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8 Keys to a Successful Commons

Advice on how to govern our commons by Nobel winner Elinor Ostrom.

The Alps


Blue Number 1
Define clear group boundaries.


Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.


Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.


Make sure the rulemaking rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.


Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.


Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.


Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.


Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.


Elinor Ostrom, mugThis list was adapted for America: The Remix, the Spring 2010 issue of YES! Magazine, from Governing the Commons:  The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, edited by Elinor Ostrom, 1990.

Elinor Ostrom Wins Nobel for Common(s) Sense
: Elinor Ostrom was an unusual choice for the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.


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