Keynote Address

Prof. ElinorOstrom, Distinguished Professor, Indiana University and Nobel Prize winner for Economics in 2009 delivered the inaugural address for IASC 2011 on January 10, 2011. The Conference also featured keynote addresses by well-known researchers, practitioners and political figures with an involvement in various aspects of the commons both in India and internationally. The keynote speakers included Dr. BinaAgarwal, Mr. David Bollier, Mr. Herman Rosa Chávez, Mr. Ashish Kothari and Dr. Ruth Mienzen- Dick,
 
 
Hon'ble Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (MARM), El Salvador, Mr. Herman Rosa delivered a keynote on January 11, 2011, capturing his experiences of working with local communities as an NGO practitioner, while working for PRISMA; and how it helped shape his views on building national level policies and contributing to local discussions to benefit the poor. In his address, he said that he saw risk reduction, rather than growth of the economy, as the only way forward. He talked of his efforts to constantly capitalize on the knowledge community's research in his work, and went on to offer to Professor Ostrom and other researchers, his small country of 2 million hectares- El Salvadore, as a perfect laboratory for their work.
   
 
  Mr. Herman Rosa Chávez heads the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) in El Salvador. His long association with the Research Programme on Development and the Environment (PRISMA), and his interest in environmental issues, particularly climate change, has been instrumental in furthering the country's environmental policies. Under his leadership, MARN is expected to work towards creating an environmentally aware society that will be better equipped to participate in the decision-making process in the country. He has been advocate of public participation in processes such as environmental impact assessments. The Ministry along with SalvaNATURA (an environmental non-profit organisation in El Salvador) was responsible for the demarcation of 18 key zones of biodiversity in the country. Mr. Chávez has also outlined as one of his priorities, the improvement of the quality of Río Acelhuate, one of the country's most contaminated rivers that flows through San Salvador  
 
 
 
On the same day, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, the President of the IASC, underlined how collective expertise has in the past fuelled policy debates of global significance and how work such as Dr. Ostrom's and several other colleagues has been highly instrumental in the commons being recognised and laws being enacted to save them. She stated one such case from Mongolia which in 2009 moved away from a heavy and ineffectual government regulation to a decentralised system of managing its vast pastoral lands. Another was the earmarking of one million hectares in Niger for the nomadic community.
 
 
  Ruth Meinzen-Dick is a development sociologist with interests straddling several academic disciplines, and is the outgoing president of IASC. She works since 1989 at the International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI) at Washington D.C., where she is a senior research fellow. She is Coordinator of the CGIAR program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi). Her research deals with water resource management, land, forests, property rights, collective action, and the impact of agricultural research on poverty. She leads IFPRI's Gender Task Force and co-leads work on strengthening women's assets. Much of her research has been in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. A citizen of the United States, Meinzen-Dick was raised in India. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in development sociology from Cornell University and her B.A. in anthropology from Washington University.  
 
 
 
Dr. Leticia Merino presided over the session.
 
 
On January 12, 2011, the keynotes were delivered by David Bollier and Dr. BinaAgarwal. Dr. Jesse Ribot chaired this early-morning session.

Speaking on The Marginalization of the Commons and What to Do About it, David Bollier, talked of commons as being the new political culture, and suggested going back to the forgotten history of the commons. "Without legislature it is hard for commoners to argue in court about the commons, so we want to regenerate a body of common laws and I am convinced that recognition of the history of the commons can help us understand the victims of enclosure and those who depend on the commons for subsistence," he explained.
 
 
  Mr. David Bollier is an author, activist, blogger and independent consultant whose work focuses on exploring the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. His research interests and analyses include explorations on reclaiming the commons, digital technologies that are changing democratic culture, intellectual property and law, consumer rights and citizen action. Mr. Bollier is a co-founder of the Commons Strategy Group, a consulting project aimed at promoting the commons internationally. He is also the Founding Editor of onthecommons.org and a Fellow of 'On the Commons' from 2004 to 2010. A frequent international speaker and conference organiser, he also hosted the educational film, This Land is Our Land: The Fight to Reclaim the Commons. Mr. Bollier is also the author of a number of books including Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Commons Wealth, Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture, and Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of their Own.  
 
 
 
Delving into Gender and Forest Conservation, BinaAgarwal underscored that economists studying environmental collective action and green governance have often paid little attention to gender. She shared some of her work that went on to illustrate that if women were given more responsibility of looking after tracts in the forest those tracts would fare better than the others in a year.
 
 
  Prof. BinaAgarwal is the President of the International Society for Ecological Economics. She is Professor and Director at the Institute for Economic Growth, Delhi University. Prof. Agarwal was Harvard's first Daniel Ingall Visiting Professor as well as a research fellow at the Ash Institute, Kennedy School of Government. She was elected the first Southern President of the International Association for Feminist Economics and has also been a member of the Board of the Global Development Network. A founder member of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics, she currently serves on the UN Committee for Development Policy and the Prime Minister's National Council for Land Reforms. Prof. Agarwal's work is centred on several interdisciplinary aspects including and linking gender, governance, economics and the environment. She has worked and published extensively on gender and land rights in south Asia, the dynamics of fuelwood use and forest loss, mechanisation in Indian agriculture, household structure and development, women and poverty, and a variety of other subjects. She is the author of several books including Gender and Green Governance, which has received much critical acclaim. Prof. Agarwal was awarded the 'Padma Shri'– one of the nation's highest honours for her contribution to the fields of Literature and Education.  
 
 
 
 
 
January 14, 2011 saw Mr.Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh delivering the keynote address, wherein he looked at What Commons Mean to Common Persons and How they can Galvanize to Save them from Destruction. The session was chaired by Dr.Susan Buck, the incumbent president of IASC.

By citing several examples in the course of his keynote address, Ashish Kothari brought home the fact that while there is a continuous erosion of the commons due to various reasons, it is also true that it is the indigenous people who have now begun to save wetlands, mountain areas and forests by reasserting their spiritual connection with nature and their historical rights over decades. He urged people to look at decentralization and get the local communities embedded in managing the landscape, stating that 'grassroots' democracy was surely more effective than bureaucracy. "This would bring back a sense of responsibility to the human race, towards the planets resources, a radical ecological democracy where we value reciprocity and non- violence and go by the principles of equity and sharing" he said.
 
 
  Mr. Ashish Kothari is a founder member of Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group. Mr. Kothari has been involved in a number of people's movements for environmental and social justice particularly with reference to destructive development projects. His work focuses on various aspects of biodiversity conservation, especially community-based conservation and protected areas. He coordinated the Technical and Policy Core Group of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), one of the most inclusive environmental assessments in India. He is a member of a number of government committees including the expert group on the Biodiversity Act, the Environmental Appraisal Committee for River Valley Projects, the committee to revise the National Wildlife Action Plan, and so on. Mr. Kothari is currently also the co-chair of the IUCN inter-commission Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, Livelihoods and Protected Areas (TILCEPA).  
 
 
 
Through their keynotes, the eminent speakers laid before the audience certain key structural issues pertaining to the commons. The keynote addresses can be viewed in their entirety in streaming format, on www.commons.fes.org.in