Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care


Computer Platform Gives Visibility to Catalonia's Small Villages

A research team from the UAB, in collaboration with the Association of Microvillages of Catalonia, has created a Geographic Information System (GIS) for Active and Sustainable Hamlets (GISASH), which gathers information on the state of and services offered by the more than 330 municipalities in Catalonia with fewer than 500 inhabitants.

Environmental justice defenders victims of violence and murder

Grassroots movements halt environmental degradation in up to 27% of environmental conflicts worldwide, according to a study by the ICTA-UAB.

El Locos por la Tierra retoma las sesiones en formato virtual

El programa Locos por la Tierra impartido por el ICTA-UAB ha reanudado sus sesiones formativas en formato virtual.

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change impacts

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies.

Exploring climate change impacts through popular proverbs

Members of an irrigation community doing maintenance work in an acequia de careo (irrigation canal built at the top of the mountain) to improve the circulation of water for irrigation and human consumption.

Neolithic vessels reveal dairy consumption in Europe 7,000 years ago

Pottery from the site located in Verson (Francia) analysed during the research (Picture by Annabelle Cocollos, Conseil départemental du Calvados ou CD14 publicada en Germain-Vallée et al.

Mapping out the impacts of pollution upon Indigenous Peoples worldwide

Sulphur mine in Ijen, Java, Indonesia. Picture by Joan de la Malla.

Economic growth is incompatible with biodiversity conservation

A study involving more than 20 specialists in conservation ecology and ecological economics highlights the contradiction between economic growth and biodiversity conservation.

Encuesta: El rol del verde residencial durante el confinamiento por el brote de COVID-19 en España

El grupo de investigación BCNUEJ ( del ICTA-UAB ( y del IMIM ( está realizando un estudio sobre el papel del verde residencial (vegetación interior, en balcones, en terrazas, cubiertas verdes, jardines particulares, etc.

ICTA-UAB shares protective material with hospitals

ICTA-UAB is since last Monday 16 March 2020, an Institute with Restricted Access. Most of the laboratories are empty, the Scientific and Technical Services are closed, only the basic services are working and most of the people is working and staying at home.

Higher and earlier pollen concentrations expected for this spring

Spring and summer pollination will begin a few days earlier than usual and in important numbers, reaching higher than average levels (from the 1994-2019 period).

Power struggles hinder urban adaptation policies to climate change

Transformative actions implemented by cities to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power.

Analysis of tropical fire soot deposited in the ocean will help predict future global climate changes

The ICTA-UAB begins a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean to collect dust and smoke samples from the fires of tropical Africa deposited in marine sediments.

What elements and characteristics should forests have to influence human health?

Despite the increasing interest of the scientific community and society towards the potential of forests as a source of human health, the existing scientific literature does not allow for a coherent relationship between the type of forest and different health variables.

Red coral effectively recovers in Mediterranean protected areas after decades of overexploitation

Protection measures of the Marine Protected Areas have enable red coral colonies (Corallium rubrum) to recover partially in the Mediterranean Sea, reaching health levels similar to those of the 1980s in Catalonia and of the 1960s in the Ligurian Sea (Northwestern Italy).

Sub-national “climate clubs” could offer key to combating climate change

‘Climate clubs’ offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally-harmonised climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Victoria Reyes-García receives an ERC Proof of Concept grant linked to the LICCI project

Victoria Reyes-García ICREA Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the 76 top researchers that will receive ERC Proof of Concept grants.

ICTA-UAB demands the UAB to reduce number of flights

Given our current climate emergency, recently acknowledged by the UAB, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has drawn up a proposal urging the University to put into action a new travel policy to tackle one of its most polluting activities: Flying.

New assessment finds EU electricity decarbonization discourse in need of overhaul

It’s well known that the EU is focusing its efforts on decarbonizing its economy.

