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Catalysing the Sydney Commons Lab

Michel Bauwens, global founder P2P Foundation  presenting at an InCollaboration Common Passion Event in 2018
Following the Common Passion Events Councillor Jess Scully called a Roundtable with event participants, additional academics and City of Sydney staff to discuss progression of commons initiatives in Sydney. 

Sydney Commons Lab (SCL) is a new initiative, following a series of InCollaboration and other events in 2018

Many citizens are deeply concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor, the trickling up of wealth and inadequate responses to environmental crises and challenges. The lab is part of a global movement supporting community-led initiatives for the common good for shared ownership or stewardship of resources, including digital platforms, and building local wealth. Initiatives emphasise people working together collaboratively and sharing decision-making to enable connected, inclusive and resilient communities and regenerating ecologies. 

InCollaboration is the lead catalysing organisation for forming SCL. Collaborating organisations include Sydney Policy Lab - Sydney University, University of NSW - Faculty of Law, The Sharing Tree, Sharing Map, UTS - Centre for Business and Social Innovation, New Economy Network Australia, Foodlab Sydney, P2P Foundation, Social Surplus, Mercury Coop, The Grove, Incubator Coop, Pre-Power, Start Some Good, Shelter NSW and Urban Apostles. 

We anticipate a close partnership with City of Sydney and hopefully other Councils across Sydney. 

We have recently published Version one of the Commons Transition Plan for the City of Sydney

City of Sydney's Resilient Sydney Strategy (RSS) highlights inequitable growth, declining social cohesion, an absence of community agency, and threats to healthy ecological systems. These come through as problems with “homelessness and housing affordability, lack of access to public transportation systems, family violence, climate change, structural inequity, and chronic food or water shortages” (RSS). 

The Commons movement emphasises the need for more ownership or stewardship of resources by communities, rather than by the State or the private sector. Many resources need to be shared to enable access to essential needs. Everyone has a right to access food, water, energy, housing and social care. There is no commons without commoning. While the commons is the shared resource, commoning is the working together democratically to look after the resource for use now and ideally also for future generations.

We will be seeking out existing and inspiring new initiatives across these and other areas, also including transport and waste. 

We will be building an active ecosystem of citizens and multi sector organisations, share ideas resources and energies, develop collective vision/s and leadership, learn about and promote working models while inspiring and supporting new initiatives. 

This will require education and engagement in sharing approaches, building local wealth, and research of the application of regenerative economic models at the local level.

New models are required that support economic and social inclusion and cohesion. Commons-based models do this and stand in contrast to the dominant economic paradigm and systems of competition, winner-takes-all and growth at any cost.


Sydney Commons Lab will  act as a catalyst and hub in support of practical, exemplar initiatives, enterprises and projects that demonstrate the transition from extractive to regenerative economics.