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Banking Nature? The Spectacular Financialisation of Environmental Conservation

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Abstract:  In this paper I emphasise the financialisation of environmental conservation as 1. the turning of financiers to conservation parameters as a new frontier for investment, and 2. the rewriting of conservation practice and nonhuman worlds in terms of banking and financial categories. I introduce financialisation as a broadly controlling impetus with relevance for environmental conservation. I then note ways in which a spectacular investment frontier in conservation is being opened. I highlight the draw of assertions of lucrative gains, combined with notions of geographical substitutability, in creating tradable indicators of environmental health and harm. I disaggregate financialisation strategies into four categories—nature finance, nature work, nature banking and nature derivatives—and assess their implications. The concluding section embraces Marx and Foucault as complementary thinkers in understanding the transforming intensifications of late capitalism in environmental conservation, and diagnosing their associated effects and costs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK;

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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