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Regional Examples of Commons Preservation, Management

THE COMMONS, n., gifts of nature and society; the wealth we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children; a sector of the economy that complements and counterweights the corporate sector. Civic-based commons governance provides a check and balance to the corporate drive for profit and undue influence on government.

1. Arvari River Parliament in Rajastan, India:

            Starting in the 1980’s thru tribal water restoration techniques taught by local elders, the revival of the Arvari River system was achieved by the mid1990's.  Formerly dry channels filled only briefly by the monsoons, now support year-round aquatic life.  As a result, the government gave the contract for catching fish to a private party. The people of the region, whose hard work had revived the river, resisted this move, suspecting that government may try and take control of the whole river. In 1999 the stakeholders developed a River Parliament, with two representatives each from 72 villages, it has framed 11 rules with regard to the use of the river waters, relating to all aspects of water management, from the extraction or selling of water from the river, to the revival of traditional methods of water conservation.

            A coordination committee comprising members selected by the Parliament handles the operations and ensures compliance with the rules. They are in process of formalizing their legal status, which up until now has had only the moral force of the people's insistence as stakeholders.

2. West Asia North Africa (WANA) Forum: (newsletter)

The WANA Forum provides a platform for working together as members of the human community. We all benefit from collective regional action to resolve conflicts, to promote good governance, to raise living standards, to protect the environment, to face challenges that no nation can tackle alone. Assuming custodianship and stewardship of our fragile world is ultimately the responsibility of every one of us, for our own wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.  –HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, WANA Forum Chairman

         “Regional cooperation is predicated upon people’s perceptions that they are part of a single region,” Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said in his keynote speech at the second annual meeting of the Forum. “Doing so is not about a map or acronym, but about identity and ensuring that the so-called ‘person on the street’ feels that he or she is a citizen of WANA as well as a citizen of his or her own country.”

         West Asia - North Africa (WANA) has entered a period of fundamental change. While few could have predicted the nature and extent of transformation, the underlying driving forces behind the various protests have been present for some time.  As hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in protest of political and economic conditions, in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere, the implications and consequences of change remain unclear.  Of fundamental importance to a successful transition is the presence of a shared clear vision and the political will to positively promote and facilitate the realization of such.

WANA Social Charter: We, as individuals from the West Asia - North Africa Region, in affirming our respect for human dignity and embracing social cohesion for the collective good, aspire to:

- Achieve equal opportunity in helping people realize their basic human needs;

- Foster citizenship and good governance;

- Create opportunities for prosperity and sustainable development;

- Promote processes of inclusion that harness our diversity

- Secure peace and build community resilience;

- Respect our human and natural environments as stewards of the Earth;

For full Charter details, see

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