Governance processes to address environmental change often involve many different actors operating on multiple spatial, temporal and socio-political scales. Their actions cannot always be mandated, and not all of them are connected by hierarchy. In the environmental governance literature, social network analysis (SNA) has been found useful in understanding such complex governance arrangements. This paper presents and reflects on the experience of using the Net-Map tool for participatory network mapping. The tool was applied in three transdisciplinary case studies for different purposes: (a) to contribute to an improved understanding of biodiversity knowledge flows in Europe; (b) to explore the interplay between actors with influence on water, agriculture, and energy developments at the Blue Nile in Ethiopia; and (c) to understand the challenges facing stakeholders engaged in conservation and economic development in a Southeast Asian mountain range.

The case studies explore how network maps can serve as boundary objects to engage stakeholders with diverse points of view and jointly design strategies to address governance challenges. More specifically, they show how network maps are used to gain a better understanding of governance situations, to help stakeholders identify strategies for navigation of the complex networks in which they are embedded and to support transdisciplinary research processes.

The article reflects on the potential and limitations of the Net-Map tool in facilitating multi-stakeholder processes and disentangling complex governance arrangements.

The study was led by SEI and implemented under the International Water Management Institute CGIAR Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) research programme.

Read the article
(External link to website; the paper can be downloaded free until 18 December 2015)

Read an earlier report on the study (External link).