A commons-based society refers to a shift in values and policies away from the market-based system that dominates modern society, especially over the past 30 years. The foundation of the market is narrowly focused on private wealth, while the commons is built upon what we all share—air, water, public spaces, public health, public services, the Internet, cultural endowments and much more.

One of the most compelling ideas being raised today is the possibility of evolving from a market-based society to a commons-based society. The commons has always been an element of human civilization. But its central role in sustaining all societies has recently been rediscovered, inspiring new lines of thinking in fields ranging from high technology to public health to business.

A commons-based society is one that values and protects commons assets, managing them for the benefit of everyone. Market-based solutions would be valuable tools in a commons-based society, as long as they do not undermine the workings of the commons itself.