• Home

Global problems, ‘village solutions’

De Gemeynt is a cooperative of independent consultants, thinkers and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands working at the interface between economics and ecology, and promoting collaboration between key parties in pursuit of sustainable solutions.

De Gemeynt – an old Dutch term for “the Commons” – is a notion that few today recognise, but that stands precisely for what we aspire to, what we are engaged in and how we go about it.

In a previous age, ‘the commons’ referred to the wildlands around human settlements, or in other words the natural resources available to a community, and the means by which they were administered. Only through cooperative effort and agreement on appropriate management of these local resources could they be sustainably nurtured, without depleting the natural capital they represent.

Besides the commons, those using them had cares and concerns of their own, of course, often in competition with one another. When it came to the commons they collaborated, though, because only through cooperation could the potential uses and benefits of these resources be fully utilised.

Here, in a nutshell, are the basic principles of an economy sustainable in the longer term, too.

Empese en Tondense Heide. Bron: B. Wevers ©2015

Empese en Tondense Heide.

(Bron: B. Wevers ©2015)

Markboek Empese en Tondense heide.

Markboek Empese en Tondense heide. Bron: Zutphens archief

What is the ‘Empese en Tondense Heide’ was formerly a ‘Marke’ ( gemeynt ), joint and undivided land of the local community, which was controlled collectively. The historic ‘Mark book’ testifies.

The notion of the commons encapsulates the essence of our vision:

  • The economy, encompassing business, industry and other organisations, can only flourish if the fruits of nature are harvested sustainably.
  • Cooperation and agreement are essential if harvests are not to exceed nature’s capacity for regeneration.

This is just as true of the current world problematique as it is of the physical environment in which we live.

  • How are we to exercise due caution in our (economic) activities and exploitation of today’s ‘commons’ – ecosystems and biodiversity, a stable climate, the wealth of estuaries, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other ‘wildlands’ – without which economic development would be virtually impossible?
  • How can the economic players harvesting the world’s natural resources cooperate in such a way as to achieve their own individual ends, in the longer term too, while at the same time preserving nature’s capital, and preferably revitalising it?
  • What kind of process is needed to take us from our current predicament of potential conflict and controversy, or at best just muddling through, to solutions vastly transcending individual interests?

The notion of ‘the commons’ thus defines our vision and mission as well as our modus operandi:

  • Preservation and revitalisation of nature’s capital
  • by seeking common perspectives
  • and promoting the collaboration to materialise them
  • to enable a sustainable economy to emerge.