Revisiting the Tragedy: Common goods in the 21st Century

Our 2011 Conference addressed public interest law through the lens of four resources of common concern: Water, Air, Forests and Biodiversity. The inspiration came from Garrett Hardin’s work, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (c. 1968).

Conference Summary

At the start of the conference, Paul Kohler, Senior Lecturer in Law at SOAS, delivered a key note speech on the topic of a ‘Critique of the Tragedy of the Commons theory’, which introduced or reminded delegates of the famous theory that had inspired the programme for the day.

Following a lively discussion in plenary, the second morning session, led by Kate Harrison, Solicitor at Harrison Grant Solicitors, contemplated the current situation and legal prospects of offshore drilling.

A short coffee break was then followed by talks focusing on two terrestrial common areas. Simon Counsell, Director of Rainforest Foundation UK, delivered a talk on deforestation, climate and rights. The next presentation, delivered by Dan Glass, a key organiser of So We Stand and a defendant on the Climate9 trial, connected the protection of biodiversity to environmental activism.

After lunch  Alan Andrews, Solicitor at ClientEarth, discussed the legal responses to air issues, which was followed by an engaging speaker panel on access to justice featuring speakers from ClientEarth and the Marine Society.

Between 3.00pm and 4.10pm, two workshops ran in succession offering opportunity for specialisation: Rob Cunningham, Head of Water Policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and Trevor Bishop, Head of Water Resources at the UK Environment Agency, focused on the threats facing England’s wetlands; and Andy Hickman, Oceans Campaigner at the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), explored the role of community surveillance and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Sierra Leone.

Two further workshops ran between 4.10pm and 5.00pm: Julien Lamontagne-Godwin, Project Scientist at the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International (CABI), explored desertification and its consequences on the agriculture; and Teresa Anderson and Abudulai Sulemana, respectively International Advocacy Officer and Head of Strategic Partnerships at Gaia Foundation, focused their presentation on commons, community and empowerment in agriculture.

The final academic component of the 2011 Conference was a panel discussion entitled ‘The sell-off of ancient forests: a threat to the UK Commons?’. The panel was chaired by Tom Levitt, News Editor at The Ecologist. Tom was joined by Niall Watson, Legal Director at WWF UK, and Paul Kohler, Senior Lecturer in Law.

To end the day there was opportunity for further discussion at a drinks reception for speakers and attendees.

Our Thanks

We wish to thank the speakers who gave up their time to make the 2011 Conference such a success.

We should also like to thank the following organisations who offered financial assistance:

Field Environmental Instrument
UKELA
Gaia Foundation
Capacity.orgl

Our Committee

The 2011 Conference was organised and run by the following individuals:

Allison Lindner Chair
Sophie Graham Treasurer
Joshua Roberts Speaker Co-ordinator
Charles Poncelet Speaker Co-ordinator
Virginie Rouas Stalls Co-ordinator
Elisa Estrada Holteng Stalls Co-ordinator
Kimberley Lobry Fundraising Co-ordinator
Marlene Charron-Geadah Fundraising Co-ordinator
Alessia Miranti Catering Co-ordinator
Sebastien Korwin-Wroblewski Catering Co-ordinator
Nisha Sehn Technical Co-ordinator
Stephanie Chan Communications Co-ordinator
Marcus Goffe General Support and Advisor

If you are interested to learn more about the 2011 Conference the please visit our Contact Us page and get in touch as we may be able to provide you with more information.