Performing failure in conservation policy: The implementation of European Union directives in the Netherlands

R. Beunen, K.A.M. van Assche, M. Duineveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-288
Number of pages9
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • natura 2000
  • danube delta
  • performativity
  • governance
  • management
  • participation
  • experiences
  • narratives
  • politics
  • network


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