Marleen Schutter

PhD student

Research Interests

I am interested in how neoliberal approaches to natural resource management and conservation are shaping the values that people hold for human-nature relationships. Environmental governance is increasingly inspired by, and connected with, economic instruments and neoliberal thinking. Examples are the Green Economy, the Blue Economy, and (payments for) ecosystem services. I am interested in the policy process of constructing values for nature, and how neoliberal thinking influences these processes.

My fieldwork location is Seychelles, where there is a lot of attention for the Blue Economy, and in 2015 the government of Seychelles announced a debt swap with the Paris Club creditors, where $30 million of debt was bought back. In exchange, the government of Seychelles agreed to protect 30% of its Exclusive Economic Zone. The details of where protection will occur are to be worked out through a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP), mapping multiple uses of the ocean in order to determine a spatially optimal configuration of uses. I study how the neoliberal origins of this approach have influenced the process for designing the MSP, and how this new perspective on the ocean is shaping perceptions of value of the ocean amongst policy makers, street-level bureaucrats, and resource users.

Before coming to Lancaster, I completed an Msc. in Environment and Resource Management at the VU University in Amsterdam and a Bsc. in Financial Economics at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, both in the Netherlands. For my Master’s dissertation I assessed marine ecosystem services in the Cayman Islands, where I also worked as a kayaking guide in ecotourism.