) examining global commons and population and economic inequity; Bromley and Cochrane (1994) discussing global commons policy. Soroos has been researching and writing on the global commons for over thirty years. Oran Young is a leading scholar on global governance and international regimes. Buck (1998) is a respected commons scholar who has written one of the best introductions to the global commons. Other general works surveying global commons are Cleveland (1990); Dasgupta, Maler and Vercelli (1997); Bromley and Cochrane (2004); McGinnis and Ostrom (1996); Young (1999); Baudot (2001); Barkin and Shambaugh (1999); Karlsson (1997); Bernstein (2002); Byrne and Glover (2002); Cairns (2003, 2006); Vogler (2000); and Joyner (2001); Nonini (2006a)." (

Source: Charlotte Hess. Mapping the New Commons,2008 [1]

Typologies of the Global Commons

From James Bernard Quilligan in People Sharing Resources" [2]

indigenous culture and traditions, community

support systems, social connectedness, voluntary associations, labor relations, women and children's rights, family life, health, education, sacredness, religions and ethnicity, racial values, silence, creative works, languages, stores of human knowledge and wisdom, scientific knowledge, ethnobotanical knowledge, ideas, intellectual property, information, communication flows, airwaves, internet, free culture, cultural treasures, music, arts, purchasing power, the social right to issue money, security, risk management

fisheries, agriculture, forests, land, pastures,

ecosystems, parks, gardens, seeds, food crops, genetic life forms and species, living creatures

the elements, minerals, inorganic energy,

water, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere


Successful Global Commons need Social Capital on a global scale

By Kaitlyn Rathwell:

"We can start now building trust, reciprocity, shared and enforced rules and norms and social networks that can cross scales (e.g. local, regional, National, global) as necessary. Doing this could help maintain community cohesion and create transparency and accountability for managing shared resources.

In an era of globalization, there are many resources that we share with the entire globe. For example, air quality and fish in the oceans. Increasing the scale of the common resource issue to the global scale also increases the complexity of the issue (Ostrom 1999). The management of resources necessarily occurs at the local scale, but in some cases (e.g. climate change) this accumulates to create a global impact. Therefore we must poor energy into building both our social capital at the community scale and at the global scale.

We need to build social capital at the global scale (difficult to do with our colonial history and ongoing international power differentials). Reciprocity and trust can be fostered by commitment to and enforcement of treaties and international agreements. At the same time we need transparent and elaborate social networks so information can be exchanged from the local to the global scale and back again. We need to ask important questions like who will be in charge of enforcing rules are followed at the global scale? What kind of social networks can we create to maintain transparency and accountability for enforcing global rules? What are the rules and norms that we want for management of the global commons?

This is of course an incredible challenge! So how can you be an agent of social capital in your communities and our global community? Lets take it back to my water example and the freshwater from the Aberfoyle Aquifer that I love to drink. I have to take action to build the social capital of the community that manages my water. I will have to be an active participate in decision-making and actions on the ground to build trust and reciprocity through action with others influencing water. And I will have to put pressure on institutions above me to be supportive of our attempts as community water management.

I have started doing this, and so can you! I am a volunteer for the local WellingtonWaterWatchers NGO here in Canada, I have sent a letter to the government here with my concerns about Nestle’s request, and I am building a network and communicating the issue by writing about it here and sharing it with you. Thus, I continue my pursuit as a ‘shameless optimist’ with the belief that we can dodge Hardin’s famous tragedy by working together to build social capital in our communities and for our globe." (

An Overview of Projects to Facilitate a Global Commons - Project Lists & Links Global Commons

  1. Framework for Valuing Volunteering Activities - Crypto Value for Volunteer Work & Community Tasks

by Naoise:
The purpose is to provide a vehicle and framework for Co-operative framework for groups using Crypto - Punt (CP, or Cypto Drachma in Greece) by offering a medium to exchange services at the grass-roots level in a co-operative manner.

Projects to implement the Global Commons

Framework for Valuing Volunteering Activities - Crypto Value for Volunteer Work & Community Tasks

by Naoise:

Mission Statement

The purpose is to provide a vehicle and framework for Co-operative Framework for groups using Crypto - Value(Crypto-Punt, or Cypto-Drachma in Greece) by offering a medium to exchange services at the grass-roots level in a co-operative manner.

If you are in agreement with this proposal can I ask you to please pass on to your contacts/social media page or to those you think could help implement such a scheme.

As Francis Hutcheson (tutor to Adam Smith in Glasgow university) in one of his famous phrases said ' The greatest good for the greatest number of people' - he maintained that people were inherently good and fundamentally wished to help there fellow citizen. Hutcheson was immensely influential on the American founding fathers and on the families of the United Irishmen in Ireland. Francis Hutcheson is buried in St. Mary's churchyard, Wolfe Tone St, Dublin, Ireland.

Example Uses

Charity Groups:

There could be two categories of activities - EXTERNAL (to reach out to the broader community and carrying out communal activities) and INTERNAL (for internal administration and recognition of those working in and maintaining volunteer organisations behind the scenes). For example charities assisting deprived youths - providing Legup Education, Examination Help, Music Classes, Sport events etc

Community Groups:

Cleaning up localities, Facility Development, clearing snow from communal local footpaths, planning and creating Elevated Pedestrian-Cycle Paths in dangerous country roads, help in disaster/storm recovery

OAPS and Unemployed:

Exchange of services such as house/pet sits, assistance in the care for elderly, child collect from school. Also for example OAPs could provide career/skill mentoring to the younger generation in exchange for help in heavy manual tasks.

Other Uses:

The same template system could be used in providing grass roots services and aid in developing countries. For example refugees encampment logistics and support could be provided via modifications to the above infrastructure. Emergency/Disaster relief could also make good use of such infrastructure at minimal cost, efficiency and maximum use of resources available.

PoC: (Proof of Concept) - 'Project Meitheal'

  • Setup a forum in social media to initiate publicity - discussion and elicit support
  • Agreement of the Vision (what it stands for and what it is NOT intended for)
  • An agreement and the establishment of CP value standards for different services - i.e. what is this activity really worth
  • Agreement on arbitration processes and procedures in the event of disagreements or disputes
  • Registration procedures both for individuals and for organisations/charities and how a continuous audit will be carried out to ensure 'due diligence' and Fair Play.
  • Legal framework and rights etc
  • A Pilot Scheme can be established to provide 'Proof of Concept ' using web based 'crowd funding' to establish the pilot scheme
  • A framework.accounts/how value will be transferred from your account to a registered charity etc
  • A distributed 'Block Chain' ledger that is both secure and one that cannot be high jacked in the future (a design similar to the 'Bitcoin' Crypto-currency)
  • Later the design of CP including ATM types, balance/transaction facilitation and security
  • Design, Development, Testing, UAT and Implementation of the 'Pilot Scheme'

Implementation & Infrastructure (Service Exchange, CP Smart Card, ATMS etc )

  • This would require a design and testing of the CP Smart Card (Crypto-Punt/Crypto-Drachma card similar to the debit cards) simple and easy to use by elderly etc.
  • A Services Exchange - where Services are offered/available and services wanted can be advertised,
  • - where (Crypto Punt) CP Value can exchanged, arbitration process will be initiated and managed,
  • - where additional contact/support and framework information is available.


Government agreement or sponsorship would need to be obtained. However the principle of 'If you don't support, don't interfere' could be adopted.

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