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Environmental Governance – From Public to Private?


  • Vatn, Arild


This paper analyzes the expanded role of private actors and markets in environmental governance. The public goods dimension of environmental services renders privatization and trading challenging. To illustrate the key issues involved, a series of privatization efforts and market creations are reviewed. Despite the focus on privatization, the empirical material shows that the role of the state is still very pronounced. It defines the commodities and property rights, and plays a key role in setting up and regulating the markets. In the case of payments for ecosystem services, public authorities even appear as the dominant ‘trader’. Privatization and markets may reduce costs of delivering the service, while this is not universally true. Moreover, the service delivered often is transformed to make trade possible. Finally, high transaction costs may prohibit the creation of markets. The conflict between public goods delivery and private profit motive makes public control both important and difficult. Finally, several distributional issues following this neo-liberal development are highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • Vatn, Arild, 2018. "Environmental Governance – From Public to Private?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 170-177.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:170-177
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.01.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

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