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«EUI Working Papers RSCAS 2012/23 ROBERT SCHUMAN CENTRE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES Global Governance Programme-18 MULTILEVEL GOVERNANCE OF INTERDEPENDENT ...»

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Where does all of this leave the status of biodiversity as a global public good? Despite the discomfort with the commodification of nature, there are no inherent conflicts in provisioning a public good also through private actors and market-based incentives. If new participants to the endeavour of managing a common matter have changed, so may some of the manners of doing so. The advantage of a renewed energy for action is not to be undervalued either. The experience in the field of human rights gives sufficient hope for harnessing the private sector's role in implementing “laws of humanity”. However, it should be remembered that the approach of ‘global public goods’ is just one among many approaches, with a particular – not uncontested – focus on effectiveness. Many other considerations may get obscured with this particular methodological choice.

As the developments described are only recent, most of the ‘incentives’ are really only initiatives.

Yet, the ambitions and directions in which some of them are developing indicate the terrain on which biodiversity policies will be built in the future. If expanded upon in the future, challenges, not solely legal ones, are to be faced with more commitments of private actors. One common tendency of the private sector is to be selective with regard to the obligations it assumes (Affolder, 2010). Other pathologies of the private sectors' involvement are a misleading representation of the efforts while maintaining dubious practices.34 An essential task for the future is therefore to design, and put in place, safeguards to be included into eventual market mechanisms; and ensure appropriate quality standards for the private sector involvement. Regardless of the theoretical approach of scholars, it is clear that by becoming involved in the management of a common concern, the private sector has assumed the ethical obligations that public law attaches to it, and the expectation to conform to these is legitimate. If left unattended the private sector’s step into the public sphere may recast the objectives of biodiversity protection in such a way as to fit its goals, without providing a broader public benefit.

Thus, the discussion on the increased presence of the private sector in no way precludes the ongoing call to scale up the public management of biodiversity, implying the need for increased public financing, stronger public commitments, and better supervision of the private action. This contribution has in no way affected, indeed only reinforced, the acknowledgment of biodiversity as a public good being primarily in the public domain.

These practices have popularity been known as ‘greenwash’, or ‘bluewash’ in the case of corporations partnering with the UN and claiming adherence to its principles.

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