The new colonial conquest of life has begun

In mid-October 2021, the managers of the Wall Street stock exchange in New York launched a new class of financial assets on all the elements of nature.

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The great financial predators


A perverse ‘revolution’. On 7 December last, the private company Chicago Mercantile Exchange, that manages the Chicago Stock Exchange, gave the warning by opening up a speculative financial product, a “futures”, to water in California. Since water for human use is now considered an increasingly scarce vital natural resource, private finance has intervened with the aim, they said, of “governing” the water shortage by ensuring that large water-using companies (farms, wine growers, sweet/carbonated drinks….) have water available thanks to the selection of uses made by water pricing (see the case with oil, gold, wheat….).


In mid-October 2021, before the start of COP15 on biodiversity and nature conservation, and a few days before COP26 on climate and the environment, the managers of the Wall Street stock exchange in New York launched a new class of financial assets on all the elements of nature. The same aim, the same claim: given the degradation of nature, the drastic reduction in biodiversity, the risks of a further massive rarefaction of natural “resources” for the economy and “economic growth”, private finance is playing the role of “saviour” by assuming responsibility for efficient and sustainable management, they say, of natural resources through their private appropriation and monetisation.


As in the case of water, behind the decision to promote/impose the total monetisation of nature is the world’s most powerful private investment fund, BlackRock, led by its chairman Larry Fink. Today, BlackRock manages $9.5 trillion and has become the world’s third largest financial powerhouse after the United States and China. Together, BlackRock, Vanguard (of which BlackRock is the main shareholder) and State Street, the three most powerful investment funds in the world, could become the world’s main owners of the Earth or strengthen their current position as “lords” of the Earth.


The monetisation of nature. Nature pricing


Black Rock has proposed to turn 30% of the natural world into “protected natural areas” by 2030, i.e. bought and managed by financial capital. A massive “legalized” campaign to grab the planet’s land. In a few decades, above mentioned investment funds and largest global banks and insurance companies will reduce the entire natural world to financial capital. The companies that will manage the ‘protected natural areas’ will be called NACs (Natural Asset Companies). Their aim is to extract unlimited profits from the natural assets they will monetise. The first and foremost victims would be the indigenous peoples whose lands they consider to be their ancestral, non-transferable heritage. Individual and collective rights to life would be trampled upon without limit everywhere.


The monetization of nature is a scandal


Nature pricing will allow the most powerful players of global oligopolistic finance a) to transform the whole natural world of the Earth (human species included) into a gigantic mine of extraction and accumulation, of “monetary wealth” destroying the wealth of the life of the planet, and b) to extend their power of domination and violence over the economy of humans (an increasingly artificial economy dominated by the logic of unequal enrichment and exclusion), to that of the whole economy of the natural world.


The people at BlackRock have estimated that the natural world is worth four quadrillion dollars, or 4.000 trillion dollars. Consider that the world GDP in 2020 was valued at 84,5 trillion dollars and Germany’s GDP at $ 3,8 trillion.


The complicity of the public authorities


The public authorities are complicit. The majority of democratically elected parliaments and oligarchic governments of the dominant social groups believe in the “Lords” of Finance. Neither in the specific but decisive case of water, nor in the case of the speculative financialization of nature, have they reacted. In fact, they have confirmed their approval.


The acceptance of the monetisation of nature was first approved by states at the Third UN World Earth Summit in 2012. This has so far been one of the main factors preventing the COPs on climate and the environment (including the COP26) from finding a solution in the interests of all the earth’s inhabitants (all living species).  This is a politically and ethically unacceptable, indecent position on the part of the elected representatives of the people.


The other agenda


As we know, the discourse of the dominant power groups on “durable, sustainable development” has been a shameless imposture since 1987 (the date of the UN Brundtland Commission’s report). We now have indisputable confirmation of this.


The challenge posed by predators to the global community of life on the planet is total, immense. The dominants do not joke and do not promise blah blah. They act, they colonise, they subjugate, they destroy. Today financial predators are criminal.


The experiences of the last twenty years show that the citizens cannot limit themselves to continuing to petition. They must fight to reverse history for “Another Agenda” for the world, in the name of Humanity and Life on Earth.


For some proposals in this direction, see my article “La moneta al servizio della vita”, 29 October 2019, in particular the section on “Demonetising Common Goods and Services Essential for Life”.


The workers invented the general strike and they did it rather better than worse. It is time for the people of the Earth to find the right tools.




Note:  Information sources: Ellen Brown, Wall Street’s Latest Scheme Is Monetizing Nature Itself, Nov.4, 2021;; Whitney Webb, Wall Street’s Takeover of Nature Advances with Launch of New Asset Class, Oct.13,2021,; and’investimento-che-comandano-il-mondo/




- Riccardo Petrella (La Spezia, Italy, August 5, 1941). Founder of the International Committee for the World Water Contract, Prof. Emeritus of Globalisation at the Catholic University of Louvain and member of The WPF’s Scientific Committee, Italy.
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