Elinor Ostrom provides invaluable insights into economics and ownership - and the profound impact this has on our natural environment. Unfortunately, her work is not well known or widely understood. Derek Wall hopes to change that with his book, Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals. AARON VANSINTJAN met the author and asked why we should read her works today
With the UN Ocean Conference beginning in New York next week, Elizabeth A Kirk asks: can we devise a legal system that promotes the ecological resilience of the oceans? To do so will mean placing ecosystems at the heart of decision making, over and above countries' selfish 'national interests'. It will be tough, but if we fail it's hard to see how the gamut of problems - from ocean acidification to plastic pollution and overfishing - can ever be solved.
A fresh wave of logging is hitting America's national forests, writes Brett Haverstick. But this time it's all for the sake of 'forest health' and 'fire prevention'. It might look like industrial clear-cutting to you and me, but really, it's in a good cause. And if the forests and precious ecosystems they harbor just happen to perish in the process ... well ain't that just too bad?
The Vezo, Madagascar's indigenous 'sea nomads', are travelling hundreds of miles to the remote 'Barren Isles', the Indian Ocean's largest locally-managed marine protected area, writes Charlie Gardner. Drawn by valuable shark fins and sea cucumbers, sold into Chinese markets, the Vezo are now joining with local fishers to protect the ecosystem and expel illegal divers.
The quiet desperation of declining towns and cities across America's West is understandable, writes George Wuerthner. Of course people dream of the 'good old days' when there were wild prairies to be grazed, forests to be felled and oil wells to be sunk - and try to bring them back. But in so doing they neglect and abuse their real and enduring wealth: nature, landscape and wildlife.
Commuting between land rights negotiations in the city and herding goats on the plains, Edward Loure is at once a traditional Maasai and a modern urbanite, writes Sophie Morlin-Yron. That ability to straddle the two very different worlds he inhabits has been key to his success at having 200,000 acres of land registered into village and community ownership - and his own 2016 Goldman Prize.
A legal principle dating from Roman times is ripe for use in protecting our waste-filled and over-exploited seas and oceans, writes Deb Wright. Under the 'Public Trust Doctrine' governments are entrusted to protect shared natural resources from abuse, and can be held accountable for neglect of their duties.
Those who value public lands - for economic, environmental, recreational and aesthetic values - owe a debt of gratitude to Harney County, Oregon, writes Peter Walker. A violent branch of the Sagebrush Rebellion came to town, and the community told it to go away: the decisive factor in the occupiers' defeat. But the greater war for America's public lands has only just begun.
The public interest is already derelicted by federal officials on the US's public lands routinely intimidated by aggressive local economic and political interests, writes George Wuerthner. And now it's only going to get worse, with media coverage of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge debacle uncritically promulgating the false narrative of over-zealous enforcement of regulations.
There is a simple formula for restoring life to over-exploited coastal fisheries, write Jane Lubchenco & Steven Gaines, and it has been proven to work from the Philippines and Indonesia to Mexico and Belize: to create local marine reserves for the exclusive use of local fishing communities.
A new paradigm of forest conservation is gaining ground, writes Isaac Rojas: 'financialising' them and the climate and ecological services they provide to global investors. But this is a false solution - and one that excludes the local and indigenous forest communities who can truly be relied upon to sustain their sylvan heritage.
The leaked chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership chapter on intellectual property represents a wholesale attack on internet freedom, investigative journalism, and the wider creative commons, writes Jeremy Malcolm. While massively advancing corporate financial interests in binding clauses, the parts that purport to protect information users are soft guidelines that cannot be enforced.
Water is life, writes Javan Briggs. And it belongs to all of us. California's water shortage is caused, not by 'drought', but by massive long term over-pumping. And as the crisis worsens, the response under the 'water as property' model is just to pump all the harder. We must manage water as a commons - to sustain us all, not to profit the few.
This year's Community Energy Fortnight is taking place at a strange time, writes Jonathon Porritt, with the entire renewable energy industry under government attack as never before. What can we do about it? For a start, by joining in some of the hundreds of events that are taking place across the UK!
The wind is a force of nature over which only someone with extraordinary delusions of grandeur can truly claim ownership, writes Adam Ramsay. But to prevent that, we must assert our belief that wind, sun and other drivers of our renewable future are a common heritage for us all to benefit from.
Under the guise of a land-titling project, Peru is breaking up and privatising indigenous common lands across the Andean highlands, writes Arthur Scarritt. While the law provides for communal titling and democratic votes, in practice there's no provision for communities to exercise these rights, and the many are being dispossessed in favour of large, 'efficient' market-oriented producers.
California's drought is a harbinger of things to come around the world, writes Maude Barlow. Because of global warming, yes - but also because the Golden State is an exemplar of the 'water as property for corporate profit' neoliberal paradigm that's taking over the world. It's now essential to assert water as a Commons - to be both justly shared, and fiercely protected!
UK police now have free rein to create 'dispersal zones' in public places, writes Josie Appleton. This allows them to exclude people for anything from street drinking to looking suspicious, being homeless, protesting, or merely 'congregating'. This represents a serious breach of our Common Law and Magna Carta rights.
As Paris prepares for COP21 in Paris, Marc Brightman finds that the city is in the grip of a benign but ignorant authoritarianism that is ready to trample on much-loved green spaces like the Bois Dormoy, reclaimed from dereliction by the multicultural local community, which represent real solutions to the global problems of food, climate, the future of our cities, and our place in nature.
Oxford Council's Executive Board meets today to decide whether to criminalise 'noncompliant' busking, pavement art, cycling and other activities in the City's vibrant public spaces, punishable with a £1,000 fine. Jonny Walker wrote them this Open Letter.
Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a 'rural intifada' of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.
Industrial logging in the world's second largest rainforest is out of control, writes Raoul Monsembula, and spells disaster for both wildlife and forest people. There is an alternative: community forestry has just been enshrined in law. But resources must be committed to law enforcement in Congo and abroad, and to empowering forest communities.
The palm oil industry's repeated failure to keep its promises illustrates why global initiatives to achieve 'sustainable palm oil' must place communities centre-stage, writes FPP. Standard-setters like the RSPO must demand action, enforcement and accountability - not just lofty commitments that inspire hope, but rarely deliver.