Thursday, June 14, 2012
Ruth Meinzen-Dick: Elinor Ostrom's trailblazing commons research can inspire Rio+20.
With the passing of longtime CAPRi friend and collaborator Lin Ostrom this week, Ruth Meinzen-Dick contributed a post to the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog in which she argues that the late Nobel laureate's work on the commons offers valuable lessons for the Rio+20 agenda.
Rather than depending on a single, monolithic governance structure, Ostrom's work shows the importance of drawing on the strengths of many different institutions working together – government agencies, user groups and private actors – and co-operating at multiple scales. When asked about lack of progress on climate change agreements, she replied that, rather than waiting for a grand global agreement, we need to look for action at all levels, from our own homes to our schools, cities and nations. As she emphasised throughout her career, and in the last piece she published, a solution to the problem of climate change will not arrive in a single-stroke panacea, but will require experimentation at multiple levels and diverse approaches.
The global effort to bring the Earth's environment back into balance can be no more than the sum of local efforts, and collaboration at any level must be based on techniques we have learned through centuries of experience building co-operation at the local level. In effect, the institutions that generate local environmental co-operation are not merely helpful – they are essential components of any larger environmental achievement.