In the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+20), “green economy” emerged as a vision for growth and development that could generate economic development and improvements in people’s lives in various ways, while also enhancing environmental and social wellbeing. The global financial crisis in 2008–2009 spurred that debate, and these concerns have been translated into the vision of a “green economy.” Among the components of a green-economy strategy were the promotion of development and adoption of sustainable technologies and policy mixes that require a re-assessment of the roles of the private industry and the state, respectively.
However, while this vision coincided with the corporate capture of UN policy making and the political—and spatial—marginalization of civil society in the conference process. This happened amid a widening interpretation of “green economy” as a call for governments to commodify nature and the environmental commons in favor of the private sector, as civil society had both warned and eventually witnessed. This led to civil society calls to end the UN’s corporate capture, restore environmental values and prioritize human rights obligations and approaches in the subsequent 2030 Agenda, a struggle that continues.