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Biodiversity offsetting, urbanization and the right to nature

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In this talk, I seek to offer a Marxist historical-geographical analysis of biodiversity offsetting policy in England, and its emergence in the context of the global economic crisis, and government aspirations for large-scale urban development projects. By paying attention to the interplay between offsetting, urbanization and the neoliberal reconstruction of conservation, my aim is to shift the focus of the neoliberal conservation literature from the role of offsets as ecological ‘commodities’ to the way offsetting is used to support the production of space(s), place(s) and nature(s). By drawing on empirical work in the UK, and specifically on two controversial housing developments in South East (Lodge Hill) and in North East (North Tyneside) England, I will highlight the historically specific interactions and socio-economic and political contexts that explain why and when biodiversity offsetting is selected as the appropriate policy to resolve conservation-development conflicts. I conclude that conflicts around the use of space and nature involve fundamentally political questions, and must be addressed in political terms by identifying the strategies through which a more egalitarian mode of democratically producing socially and environmentally just natures can be achieved.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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