Sub-theme 2. Commons towards urban transformation
Collective property and urbanisation: challenges and opportunities
Across the world, urbanisation is advancing into areas where land is held collectively. In some cases, this property is divided and sold-off to highest bidder; in others, sale is prevented by law but land uses are nonetheless transformed. While each of these cases is unique – land is, by definition, rooted in ‘place’ and cannot be separated from its context – in all cases, the relationships that constitute property rights come under pressure as the promise of lucrative new uses of land arise, populations expand and diversify, and jurisdictional boundaries collide. Yet collective property regimes play a critical role in the production and protection of both market and non-market goods for communities. In this panel, we explore the conditions in which they play this role in urban areas. Looking beyond the state-market dichotomy of urban land, we ask: What makes some collective property regimes more resilient to the changing nature of urban life than others? What does this resilience look like? And what does it mean for the wellbeing of communities and the cities that surround them? We encourage participation from researchers and practitioners working with various forms of common and collective property regimes in and around urban areas, for example, from indigenous peoples’ lands to community land trusts.
Panel 2.2. A
1. Collective action for sustainability in a rapidly urbanizing context: Challenges to collective groundwater management in urban and peri-urban agriculture in Bangalore, India
Arizona State University, USA
Increasing food demands have necessitated a spatial expansion and intensification of agriculture including in urban and peri-urban spaces. Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) plays a crucial role in meeting growing urban food needs, providing a source of livelihood and enhancing food sovereignty, especially in poor urban communities in India. The need for UPA and its development became especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when food supply chains were severely disrupted. However, access to water, more specifically groundwater (GW), remains one of the biggest constraints in this pursuit. Property rights to groundwater are linked (somewhat ambiguously) to rights to overlying land, but with shifting boundaries of governance regimes in this rapidly urbanizing context, some traditional systems of governance have emerged as resilient while others are showing signs of stress. This study provides critical insights into the challenges faced by communities along the rural-urban continuum in collectively managing GW.
The study is based on in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in UPA including famers, and agricultural officers to gain critical insights on the challenges and opportunities posed by urbanization to shared management of GW. How has urbanization impacted GW access, use and management? What are the differential impacts of urbanization on small, medium and big farmers? How does changing governance structures across the rural-urban continuum affect collective outcomes? What role do changing property rights, zoning regulations, and shifting land use patterns play in influencing shared GW management? Using qualitative data analysis, this paper addresses these questions and examines the potential for strengthening collective management of GW.
2. Waterfront as a Resource Systme. Viewing Informal Settlements and Place-based Communities beyond the Land System
1University of Kassel, Germany, 2University of Indonesia, Indonesia
There was an unprecedented increase of forced evictions of kampung communities in Jakarta in 2015 and 2016, with total 306 cases displacing 14,428 households. In the name of environmental protection (the so-called river normalization program), the communities’ land occupation was deemed illegal and the government claimed the riverscape for implementing some flood-control measures. What remain overlooked within the public debates are the ongoing dichotomy of state and private land as well as public and private interest. This paper seeks to, first, address the state-private dichotomy. It does so by analysing kampung institutions in place-making and land occupation. We especially focus on the historiography of Kampung Tongkol, Aquarium and Kebon Bayam. These are the cases of i) a community persistence to defend the Kampung by implementing own flood measure; ii) an in-situ relocation with a newly-developed housing cooperative; and iii) a competition of diverse claims over the site with multiple, official land-use functions. In this paper, the term ‘informal settlements’ refers to the diversity of informal economy embedded in the Kampungs, rather than to put the spatial practices as an opposed form of (formally recognized) state-led spatial development. Second, this paper addresses the complex dimensions of access to land. We bring in Elinor Ostrom’s notion of resource system from which various resource units are taken, and apply this notion to Jakarta’s river basin. In using Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IADF), we map relevant kampung institutions to show the necessity of co-existence of state-, private- and community-managed resource units. It is the co-management of resource system that we advocate, rather than the status of land ownership.
3. Defining common pool resources in the city: A Perspective on urban space for the 21st century
Sorbonne Paris Nord University, France
This paper uses Ostrom’s (1990) approach to distinguish urban commons from urban common pool resources as a key measure to identify resources vital for the ecological transition in the context of cities. Ostrom demonstrated how commons differ from common pool resources in the natural resource sector, shedding light on how shared resources can be used and managed sustainably. However, in the context of cities this distinction is inherently less clear, not least because the resources of a city are much harder to classify due to their complexity and variety.
