Business Interests in the Environmental Crisis

@ATREE auditorium at 3.00 pm on 9th December 2016

Is the world going through an environmental crisis? If yes, who has caused it and where does the onus to remedy it lie? If one is to go by the policy debates and outcomes worldwide, the existence of a crisis seems established, the attribution contested, and the road map for remedies under perpetual review. Each year several international conventions revisit their priorities and national governments review their responses to problems of deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change, water availability and pollution.

A collection of essays in the edited volume, Business Interests and the Environmental Crisis, [edited by Kanchi Kohli and Menon Menon] (See here) brings together analysis on how the policy discourse on the environmental crisis has borrowed economic and trade principles to address the ‘environmental’ problem. The discussions and negotiations are to account for the “scarcity” of nature. If nature is no longer available in plenty, how should one view it, value it and live with it? These are at the root of the conversations at international environmental gatherings.

The attempt has been to understand these conversations through four elements: the commodity, the pricing or valuation, the ownership, and the regulation. While finding solutions to a crisis, how does nature come to be viewed as a commodity and what might have prompted the introduction of the principles of valuation and compensation while presenting solutions. Where do these solutions interface with the demands for defining clear property rights and putting in place a regulatory framework to shape our consumption of the environment?

The thematic essays explore the theme of the book through a range of sectors and “solutions”. These include water pricing, climate change, forest rights, access and benefit sharing, knowledge privatization, coal extraction and the commodification of built space.

About the speakers

Kanchi Kohli is researcher and writer working on environment, forest and biodiversity governance in India. Her work explores the links between law, industrialization and environment justice. One of her current areas of research locates the concept of commodification of nature in real time environment policy and sustainability discourses.

Manju Menon has researched and written on Environment, Law and Development for over two decades. Her main areas of work are environmental law making and implementation processes and regulatory decisions on siting of infrastructure projects. She collaborates with local, regional and thematic networks working on decentralised resource governance and environmental compliance.

Vinuta Gopal is a co-founder and director at Asar Social Impact Advisors Pvt Ltd, a consultancy company set up to provide advise, support and research data to forge an enabling environment for change on social and environmental issues. She has more than 15 years of experience in a campaigning and advocacy and led the climate and energy team in Greenpeace India during its formative years. She also headed the organisation as the interim Executive Director and Program Director. Vinuta lives in Bangalore and is a certified accountant.