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During the Global Action Climate Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco last week, Shareable and SPUR hosted an official GCAS affiliate event discussing Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom's idea of a commons-oriented, polycentric approach to climate change. The event featured a lively panel discussion hosted by Neal Gorenflo, Shareable’s co-founder and executive director. Panelists included Marybelle Nzegwu, attorney at Environmental Justice Solutions; Gil Friend, chief sustainability officer of the City of Palo Alto; Saki Bailey, commons activist and legal scholar at the University of Gothenburg; and Laura Tam, sustainable development policy director at SPUR.

In a packed room with over 75 attendees, panel members expressed different perspectives on a bottom-up, decentralized approach to addressing climate change. The panelists discussed ways the polycentric approach is already working, obstacles to widespread participation, the tension between speed and inclusion, why a more inclusive society is better equipped to address climate change, why decommodifying access to basic necessities is essential, the role of government in a commons-led effort, and more.

Shareable co-hosted the panel with SPUR at the GCAS because sharing should be a central part of the discussion about climate change due to the multiple positive impacts of sharing beyond lowering greenhouse gas emissions including stronger communities and less consumption of natural resources. Ostrom's research "showed that ordinary people have agency, they can self-manage to meet their own needs and face their own challenges…" said Gorenflo, "and that human-scaled efforts, replicated globally could add up quickly to big, lasting, global change."

If you missed the conversation, please watch the event recording here:

This event was part of a series of discussions based on Shareable's new book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons," in partnership with SPUR and other organizations from around the world. For details about upcoming events, campaigns, and ongoing news reporting, sign up for our weekly newsletter!



Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons

All photos by Courtney Pankrat/Shareable

Courtney Pankrat


Courtney Pankrat |

Courtney is the editorial and communications manager at Shareable. She also works as a freelance writer and is currently based out of Denver, Colorado. Her work has appeared in Shareable,