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Our History

Commons Action for the United NationsĀ 

On Dec. 14th, 2009, Lisinka Ulatowska and James Quilligan suggested to some 25 commons activists and UN NGO representatives in New York City that together we create an initiative at the UN to introduce a commons-based approach to sustainable development. This would focus on Member States, Major Groups and the UN Secretariat. This initiative became Commons Action for the United Nations and has been represented at the UN by the Institute for Planetary Synthesis and the Association for World Citizens. It has expanded as people and organizations have agreed to participate and have asked to be placed on the mailing list. Toward the end of 2011, the organizing partners of the NGO Major Group suggested that NGOs form Clusters to promote civil society advocacy at the UN. It was suggested by a number of NGO colleagues that Commons Action for the United Nations organize a Commons Cluster which has since expanded to include members of other Major Groups – including Women, Youth, and Indigenous Peoples.

More recently we have begun to invite others to join us in developing the Commons Abundance Network (CAN), a cooperative system that enables commons groups and webs to learn from one another, network, plan and act as a unit; to become a recognized Commons Sector next to the Public and Private Sectors; to form together a significant voice at the UN; and a means for us to become the commons-based global community and economy at all levels that we are advocating for at the UN.

Commons Action for the UN is also developing many tools and resources, and participating in a number of processes, to enable all participants to take more effective action together, such as the development of a Peoples Sustainability Treaty and participation in The Widening Circles initiative. We are developing an Instant Response Network, a structure conceived by Lisinka Ulatowska in 1983 in her Handbook for Effective Global Action which is being implemented by Emile van Essen. It enables:

  • people and organizations to follow UN conferences from afar;
  • give instant input into the discussions via emails to world leaders, and UN Ambassadors while the conference is going on.

The Instant Response Network is a tool that enables an ongoing consultation process to take place between the UN, Governments and the world’s peoples. It is a tool to promote unity in diversity and to enable humanity to become more integrated.