There is a big challenge associated with sustaining the commons: Because of the lack of clear rules of use and mechanisms to monitor and enforce those rules, some commons are overharvested. John M Andries and Marco A Janssen address this key issue in their paper Sustaining The Commons. It includes these eight design principles derived from case studies of long-lasting systems of common-pool resource governance.
Clearly defined boundaries: The boundaries of the resource system (e.g., irrigation system or fishery) and the individuals or households with rights to harvest resource units are clearly defined.
Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs: Rules specifying the amount of resource products that a user is allocated are related to local conditions and to rules requiring labor, materials, and/or money inputs.
Collective-choice arrangements: Many of the individuals affected by harvesting and protection rules are included in the group that can modify these rules.
Monitoring: Monitors, who actively audit biophysical conditions and user behavior, are at least partially accountable to the users and/or are the users themselves.
Graduated sanctions: Users who violate rules-in-use are likely to receive graduated sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) from other users, from officials accountable to these users, or from both.
Conflict-resolution mechanisms: Users and their officials have rapid access to low-cost, local action situations to resolve conflict among users or between users and officials.
Minimal recognition of rights to organize. The rights of users to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external governmental authorities, and users have long-term tenure rights to the resource
Nested enterprises. Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.