'Governance without governance': how nature policy was democratized in the Netherlands

E. Turnhout, M.W. van der Zouwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Trends in governance, including a changing role for the state and increasing civil society participation, are often seen as promising ways to achieve democratic legitimacy. The prominent presence of these claims and intentions in the new Dutch nature policy plan, 'Nature for People, People for Nature', stimulated us to look more closely into how this plan came about. Our analysis shows that the process started with the organization of several informal participatory processes, which involved not only traditional but also new actors. However, it ended in a fairly traditional way, with limited participation, which involved mostly traditional actors, and which was strictly orchestrated by central government. Based on these findings, we argue that although the plan itself was clearly intended to achieve participatory governance, the participatory characteristics of the process can be questioned. For this reason, the case may be seen as one of 'governance without governance'. The article ends by discussing the implications of these findings for democratic legitimacy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-361
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • nature conservation policy
  • governance

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