Enterprising Nature tracks the rise of a powerful idea in global biodiversity conservation. Many scientists, bureaucrats, and environmentalists now believe that the only way to slow the decimation of nonhuman life on earth is to translate conservation into an economically rational even profitable set of policies and practices. In order to make live, goes the ascending mantra, one must make economic. Through multi–sited analysis, Jessica Dempsey explores the drive to produce a nature that can prove its value in economic terms, a nature that can compete in the marketplace and the cost–benefit accounting of modern governance.
Can enterprising nature provide a way out of the biodiversity crisis? In answering this question, Dempsey studies past and present attempts to suture conservation with economic logics and practices. The book digs down into scientific and technical debates, bringing readers lively firsthand accounts of political and economic struggles over market–making in places such as London, New York, Nagoya, and Nairobi. Dempsey finds that the story of enterprising nature is not one of triumphant ascent but rather one of enormous challenges: technical, scientific, economic, and political. Enterprising nature seems like an easy fix to ecological degradation, tailor–made for our austerity bound, market–governance times, but Dempsey argues it is best conceptualized as promissory, a green utopia whose realization is always just around the corner.
Enterprising Nature provides critical and timely insight into the workings of a massive international project that s changing how we value the natural world. The book is essential reading for scholars, activists, and policymakers interested in the complex and expanding relationships among ecology, economics and markets in contemporary international environmental politics.
Series Editor s Preface vi
1 Enterprising Nature 1
2 The Problem and Promise of Biodiversity Loss 28
3 An Economic–Ecological Tribunal for (Nonhuman) Life 56
4 Ecosystem Services as Political–Scientific Strategy 91
5 Protecting Profit: Biodiversity Loss as Material Risk 126
6 Biodiversity Finance and the Search for Patient Capital 159
7 Multilateralism vs Biodiversity Market–Making: Battlegrounds to Unleash Capital 192
8 The Tragedy of Liberal Environmentalism 232
Enterprising Nature is a highly thought–provoking book! It is also a really good one, and thanks to Dempsey s delightfully humorous prose, a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.
Julie Guthman, The AAG Review of Books (Volume 6, Issue 1)
Enterprising Nature also speaks to key approaches in feminist political economy most notably a commitment to uncover the immense amount of work required to sustain those things that appear as universals and givens: nature and capitalism, for example, but also, importantly, pragmatism and utopianism.
Juliane Collard, The University of British Columbia, Canada
Jessica Dempsey s Enterprising Nature is necessary reading for understating the critical geographies of how market forces, biodiversity, environmentalism, and all kinds of so–called experts try, and often fail, to dictate the terms of conservation politics the world over. The book is fresh, robust, and offers healthy doses of both scepticism and deep insights into the battles that need to be fought.
Nik Heynen, Professor of Geography, University of Georgia, USA
Dempsey s Enterprising Nature is a must–read for all conservationists. From the vantage of political ecology, Dempsey provides a sympathetic but ringing critique of the ecosystem services paradigm. Nonetheless, her fresh analysis ultimately points towards a new and hopeful pathway – by forging unexpected collaborations among scientists, social movement activists, and scholars of power dynamics, she imagines reclaiming an abundant biodiversity , as well as the ecosystem services it supplies.
Claire Kremen, Professor in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Through arguments with which liberal environmentalists will struggle to find fault, Dempsey carefully excavates the foundations of the global biodiversity industry, and finds them rotten. This is a compassionate and intelligent book, one that helps us ask far deeper questions about humans relations with the world than the mainstream environmental movement dare broach.
Raj Patel, Research Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, USA