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Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources
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Sharing the Commons: Wealth, Power and Natural Resources

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This presentation was given at The International Union for Land Value Taxation (theIU.org) conference on 25th July 2013 at The School of Economic Science in London. The theme of the day was 'Sharing …

This presentation was given at The International Union for Land Value Taxation (theIU.org) conference on 25th July 2013 at The School of Economic Science in London. The theme of the day was 'Sharing the Commons', hosted as part of a 5-day conference under the heading: 'Economics for Conscious Evolution: A Geo-Justice Conference'. See here for a link to the video footage: http://www.stwr.org/economic-sharing-alternatives/sharing-the-commons-wealth-power-and-natural-resources.html

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  • 1. Sharing the commons: wealth, power and natural resources Rajesh Makwana and Adam Parsons 25th July 2013 International Union Conference: Economics for Conscious Evolution www.stwr.org
  • 2. What is economic sharing? Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Sharing in terms of „giving‟ implies ownership: • Charity • Philanthropy • Gift economies • Reciprocity We cannot give away a tangible resource unless it belongs to us in the first place. Sharing in terms of „using jointly‟ implies trusteeship: • The global commons • Public goods and services • National trusts • Community assets A shared resource is not necessarily owned, given or received but can be collectively managed and freely accessible.
  • 3. • Planet Earth as a self-regulating system • Natural cycles and elements within the biosphere • The cells of all living organisms share available nutrients • Plants and flowers freely share their pollen and seeds • Evidence of sharing in groups of highly social animals Sharing in nature …examples Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 4. Homo-economicus Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Policymaking is: • based on assumption that human beings are selfish, competitive, acquisitive and individualistic • driven by the endless pursuit of economic growth, profit and wealth accumulation Creating a world in which: • market forces rather than human need dictates the distribution of resources, goods and services • commercialisation has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, encouraging highly individualistic and unsustainable consumerist lifestyles • natural resources are usurped at far greater rates than they can be replenished
  • 5. Economic sharing: Justice and sustainability Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Economic sharing is about creating environmentally sustainable systems that deliver social and economic justice. It relates closely to the concepts of: • Justice • Equality • Human rights • Universalism • Trusteeship • Common ownership • Stewardship
  • 6. Sharing locally …examples Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • Agricultural land was traditionally shared/managed cooperatively as a „commons‟ • Saving and sharing seeds has played an integral role in farming • Transition towns, cooperatives, conservation projects, alternative currencies, and „trusts‟ that manage land and other common- pool resources • The sharing economy: collaborative consumption, peer-to-peer technology, open source software development, gift economies, time banking etc.
  • 7. Sharing nationally …examples Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • Participative democracy seeks to share political power more equitably among citizens • Land value taxation as a form of public revenue can share the value of a country‟s land more fairly with citizens • Progressive taxation and public spending is a complex form of economic sharing whereby a nation redistributes a portion of its financial resources (personal income and assets, as well as company profits) for the benefit of society as a whole.
  • 8. • Extending the concepts of justice, socio-economic rights and environmental sustainability to include the entire community of nations and the planet as a whole. • Ensuring that people in all countries, including future generations, can access what they need to survive and prosper without devastating the planet in the process. • Recognising that all people are part of an extended human family with the same basic needs and rights, and establishing policies and institutions at the global level that embody this understanding. Global economic sharing Key principles Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 9. Global sharing …is still in its infancy Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Sharing is still not sufficiently expressed in the governance systems and economic structures that underpin the global economy. For example: • Global governance bodies such as the World Trade organisation, World Bank and International Monetary Fund are undemocratic and pursue a purely market- based approach to international trade, finance and development • Official Development Assistance (ODA) is grossly insufficient, ineffective and often problematic for recipient countries • International trade is riddled with self-interest and extremely inefficient from an environmental perspective • The United Nations is in need of considerable reform to render it more democratic, inclusive and effective
  • 10. The global emergency Economic sharing as a solution to global crises. Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 11. • In the United States, almost 1 in 4 children grow up in a poor household and around 50 million people are now going hungry. • In the EU, over 115 million people – 23% of the entire EU population – officially live below the poverty line. • In the UK – the fifth richest country in the world – one in five people are living in poverty, and food banks are now a lifeline for half a million people. Poverty among the ‘richest’ countries Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 12. Poverty in the Global South Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • 95% of people who live in developing countries survive on the equivalent of less than $10 a day – comparable to what $10 would buy in the United States (World Bank statistics). • The majority of the developing world population still lives on less than $2.50 a day (World Bank statistics). • Globally, 50% of children are living below the $2-a-day international poverty line (World Bank statistics). • Malnutrition is the underlying cause of death for at least 3.1 million children each year (The Lancet). • 15 million people die every year as a consequence of extreme poverty and inadequate welfare provision (WHO statistics).
