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2003 Eastern Europe Conference

THE COMMONS IN TRANSITION:
property on natural resources in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

Conference papers at the Digital Library of the Commons

Announcement for a workshop co-organized by

Institute for Agricultural Economics (VUZE), Prague

International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP)

Humboldt University Berlin

Background:

Research on property reforms in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) has largely concentrated on the establishment of effective private property rights (cf. Swinnen 1997). The research has been informed by rather simplistic notions of property. Much research has equated property rights with ownership, ignoring the multiplicity of property rights and duties. Similarly, the research has been characterized by a stark dichotomy between state and private property, neglecting the role of intermediate property forms. These simplistic notions continue to dominate discussions on property issues in CEE and FSU until today.

Exploratory research conducted under the framework of the project Sustainable Agriculture in Central and Eastern Europe (CEESA) demonstrates the benefits of applying a more differentiated concept of property to research on natural resources. Its findings demonstrate a drastic difference in the effectiveness of private rights, on the one hand, and collective and public rights in common-pool resources. This difference is connected with two broad changes in resource governance in CEE and FSU. First, resource governance has shifted from previously dominant legal and administrative hierarchies towards markets. Second, states have tended to reduce administrative units at the central level and partly delegated power to local authorities. In addition, local actors have often negotiated authority over resources that goes much beyond the degree envisioned by decentralization programs. The waning and decentralization of state power have caused the emergence of significant gaps between property legislation and rights in practice. Mostly due to a lack enforcement of existing legislation, but partly due to the absence of legislation as well, public and collective interests in resource management have been marginalized in favor of private ones.
Objectives of the workshop:

The workshop has two primary objectives.

1. Explore state of research about property on natural resources in CEE and FSU

2. Stimulate research about property on natural resources in the region through

a. exchange of experience with other regions;

b. discussion of an agenda for research and exchange; and,

c. (possibly) development of a concrete proposal for research and exchange.
Themes:

The workshop organizers would like to suggest four themes to guide the discussions at the workshop.

A. Local self-governance: Local self-governance has been a prominent theme in research on resource management across the world. It is therefore interesting to examine contemporary and historical forms of self-governance and explore its potential for resource management in CEE and FSU.

B. Multifunctionality of rural production: Rural resources provide multiple good and services to people in CEE and FSU. This theme therefore wants to explore the utility of property and common-pool resource theory to diversified rural resource systems providing private, common-pool, and public goods.

C. Changing role of the state in rural resource governance: Direct state management has been the primary mode of resource governance during socialism. Postsocialist resource governance radically departs from this model, in theory and practice. This theme therefore explores the changing role of the state in postsocialist resource governance.

D. The (re-)definition of collective and public interests in natural resources: Postsocialist transformations do not only affect the distribution of property rights and forms of resource governance, but they also affect the definition of collective and public interests in natural resources. Influence by the European Union and international environmental organizations motivates attention to new resource problems and often quite radical re-thinking of old resource problems. This theme therefore focuses on the processes by which collective and public interests in natural resources are formed and resource use problems are defined.
Organizing committee:

The organizational committee includes

Ø Erling Berge, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and International Association for the Study of Common Property, Erling.Berge@svt.ntnu.no

Ø Libor Grega, Mendel’s University for Agriculture and Forestry, grega@node.mendelu.cz

Ø Tomas Ratinger, Institute for Agricultural Economics (VUZE), ratinger@vuze.cz

Ø Thomas Sikor, Humboldt University Berlin, thomas.sikor@rz.hu-berlin.de .

Workshop venue:

The workshop will take place on 11-13 April 2003 at the Research Institute for Agricultural Economics in Prague. (VUZE, Mánesova 75, 120 58 Praha –2, Czech Republic)

Participants:

The participants will include researchers from within and outside CEE and FSU who have conducted research on property issues in CEE or FSU. As a rule, each participant will be expected to contribute to the workshop actively, by submitting a paper, serving as a discussant, or providing a thematic overview. The number of participants will be kept at 20 persons to facilitate the exchange of experience and group discussion.

Interested persons are requested to submit an expression of interest and a short abstract of the proposed contribution (up to 150 words) to Dr. Tomas Ratinger (commons@vuze.cz ) by January 10, 2003. They will be informed about the acceptance of their proposal by January 31, 2003. Complete papers will be due by April 1, 2003, to be distributed to the discussants and all participants before the workshop.

Participants will be expected to cover their own travel costs. The costs of accommodation and food in Prague will be kept to a minimum to facilitate broad participation. Participants will be offered accommodation in the guest house of Czech Agricultural University at a rate of 10 - 20 EUR per night.
Preliminary program:

The program will consist of two main parts. The participants will discuss the contributed papers in three panels in the first part. Each panel will begin with comments by a discussant from IASCP on the papers, followed by an open group discussion. Participants will be required to read the papers beforehand, as those will not be presented at the workshop.

The second part consists of facilitated group discussions and work in small group. It aims at the exchange of ideas for research and exchange, plans for the coordination of activities, and the development of an agenda for research and exchange.

Friday PM:

Welcome and introduction

Thematic overviews (in form of short presentations by selected participants)

· Common-pool resources in CEE and FSU: what are we talking about?

· Privatization and mainstream understandings of property in CEE and FSU

· Property relations in CEE and FSU: results from institutional economic, sociological and anthropological research

Panel A (group discussion of up to four contributed papers)

Saturday AM:

Panel B (group discussion of up to four contributed papers)

Panel C (group discussion of up to four contributed papers)

Saturday PM:

Facilitated group discussion on research and dissemination issues and plans

Sunday AM

Work in small groups on agendas for research and dissemination

Group discussion of research agendas prepared in small groups

Group discussion on next steps

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