Thursday, May 17, 2012


NEWS: An Interview with Elinor Ostrom on Climate Change

Readers may enjoy this recent interview with Nobel Laureate and longtime CAPRi friend and Steering Committee member Elinor Ostrom on the subject of climate change. A sample:

Q: You are a great believer in ordinary people's ability to organize and use their commonly shared resources wisely, but I take it that does not work all the time? But ultimately collective action at the grassroots can force change at the top?

A: I am a believer of the capabilities of people to organize at a local level. That does not mean that they always do. There are a wide variety of collective action problems that exist at a small scale. The important thing is that people at a small scale, who know what the details of the problems are, organize, rather than calling on officials at a much larger scale.

Officials at a larger scale may have many collective-action problems of their own that they need to address. They do not have the detailed information about problems at a small scale that people who are confronting those every day do have. Thus, the solutions that are evolved by local people have a chance of being more imaginative and better ways of solving these problems than allowing them to go unsolved and eventually asking a much larger scale unit to solve it for them.

The full interview is here. Many of the ideas Ostrom discusses in the interview are spelled out in greater detail in her paper from 2009, “A polycentric approach for coping with climate change”.

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