Publications

Failing Forward : The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Conservation

Fletcher, Robert

Summary

Failing Forward documents the global rise of neoliberal conservation as a response to biodiversity loss, and unpacks how this approach has managed to "fail forward" over time despite its ineffectiveness. At its core, neoliberal conservation promotes market-based instruments intended to reconcile environmental preservation and economic development by harnessing preservation itself as the source of both conservation finance and capital accumulation more generally. Robert Fletcher describes how this project has developed over the past several decades along with the expanding network of organizations and actors that have come together around its promotion. Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, he explores why this strategy continues to captivate states, nongovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, and the private sector alike despite its significant deficiencies. Ultimately, Fletcher contends that neoliberal conservation should be understood as a failed attempt to render global capitalism sustainable in the face of its intensifying social and ecological contradictions. Consequently, he concludes, the only viable alternative capable of simultaneously achieving both environmental sustainability and social equity is a concerted program of "degrowth" grounded in postcapitalist principles.