It is with great sadness that EDF’s Oceans program mourns the loss of Elinor Ostrom, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who led groundbreaking research to better understand the “tragedy of the commons,” or the idea that shared public resources such as forests and fisheries will be depleted without proper regulatory controls.
Dr. Ostrom challenged the idea that regulations had to be federally mandated or ‘top-down,’ instead advocating for grassroots solutions and local engagement to address increased pressures on our resources. Her research has been a foundation for EDF’s work on important issues such as Catch Shares, where direct involvement by local fisherman and stakeholders in fisheries management decision-making is critical to secure fishing jobs and strengthening fish populations. We can attribute the switch from “command-and-control” style management of our fisheries here in the U.S., to a new, more decentralized and inclusive system, directly to Dr. Ostrom.
Her many accomplishments, insights and breakthroughs as the first woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in economics have impacted the work of our leadership and Oceans programs. We owe Dr. Ostrom a debt of gratitude and will honor her work by continuing to foster local engagement in environmental and resource management issues around the world.