What is a Commons Trust?
A commons trust is a legal entity responsible for protecting a shared asset that is inherited from past generations, or is presently being created, on behalf of current and future generations. Because it is common property — held in trust and not owned by anyone — the commons are insulated from any claims by private individuals, business, government or other trusts.
What is unique about Commons Trusts?
• Commons trusts are the only fiduciary institutions in society that are accountable for the long-term preservation, sustenance or creation of depletable commons. That’s because neither of our existing property regimes — private nor public — have a mandate to guarantee long-term protection, creation and use of these critical resources and thus ensure the common capital of the planet.
• Commons trusts are also the only social institutions capable of protecting and incentivizing the creation of replenishable commons. Commons trusts are able to stimulate and protect the co-production of a replenishable resource because they use measures other than scarcity-based pricing to value these common goods.
• The creation of commons trusts allows the private and public sectors to continue to focus on profit, investment and budgetary appropriations, while the commons becomes a primary means of generating social innovation and stabilizing the principal of commons reserves to maintain the diversity and sustainability of the overall economy.