  • 13. The inadequacy of development targets Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • Although reports suggest that the Millennium Development Goal on halving poverty has been met ahead of schedule, the actual number of people living in extreme poverty in 2015 will remain unacceptably high at around a billion. • At the current rate of poverty reduction we may never succeed in consigning poverty to the annals of history, even 65 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first established. • The post-2015 development goal: can we really say that we‟ve made poverty history if millions of people still live on less than $2.50 a day in 2030?
  • 14. Sharing the planet’s finite resources equitably and sustainably? Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • The wealthiest 20% of the world‟s population consume 80% of global resources and are responsible for the vast majority of global warming and environmental destruction. • The poorest 20% of the population lack sufficient access to essentials such as food, clean water and energy, and account for just 1.3% of global resource consumption. • The carbon emissions of just 11% of the global population generate around 50% of global carbon emissions, while 50% of people create only 11%. • The ecological footprint of high- income countries is three times that of middle income countries, and five times that of low income countries.
  • 15. Sharing and sustainability Examples of existing policy frameworks Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org • Oxfam: „The Doughnut‟ concept of social and planetary boundaries argues that traditional growth policies have failed to ensure a safe or just world. • South Centre: „The Equitable Sharing of Atmospheric and Development Space‟ is a framework based on the principle that a global climate change deal must put fairness and equity at the centre of its design. • New Economics Foundation: Ecological Debt Day is the calendar date in which the total resources consumed by humanity will exceed the capacity for the Earth to generate those resources that year. • WWF: Living Planet Report demonstrates how our demands on the planet exceed its capacity to sustain us.
  • 16. Interstate conflict …humanity’s failure to share natural resources Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Historically • Between 1965 and 1990, 73 civil wars over resources occurred in which more than a thousand people a year died. • At least 18 international conflicts have been triggered by competition for resources since then, including the invasion of Iraq since 2003. Currently • The ongoing race to control or exploit oil and gas reserves in the Arctic, in the East and South China Seas, around the Falkland Islands and elsewhere.
  • 17. Sharing vs. competing for global resources Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Unless nations find ways of sharing rather than competing over scarce resources, a number of factors all but guarantee a further escalation of resource wars in the near future: • a rising world population • soaring global consumption rates • rapidly disappearing energy supplies • climate change
  • 18. “It seems reasonable to ask whether a resource-acquisition strategy based on global cooperation rather than recurring conflict might not prove more effective in guaranteeing access to critical supplies over the long run. Such a strategy would call for the equitable distribution of the world‟s existing resource stockpiles in times of acute scarcity, as well as an accelerated, global program of research on alternative energy sources and industrial processes. Coordinated international efforts would be inaugurated to conserve scarce commodities and employ material-saving technologies.” Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict, p. 223. Professor Michael T Klare on resource wars: Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 19. 1. If financial resources are redistributed or shared more equitably both within and between nations, inequality could be reduced and extreme poverty could be eliminated in a relatively short timeframe. 2. If the international community shared the world‟s natural resources more sustainably and equitably, it would be possible to regulate and equalise consumption patterns across the world and bring emission levels to within environmental limits. 3. Sharing rather than competing over the world‟s natural resources could help de-escalate conflict and increase international peace and security. Sharing as a solution to global crises? Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 20. Sharing as a solution to global crises Re-ordering priorities Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 21. • Rapidly rising poverty, food insecurity and social exclusion in OECD countries • Extreme poverty and life-threatening deprivation in the poorest countries: » 40,000 poverty-related deaths each day » 1 in 8 people go hungry » A third of all child deaths occur due to under-nutrition » Around 400,000 people die as a result of climate change each year A humanitarian emergency Should this be our no.1 priority? Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 22. • Lifting 1.4bn people above the $1.25 a day extreme poverty line: $173bn per year • Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) shortfall for 2011: $45m • Financing the Global Climate Fund: $100bn per year • World Food Program shortfall for 2011: $141m • Providing vaccines for all infants in poor countries: $3bn • The total cost of meeting the MDG financing gap for every low-income country: $143bn in 2010 • Providing basic social protection to all people living in extreme poverty: $1.26tn (2% of global GDP). The small cost of saving lives Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 23. Mobilising $2.8 trillion Policies to finance a global sharing economy Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Tax financial speculation End fossil fuel and biofuel subsidies Divert military spending Stop tax avoidance Increase international aid End support for agribusiness Redistribute IMF resources Tax carbon emissions Cancel unjust debt Protect import tariffs $650bn $531bn $434.5bn $349bn $297.5bn $187bn $115.5bn $108bn $81bn $63.4bn
  • 24. • 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict • 1961 Antarctic treaty system (indirectly) • 1967 Outer Space Treaty • 1970 The Declaration of Principles Governing the Seabed and Ocean Floor • 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention • 1982 The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea • 1984 Moon Treaty Common heritage of humankind Economic sharing in international law Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 25. • The trust would set a cap on a particular resource to ensure it is used sustainably and protected for future generations. • Businesses could rent a proportion of the resource from the trust, rather than own it. • The rent paid for the resource could be used to fund social or environmental needs. A global commons trust Basic principles Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 26. Current patterns of global resource consumption are unsustainable... …ecologically and socially Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 27. Equitable consumption levels… …are not necessarily sustainable Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 28. Sharing the world… …the only way to realise ecologically and socially sustainable development Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Source: Sharing the World, Carley and Spapens (1998)
  • 29. • Placing resource management at the forefront of policymaking. • Moving beyond economic growth and GDP as objectives of economic policy. • Internalising the external costs of economic activities. • Dismantling the culture of consumerism: restricting advertising, implementing better trading standards, ending planned obsolescence. • Investment in low carbon infrastructure and energy/resource efficiency measures. Curbing consumption Some well discussed and proposed policies Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 30. Barriers to progress and the rise of ordinary people Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 31. Overcoming the barriers to progress Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Overcoming the vested interests that block progress on restructuring the world economy is the most significant challenge of the 21st century. • Current world direction = centralisation of state/market power. • The impasse = the world economy is structurally dependent upon unsustainable levels of production and consumption for its continued success. • The result = international negotiations fail, year on year; viable solutions for the world‟s multiple crises are blocked.
  • 32. Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org A global Tahrir Square?
  • 33. • Arab Spring: reacting to enormous socio-economic divisions • Occupy and Indignados: mobilising against inequality, the „1%‟ • Anti-austerity protests: for a fairer sharing of public revenue / for corporations to pay their „fair share‟ • Idle No More: a call to share/conserve Canada‟s national resources • Taksim protests in Turkey: in support of shared public spaces, as symbolised by Gezi Park • Brazil protests in 2013: for a fairer sharing of public revenue Worldwide demonstrations A growing call for economic sharing Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 34. The big question: Can people power recognise the need for sharing on a global level? • The priorities of the new wave of protesters still tend to be national in their focus • Or else they remain concerned with social justice and inequality within the context of rich, industrialised nations Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org
  • 35. The implications… Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org Only a collective demand for a fairer sharing of the world's wealth, power and resources is likely to unify citizens of the richest and poorest nations on a common platform.
  • 36. Campaigning for a fairer sharing of wealth, power and resources within and between nations www.stwr.org Sharing the Commons www.stwr.org

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