MESYM Documentary Night #28: Banking Nature

MESYM’s Documentary Night is held every 2nd Tuesday of each month. Everyone is invited to come hang out, watch a documentary, meet like-minded friends and take part in the discussion. Admission is free!

Our October event is co-organized with KLEFF – Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, an annual film festival that features award-winning international and local environmental films by renowned filmmakers. We are screening Banking Nature, a provocative documentary that looks at the growing movement to monetize the natural world—and to turn endangered species and threatened areas into instruments of profit.

“How much are the rainforests of the Amazon, the coral reefs of Hawaii, and the world’s bees worth?”
Le Figaro

“Inspiring; analysis with detail and foresight”


Discussion lead by WWF Malaysia’s Head of Policy and Climate Change, Ms Lakshmi Lavanya Rama Iyer

Ms Lavanya, a lawyer with a MSc in Sustainability (Climate Change), coordinated the preparation of Malaysia’s national report on climate change to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has represented Malaysia in international negotiations at the UNFCCC, and was an expert reviewer of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report.

Join the event on our Facebook Group.

About ‘Banking Nature’

“Buying landscapes, protecting landscapes, accumulating new landscapes—it’s a phenomenal opportunity.” —Steve Morgan, CEO, Wildlands Inc.

After years of working to undermine environmental regulations, governments and corporations are starting to think about the value of nature—and how they can profit from it.

BANKING NATURE is a provocative documentary that looks at the growing movement to monetize the natural world—and to turn endangered species and threatened areas into instruments of profit. It’s a worldview that sees capital and markets not as a threat to the planet, but as its salvation—turning nature into “natural capital” and fundamental processes such as pollination and oxygen generation into “ecosystem services.”

In the film, we meet economist and former banker Pavan Sukhdev, a leading authority on the valuation of nature (one square kilometre of Hawaiian coral reef: $600,000). In his view, the best way to protect endangered species and ecosystems is to assign them a value—because if we can’t measure the services nature provides, we can’t recognize them within our current models.

In Uganda, the film introduces meet men who measure trees to determine how much carbon they store—and a banker from the German firm that sells the resulting carbon credits. Meanwhile, in Brazil, steel giant Vale destroys rainforest, replaces it with tree plantations, and reaps the benefits of environmental credits.

Once we start measuring the value of nature, we can start turning it into securitized financial products. BANKING NATURE asks whether can we trust the very same people whose management of the mortgage market nearly led to a global economic collapse to safeguard nature by turning it into financial instruments for speculators?

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