Learning From The Concept Of The Commons
Business And Collective Action: Learning From The Concept Of The Commons
Alexander FrechForbes Councils Member
Dr. Alexander Frech is CEO of the Amiblu Group, the leading GRP pipe producers, focusing on water-management solutions worldwide.
For hundreds of years, up until the industrial revolution, large areas of land were “common.” This meant that common citizens could use that land for grazing, growing things or simply being outside.
The idea of the common is an intriguing concept and one that goes far beyond the basic provision of common land. In fact, I believe reinstating a sense of the common as a collective will be key to solving big societal problems in the future and a key to combating climate change. It’s an idea I think business leaders across industries can learn from. I’m the CEO of a company prioritizing sustainability, and many other companies are increasingly doing the same.
Many business leaders are looking to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for guidance in these efforts. In fact, the 11th goal is to make sustainable cities and communities, which is often interpreted as including access to natural and green spaces and putting an end to the encroachment of privatization within the world’s cities. This means that ESG investment is often focused in part on recreating some form of the commons for the modern world. Crucially, shared ownership of land offers opportunities for innovation—I believe using space collectively and intelligently will be a key part of running a successful business in the future.
The idea of the commons is not just about shared land but about shared responsibility. I think it is time to reconsider the commons—time to imagine what we might be able to do with shared land, a stronger sense of community and shared responsibility for the big issues of our time. But is there a modern way to foster this shared responsibility? To encourage people and businesses to take care of, rather than deplete (natural) resources?