Two new reports on reveal how corporations benefit from the financialization of nature

Screen Shot 2022-03-24 at 14.12.24

Friends of the Earth International have published two new briefings on the financialisation of nature over the last two decades.

Both consider how corporations, industries and international institutions have spent the last two decades pursuing market-based ‘solutions’ to the deepening biodiversity crisis. ‘Financialization of nature’—a process of framing discourse and policies related to environmental protection in solely economic terms—has been portrayed as the ‘win-win’ solution, allowing for conservation of nature while business as usual continues. However, this proves to be a false solution, allowing further environmental destruction and human rights violations in the process.

Regulated Destruction‘ explores how corporations and countries use Financialization of Nature discourse to weaken environmental regulations and facilitate exploitation by extractive industries in protected areas and other contested places.

Nature For Sale‘ unpacks how businesses use Financialization of Nature processes for profit: by bending environmental policy to their interests, getting access to restricted natural sites, getting quick approval for financial loans, and winning reputational benefits through greenwashing. The report digs deep in to the involvement of certain sectors—banking, extractive industries related to mining, oil, gas and quarrying, real estate, consumer goods, and aviation—and how each of them benefits from offsetting and similar schemes

Click the links to download the reports from the Friends of the Earth International website.

New briefing addresses market based approaches and biodiversity


Friends of the Earth International have published a new briefing that addresses if market-based approaches tackle critical loss of biodiversity.

The briefing, entitled “Are market-based approaches capable of tackling the critical loss of biodiversity?” explains why we should reject false solutions including those based on the Financialization of Nature and, instead, focus on real solutions to tackle the deepening crisis. Many of these real solutions already exist: applying existing legislation is just one of them.

We are facing multiple interconnected crises. Biodiversity loss and deterioration and the extinction of species present us with further negative impacts. In response many false solutions are arising that merely seek to keep the status quo, while creating new corporate opportunities.

The briefing can be downloaded from at this link.

Documentary ‘Lords of Water’ hits European TV screens

A new documentary has been broadcast about water financialization. The programme is produced by the German-French TV ARTE and is called ‘Main Basse sur l’Eau’ or ‘Wasser – Im Visier der Finanzhaie’ (Lords of Water).

It is available in French and German and can be watched for free online here.

The documentary shows the impacts of water markets in Australia and its development in California. They interview many of the people actually speculating with water.

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 13.13.45

Continue reading

New report on the risks of Biodiversity Offsetting

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 14.45.19

“Nature destruction cannot be compensated for” say NGOs warning communities against biodiversity offsetting

As the world’s forests, lands and waters keep being destroyed, the people whose livelihoods are deeply linked to these places cannot continue their way of life and are often pushed into poverty and hunger. At the same time, the very actors profiting from this destruction have found a way to come across as friends of Nature. How is that possible?

Exposing the absurd logic behind this paradox is the goal of a new booklet published by the NGOs Re:Common and Counter Balance. “Biodiversity Offsetting, a threat to life” is a short publication aimed at explaining what biodiversity offsetting is and how it is deployed by private companies – with the support of governments and the legitimization of some conservation organizations and academics ­– to greenwash their reputation and continue with business-as-usual.

Starting from the observation that biodiversity offsetting projects are mainly top-down and imposed on communities with little regard for their wellbeing, the booklet shows through concrete examples and illustrations how this mechanism is nothing but a license to destroy.

While in the eyes of international financial institutions, governments and corporations, the damage to nature and communities is an inevitable price to pay for development and economic growth, the booklet calls on communities to reclaim their fundamental right to decide what is best for them and their territories.

Alessandro Runci, campaigner at Re:Common and author of the booklet, claimed:

“We deem unacceptable that the burden of the protection of Nature is placed on those who are least responsible and most affected by its destruction, while helping corporate polluters to greenwash the impacts of their businesses. It is illogical to replace environmental regulations with perverse mechanisms to trade forests, grasslands, mountains and deserts for profit. Nature is priceless, and it is not for sale.”

Xavier Sol, director of Counter Balance, added:

“The real causes of the destruction of Nature are rooted in a development model designed to take from the many and give to the few. Biodiversity Offsetting allows corporations to continue with their destructive businesses undisturbed. We believe that it is of vital importance that civil society and NGOs stand united against this mechanism, and say: No to biodiversity offsetting!”

Updated dossier on the New Economy of Nature


Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung have just updated their dossier New Economy of Nature!

‘Offsetting is better than doing nothing at all.’

‘Prices must tell the ecological truth.’

These and other popular arguments for an economic valuation of nature are critiqually questioned in our dossier New Economy of Nature. Ten contrasting points illustrate where these common assumptions fall short or where they are just false.

Also NEW in our dossier:

Our dossier illustrates what the concept of the ‘New Economy of Nature’ stands for and why this approach has been of increased interest to economy and politics. We name key actors and institutions that are shaping the discourse and highlight contradictions as well as disputable assumptions.

