First ElinorOstrom Award on Collective Governance of the Commons to HariniNagendra

HariniNagendra, Ramanujam Fellow at ATREE, has been awarded the ElinorOstrom Award on Collective Governance of the Commons in the Senior Scholar category. This is the first edition of the award, instituted in the memory of ElinorOstrom, who challenged the (till then) accepted tenets of the tragedy of the commons.The award is instituted by a collective of 15 leading institutions from around the world working on the commons, including the Resilience Alliance, the International Association for the Study of the Commons, and UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme.

Harini receivesthe ElinorOstromAward for her academic work onthe impacts of institutional approaches—community forestry, joint forest management and national parks on forest conservation in South Asia, as well as on urban ecology. Urban commons constitute a neglected area in policy and research, especially in countries such as India which are experiencing rapid urbanization. Harini’s research has focused on developing a better understanding of the importance of commons in urban and peri-urban areas of Bengaluru, using innovative interdisciplinary social-ecological approaches to study the governance of urban commons such as avenue trees and urban lakes in Bengaluru. The deciding criteria for the recognition were along term commitment to understanding how communities cooperate in the management of common resources; innovative research using a multi-method interdisciplinary approach; policy impacts; and collaborative, polycentric, exciting and relevant research. Seven others— two Senior Scholars, two Young Scholars and three Practitioner organizations— will share the stage with Nagendra at Japan, in June 2013, at the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) meetings, when these awards will be given away.

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Harini’s student, HitaUnnikrishnan, ATREE PhD student of the 2009 batch, will accompany her mentor to Japan, as she has been selected for the Prof ElinorOstrom International Fellowship on Practice and Policy on Commons. This fellowship has been awarded by the IASC and Foundation for Ecological Security. Unnikrishnan is doing her PhD on ‘The changing nature of ecological and social vulnerabilities within the context of an urban lake social-ecological system in India.’

Many of Ostrom’s contributions have direct implications for policy and governance of a range of collective goods such as forests, biodiversity, lakes, seas etc. Ostrom’s work changed the way ownership of stakes is perceived for such spaces, advocating choices other than centralized governance or private ownerships. Publications by HariniNagendra that reflect the spirit of Ostrom’s work:

Nagendra, H. 2007. Drivers of reforestation in human-dominated forests. PNAS 104 (39): 15218–15223.

Nagendra, H., E. Ostrom. 2012.Polycentric governance of multifunctional forested landscapes. International Journal of the Commons 6(2): 104–133.

Nagendra, H., and E. Ostrom. 2011. The challenge of forest diagnostics. Ecology and Society 16(2): 20.URL:

D’Souza, R., H. Nagendra. 2011. Changes in public commons as a consequence of urbanization:The Agara Lake in Bangalore, India . Environmental Management (2011) 47:840–850.

Nagendra, H., and E. Ostrom. 2010. Maps, lakes and citizens. Seminar 613.

Nagendra, N., D. Rocchini, R.Ghate. 2010.Beyond parks as monoliths: Spatially differentiating park-people relationshipsin the TadobaAndhari Tiger Reserve in India. Biological Conservation 143: 2900–2908.

Nagendra, H., S. Paul, S.Pareeth, S. Dutt. 2009. Landscapes of protection: Forest change and fragmentation in Northern West Bengal, India. Environmental Management.DOI 10.1007/s00267-009-9374-9

Also see summary of Ostrom’s lecture on managing complex socio-ecological systems at the 2011 Khoshoo Memorial Award ceremonies, where she was the keynote speaker. Also, this 8.27 minute YouTube video on Sustainable development and the tragedy of commons.

DrOstrom succumbed to cancer in June 2012.