One Forest Summit: green colonialism and the financialisation of nature, repackaged as innovative conservation financing?

The summit aims among other things at “unlocking innovative sources of financing including market-based biodiversity conservation solutions, with a special focus on so-called biodiversity-positive carbon credits and nature certificates.

We find that there is nothing innovative about financial instruments on biodiversity that have been amply debated over the past decade and merely tweaked of late.

We find the narrative that nature certificates similar to biodiversity offsets will not be used as such, despite the fact that they have no other use at scale, not very credible.

The announcement that France will team up with the UK and Gabon to work on a market for biodiversity certificates is a major development: facing a crossroad, France has chosen to financialise biodiversity over tighter environmental regulations mandating a decline in its destruction, despite compelling evidence that this approach will fail from an environmental perspective. We understand this choice as merely reflecting the fact that the current French government continues to prioritize economic growth & competitiveness over addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.

Lastly and most importantly, we fear that this summit contributes to 2 major conceptual shifts under way:
– A reconceptualization of conservation policies to make them profitable and investable, despite the adverse impact that this would have on their environmental integrity;
– A gradual transformation of financial assistance to the South linked to climate change and biodiversity loss, from gifts and loans to market-based mechanisms claiming to bring additional revenues to the South, but mainly designed to benefit the North by helping maintain the status quo and creating a new asset class for its financiers.

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