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UPDATE: Council of Canadians to attend Commons conference in Berlin, Nov. 1-2

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo will be attending “the International Commons Conference, ‘Constructing a Commons-Based Policy Platform’, in Berlin, Germany, on November 1 and 2. The event is being convened by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a publicly financed non-profit organization affiliated with the German Greens, but working independently with various partners through its 25 worldwide offices.”

“The conference seeks to bring together a diverse group of about 150 international and Germany- and European-based commoners, intellectuals, activists and policy makers. It also aims to enhance participation and self-organization; stewardship, cooperation and networking; and open, non-linear ways to search for solutions. Over the course of two days, the conference will assess the range of existing and potential commons-based policy approaches; develop the fundamentals of a policy framework that supports the commons; and identify and explore specific strategic opportunities to advance commons-based approaches.”

What is the commons? In her recent plenary address to the Environmental Grantmakers Association annual retreat in Pacific Grove, California, Barlow stated, “The Commons is based on the notion that just by being members of the human family, we all have rights to certain common heritages, be they the atmosphere and oceans, freshwater and genetic diversity, or culture, language and wisdom. In most traditional societies, it was assumed that what belonged to one belonged to all. Many indigenous societies to this day cannot conceive of denying a person or a family basic access to food, air, land, water and livelihood. Many modern societies extended the same concept of universal access to the notion of a social Commons, creating education, health care and social security for all members of the community. Since adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, governments are obliged to protect the human rights, cultural diversity and food security of their citizens. A central characteristic of the Commons is the need for careful collaborative management of shared resources by those who use them and allocation of access based on a set of priorities. …Equitable access to natural resources is another key character of the Commons. These resources are not there for the taking by private interests who can then deny them to anyone without means. …Community-based governance is another basic tenet of the Commons.”

For more information on the commons conference, please go to http://p2pfoundation.net/Berlin_Commons_Conference