Can the preservation and production of Commons foster sustainable development? What roles can politicians and public authorities play? What are the conditions for the emergence and durability of these Commons? At what scale are they relevant? In the aim of providing various answers to these questions, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and its partners chose Commons as the main theme of an international conference in December 2016. This multimedia synthesis relates the content and debates in the full diversity of views expressed about the notion.
Studied by Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics (2009), Commons are the object of unprecedented interest, well beyond academic spheres. They are a stimulating pathway combining solidarity and effectiveness in different fundamental development domains such as health, education or digital technology. They are also claimed as much by alternative social movements as by mainstream political thinking.
The conference was a forum for fifteen globally renowned researchers from diverse disciplines (sociology, economics, development economics, political science, anthropology, law), but also for three African witnesses who shared their daily experience of Commons. Based on an international call for contributions, 46 papers were presented during 15 thematic sessions. Numerous subjects were explored through the prism of Commons: forests, groundwater, genetic resources, local knowledge, water and electricity network services, pastoral zones, waste, geographical indications, and money. Three hundred participants, researchers, development practitioners, politicians and activists from twenty countries shared viewpoints, identified many avenues of research and focused on a vast number of concrete cases.