The Community Commons:
A Dialogue on Local Approaches to the MDGs

Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University, New York City
16-18 June 2005

IISD's SUMMARY REPORT is available online in the following formats: 


The Community Commons was held from 16-18 June 2005 at Fordham University in New York, and was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Fordham University, working in partnership with other organizations supporting community-based initiatives. More than 150 participants from over 40 countries were in attendance, representing mainly community-based organizations (CBOs), along with representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, governments, academic and research institutions, NGOs and the media. A Community Planning Day was held on 15 June 2005 to discuss expectations and desired outcomes of the Community Commons.

During the three day event, participants met in Plenary sessions, as well as in breakout groups and committees. Participants were provided an overview of the process to review the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and discussed in thematic groups issues related to: HIV/AIDS, livelihoods and poverty reduction; natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and poverty reduction; community resilience to conflict and disaster; and housing and infrastructure. They also addressed cross-cutting issues related to indigenous and traditional knowledge, gender empowerment and traditional culture, and developed recommendations based on these themes and cross-cutting issues. Community representatives discussed what they expected of their partners, and partner organizations discussed opportunities and challenges they experienced in working with communities. A local-global dialogue was also convened so that community representatives could engage with global leaders, and a panel of partner organization representatives engaged with community members to discuss opportunities for moving forward in partnerships.

A recommendations committee met throughout the meeting to develop a set of recommendations and a Community Commons declaration to be taken to the Informal Interactive Hearings of the General Assembly with NGOs, civil society organizations and the private sector (also known as the “Civil Society Hearings”) taking place at UN Headquarters from 23-24 June 2005. The Civil Society Hearings will provide input into the UN General Assembly High-level Plenary to review the outcomes of the Millennium Summit, to be held from 14-16 September 2005.

The facilitators for the Community Commons were Benson Venegas (Talamanca Initiative and Asociación ANAI, Costa Rica), Esther Mwaura-Muiri (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood – GROOTS – Kenya), Sandy Schilen (GROOTS International, US), Patrick Muraguri (Africa 21st Century Development, Kenya), Donato Bumacas, (Kalinga Mission for Indigenous People – KAMICYDI, Philippines), and Gladman Chibememe, (Chibememe Earth Healing Association – CHIEHA, Zimbabwe).

In addition to the formal discussions, other activities included traditional singing and dancing at the beginning of each session, cultural events, a reception at the Bronx Zoo, a Community Commons film festival, and informal information sharing. Community representatives also began documenting their stories for the South-South Initiative, a project being implemented by the UN Development Programme’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, which will be reproduced in a book as part of its Sharing of Innovative Experiences series. (Read more).


Relevant links

Community Commons Homepage

Provisional Agenda

Equator Initiative


Previous Community Declarations

Secretary General's Report: In Larger Freedom

Draft Outcome Document: High Level Plenary Meeting of the GA

Fordam University

Civil Society Hearings


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