Irrigated agriculture and environmental sustainability: an alignment perspective

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Irrigated agriculture is a key policy issue in many countries since it is the major user of water and land resources while it also threatens environmental sustainability due to the overexploitation, degradation and pollution of water and soil resources. Given its cross-cutting, unstructured and relentless nature, the negative impact of irrigated agriculture on environmental sustainability can be considered as a wicked problem. Building on the integrative approaches to governance, we introduce cross-sectoral alignment as a concept to analyse such wicked problems and operationalise it with three interrelated criteria, namely, actor representation, issue boundaries and working procedures. We apply the concept with empirical data about irrigated agriculture in Turkey, a country that relies on agricultural production in rural areas, expands irrigated agriculture and experiences increasing environmental problems due to irrigated agriculture. The analysis of cross-sectoral alignment in Turkish irrigated agriculture reveals various obstacles to a high level of alignment as well as opportunities to improve the level of alignment. Relieving the obstacles and benefiting from the opportunities is essential to improve cross-sectoral alignment and hence alleviate the negative impact of irrigated agriculture on the environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
JournalEnvironmental science & policy
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • IR-82600
  • METIS-289408


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