A New Paradigm to Share the World

What are the Global Commons?

The global commons includes the environmental, genetic, social, intellectual and cultural resources that we all depend on for survival. Over the past few centuries, these shared resources and common spaces have been enclosed, overused and degraded. This activity is increasing as a result of the economic forces of globalization, shortsighted national policies, and a lack of legal protection for the many resources that were previously managed locally.

Neither the privatization of resources nor their appropriation and management by government can adequately address the growing number of problems that transcend national borders. Under our present multilateral framework, the private (corporate) and public (governmental) sectors are not able to handle systemic problems like world hunger, economic deprivation, wealth disparity, resource depletion, destruction of rainforests, overfishing, species loss, ozone depletion, global warming, environmental pollution, infectious diseases, cross-cultural conflicts, cyberattacks, terrorism, weapons trading and war.

There must be a third sector of popular will -- a powerful countervailing force dedicated to ensuring cooperation, equal access, justice and sustainability across borders. This third sector is the commons -- including both our common global resources and the global commons organizations dedicated to managing and renewing them through collaboration, governance, and mutual action. The global commons ultimately involves the recognition that we are sovereign world citizens who must participate in global decision-making to ensure that world resources are used for the common good.

Global Common Goods

Most of us recognize the differences between the private goods created by businesses (commercial products and services) and the public goods allocated by sovereign governments (sanitation, disease control, education and legal systems, for example). What is less understood are the distinctions between public and common goods.

The concept of common goods offers an intuitive way of rede?ning the various resources, services and values we share outside of the public and private sectors (ranging from forests and ?sheries to social volunteering and child care at home; and from scientific research, technologies, and human genes to arts and music). Unlike public goods, common goods are

  • non-jurisdictional, since they often transcend private properties and national borders
  • subtractive, because what one person takes from a particular resource cannot be used by others (except in the case of intellectual and cultural resources)
  • depletable (and often non-renewable), because their consumption rates exceed their replacement rates

Defining common goods in this way enables individuals, communities, and people's groups to create a commons sector to work more dynamically with businesses and governments to ensure the management, protection and regeneration of the world's common goods. Balancing the principles of (private) property rights, (public) sovereign rights, and (common) sustainability rights will result in a new kind of multilateralism, setting political priorities for the access to -- and allocation of -- global common goods in the 21st century.

Towards a Sustainable World

Possible Themes for Organizing Global Concerns and Initiatives

These eight themes begin the process of integrating global concerns and initiatives toward the goal of achieving a sustainable world.

Global Spirituality, Ethics and Values
Whether or not we consider ourselves spiritual, we can all agree that the universal principles of compassion, trust, cooperation, equity, generosity, sharing, nonviolence, and peace are needed at the international level.

Millennium Development Goals
The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the achievement of universal primary education, as well as the development of an equitable global partnership for development are a few of the goals.

Common Global Resources
Clean air, water, food, and diversity (biological as well as cultural) are the fundamental requirements for human life and the flourishing of cultures on Earth. 

Global Economic Rules & Institutions
Our world economic system must be restructured with a coherent framework for the world economy to ensure cultural diversity, the preservation of our natural environment and prosperity for all people.

New Forms of Governance

At the global level, we need to create a better framework for the international economy through reforms that connect and expand existing international policies and institutions (e.g. United Nations and its programs, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization). 

Multilateral Financing
New means of global financing must also be created, with the condition that wealthy countries agree to structural changes in the world economy while developing countries initiate needed reforms for their own development. 

Human And Social Potentials
Because the many paths that development can take are influenced by our different traditions and cultures, the principles of self-help and trust in the power of the individual are essential.

Human Security
There must be a goal to create a culture of peace, where addressing conflict focuses on freedom from want and feredom from fear in order to ensure not just state interests, but human, social and environmental concerns as well.

To the discussion on Wiser Earth

Further links

Manifesto pela recuperação dos bens comuns da humanidade