Geographies of Environmental Governance: The Nexus of Nature and Neoliberalism



Environmental governance has emerged as both a key organizing concept and priority arena of research for nature–society geographers. This article offers a critical review of the burgeoning geographical literature on environmental governance, emphasizing how geographers have employed the concept to analyze how neoliberal globalization has entailed a fundamental reconfiguration of the organizational and institutional arrangements through which society–environment relations are governed. I begin by tracing the diverse bodies of scholarship and theoretical perspectives – including political ecology and institutional theories of political economy – that have shaped how geographers have approached environmental governance. I then examine three themes central to work on the ‘neoliberalization’ of environmental governance: privatization and enclosure, the rescaling of governance, and the role of oppositional social movements. Finally, I propose that future research place more emphasis on documenting and analyzing the practices of neoliberal environmental governance through ethnographic methods.