Green economy or greedy economy? | World Development Movement

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Green economy or greedy economy?

What is a green economy?

A true green economy would embrace economic justice - the right of poor communities to determine their own path out of poverty, and an end to harmful policies which put profit before people and the environment. It would end our obsession with economic growth and unsustainable consumption and replace these with a focus on how everyone’s needs can be met in a truly sustainable manner.

However, industrialised countries like the UK, alongside banks and multinational companies, are using the phrase 'green economy' as a smokescreen to hide their plan to further privatise the global commons and create new markets in the functions nature provides for free.

Out of this Trojan horse will spring new market-based mechanisms that will allow the financial sector to gain more control of the management of the global commons.

Instead of contributing to sustainable development and economic justice, this corporate green economy would lead to the privatisation of land and nature by multinational companies, taking control of these resources further away from the communities which depend on them.

Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceeds the money to be made from preserving it.
-George Monbiot, author and Guardian columnist

What would a real green economy look like?

Watch WDM’s head of campaigns and policy, Hannah Griffiths, explain what the green economy is all about and what we can do together to push for economic justice instead.

See video
An African farmer

22,000 people

Evicted from their land at gunpoint in Uganda in 2011 to allow UK firm New Forests Company to plant trees for carbon credits.

A bulldozer

227 million

Hectares of land, an area the size of Western Europe, sold or leased in developing countries by international investors since 2001.


262 percent

Rise in water prices between 2007-2010 as a result of the privatisation of the state-owned water company in Georgia.

Green economy blog

Regular updates from our campaigners on issues around the green economy, financialisation and the Rio+20 conference.

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A man with a chainsaw cutting wood

The great nature sale

Discussions about the green economy are being captured by rich country governments and corporate interests. Their proposals include allowing speculators to bet on the price of water, selling off land that indigenous people and small-scale farmers have used for generations and creating new financial instruments linked to the survival of endangered species.

Find out more

A picture of the briefing

Want to know more?

Our briefing, Rio+20 summit: Whose green economy?, explains what is being proposed at Rio, the corporate plan for the future of our planet, and the sustainable alternatives being proposed by social movements and civil society in the global south.

Download the briefing