Mining waste dumped into Portmán Bay continues to release metals into the sea 25 years later

The waters of the Mediterranean Sea continue to receive dissolved metals from the mining waste deposited in Portmán Bay (Murcia) 25 years after the cessation of mining activity.

A new ICTA-UAB project to assess the impacts of micro- and nano-plastics in the tropical and temperate oceans

A new project led by ICTA-UAB researcher Patrizia Ziveri is one of five projects selected for funding by the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans).
Increased proliferation of commons initiatives in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona with an unequal distribution across neighbourhoods and economic sectors

Date: 2020-05-08


There is an increased proliferation of commons initiatives across the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB for their Catalan abbreviation) with an unequal distribution across neighbourhoods and economic sectors. This is a clear finding from the study developed by researchers from the Institute of Government and Public Policy (IGOP) and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB), both from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, which analyses the territorial distribution of common initiatives in the AMB.

Bounding the urban commons in the AMB
The financial crisis of 2008, the austerity policies that followed it and the urban uprisings around the planet during 2011 (Arab Spring, 15M, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) revealed the inability of governments to meet the growing social needs of the population and, at the same time, gave rise to the emergence of new citizens-led responses that offered solutions outside the state and the market. This study analyses the concentration and territorial articulation of citizens-led pro-commons initiatives in the Metropolitan Area and their implications in terms of territorial development and socio-environmental justice.

Uneven distribution of urban commons across space and sectors
The results of the study show that initiatives characterised by active citizen involvement in production, consumption and decision-making (commons) represent 51% of all the 1,160 citizen initiatives mapped within the AMB. The study outlines commons as encompassing a prosumer dimension, i.e. the good or service is produced by the users themselves, at least in some phase of the productive process, which includes its governance. Spatially, 40% of commons initiatives are concentrated in the city of Barcelona, although important clusters were also found in the municipalities of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Cerdanyola del Vallès, el Prat de Llobregat, Badalona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet. “This unequal concentration shall be taken into account when designing territorial policies”, explain the IGOP-ICTA team. If we take into account their sector, 50% of the common initiatives are in the "agroecology, energy and environment" and "culture and leisure" sectors; as opposed to “technology and logistics” (4%) and “housing” (6%) sectors, where they are less dominant. Approximately one third of this activity is carried out in collaboration with the government, which is mainly local.

Urban commons have a positive impact but there is still a way to go
According to the IGOP-ICTA team, most commons initiatives contribute to the promotion of social and environmentally transformative local development, towards greater redistribution, wellbeing and the integration of vulnerable groups. Successful experiences of collaboration and co-production with the public administration are also highlighted, especially in neighbourhoods and municipalities with longer histories of citizens-led organising.

Still, there is an overarching need of a change in the way public authorities relate to the territory. This change can be synthesized in three points. First, formulating policies requires new public management expertise that can make the best of citizen self-organization and collective uses. Secondly, it is important to distinguish overlaps and differences between the social and solidarity economy sector as a whole, and commons initiatives. Finally, there is the need to promote an administrative culture (e.g., among public policy makers and street-level managers) whereby governmental support to citizens’ projects does not mean the subordination, control or appropriation of these by the government. In this vein, an important change would be the simplification of administrative procedures and the promotion of ad hoc measures to guarantee, or at least not hinder, commons activities (for example, in the case of child care groups, the required licenses makes the collective organization of participants more difficult).

That said, the purpose of policies shall be different depending on whether there is social and critical mass or not. In the first case, the role shall be of accompaniment and facilitation. In the second, it may be worthier to explore alternative actions such as training, dissemination of knowledge or generation of opportunities to share ideas and experiences. These actions shall create momentum around citizen participation and in turn contribute to the better implementation and effectiveness of future territorial policies. The way in which policies are implemented is also important, and the creation of municipal and supra-municipal spaces that work independently of the political context and give continuity and contribute to the implementation of the policies. In this line, it is important to have street level agents in the territory that work directly with the commons initiatives and entities, and thus understand their unique needs and potential for public management.


For further information, check the website of the project:


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