Ranging from issues of poverty to climate change, biodiversity, life on earth and life in water there are many goals that touch upon the issue of common-pool resources and their sustainable However, the Agenda 2030 itself addresses primarily governments and not local communities who are owners of such resources under common property institutions worldwide, maintaining these for centuries. Furthermore, the SDGs also address investments in energy, agriculture and infrastructure. However, these implicate the very processes that often lead to land and commons grabbing, thereby crowding out historical owners due to entangled legal structures regarding common property. This theme shall therefore convene panels focussing on how commons studies can address shortcomings of the global SDGs and create stronger and also gender sensitive participatory bottom-up processes for a more inclusive implementation of the Agenda 2030.
2. Commons towards urban transformation
With 80% of the World’s population living in urban environments by the year 2050, cities are both, a driver of unsustainable development as well as a primary locus for innovation and sustainability transformations. Framing urban transformations from a commons’ perspective could substantially contribute to connecting dispersed ideas and sustainability initiatives in cities. Fields to explore include improved quality of collective urban housing, re-imagining urban life beyond consumerism and innovate public spaces as collaborative labs to generate, utilize, and manage common resources with a view to urban sustainability. State intervention or quasi-privatization in management of urban space are of great interest to this subtheme. Questions as to who has the power to influence regulation and how implementation of rules is controlled reveal power relations in urban planning systems as well as relevant levers to make the urban commons flourish. Not least, mechanisms of exclusion such as by means of high-end urban green spaces for only a few, or gendered effects of administrative practices that mark urban spaces shall be illuminated and policy requirements for truly diverse and shared urban spaces shall be discussed.
3. Indigenous peoples and globalisation
The topic addresses present and future threats of the loss of the commons with a particular eye on the impacts on indigenous peoples. Often these are minorities (including hunter-gatherer communities and pastoralists) who, due to their pronounced dependence on common-pool resources are particularly vulnerable. The topic shall explore their strategies to cope and to resist those threats, including ways to extend common property rights beyond land towards a broader set of common-pool resources in cultural landscapes. Insights are derived from different ontological views on what the commons mean for these communities and the institutions they have created for the management of the commons in the past. Analyses adopting a gender-perspective or that inform the theme via an intersectional lens are particularly welcome. Regarding the current challenges in a “glocal” world, the theme thus looks at minority rights and genuinely local views on the commons innovate institutional forms of commons governance (including issues of mobility) in contexts of claimed self- determination processes to govern the commons.
4. Commons between colonial legacies and the Anthropocene
This theme illuminates how colonial and post-colonial powers in the Global South and also areas in the Global North have shaped the commoner’s landscapes and their non-human environment. It addresses historical and contemporary forms of colonial power, including during different time periods of the Western expansion on different continents that continues to influence contemporary management of the commons (i.e. legal frameworks, framing of common property rights, misreading of landscapes as pure nature and/or un(der)used lands etc.). Against the background of what has been termed “the Anthropocene”, where human influence is deemed the dominant force on the planet, colonial legacies may appear in a different light. The logic of the commons, its role of genuine resource management and new methodological approaches regarding the role of power becomes ever more crucial for the search of viable development alternatives. The theme invites panels addressing nuanced concepts regarding gender, ethnicity and generation to inform narratives of the Anthropocene and to contribute to multiple perspectives in environmental and legal history.
5. Modelling and multi-methods approaches in polycentric commons systems
Scholars within the IASC have a tradition to use different qualitative and quantitative methods to study empirical cases and theoretical questions. The theme shall inform on the latest developments in these fields such as applications of methods like formal models (including agent-based models and dynamical systems), experimental approaches in the lab, field and cyberspace, machine learning, QCA, institutional grammar, and network analysis to derive new insights for collective action and the commons. Diverse approaches exploring various datasets of case studies in systematic ways are also welcome.
6. The drama of the grabbed commons
Promoters of large-scale investments in agriculture and mega-infrastructure claim to spur development by productively using the land. This logic diverges from the interconnected nature of common-pool resources (pastures, forestry, water, local agriculture, fisheries, hunting and gathering) and the ways these are managed by local populations. Land-related investments that exclude a variety of economic and/or cultural and gendered activities of local communities are a serious threat to local food systems, gender relations and resilience. Many large-scale land acquisitions thus do not just lead to land but to commons grabbing, with a risk to reduce resilience in the long run. The theme asks for panels addressing this topic as well as diverse local responses to commons grabbing, potential shifts of gender relations and the identity as commoners more generally.
