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How to build an eco-functional planet: The paradoxical assumptions behind the pervasive belief that market-driven managerialism is the key to our ecological future

Jim Igoe


The most recent World Conservation Congress in Barcelona revealed the power of a powerful emerging worldview in biodiversity conservation. This worldview is premised on the idea that biodiversity conservation and for-profit are naturally compatible and in fact are mutually supportive of one another. Market expansion is essential to biodiversity conservation, and biodiversity conservation is essential to market expansion, as long as both are carefully managed and co-ordinated by highly trained experts using the latest science and technology. Ultimately, this worldview imagines a global project in which the economic and ecological functions of our planet are optimally synchronized and human needs will be met through market mechanisms. In this essay I highlight the paradoxical, and frequently unstated, assumptions that inform this managerial market-driven worldview, while highlighting the ways in which it informs and represents specific conservation and development interventions. I then turn to the types of problems and obstacles these assumptions present to finding equitable and viable solutions to our current socio-ecological dilemmas.

Publication information

  • IIED code: G02527
  • Published: Jun 2008 - Dartmouth College, Department of Anthropology
  • Theme: Food and agriculture
  • Language: English

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