2010 IASC Elections Results
Being a member of IASC and serving as a member of the Association’ s executive council and as president of the 10th Global Conference held in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2004, have been some of the richest experiences of my professional life. I feel deeply honored by the proposal of the nominating committee of becoming one of the pre-nominated candidates for the presidency of the IASC.
As Ruth Meinzen-Dick stated in her speech on inauguration as president of IASC, the Association has achieved much. Collective property is acknowledged now by many as a viable and legitimate option to face problems related with sustainability of natural resources and ecosystems. Furthermore, in the environmental field and many others, the need for collective action, social capital and strong local institutions is also regarded as an imperative. IASC contributions to these achievements are undeniable.
During the last six years as a member of the council I have had the opportunity to take part in developing a diagnosis of the evolving fields that the members of the IASC try to address, as well as the limitations that may hinder IASC as a strategic tool for its members' efforts.
I see three main interlinked challenges: there are “traditional” challenges posed by the resistance of governments and elites to the demand for more democratic, fair and cooperative social and human relations, implicit in “commons thought”. This is an ongoing battle; there will always be old and emerging conflicts that feed on the resistance of the powerful to acknowledgement of others' perspectives and rights and to share their privileges. In order to address these challenges, IASC research and theory will be useful. Another set of challenges can be seen as “emerging”: political tensions are always present, but the empirical fields, the types of goods or systems and the associated knowledge are relatively new. I refer to fields such as climate, new threats to public health and information, including digital and genetic information. IASC scholars need to work based in strong interdisciplinary approaches and teams to provide relevant reflections and tools for policy and to advance democratic and socially fair agendas for evolving governance systems in these fields.
Finally there are also challenges that can be regarded as the result of threats posed by the success of IASC and the popularity of themes such as the commons, collective action and collective property. I refer to the growth of IASC and IASC conferences that may weaken the sense of personal connection and personal belonging, as well as to the growth of the IASC in different regions of the world while membership and activities in North America have lessened, and to the emergence of new associations with focus on specific fields, though often with a “commons” approach.
In order to address these challenges I propose we should:
_ MAINTAIN A VIBRANT AND DEVELOPING IASC THROUGH:
_ Diversifying and enriching the relations with the members and among members, based on more participatory, interactive communication. Recently some members of the executive council and of the secretariat have been working hard on proposals for a new communication strategy, developing possible uses of the web page, exploring the creation of thematic and/or regional blogs, and other mechanisms that may enable more dynamic and intense relations among members.
_ Reaching new audiences, increasing the potential of IASC scholarship and strengthening our chances for generational replacement through a web-based course on the commons involving some of our members of different generations and regions.
_ Developing a strategy to reach and enroll young audiences: maintaining quotas and/or specific forums for young people in the global and regional conferences.
_ Holding teaching events for young people at the conferences (a successful experience first implemented in Cheltenham).
_ Managing specific grants for young people to attend conferences, and having awards for the best Masters and PHD thesis presented in the Conferences.
_ Becoming more policy-relevant and policy-oriented. Since the beginning, IASC has tried to influence public policies, providing rigorous theoretical and research elements for the analysis of policies and for the crafting of more inclusive and finely tuned policy proposals. IASC needs to develop an agenda that includes the maintenance and strengthening of the diversity of members, including academics and practitioners, promoting the participation of relevant NGOs and other agencies in the Association and/or the conferences, and providing platforms for contemporary debates and networking around them through our main tools: the conferences, the Digital Library of the Commons, the Commons Digest, the International Journal of the Commons and soon the web page.
_ Having IASC groups participate in relevant meetings such as the World Forest Congress, debates on climate change and the mechanisms to halt it.
_ Maintaining and supporting the Commons Digest and the Journal of the Commons, supporting their search for high quality while looking for a wider participation in their production and for the translation of the Digest in each of the main languages with presence of members. The Digital Library of the Commons Is one of the main assets of IASC. A close relationship between the Library sustained by the Workshop of Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University and the secretariat and the presidency is key for IASC. The support of the generous effort of the Workshop should be one of the priorities of IASC.
_ PROMOTE THE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE IASC by actively supporting regional efforts such as conferences, projects, regional funding to strengthen the global network and the global conferences. Regional networking at global conferences can become more systematic and purpose-oriented. Regional IASC conferences should also be part of the agenda of the Association.
_ CONTRIBUTE TO A MORE INSTITUTIONAL IASC.
_ By maintaining and protecting an institutional memory with IASC records kept at a host institution under legal agreements, and digitalizing these records as much as possible, working with an informal “advisory body” conformed by those members who have served as council members.
_ By institutionalizing the roles of different bodies (the collegial presidency, the council, the nominations committee, the Journal) that through the years have developed new and rich collective practices not
Finally, financial viability is a serious problem for the IASC. That is partly related to a change of working styles and priorities of some of our traditional donors, but also to the growth of the association, and the size of conferences, as well as the emerging diversity of activities. For several years, some members of the council have underlined the importance of being able to be “financed by our doing instead of being financed by our being”. The maintenance of a balance among self-sufficiency and the nature of “public good” of IASC scholarship and production is also an ongoing demand. But financial
viability deserves serious attention and efforts.
