Mind the Gap: Creating and Fixing the Protected Area Financing Gap

Authors: Catherine Corson*, Mount Holyoke College
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Economic Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Finance, Neoliberal Conservation, Environmental Governance, Ethnography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Bacchus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the last twenty years, conservation trust funds have emerged as a means to address what conservationists have identified as the “protected area financing gap,” or the finances needed, in the absence of sufficient state funding and capacity, to sustain expanding protected area networks in order to meet global protected area targets. In this paper, I explore the intertwined nature of the new conservation enclosures, global targets and conservation finance. Drawing on data collected in collaborative ethnographies of the 2008 World Conservation Congress, the 2010 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the 2014 World Parks Congress, and the 2016 World Conservation Congress, I illustrate the ways in which these conferences have brought together and aligned actors around narratives of scarcity and urgency, as well as leveraged national commitments to global protected area targets, which justify and attract financial support for new physical land enclosures as well as provide new sites for capital accumulation. An estimated billion dollar industry, the majority of which supports conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean, these funds have become an avenue for not just eliding, but investing in, the consumptive and extractive drivers of biodiversity loss in the name of conservation. Furthermore, the associated alliances, networks and communities of practice that have emerged with them have become mechanisms for shifting authority in global conservation governance to the financial sector.

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