Neo-liberal transitions in nature policies in the Netherlands

Kamphorst, D.A.; Coninx, I.


In 2010, the national government made drastic changes in nature policy in the Netherlands. The choices they made appeared to reflect a neo-liberal ideology, given the strong emphasis on private responsibility and limited governmental interference in nature policy. One of the changes was further decentralisation of nature policies to the provinces. This paper aims to analyse if the national
governments changes in nature policy in 2010 resulted in a process of neo-liberalisation of nature policies in the twelve
provinces in the Netherlands in the period 2010-2012.
Based on policy documents and interviews, data were collected on the new character of the national and twelve provincial nature policies. This research was carried out in 2011 and 2012. This data was afterwards analysed in a structured way, by developing a neo-liberal index and categorising the provinces’ policies according to this index by the researchers, as an experiment with systematic policy comparison.
The conclusion of the article is that the national government’s neo-liberal aspirations in 2010 are mainly related to deregulation, efficiency and an increase of the societal relevance of nature. In addition, it is clear that national decision affects provincial policies, but in diverse, even sometimes opposing, ways. Provinces are on their way to develop hybrid policies and practices in terms of
neo-liberalism. In future research, it is worth to explore how the provincial policies develop further, and to look into the factors and mechanisms that cause these diversities.