Performing failure in conservation policy: The implementation of European Union directives in the Netherlands
We investigate the impact of performances of failure in nature conservation by means of a detailed reconstruction of the implementation of European Union conservation directives in the Netherlands. We distinguish performance and performativity, whereby the latter is the reality-effect of discourses affecting policy, and partly the result of deliberate performance. It is argued that the implementation history in the Netherlands reveals that even long-standing traditions of deliberation and spatial planning can be disrupted as an unintended consequence of international policy implementation. What was intended as a tool to promote long-term planning for nature conservation can in effect undermine both nature conservation and long-term planning. Only a high degree of reflexivity in the planning system can diminish the chances of misconceiving the spaces for negotiation and deliberation that are left open by the EU directives. Otherwise, a combination of unexpected events and unreflected routine responses will in all likelihood produce results highly diverging from the initial ambitions. âº We studied the reality effects of discourses affecting the implementation of conservation policies. âº The Dutch case shows how fast deinstitutionalization of conservation policies can take place. âº Traditions of conservation are disrupted as an unintended consequence of international policy. âº A policy to promote long-term nature conservation can, in effect, undermine nature conservation.