By Hannah Miller
June 25, 2012
The sharing economy was not yet a topic at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, but was everywhere as a theme or a tool, from talk of the “the commons” and co-ops to talk of new technologies that reduce consumption. Most of the emergence came in side events at the RioCentro or the People’s Summit, but the needle was moved in United Nations official policy, as well.
The International Co-operative Alliance applauded the U.N. for endorsing cooperatives in The Future We Want, saying that co-ops had much to contribute to the future of agriculture and poverty reduction. Lobbyists for the Commons had hoped to get the formation of a high-level commission to promote governmental programs and structures that would promote commons; they didn’t, but it remains a part of U.N. training for diplomats.
The Internet-enabled sharing economy as known in American business is a new thread in a cluster of similar ideas, whether you call them “local/community management” or “collective consumerism”. As Dr. Oksana Mont of Lund University puts it, “In Norway, car sharing is a business; but, in Turkey, it’s 10 family members sharing one car.”