Sub-theme 10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
Crossed perspective of donors, NGOs and committed researchers on their conception and practices of common based approaches of territorial development
For several years, operators of the official development assistance (donors, NGOs, researchers) have been developping and experimenting with “common based approaches” in the context of their interventions. These approaches aim to recognize the central role of all users in the definition and implementation of territorial development trajectories. Based on this shared principle, each operator has, however, forged its own logic of action, and it now seems appropriate to question their fundamentals and implementation in order to analyze the diversity of visions and practices.
Through a variety of concrete case studies brought by the panelists, we will seek to identify the invariants and specificities of each intervention model.
- The Agence Française de Développement will describe how its cosmology of “a world in commons” questions the nature of the projects it finances and its very posture as a donor.
- GRET will present the approach and progress of the action-research program on the commons (2019-2025) that it carries out in various action situations.
- CIRAD will share the new narrative of territorial cooperation through the commons that it promotes based on 20 years of involved research.
The session will end with a discussion of the synergies and questions raised by the crossed view of donor, researcher and operator on the commons based approach.
The panel will last two hours, and the following speakers have been identified (30 minutes each): Stéphanie Leyronas, AFD; Aurélie Botta, CIRAD, Jean-François Kibler or Marilou Gilbert or Louisa Desbleds, GRET; Etienne Delay or Jean-Pierre Müller, CIRAD, to lead the discussion
1. Taking inspiration from the commons-based approach for funders
French Development Agency (AFD), France
This presentation will focus on practices of the French development Agency (AFD) as a funding agency, in a commons perspective. It seems necessary for us to examine our epistemological preconceptions and to ask ourselves why we encounter difficulties and resistances when trying to support commons in the Global South. By and large, we are obliged to confront our “managerialist” approaches, which are manifest in the pressing need to achieve results, the emphasis placed on deliverables, the pressure to disburse funds, and short-term time horizons. We do not pretend to be able to offer a comprehensive solution here. On the other hand, it is on the basis of the field experience of the AFD that we will examine the underlying principles of a “commons-based approach” for funders working in global South. A commons-based approach for funders may have three objectives: to enable us to support existing commons without undermining them; to create the conditions for the emergence of new commons; to enable the emergence of “commoning” based around complex societal issues that are currently only being dealt with by public authorities or by the market, or not being dealt with at all. It is first and foremost a reflexive approach with regard to our attitudes and practices. It is based on the idea that people within institutions can adopt multiple positions and that this multi-positioning makes mutual learning possible. We will propose here certain sources of inspiration that address changes in attitudes, interpretations, methods, and tools.
2. Building an operational commons-based approach for development NGO
The presentation describes how GRET, as an international solidarity and development professional NGO, mobilizes the commons theory and builds links with the commons social movement, in an intent to improve its practices and impact, both as an institution as a whole and through the development projects implemented in the south. In the frame of the action-research program Commons & shared governance launched in 2019, GRET operational teams re-visit their strategies of intervention with the prism of a commons-based approach.
This commons-based approach is three-folds. It asserts a political intention to foster (re) appropriation of decision-making power by the citizens towards social and environmental justice. It builds on a dynamic conceptual framework of commons and commoning for reading reality and thinking supportive strategies. It implies a strategic positioning of GRET as a committed facilitator, making use of social facilitation methods aiming at enabling collective action, learning process and commoning with shared governance.
Based on a panel of diversified action situations accompanied by GRET in several geographies, the presentation explores how the adoption of a commons based approach questions the logic of public development aid funded projects, both in their political ambitions and their managerial procedures. It will introduce the potential and feasibility of synergies among development aid partners (NGO, donor, research) and with others collaborates (commons networks) for allowing commons development both in the south and in the north.
3. A committed research for a new territorial cooperation based on the commons (new version)
Our interdisciplinary group of researchers is developing a commons approach to question, at the territorial level, the ins and outs of research on the promotion of social and ecological solidarity. We accompany local actors in the analysis of their practices and their representations of their environment. This reflexive and iterative approach aims to strengthen social ties and ecological awareness, in order to facilitate the emergence of social innovations that address social and ecological emergencies.
We seek to enrich knowledge aimed at understanding and supporting:
– the social and ecological solidarities considered as a means of internalizing uncertainties;
– the responsibilities associated with enlightened choices of production and consumption modes allowing the satisfaction of the needs of living beings beyond mere accounting aspects;
– the capacity to adjust and invest the margins of maneuver of the systems of governance of the territories in an objective of both social and ecological justice.
The challenges that we must take up in collaboration with our financial and operational partners are of several types, notably
– Accompanying actors on the path to social, political and ecological emancipation, particularly in the context of developing reflective monitoring and evaluation systems that promote learning throughout the evolution of the commons;
– Training-action allowing the identification of strategies likely to infiltrate state law and public policies for the benefit of the commons;
– The development of innovative and sensitive approaches that allow the interdependencies of the different parties to be highlighted according to the maturity of the commons.