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OPED: Freshwater ponds of the savannah give us keys to manage our shared resources - 13/08/2049

In these times of environmental difficulties, clearly an understatement, many are seeking solutions in all areas to ensure an eventually sustainable management system of the resources available to humanity. This to allow our species to continue its development while limiting the already huge impact on all our ecosystems.

As for centuries, and especially during the 20th century, Humanity allowed itself to shamelessly puncture all the resources of our planet, without really thinking about the long-term impacts that such a thirst for conquests (in all areas) and enrichment could create.

And even since the alarm was rung about the short-term risks of such a development race, following the Paris agreement of 2015, many countries, including the largest (United States, China , India and Brazil in mind), have preferred the “ostrich policy”.

The final consequence, in these years when we reach the middle of the 21st century, are the climate, energy, social and geopolitical crisis we are experiencing.

This is why researchers, in all scientific disciplines, have been even more relentless in finding solutions to offer to the international community, which, despite its lack of legal ability to coerce, remains the most appropriate platform for making decisions on the matter. The consequences of changes in our ecosystems, even the most localized ones, are on a large and global scale.

And a recent proposal from a research laboratory in law and humanities could perhaps make a difference soon.

Some theorists have indeed considered a situation observed in nature that could be the key to our redemption.

All of you have certainly seen, as kids, these documentaries on the African savannah and especially these beautiful scenes where all the animals meet at the freshwater pond to hydrate themselves. In these specific places, of shared resources and so vital to each of them, there is a tacit agreement among all not to attack each other. It is therefore possible to come across lions and gazelles, although on their guard, side by side to come and use the water so precious for all.

This idea interested the researchers who created the human equivalent of the "water pond" but for all vital resources.

For it is certain that most current conflicts (social, political or military) are linked to a stress on the resources vital for the survival of our societies. Therefore, the researchers proposed to create a new status for all the key resources: agricultural land, water reserves, forests ...

Inspired by what was done, and considered so innovative at the time in New Zealand in the 2010s, for the Whanganui River, which had been granted legal status, the researchers propose today a project of "personae naturalis" or "natural legal person”. Far from the former “res nullius”, it’s actually more about “res communis”, some even saying “vitae communis”.

The goal is to assign a legal status and clear specific rights to these zones, which in fact and in law can no longer be "conquered" but will have to be managed without access being limited.

Of course, there is a way between the idea and its materialization, but let's hope that the idea that our resources are so necessary to our survival that we have to treat them as our alter-ego will calm the egos of some seekers of power. and lead to a much more altruistic approach to our commons.

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