CDE’s and CDE’s members’ activities at the IASC Conference in Nairobi

The XIX Biennial IASC Conference “The commons we want: between historical legacies and future collective actions” puts the commons at centre stage. The conference combines a future-oriented research and practice perspective with a look back, as many legal and structural legacies predetermine possible development pathways. Join us at the IASC Conference from 19 – 24 June in Nairobi, Kenya!

In times of profound crises, we have seen states being caught up in emergency mode. This unfolds, among others, in a tendency to respond within national borders, and it has brought the importance of building genuine resilience that leaves no one behind.

Building resilience for a broad range of society has become ever more pertinent, but the framework conditions to do so remain under-discussed.

The global IASC Conference will open up a space to mobilize this very debate. Taking place at the University of Nairobi, but co-organized with CETRAD Kenya, the Institute of Social Anthropology and CDE (both University of Bern), the Swiss Tropical Health Institute Swiss TPH, and the Swiss Society for African Studies, the discourse on commons and commoning will be prominently staged so as to broadly explore the contributions of the concept of the commons to build resilience in and beyond crises.

Together with their partners, CDE researchers and members will contribute to various panels at the IASC conference (see below).

Do you want to delve deeper into the topics? Then read our interviews with:

Sub-theme 1: Our common SDGs?

19 June: Sanctioning Grabs or Grabbing Opportunities for collective action from below?

This panel calls for case studies showing how the SDGs provide governments and the private sector with new options, discourses and financial means that undermine local common property institutions. Furthermore, it explores cases of commoner’s organisations and communities using the SDGs strategically, trying to reinforce their claims and strengthening the commons management.

19 June: “The food systems we want”: Justice in food systems transformations

Whereas mainstream debates on food security and systems often tend to eclipse questions of social justice, this panel will frame food systems as common goods from a justice perspective. This approach can help to not only taking the social dimension of food systems into account, but also works as a catalyst to building the ground for synergies that improve food systems, environmental, social, and economic dimensions of the SDGs.

Sub-theme 3: Indigenous peoples and globalisation

21 June: Pastoralists beyond the cross-roads in the Horn of Africa: what are the new promising coping strategies to restore hope?

Pastoralists in the Greater Horn of Africa, as is indeed the case in the globe, have been pushed beyond the “cross-roads”, and are currently in the “eye” of a life-threatening natural disaster. The big questions therefore is: what new key strategies are the pastoralists inventing in order to cope with the emerging complex socio-economic, political and environmental interruptions that are being triggered by climate change and its associated impacts? This question will form the main agenda of discussion in this panel.

24 June: What “Territories of life” have in common: Exploring linkages between ICCAs and the commons under threat

In dialogue and collaboration with local and indigenous grassroot movements and the ICCA consortium this panel will discuss a) differences and similarities of ICCAs and the commons, b) relationships between ICCAs and NGOs/civil societies and commons researchers who seek to support them, and c) strategies of collective responding, legal property rights recognition and radical futures against commons grabbing of capitalist expansions and new conservation attempts affecting ICCAs.

Sub-theme 4: Commons between colonial legacies and the Anthropocene

23 June: Rebuilding the commons instead of selling them

Most of the commons do no longer function as they should. Nevertheless, it’s remarkable, how often the institutions surrounding the governance of commons and certain practices are still around and, in some places, even reinvented in order to incorporate newly introduced economies and ecologies. This panel is dedicated to the question, how research can help restore landscapes through understanding of the colonial legacy and the critique of the neo-colonial development complex.

23 June: Lessons from the past: organizations, challenges, and Resilience in a historical perspective and the question of the sources

The aim of this panel is to discuss the ability (or lack of ability) of local communities to manage their common resources even if they are confronted with challenging events and developments. A historical perspective on that question offers a multiplicity of collective experiences that can serve as a laboratory to test the links between environment and society, economy and culture, locality and politics. The panel also reflects on the methodological question, what impact the sources used for research have on the results.

