Categories Blog, Europe and Russia, Germany

Engaging with “the commons” in Bern…

First published on 05/05/2016, and last updated on 09/06/2018

By Iris Benes, ICCA Consortium Honorary Member and Brod Ecological Society (BED)

The International Association of Study of Commons (IASC) is an organization devoted to supporting work on the commons, common-pool resources, and all other forms of shared natural resources. Toward this end, the association brings together multi-disciplinary researchers, practitioners and policymakers to help improve governance and management, advance understanding, and create sustainable solutions.

The latest European IASC regional conference, “Commons in a ‘glocal’ world: global connections and local responses”, was held on May 10-15, 2016, in Bern, Switzerland.  The ICCA Consortium participated in the conference’s Practitioners’ Lab – a place designed for academics and non-academics to meet and exchange perspectives, knowledge and expertise.

The Consortium organized several sessions at the IASC conference.  The first one offered a panel entitled: “Recognising and supporting the commons and ICCAs in Europe—better awareness, stronger action and vastly improved policies, starting from the EU CAP”.  The second session focused on an emerging initiative called SAFE– Solidarity Action and Fund for the Defenders of the Commons and ICCAs.  And a third session was a meeting to promote an action network dedicated to the appropriate recognition and support of the commons and ICCAs in Europe.

The idea behind the Practitioners’ Labs was excellent, but additional efforts should have been made to render it more visible.  It was regrettably marginalised in time and space compared to other more research-oriented sessions in the conference.

At the follow-up discussions after the conference, we shared new ideas and options to engage academics and practitioners. For instance, one idea was to develop a special issue of the Journal of the Commons on Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs).  Another promising suggestion was that of including a special “Practitioners’ Day” at the next plenary Congress.  One of the conference days was devoted to field visits to communally-governed systems and initiatives, as the one shown in the photograph above.

Prior to the conference, some ICCA Consortium members participated in the first International Land Coalition meeting of the European Reference Group on Commons and Community Land Rights. The objectives of this first meeting were to learn more about each other’s activities, discuss a purpose, objectives, and scope for the reference group, and agree on future actions.