Whose Debt for Whose Nature?

Gender and nature in neoliberalism’s war against subsistence

Authored by: Ana Isla

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415707749
eBook ISBN: 9781315886572
Adobe ISBN:


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Since the official recognition of the planetary crisis, which was launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the concept of sustainable development (SD) has been a driving force behind global environmental and development policy. A key concept in SD is ‘natural capital’, which is used to refer to the goods and services that the planet’s stock of water, land, air, and renewable and non-renewable resources provides (Fenech et al. 1999). As a result of nature being defined as natural capital in the SD discourse, all areas of the earth have been opened up to global intervention. The past two decades have seen a steady process of monetizing nature, where most parts of the ecosystem have been turned into goods and services to be traded on financial markets. At the same time, the UN, its agencies, and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present economic growth as the solution to poverty and inequality across the globe. The twin goals of ecological sustainability and poverty reduction are present in the ‘green economy’, a concept that framed the 2012 Earth Summit (Rio+20). It is defined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a vision for ‘improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities’ (UNEP n.d.).

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