Financialization 101

This module will give an overview of the relationship between the “real” economy and the financial economy, and how both relate to the financial crisis. We will start by defining and describing basic concepts like commodification, privatization and financialization. The module will then offer some real-world examples of financialization – including how financial speculation has affected the food sector and energy markets. Learning from these examples, participants will then be asked to consider instances of financialization in climate finance.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants can define and describe the differences between commodification, privatization and financialization, and how they are related.
  • Participants identify the impact of financial trends on resource management and access.
  • Participants begin to develop a shared analysis of how financialization could impact climate-related decisions, and alternatives to financialization as a management or capital generation tool.

 Guiding Questions

    • What are commodification, privatization and financialization and how are they different?
    • How does financialization impact the way that decisions are made about natural resource use and public benefit?
    • How could financialization impact the way participants develop campaign and advocacy targets, strategies and tactics?

What are existing and proposed alternatives to ‘financialized’ approaches?

A suggested roadmap for how to move participants through discussion, including suggestions for preparation, methodologies, and activities.


A comprehensive set of slides with notes and citations that can be used in lecture format or to guide group discussions. more slides are provided than can be reasonably used in any single presentation so please pick and choose according to your needs!

Case study

A real world example of climate finance ‘on the ground’ that can be used to help participants ground conceptual discussions.

Readings and resources

Lohmann, L. (2011) “Financialization, Commodification and Carbon: the contradictions of neoliberal climate policy”, Socialist Register

Sullivan, S. (2010), Banking Nature? The Spectacular Financialisation of Environmental Conservation

— (2013), Should nature have to prove its value?

 Tricarico, A. (2012), The Financial Enclosure of the Commons