Selected Conference Talks & Activities
2023 European Parliament, Beyond Growth, International Conference, Brussels, Belgium Focus panel 13 – Repairing and restoring Nature in a beyond growth perspective: is putting a price on biodiversity the right way to go?
Offsetting & Pricing Nature: Speech and Round-table. Semi-plenary.
This was an event Chaired by Green MEP Marie Toussaint held on day two of a three day conference 15th-17th May. Panellists were allowed a short introduction covering a question from the Chair and after there was a Q&A session. The speakers in order were Frédérique Chlous representing the French Biodiversity Office (that supports offsetting), Frederic Hache from Green Finance Observatory (criticising financialisation of Nature), Marco Lambertini from WWF (supporting financialisation), Clive Spash, and finally Vandana Shiva (a third critical voice on the panel). The entire event was recorded and made available live and after the event (link here). My own talk started with a few points concerning the presentations over the last day and a half before moving on to the specific issue I was asked to address, economic theory on pricing and valuing Nature, and it received a standing ovation. My remarks criticised the WWF positions and supported the arguments of Fred Hache and were supported by the arguments of Vandana Shiva.
Overall the conference was a mixture of mainstream vs activist rhetoric. European Commissioners repeated advocacy of not only growth (now green-washed) but backed by circular economies, green consumerism, ocean resource extractivism, high tech, renewable energy based on colonialism and financialisation of nature under the new taxonomy. Joseph Stiglitz’ simplistic advocacy of carbon pricing and decoupling revealed his mainstream credentials and environmental irrelevance. More surprising were the pragmatic positions arising from those (formerly?) associated with degrowth: Jason Hickel deliberately avoided the term preferring ‘post-growth’, and Timothee Parrique reduced degrowth to a down turn in GDP after which growth would be allowed within bounds! The latter told me explicitly he now advocates post-growth and not degrowth, and it appeared Hickel is doing likewise. The metaphorically over burdened talk of Tim Jackson might have been a literary masterpiece but lacked any substance. A question from the floor to Kate Raworth asked her if the doughnut approach was anti-capitalist and favoured degrowth, but got a characteristically evasive answer that, similar to Parrique, implied degrowth was simply a reduction in GDP which she would accept to get within planetary boundaries (and after let rip growth and capitalism?). An interesting sign of progress was the shift in the position of Union leaders towards the need for planned transformation of economic activities rather than defence of old fossil fuel industries. The highlight of the event was the presence of young activists who challenged the establishment discourse, and the men and women in grey suits, and took over the closing event with singing and protest banners.
2021 United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals, International Conference, Bergen, Norway
Doughnut Economics: A Round-table with Kate Raworth. Plenary. This was the opening event, for the two day (online) conference, with Kate Raworth giving a talk (32 min), followed by three short commentaries in order: Clive Spash comment, then Aili Keskitalo (President of the Sámi Parliament) and Vilde F Ruud (political science student at Bergen). There was then a reply by KR (10 mins). I was then asked a question and had a further chance for a short response to KR by myself (5 min) and comment by Aili (2 min). The rest of the round-table is not covered, but the full event can be found here on a Bergen University website. A pdf is available of the transcript of my comments. They need to be read in the context of the presentation and the response by Kate to which my first and second critical commentaries are directed respectively. A related written set of critical remarks on Kate Raworth’s approach can be found in my paper Apologist for Growth (free pdf external link), see especially section 4.3 ‘Do nought economics: the passive revolutionary’.
2015 International Congress for Conservation Biology, Montpellier, France
New Paths for Conservation: A Debate with Peter Kareiva and Clive Spash Plenary. This event involved a talk by Kareiva followed by my own and then a debate in which we answered questions from a moderator. My lecture was a critique of the neoliberal ‘New’ Conservation as promoted by Kareiva and others. The 2000 strong audience gave it a standing ovation (click here for audience comments). Unfortunately, there was no video or recording by the organisers (a major oversight), but a low quality sound recording was made by a member of the audience, and this has been transcribed. The “Peter Kareiva vs. Clive Spash” chaired debate was also recorded and a transcript of that will appear here in due course.
“Environmental Values in Conservation: Ethics, Economics and Pragmatism”
Lecture Overhead Slides (PDF)
Transcript with Slides as Appendix (PDF free to download, external link )
2014 International Conference on Degrowth, Leipzig, Germany
“Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity”. My roles: Scientific committee, workshop organiser/facilitator, presenter and debate. Workshop on “Exploring Transformation to a Radical Alternative Gesellschaft: Economy, Ethics, Ecology”. Presentation “Values and Ethics in an Alternative Degrowth Society”. Semi-plenary and debate with Nico Paech. The session was called: “Scenarios for a Post-Growth Economy”. The lecture theatre was packed and people were being turned away at the door. My talk was entitled “A Future Social Ecological Economy: Reality-Transformation-Utopia” and was well received. On Vimeo there is a video of the talk and the debate [click links].
2010 Austria, Bank of Austria, Vienna
“Bulldozing Biodiversity: How to Trash Ecosystems Efficiently”. Public lecture held on Bank premises. The talk was videoed and simultaneously translated into German. The message was probably not well received by the bankers present and the video never appeared through their website. The sustainability officer finally released a copy after over a year of internal ‘problems’. There is a copy of the talk on Vimeo in English and German; also you can click here for overheads of the talk as a pdf.
[Under construction. More to come…]
2007 Australia, New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Noosa, Australia
Clive L. Spash, Environmental Values and Motivation Part I & II, ANZSEE Master Class, 3 July.
2006 International Society for Ecological Economics Conference, New Delhi, India
Amartya Sen, Clive L. Spash, Transcript of Clive Spash Question and Amartya Sen Reply on the Stern Report (with Spash’s comments) (PDF), 18th December 2006.
2001 5th Nordic Environmental Research Conference, Aarhus, Denmark
Clive L. Spash, Deliberative Monetary Valuation (PDF), 14th – 16th June.