Collaborative water governance (CWG) has emerged as a promising framework to tackle water management challenges. Simple identification of participants however is not enough to unravel the intricacies of stakeholders’ interlinkages, roles and influences for robust CWG. A clear understanding of the stakeholders’ landscape is therefore required to underpin CWG. In this work, we combine stakeholder analysis (SA), social network analysis (SNA) and participatory processes (PP) under a theoretical collaborative governance framework to advance CWG in the contentious Rapel River Basin (RRB), Chile. By combining these techniques, we identified a cohort of leading (and secondary) stakeholders, their relationships and critical roles on basin-wide CWG-enabling networks (collaborative ties, information flows and financial exchanges) and their influence to achieve a shared vision for water planning. The results show members of this cohort perform critical roles (bridging, connecting and gatekeeping) across the networks and in influencing explicit elements of the shared vision. Specific CWG-enabling networks properties indicate a weak adaptive capacity of stakeholders to deal with potential water management challenges and strong prospects for sharing innovative ideas/solutions and achieving long-term water planning goals. A major CWG implementation challenge in the RRB is the lack of a leading organisation. One way forward would be formally organising stakeholders of the identified cohort to advance CWG in the RRB. By implementing the methodological framework, we facilitated social learning, fostered trust among stakeholders and mobilised efforts towards implementing CWG in practice in the contentious RRB.
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