Yet it is an important task to distinguish between the two, so that we can identify which sources offer means of sustainability through shared governance schemes, a feature that is central to commons. Benkler (2006) sheds light on this question by identifying what he calls ‘open commons.’ Here we take that notion a step further by examining which resources can be defined as urban commons as opposed to simple urban common pool resources. We identify urban common pool resources as regulated spaces by governments but with no tangible means of imposing enforceable rules, thereby rendering such urban CPRs (e.g. squares, sidewalks, plazas, parks) prone to the tragedy described by Hardin (1968). By differentiating urban commons from common pool resources in cities based on the tangible enforceability of rules, we can see how a properly managed urban commons might provide communities with the means to tackle ecological issues in cities. Urban commons can thus be framed as a specific tool for cities attempting to undergo their own ecological transition.
Panel 2.2. B
1. Investor-led formalisation of collective property beyond the rural-urban divide. Insights from Uganda and Sierra Leone.
London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Across peri-urban Africa, the expansion of cities to land held under collective ownership has led to widespread transformations of such forms of property. Rising demand for land for residential and commercial purposes have resulted in the formalisation and/or conversion of collective land to private property. Outside of urban contexts, the transformation of collectively held land has long been the subject of debates in literatures on African land rights and property systems. Apart from government-led titling programmes, certification programmes led by international development agencies and NGOs, or demand-driven approaches by rural communities, foreign large-scale investors and private companies have often promoted and funded the demarcation and formalisation of collective property during land lease negotiations. In some cases, this has led to the conversion of such land to individually held private property. In other cases, land was registered and formalised in the name of an extended family or community. What can be learned from these various forms of formalisation of collective land for peri-urban contexts? More specifically, this paper examines how investor-led formalisation processes unfold in the African urban periphery, where private commercial investors are vying for land for the purpose of infrastructure, housing, and development projects. Based on a study of large-scale investments projects on collective land in Uganda and Sierra Leone, this paper combines literatures on urbanisation with broader debates on African land tenure regimes and land titling to generate a better understanding of forms of transformations of collective property beyond the rural-urban divide.
2. Alienating common land: urban expansion in Hargeysa’s periphery
DPU, UCL, United Kingdom
As urban areas expand, they trigger often complex transformations that support the conversion of once rural land into urban property. This paper will consider the Somali city of Hargeysa, reflecting on the processes in that case in which previously commonly held grazing lands are effectively privatised by individuals who retain the proceeds from sale or development. The institutional basis for this transformation draws on an evolving set of kinship-based norms, alongside weaker formal legal institutions that permit individuals to claim and alienate land while retaining informal though critical customary limitations. While this system has worked more or less effectively for many decades, and particularly in the period of most rapid urban expansion since 1991, it is nevertheless the cause of significant conflict. In order to continue to function as Hargeysa continues to expand, institutional adaptation will need to embrace greater formality and to some degree allow for sufficient transparency for transactions to become accessible to non-locals. The way that evolution occurs will have a major bearing on the stability and economic success of the city.
3. Collective property rights and urbanisation: Evidence from First Nations reserves in Canada
1University of Northernn British Columbia, Canada, 2University College London, UK
Across the world, individualisation of property rights has been regarded as both an input-into and consequence-of economic and urban development. This transformation is sometimes characterised as a Faustian bargain between economic prosperity and social, cultural, and environmental values that depend on continued collective ownership. Yet not all communities have urbanised in this way. In this paper, we show that many First Nations communities in Canada maintain high levels of collective ownership even as land use and land management practices change under pressure of urbanisation. What does this mean for member wellbeing? This paper presents early insight from research that aims to understand the diversity of land management practices that fall within collective ownership structures, how these change under-pressure of urbanisation, and what they mean for members’ social, environmental, and economic outcomes.
4. Understanding voluntary collective action in collectively-owned operating construction land (COCL) marketization in rural China: new evidence from structural equation modeling (SEM) approach
School of Engineering and Design, Technical University of Munich, Germany
The entry of land into the trading market is achieved through a process of collective action that facilitates land consolidation and the balancing of land supply and demand. However, even when collective action is accomplished collaboratively there can be unequal power relations and coercive policy interventions, with potentially damaging effects on social stability and the governance order. Voluntary collective action fills a gap in studies that remains stuck in deciphering the collective action dilemma. In the context of land marketization, it is difficult to find convincing empirical evidence to describe, characterize and understand voluntary collective action due to abstract concepts, vague theories, and unmeasured variables. This paper sheds new light on achieving voluntary collective action through a theoretical framework constructed for the analysis of collective action, a joint analysis of social capital, trust, and cooperation performance in China, and a search for obstacles or potential risks in COCL’s market-based collective action. Structural equation modeling (SEM) is applied to a database consisting of 162 households in Jiangsu Province, China, collected in 2022. The results show that social capital drives voluntary collective action through the mediating effect of mutual trust that it breeds. We also demonstrate the direct effect of trust on cooperation performance, as evidenced by efficient economic development, stable societal well-being, and low-risk collective action. Our findings promote a functional land market and reduced informality in the market-based reform of land elements in China.