The Struggle to Govern the Commons

  title={The Struggle to Govern the Commons},
  author={Thomas Dietz and E. Ostrom and Paul C. Stern},
  pages={1907 - 1912}
Human institutions—ways of organizing activities—affect the resilience of the environment. Locally evolved institutional arrangements governed by stable communities and buffered from outside forces have sustained resources successfully for centuries, although they often fail when rapid change occurs. Ideal conditions for governance are increasingly rare. Critical problems, such as transboundary pollution, tropical deforestation, and climate change, are at larger scales and involve nonlocal… 

Adapting Governance for Change

Over time, communities develop institutions and processes for making decisions, setting policies, or sharing power that work for their particular circumstances. When social, economic, technological,

Climate Change, Environmental Governance and the Scale Problem

As the world faces critical challenges in resource and energy sustainability, the importance of transforming the way governance institutions work across scales is increasingly recognized by policy

Conflict and Cooperation: Tools for Governing Tropical Forests Yale ISTF Conference, March 2009

Competing claims for tropical forest rights, combined with inadequate institutional ability to mediate interests among stakeholders, have often led to economic inequity, conflicts, and accelerated forest destruction.

Adapting and Transforming: Governance for Navigating Change

To navigate social-ecological change, individuals and societies must develop the capacity to adapt and transform our interactions with ecosystems and ecosystem services. Institutions and multi-level

Radical changes are needed for transformations to a good Anthropocene

The scale, pace, and intensity of human activity on the planet demands radical departures from the status quo to remain within planetary boundaries and achieve sustainability. The steering arms of

Governing complexity: Integrating science, governance, and law to manage accelerating change in the globalized commons

This work explores how governments may facilitate the emergence of adaptive governance and promote legitimacy in both the process of governance despite the involvement of nonstate actors, and its adherence to democratic values of equity and justice.

Building adaptive capacity in a coastal region experiencing global change

Coastal ecosystems in the eastern U.S. have been severely altered by human development, and climate change and other stressors are now further degrading the capacity of those ecological and social

Institutional Resilience Amid Political Change: The Case of Biodiversity Conservation

  • P. Steinberg
  • Environmental Science
    Global Environmental Politics
  • 2009
There is a substantial literature documenting the spatial mismatch between the geographic location of biological resources and the spatial jurisdiction of the institutions responsible for their



Revisiting the commons: local lessons, global challenges.

New insights about the management of large-scale resources that depend on international cooperation and the conditions most likely to favor sustainable uses of common-pool resources are discussed.

The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change: Fit, Interplay, and Scale

Researchers studying the role institutions play in causing and confronting environmental change use a variety of concepts and methods that make it difficult to compare their findings. Seeking to

Triumph of the Commons: Age-Old Participatory Practices Provide Lessons for Institutional Reform in the Rural Sector

There is ample evidence of poor management of ecosystems with conventional prescriptions of resource management in many cases not resulting in sustainability. In fact, some of the resource crashes of

Perspective: Research on the Commons: Lessons for Environmental Resource Managers

In his famous essay on “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Hardin (1968) derived predictions of environmental disaster from the proposition that people are entirely selfish by nature. The article has had

HUMAN ECOLOGY AND RESOURCE SUSTAINABILITY: The Importance of Institutional Diversity

The design principles that characterize long-surviving, delicately balanced resource systems governed by local rules systems are presented, as is a synthesis of the research on factors affecting institutional change.

Social Capital and the Collective Management of Resources

The term social capital captures the idea that social bonds and norms are critical for sustainability, where social capital is high in formalized groups, people have the confidence to invest in collective activities, knowing that others will do so too.

Polycentric governance and development : readings from the workshop in political theory and policy analysis

How do local communities collectively manage those resources that are most important to their own survival or prosperity? Wherever they are located, all communities face similar dilemmas of

The Failure Of The Centralized State: Institutions And Self-governance In Africa

After nearly three decades of post-colonial independence in Africa, the shortcomings of the centralist strategy of nation building and economic development have become evident. Development has

The commons in the new millennium : challenges and adaptation

Globalization, population growth, and resource depletion are drawing increased attention to the importance of common resources such as forests, water resources, and fisheries. It is critical that

Rights to nature : ecological, economic, cultural, and political principles of institutions for the environment

Property rights are a tool humans use in regulating their use of natural resources. Understanding how rights to resources are assigned and how they are controlled is critical to designing and