7. Global health commons between pandemics and glocal health
The Covid-19 pandemic has relaunched the question as to what extent we consider health a global common, and highlighted the role of collective action to overcome the crisis. The theme seeks to address the question about how authoritarian and democratic governments define health as a common good, duties and rights of people, and the role of the biotech industry. To what extent shall health services and/or health technologies be a common good? – How do we, for example, deal with the issue of development of a vaccine against COVID-19, and its fair distribution? How is inequality (with respect to geography, economic status, gender, race) reflected in such initiatives? Where is the responsibility to provide the means and resources to promote and sustain a healthy living – quality of air, quality of water, quality and sustainability of foods – across the diversely endowed global societies? Can health commons be managed at all as a public good in a global context?
8. Opportunities and challenges of digital commons
This theme focuses on the relation of the digital world and the commons and discusses different forms of commons created by digitization. It also deals with potential and real ownership of technologies and information sharing, including debates on open source information and publication such as the creative commons (e.g. issues of various forms of participation, inclusion (sharing) and exclusion (licencing). Ostrom’s design principles of robust institutions for the commons are put to scrutiny, as are other typical commons themes: issues of maintenance, control (monitoring) and sanctioning. Digital technologies reopen debates on power, gender and control, on inclusion and exclusion. In addition, digital means enable access to information on common-pool resources via the widespread use of mobile phones. Papers in this theme will explore the extent to which information technologies offer new perspectives on the commons debate, and whether these add value to the core concepts and approaches.
9. Conservation, environmental justice and the commons
Conservation efforts add to multiple pressures on land. The shift from conventional fortress to community conservation opens up potential synergies with commons theories and approaches. Perceived as a top down approach by many critics, community conservation seems to be no guarantee against what is called “green grabbing”, often affecting the commons. Institution building processes in the context of conservation, including world heritage sites often neglects adequate participation of the local population managing common property areas. Furthermore, conservation initiatives more often than not ignore the concept of cultural landscapes (as opposed to the view of «pure nature»). However, the supposed shift is not clear cut, and movements such as the “half-earth-initiative” (https://www.half- earthproject.org/discover-half-earth/) prominently try to revert more integrative tendencies in conservation. More recently, convivial conservation promises alternative pathways, including experimental approaches that develop and embrace local visions for conservation. In a context of multiple claims on land, this panel asks for the value added of various conservation approaches for the commons, examining their innovation potential in the light of a gendered environmental justice perspective.
10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
Addressing findings from empirical data on processes in which local actors are able to define the type of commons and commons property institutions that shall be developed, this theme strongly resonates with the main topic of the conference (The Commons We Want). It focuses on theory and practices of building the capabilities to develop alternative futures. Furthermore, it addresses panels discussing new ways of perceiving resources and resource problems related to the commons. In addition, it calls for panels addressing the issue of power to engage in a more participatory way to develop local institutions in a globalized world, including all local actors (constitutionality approach). Question as to what the “we” implies, and how social categories such as class/caste/gender and generation are negotiated within a particular “we” are crucial. This theme is inspired by new theoretical developments in institutional and political ecology but also invites panels to focus on local experiments in resource management, distribution and conservation more broadly. Focussing on and learning from local experiments in this regard is an important feature to solve future problems of the commons.
11. Advances in Frameworks and Theory
This theme provides a platform for panels that present new advances in theory and framework development, including new discussions on policentricity, grammar of the commons as well as new trends in the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) and the Social Ecological Systems (SES) framework. It also addresses new developments integrating the issue of power in frameworks and theoretical reflections (e.g. New Institutional Political Ecology (NIPE) framework, combining New Institutionalism in anthropology/geography and reflections on theories addressing power from political ecology). Furthermore, and in relation to these theoretical strands the theme calls for panels addressing new developments of frameworks explaining global commons governance emerging in the wake of current mega-trends (such as climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, poverty, resilience etc.) and how these can relate to the new approaches mentioned. (Comment by authors to board: Please provide further inputs