Event invitation: New Frontiers, New Tricks

Protest against proposed programs like REDD+

Saturday 8 April 2017, 10.30am – 4pm

Friends of the Earth, 139 Clapham Road, Stockwell, London, SW9 0HP

From Madagascar to Mongolia, from Macedonia to middle England, mining and other sectors are using new conservation measures such as ‘biodiversity offsetting’ to put a gloss of sustainability on their damaging activities.

At this event, activists, researchers, and NGOs and will be sharing testimony from communities across several continents, discussing these new threats to people and nature, and begin learning how to challenge them together. Continue reading

EU is pushing biodiversity offsetting through the backdoor

By Xavier Sol, originally published on Counter Balance

Last year the European Commission was forced to ditch its plans to develop legislation on biodiversity offsetting after EU citizens overwhelmingly rejected such plans in a public consultation. Nevertheless this set back doesn’t seem to withhold the European Commission from pushing biodiversity offsetting forward in practice. Together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) it is running the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), which aims to invest up to €125 million in natural capital projects.

The push for biodiversity offsetting is not only at odds with the EU’s democratic policy process, the benefits for the environment remain questionable. Because of its focus on financial return critics fear the NCFF may rather drive the financialisation of nature than the protection of nature.

The NCFF will operate a total budget of €100-125 million with an additional €10 million for technical assistance. The aim is to leverage private investments for 10-12 pilot schemes from 2015 to 2017.

According to the European Commission the NCFF has to „demonstrate that natural capital projects can generate revenues or save costs, whilst delivering on biodiversity and climate adaptation objectives. The NCFF is to establish a pipeline of replicable, bankable operations that will serve as a “proof of concept” and that will demonstrate to potential investors the attractiveness of such operations“.

The European Commission’s conviction that financial gain and biodiversity gain can be easily combined is not shared by everyone. During the consultation round on biodiversity offsetting last year, over 9000 people and 65 organisations have signed a letter urging the Commission not to pursue policy related to biodiversity offsetting. They fear it would “harm nature and people, and give power to those who destroy nature for private profit.”

Indeed, the NCFF’s budget consists of €50 million from the Commission’s Life programme, money that used to come in grants for environmental projects. Increasingly, proponents of financial instruments argue that flexible financing is necessary in order to secure ample funding to address the climate and environmental crises. However, it also means a shift in management from environmentally focused institutions to institutions with a financial focus driven by profit. As a result success becomes measured by profitability rather than the ability to protect nature.

Another problem is the lack of transparency. Part of the NCFF funding will be channelled through intermediary funds managed by third parties. Using financial intermediaries makes it impossible to fully measure the project’s impact. The EIB’s responsibility to track all the investments is outsourced to the intermediary who often lacks the capacity, know-how and focus to lead on this process. This has an inevitable impact on the quality of the projects.

Among some environmental organisations doubts about the NCFF as an instrument are rising even before the first projects have been approved. Its focus on promoting the valuation of nature and developing markets for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsetting makes it a symbol of the financialisation of nature.

New report: rejecting Financialization of Nature

08 foei financialization of nature A5 mr

Friends of the Earth International are presenting a new publication from their Forests and Biodiversity Program.

The brochure, “rejecting Financialization of Nature”, explains in a simple way how financialzation works using examples from different countries.  It puts forward a strong position on financialization to raise awareness in the public and should be a useful tool for those lobbying at international and national levels.

Spanish and French language editions are available from Friends of the Earth International directly.

Friends of the Earth International is also publishing materials to support its work about climate finance at the national and international levels, at the UN and UNFCCC, backing Indigenous Peoples and local communities rights to end deforestation and forest degradation.

Drawing together these pieces of work, Isaac Rojas has written an article for The Ecologist magazine: “Local communities, not global financiers, are the best forest managers”.

A response from the European Commission

For those of you who signed the letter to the European Commission, you may be interested to see the response we got.  We are pleased to have gotten a response, if the detail is very much lacking.

Hannah Mowat, FERN

Dear Ms Mowat,

Commissioner Poto?nik has asked me to answer your letter of 17 October 2014. The Commission’s on-line consultation on a future EU no net loss initiative served to collect stakeholders’ views on a broad range of issues related to no net loss of biodiversity. We are pleased to see that so many used this opportunity to express their opinions. We also welcome Fern’s and associated organisations’ contribution on this important topic. We will evaluate all the contributions we have received and take them into account when deciding on the further actions to be taken at EU level to achieve no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Yours Sincerely,

François Wakenhut, Head of Unit

Directorate B – Natural Capital
ENV.B.2 – Biodiversity

New paper: “the dangers of commodifying our natural world”


Friends of the Earth Europe has produced a new paper stating that the group believes “nature is not for sale”.

Proposed EU policy would introduce new systems of biodiversity offsetting as a theoretical way to secure “no net loss” of biodiversity.  Friends of the Earth Europe’s paper summarises and explains the problems with this approach.

You can read the report on the Friends of the Earth Europe website.