Devolution of Common Property Rights Creates Opportunities for Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development

International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP) The 11th Biennial Conference, 20-23 June 2006
Refference : Laksmi (081584373330), Yani Saloh (0811853462) dan David Ardhian (085213100504)

Arma Resort, Ubud, Bali – Devolution of common property rights could help achieve Millenium Development Goals of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.” Says a gathering of international experts for the 11th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP) on June 20-23, 2006.

The four-day conference organized by the IASCP1 and hosted by the Center for Agrarian Studies – Bogor Agricultural University (PKA-IPB)2, brings about 500 participants of scientists, civil society and policy makers from 60 countries to share their studies and experience in common property management. The conference theme “Survival of the Commons3, Mounting Challenges and New Realities” seeks to explore opportunities for better common property management through recognition of existing challenges and new realities. Devolution of common property rights and its problems are the focus of 9 sub-themes4 addressed in the conference.

In many developing countries “common property” is defined mainly as forests, water bodies, seas, and agricultural lands. These properties are communities’ main life-sustaining resources, which in many cases, have been managed for years following their traditional systems. The biggest challenge in common property management is lack of communities’ rights to own and manage the properties, while governments as the main authority holder, lack capacity to manage and control the properties. “This has created open access to the poorly managed common properties, without clear definition on who has a right and who is responsible for their management. In many cases, open access also fosters grassroot movements to claim back rights over the properties, which then lead to various social conflicts”, says Dr. Herry Purnomo, Forestry Systems Modeller of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Common property management usually requires long-term investment. Consequently, it requires devolution of long-term management rights that assure local communities managing the common properties to get beneficial returns from what they have invested. Dr. Purnomo further explains “governments’ recognition and legalization of traditional claims may create opportunities for sustainable management of common properties. Past experience shows that traditional wisdoms have helped many local communities to have managed common properties in a sustainable way for years”. Devolution of common property rights also potentially contributes to poverty alleviation. “In forestry sector alone, devolution of management rights over 59.8 million ha of degraded forests may provide economic opportunities for 12.6 million or 81% of about 15 million unemployed people in Indonesia”, he added.

While previous IASCP conference have highlighted globalization and its challenges, the 2006 conference emphasizes issues of importance to Indonesian communities and policy makers, while also encompasses supranational topics and concerns. “While international emphasis has shifted to new arenas of innovation, contestation, and new institutional forms – such as virtual commons, the ownership of ideas and information, and global commons – Indonesia, with its rich and diverse history of common property management, provides an exciting and dynamic backdrop to the conference”, says Mr. Ernan Rustiadi from Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) who is also the Chair for this conference.

Overall, the conference provides pool of ideas to address complexity of common property issues in many developing countries. “The nine sub-theme panels and field trips to 10 optional locations in and around Bali provide opportunities for around 700 local and international participants to explore, analyze, discuss and articulate issues on common property practices and institutions, through which seeking alternative solutions to overcome the challenges”, he added.