Environmental Governance through Partnerships

Environmental Governance through Partnerships

A Discourse Theoretical Study

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Ayşem Mert

Transnational partnerships have become mainstream across levels and issues of environmental governance, following their endorsement by the UN in 2002. Despite apparent success, their desirability as a way of governing human interactions with the planet’s ecosystems has not yet been properly investigated. In this revelatory book Ayşem Mert combines post-structuralist discourse theory and ecocriticism to analyse three discourses that have been rooted into the logic of partnerships: privatisation of governance, sustainable development and democratic participation. Ultimately, Mert argues that these discourses help understand both the potential and structural limitations of sustainability partnerships.

Chapter 3: Theoretical reflections: discourses and institutions after Nature

Ayşem Mert

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, public policy


What is in crisis here is the Symbolic order, the conceptualisation of the relationship between nature and culture such that one can talk about the one through the other. Nature as a ground for the meaning of cultural practices can no longer be taken for granted if Nature itself is regarded as having to be protected and promoted. After Nature: modification of the natural world has become consumption of it, in exactly the same way as modification of the world’s cultures (through colonialisation) has become consumption of them by the international tourist. The old double model for the production of culture – society improves nature, society reflects nature, no longer works. The individual consumes cultural and natural products alike, but in consuming them him or herself reproduces only him or herself. So consuming the world is turning it to already anticipated ends: the pleasures of the closed circuit (Haraway 1985: 8–9), the body as the place of private satisfaction that completes its own desires. [. . .] A crisis perceived as ecological contains all. We are still After Nature: still act with nature in mind. But I have suggested that the concept that grounded our views of individual consciousness and symbolic activity on the one hand and a relational view of human enterprise and society on the other has been transformed. And because it is ground that is transformed, an equally devastating effect is of triviality.

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