In his lecture at the University of Sheffield, “Put a price on nature? We must stop this neoliberal road to ruin”, (manuscript published online by The Guardian) journalist and environmental activist George Monbiot talked about what he called the Natural Capital Agenda:
“[…] As Thomas Piketty, a name which is on everybody’s lips at the moment, so adeptly demonstrates in his new book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, what has happened over the past thirty years or so has been a great resurgence of patrimonial capitalism, of a rentier economy, in which you make far more money either by owning capital or by positioning yourself as a true self-serving flea upon the backs of productive people, a member of an executive class whose rewards are out of all kilter with its performance or the value it delivers. You make far more money in either of those positions than you possibly can through entrepreneurial activity. If wealth under this system were the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.
So just at this moment, this perfect moment of the total moral and ideological collapse of the neoliberal capitalist system, some environmentalists stumble across it and say, “This is the answer to saving the natural world.” And they devise a series of ideas and theories and mechanisms which are supposed to do what we’ve been unable to do by other means: to protect the world from the despoilation and degradation which have done it so much harm. I’m talking about the development of what could be called the Natural Capital Agenda: the pricing, valuation, monetisation, financialisation of nature in the name of saving it.”