Governing and financing public goods for conservation and enjoyment
As a result of the Global Biodiversity Framework, the COP 15 biodiversity conference agreed to protect 30% of land and waters by 2030. That means increasing exponentially protected areas and other forms of conservation territories. One of the questions implied is how to finance conservation as public goods and what are the social outcomes of those territories (Buscher & Fletcher, 2020; Dempsey, 2016). In Canada, conservation is lead primarily by Parks Canada, one of the richest park systems in the world, faced budget deficits, crumbling infrastructures and limited revenue. The financial mechanisms are insufficient to maintain what is already built, while expanding new areas and support citizens’ access. As public goods, parks try to make themselves more relevant to society through market-based rationales. Still, all these efforts fail to become operational in a way that can sustain itself. From a political ecology approach, this presentation discusses the complexities of managing conservation as public good in a neoliberal era and the efforts to enhance its value in society (Buller, 2022). I explored the idea of governing visitors and the value of enjoyment in conservation territories (Fletcher, 2017). I argue that privatization is a growing pressure and expanding commodification is an unsuccessful state effort. Still, parks as public goods remain a significant social, political and economic project to keep parks as public goods and recreation is legitimized as a major financial force.