Global and Local Commons: AS ustainable Development Paradigm

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					                                       Global and Local Commons:
                     Towards a Sustainable Development Paradigm for Transportation
   “The dominant purpose of all human organization now must be the long-term wellbeing of humanity and the planet as a whole.”
                             Commons Action for the United Nations,

The Commons are the Collective Heritage of Humanity -- the shared assets of nature and society that we
inherit, use, care for and depend upon for a good quality of life, a sustainable future. Across the world we are
now rediscovering commons ideas relating to transportation. Local people as “commoners” are making efforts
to organize and improve transportation commons, protecting and enhancing the local and global environment.

What distinguishes commons transport from private and public transport?
   private transport means and services are produced and sold by businesses and corporations to
       consumers for profit
   public transportation is regulated and subsidized by governments for their citizens
   commons transportation ways and means are managed for communities of users via peer
       participation, cooperation across sectors, equal access, fair standards and transparency, social
       innovation and long-term ecological and community sustainability
  Note: Commons transportation models can be combinations of the latter or of all three types of transport

Commons Ideas for Sustainable Transport: Examples below incorporate elements of commons thinking, some
are more complete commons models -- citizens profit from information and sustainable choices, playing direct
roles in ownership, management and system success. More ideas at

- Smart Growth: Urban planning policy benefiting communities & preserving natural systems
- Sustainable Transport Spending: Community input on transit spending to support quality of life
- Congestion Pricing: Surcharging private vehicles during peak traffic to fund high-density modes
- Commons Pricing: Shows true costs of all transit modes to community & nature,
- Bicycling reimbursement: Companies or municipalities reimburse bikers at standard personal auto mileage
rate, thereby encouraging less congestion, greater health, and economic stimulus
- Rural Transport Cooperatives: Enables travel-modes for various uses and distances:
 via bicycle-/ motorbike-/ cart-sharing, boat-/ car-/ truck-sharing, animal-/ tractor-/ equipment-sharing etc.
- Commons Transit: Transport development favoring co-ops and participatory management for bicycles,
vehicles and high-density carriers facilitating pedestrian travel & natural system health
- Less Dependence on Foreign Supply Chains: Film: “How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”

The greater voice communities have in how their own transportation system is run, the greater incentive to
value and abide by common agreements. Success of commons processes can be found in participatory
budgeting for urban transportation in South America, car and bike sharing in Europe, trucking cooperatives for
small market businesses in Ghana, matching empty truck routes with freight needs in dense urban corridors in
the U.S. via participatory on-line systems, and “Build for America”, a civil society plan for economic security
through transportation investment. (Examples from Agenda 21 and other UN and EU transport projects can be
found on Wikipedia, another commons resource that is open-source for use and collaboration for all).

Wisdom of the Commons: Emphasis on “commoners” is central to generating transportation solutions, and
both governments and businesses are essential to this process. “Those that open-up their… municipal
processes will out-compete/ out-cooperate closed government operations and programs” (
Research: commons transportation, deliberative processes, “Recover the city for citizens…”, The Sustainable
Management of the City: Examples of Implementation of Agenda 21 in Spain, 2010, Vasques, Oton
The Power and Promise of the Commons Movement is in its Ability to Balance the Relationship between
Government and the Private Sector: Elinor Oström recently received the Nobel Prize for Economics for her
studies on the commons. Her research suggests that locally adapted solutions with government empowered
local management work best for local challenges, as businesses tend to be run according to short-term profit
motive, sometimes neglecting the wellbeing of local place and planet. And governments do not have limitless
place-based experience or the vigilance that exists in each community.

Therefore, commons models have the following characteristics:
   … they create cooperation and sharing of information / resources at local and often global levels
   … they create appropriate place-based innovation, management strategies, incentive & oversight
   … they create community and collective prosperity through participation
   … and thus are the key elements to establish a healthy balance between the public/government,
   private/business and commons sectors.

Search Digital Library of the Commons, Indiana University, for studies on commons and transportation:
1. Sustainability and Urban Dynamics: Assessing Future Impacts on Ecosystem Services, ’09, Deal, Pallathucheril
2. The Governance of Infrastructures as Common Pool Resources, 2009, Rolf, Matthias

Consider taking UNITAR’s Common Course for details of commons models and research, new in 2011

Funding Development of Sustainable Transport: Huge potential exists for people to organize around the
commons and empower new models that protect and enhance our commons
  commons trusts* can fund and enhance assets of a sustainable transportation commons
  private industry flourishes from the increased mobility and market access which is generated from these
  trust funds for sustainable transportation
  governments provide all citizens with a subsistence income or dividends generated through fair use taxes
  on businesses renting various local and global commons* (see example below) which in turn enables
  greater transportation mobility and economic activity in all local commons (

The development of Social Charters leading to the establishment of Commons Trusts on all levels is one way
for humanity to take responsibility for the Commons. Empowered by governments, civil society (citizens,
academics, NGO’s, scientists etc) can deliberate to create commons institutions, solving transport problems via
existing sustainable commons solutions. Galvanized by increasing awareness of commons rights across the
world, governments will ultimately give as much support to the institutions of the local, national and global
commons as they currently extend to private companies/ international corporations. A premier example is the
global movement to address climate change via a Global Sky Trust*, helping to fund sustainable transport.

*Cap & Share is a developing Global Commons Project that can help Transition Countries to Sustainable
Transportation via a Global Atmosphere Trust/ Global Sky Trust: At present, 23 billion tons+ of CO2 p.a. are
released from burning of fossil fuels, much of this from transport - just under 3.6 tons per head of the world's
population. An estimated figure might lead to each person receiving $150/year thru sale of a C02 Permit --
energy producers would require Permits to purchase at upstream source -- Permit price would fall as fossil-
free economies emerge by 2050. This estimate allows for some of the Permits issued to be sold to pay for
international activities such as Carbon Maintenance and Transition Funds. The income for international
activities could be about $345 billion a year, ie States would receive a payment for…
1. Maintaining the stock of carbon in their soils, forests and land checked by aerial and other surveys, and
2. Transitioning to cleaner more efficient economies, funding green job creation, sustainable transportation
and energy production.
(Cap & Share Executive Summary,, Cap & Share Diagram,

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