More than ever, we must now base any “green economy”, “blue economy” or other sustainability-focused solution upon strong business fundamentals – and serve broader societal goals. Despite this realization, the global community has failed to create a scalable business model that is capable of realizing the social, ecological and economic potential of our planet. There’s a simple explanation for this failure: (1) we have yet to understand and manage the risks and burdens involved in developing and using resources; (2) we have no new paradigm to replace the broken economic models that have led to community wealth conversion and consolidation into private hands; and (3) we have failed to clearly define the broader social outcome we hope to achieve.
There’s a more intractable challenge underlying all common pool resources: our inability to sustainably exploit such resources (fish, water, timber, minerals, etc.) due to the inherent conflict between ensuring our collective wellbeing and the survivalist tendencies of human self-interest, classically known as the “Tragedy of the Commons.” It’s in all of our best interests to sustain these natural resources, but a lack of trust (and crucially, information), conflicting goals and needs, and uncontrolled profit-seeking leads to a breakdown in efficiently and effectively managing them.
Humanity’s solutions so far have faltered. More socialistic approaches inevitably resulted in over-regulation, massive inefficiencies, or cronyism. Purely capitalistic solutions eventually devolved into over-exploitation or unacceptable wealth consolidation. Others have tried to blend the best of both systems, but they have not been dynamic enough to adapt to rapidly changing economic, social, and environmental conditions.
We can now solve the age-old Tragedy of the Commons dilemma and at the same time create a larger model for the “prosperity of the commons” – a shift so profound we’ve embedded it into our very name: Prosperity of the Commons International.
At PCI, we create novel ownership, development, management and financing structures that leverage the tools of the digital revolution to bring community-wide prosperity. We can now maximize commons wealth and empower community development by treating communities as individual agents in a broader market-based system. In this way, we keep public goods in public hands yet still achieve capitalistic efficiencies. We call this “Commons Capitalism.”