General ideas on this critical theme include:
_ Diversification of funding, including funding for specific activities (the Journal, regional networking and conferences, work in specific critical themes, policy related activities.
_ Financing some of our activities by our doing (such as the digital course on the Commons).
_ Exploring the possibility of developing an endowment for IASC.
_ Promoting the work of a financial committee within the executive committee.
These are general ideas. They can only be put in place through intense and committed collective action and trust, assets that in the past enabled the creation and survival of the IASC. I apologize for the space I have taken and I thank for your attention.
Executive Council Members
Lapologang Magole received her PhD in Development Studies (Environmental Policy Analysis) at the University of East Anglia, UK. She is currently a research scholar at the University of Botswana’s Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre in Maun. Lapo has previously held the position of Lecturer in regional development planning in the Department of Environmental Science of the University of Botswana. As a researcher she has worked on issues of environmental policy and governance for over ten years. Through her research and application/development work she has interacted with resource users at grass roots level, donors, policy makers and implementers and has come to appreciate multiple interests and aims with regard to natural resource management and use. Lapo has experience in organizing meetings (workshops and conferences) and facilitation (mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution and empowerment) in general and training on participatory planning and learning methods in particular. Her publications are in the areas of; institutions for management of the commons, rangeland management dynamics and issues affecting development and resource access of the San and other minority communities. Her scope of work has widened to the whole Southern African Development Community (SADC) through networking and collaborative work. Lapo’s exposure to the IASC body was through the Cross Sectoral Commons Governance in Southern Africa (CROSCOG) project which organised a special session at the 12th Biannual Conference in 2008. She has since been an active member. She was part of the panel of reviewers for both the 12th and 13th biannual conferences. Lapo was also the Conference Chair for the Africa Regional IASC Conference in Cape Town, January, 2009. She is currently finalizing a special section in the International Journal of the Commons (IJC) as a guest editor for papers resulting from work in the CROSCOG project and the Africa regional meeting.. As demonstrated by the dissemination (special section in the IJC, policy messages/briefs to communities, NGOs and policy makers as well as radio broadcasts) of the results of the Africa regional meeting that she led, Lapo’s vision for IASC is to continue expanding and renewing the commons scholarship but also and most importantly, to facilitate that IASC becomes an empowering agent for local resource users by providing them with the information and support they need to successfully negotiate their stake in natural resources. This can be done by ensuring that IASC has strong and active regional bodies which interact with local resource users.
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am an Indian citizen, male, 39 years old, and have only been in the US for seven years. I was awarded a Ph.D. in Political Science at Duke University, and was the first Giorgio Ruffolo Sustainability Science Research Fellow at Harvard University in 2006-07. Between my BA in Economics from University of Delhi in 1990 and the start of my PhD at Duke, I spent 11 years working in different parts of India, mostly as a community organizer and social activist working on issues related to natural resources like land, forests, and water. A background in economics, graduate training in political science, a job in Geography, and a general interest in ecology and environmental sciences ensure that my interests will never be confined to a single discipline. Cross-disciplinary training and experience on both sides of the research-practice divide allow me to bring multiple perspectives to bear simultaneously upon research questions relating to the commons.
Research is an integral part of being a social activist, at least a well-informed one, and my research experience started well before I joined graduate school. I had the good fortune of collaborating with some of the best scholars in India, and I learnt the importance of connecting research to policy and social issues early in my career. Some of that research experience was published as journal articles, and I also co-authored a book on the politics of conservation and development in India based on my pre-graduate school social activist experience. My current research interests lie in the study of intersection of democratic politics with environment and development. All my field research has been confined to India, and I am also collaborating with IFRI researchers in analyzing the joint production of livelihoods and forest-related outcomes. Ongoing research projects include 1) the long-term impact of redistributive land reforms on environment and development, 2) the conceptualization of democracy as the emergent property of complex adaptive networks of public, civic, and market institutions, 3) the role of forest commons in simultaneously producing livelihoods, sequestering carbon, and conserving biodiversity in human-dominated mixed-use landscapes, and 4) role of access of vulnerable groups to local institutions and cross-scale articulation between institutions in facilitating local adaptation to climate change.
I would like to see more attention to the role of commons in the mitigation of and adaptation to imminent climate change. IASC is uniquely positioned to integrate knowledge across disciplines to produce meaningful insights into practical solutions to this global concern. For example, forest commons simultaneously provide multiple benefits – carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and material subsistence and commercial benefits to local communities. However, much work remains to be done to explore the synergies and trade-offs among multiple benefits under alternative institutional configurations. I will strive to encourage collaboration among commons scholars on the role of commons in climate change, as well as attract young scholars and practitioners to engage with commons scholarship as they work on climate change issues. I am also interested in establishing closer ties between the IASC and the Society of Conservation Biology, and am also seeking a service position in the Social Science Working Group of the SCB.