Sensitive issues in natural resource management and discursive strategies addressing them

T.A. Kouevi, B.C. van Mierlo, C. Leeuwis, S.D. Vodouhê

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In natural resource management facilitation literature, little attention is paid to sensitive issues in multi-stakeholder interaction and learning. This article aims to fill this gap. It discusses the variety of discursive strategies used by stakeholders to address sensitive issues with regard to fishery management in Benin, in three different settings: individual interviews, homogeneous groups' discussions, and a heterogeneous group meeting. Issues that proved sensitive were discussed openly in the interviews or homogeneous groups' discussions, but not at all, or only indirectly, in the heterogeneous group meeting. With indirect discursive strategies, two out of the seven sensitive issues were put on the discussions' agenda. We conclude that the other issues were too sensitive among others because of historically grown interdependency between interventionists and fishers. We suggest that dealing with sensitive issues is an important dimension of the facilitation of interactive learning processes and provide methodological guidelines to detect and address such issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1185
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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