Reflecting on a Decade of Conservation of Natural Resources Through Collective Action in India
October 12, 2018
12:00 noon, UTC +5:30
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12:00 noon, UTC +5
12:30 PM presenter local time (India Standard Time)
3:00 AM, moderator time (Amherst, MA, USA)
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Central to the debate on management and governance of natural resources such as forests, pastures and waterbodies is a worldview metaphorically termed ‘Tragedy of Commons’, which reposes greater faith in the ability of the governments to manage such natural resources and undermines the ability of local communities to collectively manage resources. However, the governments, administering these lands from afar, lack the reach, incentive and real-time information to effectively manage them. Though the rural communities have customary rules and practices to manage and govern these lands, in the absence of formal recognition of such institutions or legal title on these lands, they lack the incentive to effectively safeguard and invest on them, leading to erosion of local collective decision making, degradation of resources and loss of local livelihoods.
In India, lack of secure property rights to manage and govern adjoining natural resources and erosion of local institutional arrangements negatively impacts the governance of 180 million acres (or quarter of India’s landmass) and impacts basic livelihoods of more than 350 million people. Globally, it is estimated that 1.2 billion people are impacted due to lack of secure property rights on shared natural resources.
The Foundation for Ecological Security aims to disrupt the status quo by enabling rural communities to organize themselves, access secure legal rights to their Commons, prepare resource management plans and unlock public funds through National Rural Employment Guarantee Program (NREGA) to support environmental improvements and benefit from resulting economic opportunities. By filling the gap of institutional investments of favourable tenure, local governance and improved capacities, FES aims to enable better use of $4 Billion annually spent on Commons through NREGA. By enhancing the capacities of local people to act, providing support to the government, harnessing potential of Information Technology (IT) for informed action and enhancing civic engagement, we aim to unleash the innate potential of Commons, creating a promising solution for improved economic opportunities and environmental stewardship.
During the talk, we will walk through the three decades of experience, by firstly reflecting on the mistakes (and corrective action) in the initial decade and then share our work and plans for repositioning the ‘Tragedy of Commons’ as the ‘Promise of Commons’ for local to global environmental benefits.