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Theme B: New Visions Workshop

Theme B: New Visions Workshop:
Resource-economy, local sharing, commons


Not everything of value must also have a price, but you can’t explain that to someone for once…. “ (Lyric by Wolfgang Ambros, Austrian Singer-Songwriter)  This workshop is seeking new visions for a truly human economy.

Aims & Objectives

●        Find out that diversity in society & economy is a basis for a good life

●        Reflect limits of economic diversity, of unfair poverty – and wealth

●        Reflect about economy as a social and cultural construction

●        Learn about economic indicators and public welfare economy

●        Develop a personal vision of a fair economy within planetary boundaries. 


●        Ability to reflect economic models as social constructions

●        Ability to list examples for alternative models for cooperative economic concepts (community gardens, sharing economy, community supported agriculture,…)

●        Ability to develop a vision of a fair economy in a personal scale

Dimension / SDG relation

Economic Dimension of Sustainability:

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production; SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals

Materials / Preparation

Online Pinboards like Miro e.g.



20 min

Property Obligates

20 min

Earth Charter – A global attempt towards an ethics of sustainability

Intro & Group Discussion

10 min.

Veil of Ignorance: Is there a rebirth for us? Watch video

30 min

Lets re-define Fairness: Discuss ideas that came up in the video, Ref: John Rawls)

30 mins

Commons a tragedy or big chance for the future

30 mins

Governance of Commons

20 min.

Optional: Neotopia – would it be paradise or hell  (Appendix 5)

20 min.

Reflection & Feedback

New Visions Workshop Activities


The market economy has been very successful in creating innovations, in providing goods, in developing welfare. However in its liberal representation, the market economy creates an enormous, steadily growing gap between poor and rich. Natural resources like clean air, biodiversity etc. are ‘free goods’: polluting is cheap, too cheap.   There is a large economic sector that works in an entirely different way without earning money e.g. care work in our families, volunteer work in social organisations, sporting or cultural associations.  In addition you cannot put a price on high value things like friendship & love.  This workshop seeks new visions for a truly human economy.

Activity: Property Obligates

Intro: "Property obligates" is part of the German constitutional law (Grundgesetz) vom May 23rd, 1949 - and mentioned in Art. 14 (2).  link:

(1) The right of property and the right of succession shall be guaranteed. The content and limits of these rights shall be determined by law.

(2) Property shall be an obligation. Its use shall at the same time serve the common good.

(3) Expropriation is only permissible for the common good. It may only be effected by law or on the

(3) Expropriation shall be permissible only for the public good. The compensation shall be

The compensation shall be determined after a fair consideration of the interests of the general public and of the parties involved.

Group Work: “Property obligates” is written in the constitutional laws of Germany & other countries. But what does this mean? Poster Session, Discussion

Activity: Earth Charter

Step 1 - Mini Lecture: The Earth Charter explains why it is necessary to define ethical principles. “We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. ….  To move forward we must recognize that … we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realise that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more. “    It is not just about new taxes or laws – it is about a fundamental change. That is why the charter describes principles for respecting all forms of life on earth, for building democratic societies, and for respecting planetary boundaries. It demands for human rights, social and economic justice, sustainable development, addressing the exploitation of the Global South by the Global North etc.. Within a family all persons: men, women and children have the same rights for safety, for freedom, for loving and being loved.

In summary we should:

“Ensure economic activities promote human development in an equitable, sustainable manner”

Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.”

Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, & progressive labour standards” & “Strengthen families & ensure the safety & loving nurture of all family members.”

Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin” and “honour and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfil their essential role in creating sustainable societies.” (Examples taken from the charter).

These commandments require a change of mind and heart – a new sense of universal responsibility. We must find ways to harmonise diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals. Every individual, family, organisation, and community has a vital role to play.  The drafting of the text was the outcome of a six-year worldwide consultation process (1994–2000), overseen by the independent Earth Charter Commission, which was convened by Strong and Gorbachev with the purpose of developing a global consensus on values and principles for a sustainable future.  The charter can be found here:

Step 2 -Group Discussion Earth Charter:   What do you think about the Earth Charter? 

What do you understand by ``universal responsibility” and “change of heart and mind”?

Why do you think it has not been signed/ adopted by countries / world leaders?  

TIP:  The mini lecture should not be longer than 5 minutes and presented in an engaging way to get the essence of the activity across. Mini lecture is a good way to impart information to frame an activity and stimulate discussion.  It can be done in spoken format in the classroom or by video. 

Activity: Veil of Ignorance & Redefining  

Step 1 - Veil of Ignorance: One important philosopher of the last century was John Rawls.

He thought a lot about justice & fairness. Show video:  The Veil Of Ignorance

Step 2 - Let’s Redefine Fairness - Group Discussion on themes in the Veil of Ignorance video

Guiding questions

Q.   Is it fair that some earn very much and others little. 

Q    Do people that work harder deserve to earn more money ?

