Humanity faces unprecedented challenge of climate change combined with food, water and energy shortages
“Markets are preconditioned on inequality and will only make matters worse”
By Stephen Leahy
THE HAGUE, Jul 5, 2011 (IPS)
Avoiding the coming catastrophic nexus of climate change, food, water and energy shortages, along with worsening poverty, requires a global technological overhaul involving investments of 1.9 trillion dollars each year for the next 40 years, said experts from the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) in Geneva Tuesday.
“The need for a technological revolution is both a development and existential imperative for civilisation,” said Rob Vos, lead author of a new report, “The Great Green Technological Transformation”.
Absent in the U.N. report is a call for the other necessary transformation: what to do with the market-driven economic system that has put humanity on this catastrophic collision course? Attempts to “green” capitalism are failing and will fail, according to many of the more than 200 social science researchers at a groundbreaking international conference in The Hague titled “NATURE INC? QUESTIONING THE MARKET PANACEA IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AND CONSERVATION“ Jun. 30 to Jul. 2.
“We must start tackling and questioning some core capitalist dictums, such as consumerism, hyper-competition, the notion that ‘private’ is always better, and especially economic growth,” says Bram Büscher, the conference co-organiser and researcher at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at Erasmus University in The Hague, Netherlands.
Equally important is to stop looking at nature as a collection of economic objects and services that “must only benefit some specific idea of human economic progress”, Büscher told IPS.
Governments, the World Bank, the United Nations and development agencies, international conservation organisations and others have all come to see markets as the only way to mobilise enough money to end deforestation, increase the use of alternative energy, boost food production, alleviate poverty, reduce pollution and solve a host of other serious and longstanding problems.
Started as a small gathering of academics, Nature Inc? became a major event as hundreds of experts from around the world wished to participate. Büscher believes the main reason for this is that many are actively doing research on environmental and conservation issues and are increasingly running into new market schemes like carbon credit trading, payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity derivatives and new conservation finance mechanisms, and so on.
“Payments for ecosystem services are the newest tropical ‘miracle’ crop,” said Kathleen McAfee of San Francisco State University.
The market is putting new values on tropical forests as carbon sinks, reservoirs of biodiversity or ecotourism destinations, McAfee said during the conference. Continue reading