Governance rescaling and the neoliberalization of nature: The case of biodiversity conservation in four EU countries

Evangelia Apostolopoulou*, Dimitrios Bormpoudakis, Riikka Paloniemi, Joanna Cent, Małgorzata Grodzińska-Jurczak, Agata Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska, John D. Pantis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we investigate how processes of rescaling biodiversity governance downwards, upwards and outwards are interlinked with the increased global and European trends toward the neoliberalization of nature conservation. We furthermore explore who wins and who loses from this interrelationship. We focus on the European Union and specifically on England, Finland, Greece, and Poland, and we pay particular attention to the effects of the ongoing economic crisis. We draw on Marxist-influenced political ecology and geography literatures and use primary empirical data obtained through focus groups and interviews as well as analysis of legal and policy documents. Our analysis shows that EU states have mobilized a range of political strategies intended to expand and intensify the alignment of conservation with capitalist interests within a distinctively neoliberal framework. However, the variation in governmental strategies in the case study countries reveals that variegated neoliberalizations are intertwined with variegated rescaling processes. Thus despite the increasing homogenization of conservation, the historical evolution of governance forms and their legacy as well as differing socioeconomic and political contexts play a pivotal role in current dynamics. We argue that unraveling the different roles of the rescaling of biodiversity governance is crucial in exposing the contradictions inherent in the relationship between conservation and capitalism and in showing that the consensus-driven neoliberal rhetoric is increasingly lapsing into authoritarian governance in the era of one of the most severe capitalist crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-494
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2014


  • biodiversity governance
  • biodiversity offsets
  • conservation policy
  • economic crisis
  • neoliberal hegemony
  • neoliberalism
  • payments for ecosystem services
  • TTIP


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