Q.  If you win the lottery should you keep it all or share it? 

Q.  What is a sharing economy ?  

Q.  Imagine you are reborn as a human but do not know whether you would be rich, poor, man, woman, educated, illiterate.  How would you design a fair society ? 

Step 3 - Consider the sharing economy, fair education, fair taxes, equality etc.   &

create a poster of the Fair Society that you come up with


Step 4:  Research Models of communities working in an alternative way (online or in person)

Create mini description visuals/poster portraying essence of communities

Reflection:  Share posters & mini descriptions on  YINT Forum & facilitator & participants comment.

Activity: Commons:
A tragedy - or a big chance for the future economy?

INTRO/FRAMING:  Are we unable to take care of the Earth?   In 1968 University of California Professor Garett Hardin published an essay about human selfishness, called the “tragedy of commons”: It was a very simple story, he told: every fisherman tries to catch as many fish as possible. Since all fishermen are acting like this, in a short period of time no fish are left…This indicates that we destroy our resources by selfishness that eventually leaves nothing for all of us. 


“Freedom in a common brings ruin to all” Hardin stated.   The influence of this essay cannot be overestimated.  Consider climate change as a result of collective human behaviour and polluting of the atmosphere.  In this hypothesis there is a common factor and it belongs to everyone. Consider is this true, fair and just?   (Hardin was an antidemocratic racist (Scientific American 2019), he lobbied in the USA against sending food aid to poor nations.

INSTRUCTIONS:  Group Work:  Make two online groups: one group seeks for arguments, why Hardin might be right (think of desertification due to overgrazing, destruction of rainforests, overfishing e.g.).   The other one seeks arguments, why he might be wrong - because there do exist positive examples already (think of sustainable forestry in Europe, community gardening, cooperation projects, e.g.).  

REFLECTION: Plenary sharing: Share the results in the big group and discuss the issues.

TIP:  Facilitators should be as focused as possible at the influences the participants could go for or influence positively (like community gardening) or find the link to Ecological Footprint and the fair share for everyone (which is quite a challenge because commons are mostly mentioned when it comes to regional issues). If the group is not up to “theoretical thoughts” or cannot figure out any example, extra guidance is needed.

Activity:  Governance of Commons

INTRO/FRAMING:  Economist Elinor Claire Ostrom disagreed with Garett Hardin.  She observed that throughout the world people shared commons for centuries without destroying them. Alpine pastures in Switzerland were used by entire villages and valleys: every farmer had the right to use it and according to Hardin, this would lead to overgrazing. But this did not happen. Rice terraces in the Philippines need water supply – this was organised by the communities and shared. Everybody contributed, everybody shared – for thousands of years. So did the Incas, so did Spanish orange farmers. She proved Hardin was wrong.  But it does not work under any circumstances. Ostrom found out: shared responsibility needs rules. She wrote a book about these rules and received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009 for her work on the “governance of commons”. She introduced some very simple design principles


Step 1 - Mini Lecture/Illustrated Presentation::  Ex of Elinor Ostrom Design Principle

●        It must be clear who is “in” and who is “out”, who is part of the community with specific rights and duties.

●        The concept has to be adapted to local conditions: it is different in a city than in a village, it depends whether water is shared or grassland….

●        As many resource appropriators as possible should be allowed to participate in decision making processes.

●        A scale of graduated sanctions when appropriators violate rules. Small sanctions for less important violations, larger ones if violations are serious.

●        Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access: if somebody has a problem, it needs a board to discuss or something similar.

●        Let people decide on their own. Authorities should respect these decisions & grant rights.

The ideas of Ostrom are very important when setting up common projects like a community garden, social farming or a community supported agriculture (CSA) sharing economy.

Step 2 Visit a community garden and ask how they do it.  Alternatively look it up online and highlight what you find. How does it relate to Ostrom design principles?

Step 3: Group discuss & agree rules for ‘A community garden’  What criteria must be obeyed for the functioning of a community garden? Who is allowed to use the garden? How is it ensured that "only those who plant reap" (all participants, their families and friends,….) Are rules needed? Who sets them and how? Who makes sure that rules are followed (e.g., watering schedule)? Are there sanctions for misbehaviour? What are they? When two quarrel - how is conflict resolved? 

Step 4: What would the world look like, if everyone had the same conditions?

Create a visual of ‘A Community Garden’ that illustrates how the Ostrom principles can be applied. Post on  YINT Forum participants & facilitators comment

Reflection of New Visions Workshop 

In twos reflect on important lessons learned of New Vision workshop activities. 

Share in a final reflection circle and / or post on  YINT Forum. Participants and facilitators comment.

After plenary choose 3 important lessons and post on  YINT Forum & why you chose them.  Participants and facilitators comment.     


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