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Our Mission

The Universal Commons Project’s mission is to contribute to an economic system where profit and value are aligned, so that the best way to do well is by doing good. 

We believe this vision fulfills the original promise of capitalism dating back to Adam Smith. 

We work to support an economic system that serves society and prevents business from deriving profit at the expense of the public, such as by eroding the environment or degrading social wellbeing. 

By giving proper value to our natural and social resources, such as clean air and healthy communities - which we call the “Universal Commons” - we can bring private profit and public benefit into alignment,.

We believe:

  • In the fundamental values of liberty and equality that underpin modern liberal democratic society. 

  • In the power of human ingenuity and cooperation, which have enabled capitalism to generate unprecedented wealth and raise the standard of living for billions of people over the last three centuries. 

  • That society ought to work for the benefit of all, and that the rules that govern how the economy works should not favour some over others but should create opportunities for all people to thrive.

  • In the fundamental importance of preserving the natural and social resources that underpin our economy and sustain human life on our planet. 

  • That all people have a stake in the condition of these resources and how they are used. 

  • In a form of capitalism that enables individuals to profit from the work they do while producing products and services that others want and need, while also preserving and enhancing the social and natural resources that sustain us.


The Universal Commons

There are many things people value that go unmeasured or are ignored by our economic system, such as clean air, a stable climate, and healthy communities. We call these things Social and Natural Assets. They not only underpin all economic activity but are also fundamental to supporting our quality of life.

We call the sum total of the world’s Social and Natural Assets the “Universal Commons.” Each of us has a stake in the condition of the Universal Commons: if it is degraded, we all suffer; if it is improved, we all benefit. This means we all have a common interest in preserving and maintaining the Universal Commons for ourselves and for future generations.

We acknowledge that not all forms of social and natural resources ought to be brought into the economy. There are many that will be better provided by government or through effective regulation. But there are many that can be brought into the economy so that we can all benefit from improved information flows and efficient allocation of resources offered by well-regulated markets.

You can read more about the conceptual and economic foundations of the Universal Commons Project here.

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