On the knife’s edge of tragedy and hope: Markets and the commons in a divided world

2020 Green Templeton Lecture Series on the Future of the Commons

Wednesday 4 March 2020   18:00


Dr Dustin Garrick, Research Fellow and convenor of the 2020 Green Templeton Lectures

This is the third of the 2020 Green Templeton Lectures on the Future of the Commons.

The dawn of the 2020s brings pessimism about the future for the commons. Supercharged wildfires, water shortages and biodiversity loss portend a dystopian future for an increasingly divided world, a symptom of free markets run amok. Amidst the despair, the case for hope rests on nurturing promising modes of human cooperation – both ancient and new – that link behaviour change and local collective action with structural transformations at the regional and global levels. This lecture illustrates the prevalence of cooperation in the most unexpected places: environmental markets governed by norms of fairness and collective property rights.  A survey of global experience reveals that such “uncommon” markets are more common than we think.  What explains the emergence and evolution of markets to govern freshwater, fisheries and forest commons? Under which conditions do they succeed or fail, and what steps can be taken to deliver social justice and shared prosperity?  By uncovering the patterns of cooperation underpinning environmental markets, and understanding their drivers, this lecture outlines the evidence and charts the path for hope.

Dustin Garrick

About the speaker

Dr Dustin Garrick is a Research Fellow of Green Templeton College, convenor of the 2020 Green Templeton Lectures and Associate Professor of Environmental Management at the University of Oxford, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He has been a Fulbright Fellow, AAAS Leshner Fellow and worked with the World Bank, OECD and The Nature Conservancy as well as local partners across Australia, Africa and the Americas. He is the former Philomathia Chair of Water Policy at McMaster University, where he remains an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science. His previous book examined water governance in Australia and the Western US, two regions at the leading edge of the global water crisis. He is working on his next book on future of the commons.

EP Abraham Lecture Theatre
Green Templeton College
43 Woodstock Road

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About the Green Templeton Lecture Series

The Green Templeton Lectures series takes place annually. The 2020 series is on the theme of the Future of the Commons. Other lectures in the series:
Thursday 23 January – More than a metaphor: the evolution of the commons in the past millennium
Thursday 6 February – Globalisation and the grabbed commons: new insights on the Water Wars myth

The commons is a powerful metaphor for understanding human cooperation, one of the most enduring puzzles for science and society. 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Governing the Commons, the landmark study by the late Nobel laureate, Elinor Ostrom. Ostrom and many colleagues demonstrated the potential for self-governance to avoid the collapse of shared resources, propelling a global research programme and interdisciplinary network of scholars spanning from anthropology to artificial intelligence. There are two billion more people since Ostrom’s classic, and urban populations have nearly doubled, accelerating regional and global challenges that outstrip capacity for local collective action to solve alone.  The topic of the commons has arguably never been more relevant: a Science feature in 2018 traced the growing reach of the concept from classic areas – water and land – to new frontiers of data, medicine, and other global challenges.

The lecture series will explore the commons in a world approaching peak population, deepening inequality, and growing threats to democratic forms of governance. The series will follow an arc that starts with lessons from the history of the commons, and outlines the frontiers of research and innovation.  The series will contribute to a University-wide and global dialogue on the next wave of the commons, charting emerging governance innovations for a connected world.

Type: Featured, Lectures and Seminars