Global Political Economy of Conservation Policies and Ecosystem Services in the Tropics

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The growing interconnection of globalised economies has been accelerated by increasing trade flows, direct foreign investments and global market demand between Global North and Global South countries. Because of the social and ecological damage related to global value chains, some scholars have pointed out the need to examine how these developments might be regulated at international level. This paper aims to illustrate the complexity of interactions between the constellations of actors involved in the globalised governance of protected areas in developing countries. The paper reveals that some internal actors, sometimes in coalition with local communities, have developed an alternative rhetoric based on an economic use of biodiversity, in order to resist the growing global pressure for forestland conversions. Following the pioneering work of some political economists including Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi, these alternative rhetoric strategies can be characterised as a form of commodification of nature. This economic approach to nature and subsequently to biodiversity shows that it is more effective and beneficial to conserve nature rather than exploit it, but it dismisses a range of questions about the limitations of any approach that ignores or neglects the central role of state bureaucracies in the governance of biodiversity in the Global South.

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