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In this conference we look at the ways finance is applied to convert capitalism from the source of global environmental crises into a provider of responses to these crises. Reaching a zero-carbon emission economy and maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity are presented by international organizations and national policymakers as decisive goals for the future of humankind. While it is clear that such goals cannot be achieved without radical transformations in the established forms of social organization associated with the operation of the global economy, modes of production and consumption, and more generally dominant ways of life and value systems, they are also said to require the ‘enrolment' of major economic actors to realize massive new investments in ‘green' technologies and ‘sustainable' infrastructures. The industrial and financial sectors have historically been part of the framing and making of the present situation. Also, since the 1970s, those sectors have played a growing role in the definition, government and management of environmental problems. This may explain why there are so many initiatives, tools and instruments, programs and projects that rely on economic and/or financial instruments, such as carbon trading schemes, green bonds, the carbon divestment movement, compensation finance and ecosystem services finance, REDD+ contracts, and venture capital for sustainability. Some of these initiatives and programs aim at “internalizing negative externalities” by making the production of environmental harm more costly, while others are designed to incentivize solutions. A first set of such ecological reform projects is founded on the construction of markets, for example to determine a price for carbon emissions through tradable ‘emission rights', or to define the monetary value of ecosystem services through payment schemes that reward natural processes. Another set of approaches directly targets financial actors through responsible investment initiatives or financial activism, seeking to change ‘unsustainable' financial practices and reorient global financial flows. A final set of projects are mainly designed to attract private investors to green projects, for example through special investment vehicles. The conference aims at documenting the different processes that turn the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss into economic issues, and then into business or financial opportunities. We are interested in the general dynamics: how, by what means and through what instruments, does this transformation take place and what does it produce?

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