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“The drivers of the commodification of nature are mainly transnational agents and have a direct link with States”, said environmental activist Danilo Urrea of CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia. But Urrea raised an urgent question around this issue: Is there political control over territories?
When assessing the financialization of nature, the activist raised other questions that are key to him: what about the territories where financial assets are being created? Who controls them? Transnational organizations? The State?”
Urrea´s statements were made in the framework of a presentation given by activist Antonio Tricarico, member of Re-Commons, Italy, on the first day of the working meeting organized by environmental federation Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) about the financialization of nature, which was held in Paris, France, on May 26-28.
At the “conceptual dialogue on the privatization, commercialization and financialization of nature”, Urrea and Tricarico launched the debate during a session facilitated by Lucia Ortiz, coordinator of the Economic Justice-Resisting Neoliberalism Program of FoEI. Several other activists also spoke (Watch video below).
Tricarico began his presentation explaining that the commodification of nature includes two steps. One is “the appropriation of what is common and making it private” and set as examples lands and forests where indigenous people live. This is “privatization”, he said. “And then we have the issue about the sale of the private title of this common which has been privatized to someone else and here we got into the issue about what is the economic value given to it, which tends to become something not just related to the use, but something related to the exchange”. This exchange can´t happen bilaterally, explained Tricarico, but it happens in many ways, among them markets. This is commodification.
The activist of Re-Commons made reference also to standardization. He said that it is not only about commodities, but the standardization of commodities. “The world is diverse, the economy is diverse and nature is extremely diverse. So the need to standardize”.
After the privatization and commodification of nature “there is a third level”, said Tricarico: “financialization”. In this way, he explained that the commercial circulation of “privatized goods, made sellable and tradeable, in a standardized manner, can basically generate new types of assets, in particular financial assets”. “New types of markets are built and through this other circulation more profits can be extracted”.
In this framework, Urrea raised several questions. In addition to those already mentioned, we highlight others: “what do these financial assets mean for the autonomy of States? Are States today the ones in control of these forms of economy with actors outside production circles that are responsible for the financialization?
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