Can “market forces” solve the world’s environmental problems? The stakes are undeniably high. With wildlife populations and biodiversity riches threatened across the globe, it is obvious that new and innovative methods of addressing the crisis are vital to the future of the planet. But is “the market” the answer?
As public funding for conservation efforts grows ever scarcer and the private sector is brimming with ideas about how its role—along with its profits— can grow, market forces have found their way into environmental management to a degree unimaginable only a few years ago. Ecotourism, payment for environmental services (PES), and new conservation finance instruments such as species banking, carbon trading, and biodiversity derivatives are only some of the market mechanisms that have sprung into being. This is “Nature™ Inc.”: a fast-growing frontier of networks, activities, knowledge, and regulations that are rapidly changing the relations between people and nature on both global and local scales.
Nature™ Inc. brings together cutting-edge research by respected scholars from around the world to analyze how “neoliberal conservation” is reshaping human–nature relations that have been fashioned over two centuries of capitalist development. Contributors synthesize and add to a growing body of academic literature that cuts across the disciplinary boundaries of geography, sociology, anthropology, political science, and development studies to critically interrogate the increasing emphasis on neoliberal market-based mechanisms in environmental conservation. They all grapple with one overriding question: can capitalist market mechanisms resolve the environmental problems they have helped create?