At the crossroads between green economy and the rights of nature (Pablo Solón)

Pablo Solón / June 2012

Pablo SolonPablo Solón (former Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations) says the current economic system has historically treated nature as a thing to be exploited and to make profit out of and this has led to the current ecological crisis.

Instead of changing course multinational corporations want to continue with the capitalist model under the name of “green economy” as a way to “fully incorporate nature as part of its capital”. They think the problem is that the free market has not gone far enough and so have begun quantifying ecosystems in order to price them so they can be sold in a global market as “natural capital”. Nature’s cycles and processes will now have a price tag.

The clearest example of this trend is the programme called Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) that measures the amount of carbon stored and captured by forests. Carbon credits are then sold to rich countries and companies who can pay to offset their pollution.

Solón believes the “green economy” will mean the same logic is applied to biodiversity, water, soil, agriculture and the oceans. The outcome will be that some banks and corporations make a substantial profit until the financial bubble bursts.

As governments slash spending a powerful discourse has developed that argues only the private sector has enough money to make the investments that are urgently needed to preserve biodiversity. The catch is that the private sector will only invest if it sees a guaranteed return on its investment via the pricing of nature and new market mechanisms.

Solón argues that instead of putting a price on nature “we need to recognize that humans are part of nature” and it is time to recognise that “our Mother Earth also has rights”. He asks: “Why should we only respect the laws of human beings and not those of nature? Why do we call the person who kills his neighbour a criminal, but not he who extinguishes a species or contaminates a river?”

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Update 18 March 2014: Deglobalisation is the way to reduce inequality

Deglobalisation is not a synonym for withdrawing from the world economy. It means a process of restructuring the world economic and political system so that the latter builds the capacity of local and national economies instead of degrading it. Deglobalisation means the transformation of a global economy from one integrated around the needs of transnational corporations to one integrated around the needs of peoples, nations, and communities.


This summary was prepared by Why Green Economy?. The views expressed have been paraphrased. See the original source for more information.

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