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The Devil is in the (Bio)diversity: Private Sector “Engagement” and the Restructuring of Biodiversity Conservation



Abstract:  Intensified relations between biodiversity conservation organizations and private-sector actors are analyzed through a historical perspective that positions biodiversity conservation as an organized political project. Within this view the organizational dimensions of conservation exist as coordinated agreement and action among a variety of actors that take shape within radically asymmetrical power relations. This paper traces the privileged position of “business” in aligning concepts of sustainable development and ecological modernization within the emerging institutional context of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Environment Facility in ways that help to secure continued access to “nature as capital”, and create the institutional conditions to shape the work of conservation organizations. The contemporary emergence of business as a major actor in shaping contemporary biodiversity conservation is explained in part by the organizational characteristics of modernist conservation that subordinates it to larger societal and political projects such as neoliberal capitalism.