Co-Governing Our Commons: Local to Global Decision-Making throughPublic Deliberation

Using Public Deliberation: Co-governing the Commons

By Jan Inglis


Commons: gifts of nature & society; wealth we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children; e.g. water, oceans, culture, technology, seeds etc

Public Deliberation: a process for reaching agreements by deeply considering the costs, consequences, and trade offs of various approaches to complex public issues.

…Considerations in designing deliberative processes: 

As local and global citizens, we need to take actions to care for our commons


However, before taking action, there has to be decisions to take the actions.


Decisions about actions need to include the voices of those most impacted.


Before these decisions can be made, there need to be good options to decide upon.


Before these options for solutions are identified, there needs to be shared understanding regarding the diverse causes of the problem.


Before we agree to causes and options for solutions, we need to know that different people will have different experiences about what caused the problems and how to resolve them


We need to see these different experiences as legitimate perspectives that may contribute to effective actions and solutions


Using forums designed to have citizens analyze their issues from different perspectives means we have a better chance of creating considered and comprehensive solutions together.


This is called designed deliberative democracy: it is useful for engaging local and global citizens to make agreements needed to co-govern their commons through social charters and trusts.

Commons, social charters and trusts: see Developmentally Designed Deliberative Democracy: see,,

Jan Inglis is a Public Decisions Facilitator with Global Commons Trust,

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Categories: Commons, Direct Democracy, General Assemblies, Identity & Strategy, Thinking Together, Uncategorized, Working Groups


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4 Comments on “Co-Governing Our Commons: Local to Global Decision-Making throughPublic Deliberation”

  1. Anthony Robinson
    May 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    A good structuring of essential considerations needed to fulfill the function of co-governing the commons. It would be interesting to look at what forms can be used to address these points on large scales where the number of stakeholders is so large that a forum in the usual sense, is hard to visualize.

    • May 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      Great question Anthony.Thanks for giving me the opportunity to expand on that rather simplisic outline above.
      It of course requires many many integrated forums at many scales regarding the mutiple linked issues invovled. This can both address the layers of complexity assocaited with global issues plus increase our capacities to think systemically and collectively which is what is needed if we are to create systemic comprehensive responses. I am including a link to a booklet that opens with a graphic and includes examples of different deliberative forums. Sara Ross and i created it to show people at a conference we attended. regarding Climate change. It shows how the huge topic of climate change is actually many subtopics each which need to be unpacked, analyzed publicly with options created and actions deliberated and decisions made. For example we might start with a broad focus of climate change but have forums in many towns on decreaing our use of street lights.
      No quick fix steps but it is doable.


  1. Who Owns The Sky? Occupy the Global Atmosphere Commons! | The Future of Occupy - April 18, 2012

    […] Mechanisms of conflict resolution are cheap and of easy access; (devised as part of designed deliberative democratic  processes that can create social charters for local, national and global […]

  2. First, Occupy the Market State: Second, Claim Sovereignty: Third, Practice Subsidiarity | The Future of Occupy - April 19, 2012

    […] 1. Designed Deliberative Processes (one page): This is a prioritized list of considerations for deliberative processes where 100% of the legitimate stakeholder perspectives are welcome to the debate, and the people together consider ways forward that might not be possible until the many options are explored and the best integrated collective decision-making emerges. The initial deliberation helps to create a design and framing from which new directions and solutions can emerge as the deliberation evolves and progresses. […]

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