IUC Founder Ugo Mattei receives the Elinor Ostrom Award on Collective Governance of The Commons

The International University College of Turin’s Founder, Professor Ugo Mattei, is the Senior Scholar winner of the prestigious 2017 international ELINOR OSTROM AWARD ON COLLECTIVE GOVERNANCE OF THE COMMONS. The Award, created to honor and develop the legacy of Elinor Ostrom, aims to promote the work of practitioners, young and senior scholars involved in the field of the commons. According with Ostrom´ s legacy, the scope of the Award aims to be broad, including academic and applied work on traditional, local, and global commons, knowledge, cultural and virtual commons.

Ugo Mattei was nominated for the Award on the grounds that he is an original interdisciplinary innovator and has a unique approach of combining theory and practice in redefining Law & Economics through the praxis of the Commons. Indeed, at the IUC he has succeeded in creating in a short time a truly open international and transnational community of scholars and students, whose institutional openness has been enhanced in practice by Ugo’s success in raising funds (2.8 million euros to date) for his 300 students’ grants.

Ugo Mattei has made inventive contributions to legal scholarship and beyond, as seen in his efforts through the over 20-years old Common Core of European Private Law project that involves hundreds of scholars in the analysis of legal institutions using comparative law methodology. His study is closing an important gap between Commons scholarship and Comparative Law. While Comparative Law has long studied pluralistic systems of governance, its methodologies as well as findings have yet to be integrated into Commons scholarship, and this attempt led by Ugo has yielded some stimulating results and promises exciting findings in the near future.

Furthermore, Ugo’s work with the Rodotà Commission at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei developed the first technical legal definition of the Commons, and while the Commission’s reform proposal was not discussed by the then sitting Parliament, it has gained continued relevance since then in Italy. In fact, Ugo Mattei has redefined what it means to participate in commons governance by making it a cognitively informed political statement and powerful strategy for reclaiming resources in the citizens’ name in a time of deep crisis both economically and politically in Italy. In particular, Ugo was central to the efforts of the successful 2011 Italian water referendum, and was a crucial part of implementing the popular referendum results by not only defending the decision in the Italian Constitutional Court as the leading attorney on behalf of the people, but also on the ground as the President of Naples’ Acqua Bene Comune, the first commons water company in Italy. Moreover, Ugo’s work with the Teatro Valle in Rome to convert the theatre into the first Commons foundation in Europe has received wide recognition, as evidenced by the 2014 European Cultural Foundation Award.

Ugo’s many cross-disciplinary accomplishments are undeniable, together with his commitment to the idea that good theory must be informed not only by international academic exchange but also by real world experiences, and that the best governance regimes are those that work in practice changing the world for the better. 

The Master of Research in Food, Law and Finance is one of the most recent projects of Professor Mattei, an expression of the determination of changing the food system by tackling its roots rather than its symptoms. The students and faculty of the FLF Master congratulates Professor Mattei and look forward to continuing the cooperation around the decommodification of food and the food system as a commons.


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