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Scientific paper


Green economy and its others: conservation, scarcity, and buen vivir

Kathleen McAfee

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Degrowth Conference Leipzig 2014


Abstract: Green economy aims to save globalized capitalism from economic crisis by muting its ecologically and socially destructive consequences and surmounting conflicts rooted in worsening global inequalities. Its advocates endorse markets in nature as both a conservation strategy and a means to revive economic growth in a context of perceived resource shortages and scarce ecological space. Some global-South governments have denounced green economy and commodification of nature as unjust and unsustainable but their commitment to extraction-based growth catches them in contradictions. In contrast, emerging critiques from the left and from ‘below’ challenge foundational assumptions of mainstream green economy and the growth imperative at its core. Movements inspired by buen vivir, sumak kawsay, lek’il kuxlejal, etc. pursue endogenous strategies aimed at reduced dependence on external markets and capital, repeasantization, and equitable urban-rural relationships. They reject the construction of ecological limits as absolute scarcity, focusing less on the finitude of resources and carbon sinks than on the anti-entropic, life-giving relationship among human labor, water, soil, sun, and the activities of other species.

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