Urban commons are mainly dependent on governments, particularly local governments that are more often than not financially weak
In legal and technical terms, urban commons are owned by local bodies and thus are not unowned or pure commons. But in practice, they are open access and close to “pure commons”.
Since anyone could appropriate the urban commons at any time without any restriction, it becomes difficult to finance them through private sector. Cooperative or community funding also becomes difficult as most urban commons do not have clearly defined, limited and stable pool of appropriators.
This is the reason, financing of the urban commons by the private sector or by communities is confined to development and maintenance of traffic islands, parks, stadiums, streets or footpaths, that too in a limited number.
So, urban commons are mainly dependent on governments, particularly local governments that are more often than not financially weak.
The result is inadequate or no financing of the urban commons. There is an urgent need to come out with clear-cut policies, regulations and financing frameworks or mechanisms for urban commons so that their development, maintenance and regulation can take place through investment by private and social sectors.
The author is an urban finance and management specialist
This was first published in Down To Earth's print edition (dated 16-29 February, 2020)
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