Monday, October 15, 2007



The aim of Blog Action Day is to get everyone talking towards a better future. Today bloggers around the web are thus posting about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. The CAPRi program is concerned with the role that collective action and property rights institutions play in influencing the efficiency, equity, and sustainability of natural resource use, so we decided to join in and share some of the lessons we learned in the last years.

  1. Both collective action and secure property rights are needed to sustainably manage natural resource systems such as forests, rangelands, fisheries, or watersheds. Resources that extend beyond a single farm plot or even stretch beyond one single community cannot be managed without some form of coordination among users, including functioning enforcement and sanctioning mechanisms. Secure resource rights provide individuals and groups with the incentives to conserve and even invest in the resource.
  2. Effective property rights or collective action arrangements need not be formalized. In many examples throughout the world, indigenous systems provide appropriate incentives for the development of natural resource management systems.
  3. Securing property rights is a highly complex venture. In most settings different sets of norms co-exist (statutory, religious, customary or indigenous law, but also rules of projects, and rules made by user groups) and different people can have different levels of rights: from access only to use or management rights up to full ownership rights.
  4. Management arrangements of sustainable resource systems may require access rights to be limited to some users and to exclude others, often resulting in conflicts. This may be the case in rangelands where sedentary farmers and pastoralists share the same land. Population dynamics, climate change, larger scale conflicts, and other drivers of change often exacerbate the tensions between different resource users.
  5. Managing natural resource systems as commons has proven very efficient for both environmental conservation and providing livelihood security to poor people. However, local institutions have been weakened by migration, excessive state intervention and other drivers of change. Local users' sense of solidarity and trust in their institutions can be strengthened by helping them to identify ways to diversify their income sources, thus creating a future perspective for life in rural areas.

What are your insights regarding collective action, property rights and the environment? Would you agree with these points? Do you have any other general lessons? What can we do concretely to promote collective action and to secure property rights? Feel free to leave a comment below this post.

Do you want to read more?

Collective Action and Property Rights for Sustainable Development. Ruth Meinzen-Dick and Monica Di Gregorio (eds.). 2020 Focus 11. Washington DC: IFPRI. February 2004. Tambien disponible en Español. Collective Action and Property Rights for Sustainable Rangeland Management. Esther Mwangi (ed.) CAPRi Research Brief. Washington DC: IFPRI. February 2005. Securing the Commons. Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Esther Mwangi, and Stephan Dohrn. CAPRi Policy Brief 4. Washington DC: IFPRI. May 2006.

Or go to the home page to access more briefs, working papers and other resources.

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