The public and its assets: Performing appraisal and advocacy for blue and green infrastructure in London
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021

London’s water sector professionals seek to secure public funds for blue and green infrastructure projects while also engaging with local advocates for river improvement. This paper argues that current project appraisal practice forms a barrier to aligning public investment with local demand because justifying investment requires the enactment of a utilitarian public good that is at odds with the noninstrumental values motivating local advocacy. Drawing on qualitative evidence and performativity theory, we show how the appraisal practices of water sector professionals and the environmental advocacy of London residents both enact publics in different arenas of water management: appraisal enacts a general public to secure funding, while advocacy enacts a particular public that serves to articulate local demand for environmental improvement. Whereas the performativity of a general public works through demonstrating nature’s economic value to people, the performativity of local publics is animated by people’s responsibility towards nature. We find that the general public that is enacted through cost-benefit analysis legitimizes public expenditure on readily demonstrable economic benefits, such as flood risk mitigation, while withholding funds from the water quality improvement valued by local publics. Comparing the performativities of general and local publics, we discuss the conditions under which appraisal and advocacy practices enact their respective underlying values. We conclude that the current appraisal practice frustrates the delivery of blue and green infrastructure projects that would respond to local demand for improving rivers.

Cost-benefit analysis


local governance




Helge Peters

University of Oxford

Catharina Landström

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Science, Technology and Society

University of Oxford

Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space

2514-8486 (ISSN) 2514-8494 (eISSN)

Vol. In press


Tvärvetenskapliga studier

Övrig annan humaniora




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