Why can’t we get past the “tragedy of the commons”?

Last year I postponed a rant about the ill-named “the tragedy of the commons” concept.  I can contain myself no longer. Since Garrett Hardin published his influential 1968 paper of that name, decades of scholarship has shown that he got it wrong.  In the right...

It’s not always a collective action problem

Commons thinking has had a profound influence on how we understand sustainability, land rights, and natural resource management.  This school of thought traces its origins most notably to Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom and believes that under the right circumstances...

When Participatory Approaches Mess up Your Plans

I never imagined that this man who had brought his herd into this other community’s pastures and flouted the community’s grazing rules, and whose actions had disrupted our training workshop would become a champion of our approach.   The Interrupted Workshop I had...

Communal Land Tenure is a Hammer

It has become accepted wisdom that effective land governance is an unavoidable prerequisite for investment in the future and secure land tenure is the cornerstone of land governance.  It is seen as a pillar in the fight against poverty and a precondition for...