Local Commons and Democratic Environmental Governance

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  • Edited by Takeshi Murota and Ken Takeshita

    1223 Murota – Local Commons final FRONT COVER_web
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1223-7
    United Nations University Press
    March 2013

    The rising tide of globalization poses a direct threat to the viability of small communities worldwide. Such communities, however, are our greatest hope for sustainable environmental governance, as they possess unparalleled ability to directly manage common-pool resources.

    Providing a much-needed antidote in this age of globalization, this volume advances the idea of collaborative governance as an integration of open and closed commons. Taking into consideration the dimension of conflict resolution, it studies examples of governance structures in various countries around the world to develop a new type of democracy towards multilevel environmental governance that involves the public, private and commons spheres.

    With contributions from researchers in a wide variety of disciplines, this volume demonstrates through institutional and empirical analyses the essential role of local commons in providing an axis of resistance to increasing environmental devastation and social inequality towards creating a sustainable future for local communities as well as society at large.

    About the Editors:

    Takeshi Murota is a Professor in the Department of Economics at Doshisha University, Japan.
    Ken Takeshita is a Professor in the School of Law at Kansai University, Japan.

    Table of Contents:

    Part I: Theoretical Studies of the Commons
    1 The tragedy of the conceptual expansion of the commons, Yutaka Suga
    Eclectic collaborative commons as an integration of closure, and openness, Makoto Inoue
    3 Complementary environmental resource policies in the public, commons and private spheres: An analysis of external impacts on the commons, Gaku Mitsumata

    Part II: Institution of the Commons
    The custom and legal theory of iriai in Japan: A history of the discourse on the position of the rights of common in the modern legal system, Tatsuya Suzuki
    The position of fishery commons in the multilevel fishery resource governance in Japan, Takeshi Murota
    Fishermen in China’s Taihu Lake Basin and inland freshwater fisheries: Unsettled questions about the nature of rights, Izuru Ota
    Cross-scale institutional linkages: A focus on environmental networks in Kuraburi Estuary, Thailand, Shimpei Iwasaki

    Part III: Local Commons and Survival Strategies under Globalization
    Community sustainability and adaptation to modernization and globalization: Case study of the Lake Biwa region in Japan, Hiroshi Noda
    Recreation, easy access and rediscovery? Possibilities and problems of recent footpath projects in Japan, Rui Izumi and Yuichiro Hirano
    Multilayered natural resource management in open and closed commons: A case study on the right of access and the state, community and farm commons in Norway, Daisaku Shimada and Takeshi Murota
    The governance of local commons and community administration: The hidden potential of the property ward system, Haruo Saito
    The dynamics of cross-scale linkages in the context of global commons: Aspects of “resistance” to wildlife conservation in the Maasailands of Kenya, Toshio Meguro
    Local governance for groundwater conservation based on voluntary restrictions on the use of common property: A study of utaki in Miyako, Okinawa, Yasuhiro Nakanishi

    Part IV: Collaboration, Democracy and Multilevel Environmental Governance
    Environmental governance from a public perspective: A reappraisal of state objectives, Ken Takeshita
    Forest volunteer activity in Japan, Shinji Yamamoto
    Sustainability of local shopping districts as commons: A case study of the revitalization of the shopping district centred around Kurokabe Corporation in Nagahama City, Yoshio Takatsu
    Institutional design of watershed committees in Japan, Tomohiko Ohno
    Watershed governance and dam construction projects: A case study on the Daido River Dam in the Yodo River Basin, Congmian Jiao

    Building common property regimes to deter resource-wrecking, Margaret McKean

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  • “This timely and very welcome collection of essays explores the place of commons in the modern world. Focusing on Japan but ranging widely across the globe (to China, Norway, Thailand and Kenya), it makes available in English some of the exciting thinking on commons deriving from the flowering of research carried out by Japanese scholars in recent years. The book abounds in cutting-edge ideas, as the authors unerringly seek to use the local case studies they discuss to explore wider concepts in the study of common goods; it is an important contribution to the growing international literature on Common Pool Resources.
    The research presented here is thought-provoking and full of interest, ranging from fisheries, forests and groundwater, to footpaths, shopping districts and Google. It reminds us that, despite the ‘privatisation’ of so many commons during land reform in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, traditional commons survive in many parts of the world and that some aspects of modern society have many of the characteristics of older commons. At the heart of the book lie the perennial challenges to which common goods are prone, both internal (the pursuit of private interest) and external (notably the impact of globalisation on traditional structures and institutions). Many commons face pressures of over-exploitation; others have suffered a drift towards under-utilisation as a result of technological change. The authors argue that sustainable governance of communal resources requires cross-scale linkages to foster national and trans-national interests (global ‘goods’ such as nature conservation) while respecting and building on the often complex interplay between private and communal property rights which characterise the legal framework of commons. The inclusion of discussions of how legal and institutional frameworks have evolved over time is particularly welcome, demonstrating the importance of an historical dimension for understanding contemporary commons.
    Who owns the commons? In an increasingly crowded and globalised world of complex inter-relationships, where the eco-systems of many commons are fragile, public interest is now recognised as both valid and necessary to ensure the survival of communal resources. Sustainable environmental management therefore requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders, from local people, through regional and national authorities to government agencies and NGOs. The case studies explored by the authors in this book illustrate the continuing importance of indigenous knowledge and local law and custom to environmental governance. Nowhere is the environmentalists’ adage ‘Think globally; act locally’ so relevant as in the governance of the commons.”

    Angus J L Winchester, Professor of Local and Landscape History, Lancaster University, UK

    “Owning and exploiting resources in common or jointly is an old problem. Only recently have scholars realized that the problems of free-riding in provision and consumption, well known from the study of traditional commons, return in new guises in modern industrial societies. Technology (radio waves, Internet) and knowledge (biodiversity, ecosystem services) produce goods that require collective action in agreeing on common rules for efficient provision, sustainable exploitation, and just distribution. The new goods do not replace the old ones provided by nature (forest, pasture, wildlife), but appear as layered on top or beside the old goods. This reality creates a more complex problem of governance and is the main topic of the new book Local Commons and Democratic Environmental Governance, edited by Takeshi Murota and Ken Takeshita. The book provides theoretical discussions interlaced with case studies of governance of common resources taken from a variety of countries. It provides a new step forward in understanding the complex characteristics of goods and stakeholders that institutional design of governance systems for commons in industrial nations needs to address. The book is highly recommended for both students of commons and collective action and for persons working to improve the rules governing real world complex commons.”

    Erling Berge, Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning/Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

    “Local Commons and Democratic Environmental Governance is a splendid volume of theoretical research papers and unique case studies that explore the importance of commons as a model for sustainable and equitable use of resources. The theoretical papers are thoughtful and provocative, while the case studies are lucid, detailed analyses of commons regimes in a variety of political and environmental settings.

    This book is a rich resource for both historical and contemporary commons issues. The essays will be of interest to scholars, practitioners, government administrators, and policy entrepreneurs interested in commons theory and scholarship. ”

    Susan J. Buck, President, International Association for the Study of the Commons (2011-2013)