Aligning the multiplicities in natural resource governance: a study on the governance of water and land resources in irrigated agriculture

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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In many countries, irrigated agriculture is crucial for food security and poverty reduction. Despite these socio-economic prospects, irrigation agriculture often leads to negative impacts that threaten environmental sustainability. Particularly in semi-arid and arid regions, the coupled problems of waterlogging and soil salinisation are often experienced. These problems result from various social,institutional and political factors. The thesis investigates the role of such factors from a governance perspective, focusing on the ‘multiplicities’ inherent in natural resource governance. Two types of multiplicities are discerned in the thesis: structural and actor-based. Structural multiplicity originates from multiple governance dimensions, which are identified as policy sectors, scales and institutions. Actor-based multiplicity arises due to the existence of numerous actors that interact in policy and resource use processes and often possess different characteristics in terms of motivations, cognitions, capacity and power. Influences of multiplicities can lead to both obstacles and opportunities for governance. The obstacles can hinder integrating all essential elements into the governance system, whereas the opportunities can help create a comprehensive governance system that is conducive to environmental sustainability. To understand how these influences occur, the thesis introduces the novel concept of ‘alignment’, which refers to “the relative positioning of the multiplicities in governance in such a way that it is conducive to sustainable natural resource governance”. Building on the policy studies and political ecology disciplines, an analytical framework is developed to study the alignment of multiplicities. Empirical analysis is based on a fieldwork in Turkey, where the local case of Harran Plain is also examined in depth. Harran Plain was chosen since it has been undergoing an agro-environmental change due to the introduction of large-scale irrigated agriculture in the 1990s, whereas waterlogging and soil salinisation problems are spreading too. The thesis concludes that a low degree of alignment has negative implications for the sustainable governance of natural resources. Improving the degree of alignment is conducive to environmental sustainability by helping to alleviate the negative impacts, and to prevent further degradation. It is therefore essential to relieve the obstacles and benefit from the opportunities towards a governance system of highly-aligned multiplicities.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Bressers, Hans T.A., Supervisor
  • Coenen, Frans H.J.M., Co-Supervisor
Award date20 Sep 2013
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-94-6108-507-8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2013


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