What is the Tragedy of the Commons? – Nicholas Amendolare | TED-Ed (2017)

The tragedy of the commons is an economic hypothesis popularized in 1968 by ecologist Garrett Hardin. The concept was examined in a 1987 BBC documentary called “Nice Guys Finish First” by Richard Dawkins with a game theoretical framework. The Tragedy of the Commons predicts ecological degradation due to human conflict of self-interest over the long-term well-being of their community. There are many examples of common resource exploitation such as destruction of cashew trees in Mozambic.

However, this theory was heavily criticized by Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, who collected evidence showing that communities create their own systems for management of communally held resources. These open access resources, like the community forest, have in place clearly defined uses and clearly defined rules to ensure their sustainable management.

One great example of a working conservation model is traditional community forests like the 48 Cantones of the Totonicapán province in Guatemala where indigenous Maya Q’uiché government maintains a large protected area. There, a community is united through their shared efforts to protect their common resources.



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