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Making Nature Work for Capital in the 21st Century? The Green Economy and the Prospects of “Green” Capitalism in World-Ecology Perspective

Dissertation in Politik

Mentoring Team:
First supervisor: Prof. Christian Lammert
Second supervisor: Prof. Boris Vormann
Third supervisor: Prof. Markus Kienscherf

This thesis seeks to understand the repercussions of increasing ecological constraints and the imperative of “greening” for the future of global capitalism from a world-systems/world-ecology perspective. It engages in depth with the Green Economy/green growth approach developed by major international institutions (OECD, World Bank and UNEP), analyzing how the Green Economy’s strategies relate to the historical, institutional, economic, political and ecological context they encounter and assessing how adequately they respond to this situation. Does the Green conomy suggest a feasible “green” accumulation regime for the 21st century, perhaps even enabling another systemic cycle of accumulation in capitalist history? By what strategies does it seek to make nature “work” for capital – and to overcome the resistance of incumbent politicaleconomic powers vested in the “brown” economy? How consistent is its promise to reconcile economic, environmental and social sustainability and, effectively, to end capital’s systematic externalization of costs?

In the course of this analysis, the project periodically extends its gaze beyond the particular political and economic approach taken by the Green Economy, using the latter to explore the systemic limits to any “greening” of capitalism.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft