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Open AccessArticle

The Contours of State Retreat from Collaborative Environmental Governance under Austerity

1
Department of Politics, The University of Exeter (Cornwall), Penryn TR10 9FE, UK
2
Department of Politics, The University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
3
The Centre for Rural Policy Research, The University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PJ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2761; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072761
Received: 20 February 2020 / Revised: 12 March 2020 / Accepted: 24 March 2020 / Published: 1 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Governance for Sustainable Development in Troubled Times)

Although the effects of public austerity have been the subject of a significant literature in recent years, the changing role of the state as a partner in collaborative environmental governance under austerity has received less attention. By employing theories of collaborative governance and state retreat, this paper used a qualitative research design comprised of thirty-two semi-structured interviews within the case study UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the United Kingdom to address this lacuna. Participants perceived that the austerity period has precipitated negative changes to their extant state-orientated funding regime, which had compelled changes to their organisational structure. Austerity damaged their relationships with the state and perceptions of state legitimacy whilst simultaneously strengthening and straining the relationships between intra-partnership non-state governance actors. This case offers a critical contemporary reflection on normative collaborative environmental governance theory under austerity programmes. These open up questions about the role of the state in wider sustainability transitions. View Full-Text
Keywords: state transformation; UNESCO biosphere reserve; North Devon biosphere reserve; UK; state funding; landscape partnership; marketisation state transformation; UNESCO biosphere reserve; North Devon biosphere reserve; UK; state funding; landscape partnership; marketisation
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Kirsop-Taylor, N.; Russel, D.; Winter, M. The Contours of State Retreat from Collaborative Environmental Governance under Austerity. Sustainability 2020, 12, 2761.

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