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Governing the Commons (Podcast)
  • Charlotte Hess, Syracuse University
  • Ruth Meinzen-Dick
  • Jesse Ribot
  • Jerry Michalski
  • Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Defense Fund
Hess described those New Commons as shared resources for which there are no pre-existing rules or norms. Often a new commons emerges because of erosion of public goods or new opportunities brought about by technology, such as the Internet and data about the human genome. The New Commons are less about "property" than they are about the question, "how do we share and protect these resources?" Many interesting points came up, such as the importance of visibility and the lack of one best governance model. On visibility, the starting quote was "trees are easier to manage than fish or water quality." Ironically, making a resource like water visible in a reservoir might be considerably less efficient than storing it in the aquifer, where much of it wouldn't evaporate, but it would be easier to monitor (rogue wells are hard to detect). On governance models, the consensus is that there is no one best way. Generally, people local to a commons are the best informed to design its governance. Participation really matters, as do known rules.
  • Information commons,
  • commons,
  • common-pool resources,
  • self-governance
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
This is an audio recording.
Citation Information
Hess, Charlotte, Ruth, Meinzen-Dick, Jesse Ribot, and Jerry Michalski, Environmental Defense Fund. "Governing the Commons" (Podcast) 2010 Available at: