south asia webinar

from tragedy

to promise of commons

“What is common to many is taken least care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than for what they possess in common with others.”

- Aristotle
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The Tragedy of the Commons is a story with a general lesson: when one person uses a common resource, he diminishes other people’s enjoyment of it. Because of this negative externality, common resources tend to be used excessively. FES’s works with the village communities and community institutions in India towards the restoration of degraded landscapes, particularly common lands, is one of the many experiences that challenge the age-old narrative of the tragedy of commons.


The presentation focuses on sharing insights from our experiences of working on the interconnected issues of (a) securing community land rights over common lands such as forest and pastures, (b) strengthening collective action for resource management and responsive local governance, and (c) improving access to resources and finance for restoration. The webinar zooms into the work we do at the village level and its impact by sharing a case study of our engagement with the agro-pastoralist communities in the semi-arid region of Rajasthan in Northern India.

As we present, we will take the participants through FES’s three-decade-long journey of evolving from an ‘implementing organization’ – working directly with the village communities in a few locations, to gearing up towards becoming an ‘ecosystem organization’ working at scale aiming to address the issues of land and environmental degradation. Drawing insights from our experiences, we highlight some of the key opportunities and challenges of scaling out local experiences and areas for collaborative thinking and action.

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