Sub-theme 6: The drama of the grabbed commons

19 June: Managing the commons in a highly dynamic highland-lowland system: Why harmony in institutional arrangements for water Governance matters

The highland-lowland systems in the Mount Kenya region are rapidly changing and continuously under pressure from the broad range of claims on the natural assets that require complex negotiation process to forestall the attendant stiff competition and expressed and non-expressed conflicts among the users. Therefore, it is important to ensure cohesion of water governance institutions that have the capacity and competence to provide inclusive leadership towards sustainable management of water and other land resources in the region.

21 June: Authoritarian development and commons grabbing in Indonesia

Based on colonial era laws and most recently on “omnibus laws”, in Indonesia, traditional commons can be appropriated by the state and transferred as concessions to logging, plantation, mining and tourism companies, thus depriving previous owners by their own traditional law of control over these resources. This panel presents case studies reflecting on the local impact of Indonesia’s accelerated development policy and responses to it.

21 June: Renewable Resource Energy Projects and the Drama of the Grabbed Commons

This panel addresses the issue of how the global energy turn towards renewables also comes with the demand to remove large tracks of land and thus cultural landscape ecosystems previously owned and managed as commons property. The presentations show how governments legitimate, plan, and implement concrete alternative energy projects, and the challenges and impacts on the local commoners. Furthermore, they present local reactions and responses these projects trigger.

23 June: Community-based collective action and sustainable development around infrastructure mega-projects

This panel aims to 1) share results of current research and/or development projects about the role of communities, emic perspectives, and collective action in shaping sustainable development in regions targeted by infrastructure mega-projects; 2) strengthen networks among like-minded researchers and professionals; and 3) identify and discuss current key thematic and methodological frontiers in this field.

24 June: Green-grabbing and dispossession of pastoralists’ livelihoods

Green-grabbing projects have sparked a violent conflict between managers and pastoralists. There is an emerging discourse of “new commons” where resources need to be priced, and those who use more should pay more. That is, wherever there is a market, natural resources should be commoditized to the benefit of rural resource owners. Is a market approach the solution to ecological, economic, and social problems causing severe food insecurity?

Sub-theme 9: Conservation, environmental justice and the commons

21 June: Exploring the potential of indigenous and community-led innovative governance schemes towards a more just conservation

Under which conditions can conservation initiatives become an empowering tool for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) to assert their land rights, beyond enabling their mere participation? What are the outcomes of IPLC-led conservation governance schemes on IPLC’s well-being and on nature conservation? This panel will explore these and other questions from a decolonial and environmental justice perspective.

Sub-theme 10: Local institution building and radical futures for the commons

19 June: Understanding the contribution of commons institutions to decommodification and postgrowth

This panel will examine if self-declared collectives may be forms of social-economic organizations that can make transformations toward a postgrowth organization of society socially, ecologically, and economically equitable. The panel aims at exploring the nexus commonification / decommodification on the basis of empirical studies that demonstrate conditions of success and failure regarding transition pathways for a postgrowth society.

20 June: Traditional irrigation as a way to address global challenges such as climate change, food security or threats to biodiversity?

Traditional irrigation systems (TIS) can play an important role in providing water and nutrients to the soil and in creating diverse landscapes that support different plant and animal species. With a growing body of scholarship, European TIS are increasingly well understood. However, systematic knowledge about TIS in- and outside Europe can still be improved. The panel will discuss questions such as: how can TIS support sustainable development in different specific contexts?

21 June: Reconstituting institutions and norms for forest commons in contexts of multiple transitions

This session is dedicated to the questions such as: What are the current social-ecological realities of forest “commons” in contexts of interacting multiple transitions? How did the institutions and norms of the forest commons weaken or collapse? How do local institutions and organizations respond and adapt to exogenous and endogenous changes in resource use and stock? The aim is to identify or reflect on solution options for reconstituting institutions and norms for forest commons especially in contexts of weak or competing institutions, poverty and unequal power.