Cities as Laboratories of Socio-Ecological Transition: The Transformative Role of Urban Commons

"Right from the beginning a significant stream of the movement for ‘reclaiming the commons’ directed the focus on the urban commons as well. Investor’s striving for an 'ever-higher rent from a given area' was identified as a driving force behind urban enclosures, sometimes pro- voking severe resistance of urban communities against it. In this con- text city centres, shops, and streets were named as urban commons. But furthermore, the concept of 'urban commons' covers as well enclosures of public spaces and infrastructure, management of networked infrastructure, ‘commoning’ practices, like the contestations between the state and the community, the use of streets, parks, and parking spaces; as well as local security issues. Concerning the concept of the commons as such we follow the view that it is 'constituted of three main parts: (a) common resources, (b) institutions (i.e. commoning practices) and (c) the communities (called commoners) who are involved in the production and reproduction of commons'. Concerning the urbanity of commons some refer to the city as 'the source of the commons and the receptacle into which it flows'. According to this view, the city is not just built environment 'but also a living dynamic of cultural practices, intellectual circuits, affective net- works, and social institutions'. Observing that the value of urban real estate is 'primarily determined by externalities---both negative externalities' they assert: 'In these externalities we encounter a specter of the common'. Here we want to investigate the question whether certain types of common-pool resources could be considered as key urban commons: energy, water and green spaces, as- suming that these resource systems might be crucial for an in-depth sustainability transition."
social-ecological systems