Table 3. Illustrative quotes highlighting factors facilitating transformation in the case studies.

Factor Illustrative quote
Environmental crises [Quote A] “Projections showed that the river would stop flowing completely by July or August of that year if no correctional actions were taken. This was almost incomprehensible as the Sabie River was well known for its high biodiversity [at that stage it was hailed as the most biodiverse river in South Africa] that was dependent on flowing water as habitat and was seen as a flagship of South African rivers.” (Sabie River)
Fragmentation [Quote B] “Prior to 1988, the DNR [Department of Natural Resources] and RPC [Dane County Regional Planning Commission] were primarily responsible for coordinating water quality management through a county water-quality plan...Watershed management consisted of numerous separate programs and actions carried out over time by different entities. Also, the DNR was responsible for in-lake management while municipalities and the county were responsible for shorelines, surface waters, and runoff.” (Nakamura and Born 1993; Yahara Lakes)
Reframing perspectives [Quote C] “Previously I was almost afraid of the authorities, it felt so bureaucratic somehow. But thanks to this project I have learned a lot and I have a completely different view now. It’s more like we all sit in the same boat.” (Hahn et al. 2006; Kristianstads Vattenrike)
[Quote D] “SEM [Sven-Erik Magnusson] presented the area in a different way than anyone had done before and I became aware of the values. Many considered the wetlands as a problem...SEM presented a nature conservancy plan that didn’t close the area but opened it up and made it accessible for the public” (Olsson et al. 2004; Kristianstads Vattenrike)
Engaging stakeholders [Quote E] “Having talked to so many people out in the district, we realize that bombs might be dropped if we were to bring everybody together for a large meeting. I mean, you don’t gather people if you don’t think anything positive will come out of the meeting.” (Hahn et al. 2006; Kristianstad Vattenrike)
[Quote F] “The key was to avoid a one-size-fits-all proposal that would be so neutral that nobody would be interested. Instead, I [Sven-Erik Magnusson] had to approach each person and identify what their specific needs and interests might be and emphasize the parts of the [EKV] project proposal that they could identify with and find of interest.” (Olsson et al. 2004; Kristianstad Vattenrike)
[Quote G] “The “esprit de corps” that formed in the SRWG was partly achieved by organizing field days in the respective areas and hosted by the different sectors. Meetings were held biannually under the trees at the Kruger Gate gauging weir and delegates were treated with some beers, soft drinks and a braai [barbeque] afterwards.” (Sabie River)
Leadership and social entrepreneurship [Quote H] “Initially, there was considerable conflict, especially between the irrigation and forestry sectors, which accused each other of unsustainable practices. Outstanding leadership and fostering the notion that we are all together in the catchment and cannot wish each other away eventually led to a cohesive committee as rivalry made way for practical jokes. Friendships that were molded in those years still last up to this day.” (Sabie River)