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IAEA Meeting Discusses Stakeholder Involvement Across the Nuclear Power Plant Life Cycle

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Group exercise on story building during the IAEA Technical Meeting on Stakeholder Involvement Across the Nuclear Power Plant Life Cycle, IAEA, 5 September 2018. (Photo: E. Dyck/IAEA)

Stakeholder involvement is a central feature in the successful deployment of nuclear power programmes. Transparent and participative processes at all stages of the programme are crucial for fair and consistent decision making, as well as for harnessing the full potential of the nuclear power sector, participants at an IAEA meeting agreed.

Forty-two experts from 27 operating, expanding and embarking countries, and from the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, met for the IAEA Technical Meeting on Stakeholder Involvement Across the Nuclear Power Plant Life Cycle in Vienna last week. They were managers and officials responsible for stakeholder involvement, communication, as well as public, institutional or media relations in national government organizations, regulatory bodies and nuclear facilities.

“One of the lessons learnt during the past decades is that developing and maintaining effective stakeholder involvement is a task that is never completed,” said Dohee Hahn, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power. “Trust needs to be earned and renewed throughout the lifecycle of a nuclear power programme. Sharing knowledge, experiences and best practices can help in this continuous task.”

The life cycle of nuclear facilities spans the entire spectrum from the planning, designing and construction phases to operation, expansion and decommissioning.

The meeting addressed several aspects of engaging with a range of stakeholders, such as developing an appropriate strategy and plan, including a monitoring and evaluation process.

“It is imperative to have a continual assessment of the stakeholder involvement programme throughout the nuclear power life cycle to ensure that it continues to achieve its goal and objectives,” emphasized Justina Boardman from the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC). Nigeria has decided to include nuclear power in its energy mix to meet an increasing demand for electricity and support economic development. The country has been developing its nuclear power infrastructure for several years.

Other sessions focused on stakeholder involvement and communication for the long term operation of nuclear power plants, radioactive waste and decommissioning; engaging with women and the next generation of nuclear professionals; and stakeholder involvement issues related to nuclear safety and security, which demand that all key organizations in a nuclear power programme, such as the government, the owner/operator and the regulator, engage with each other.

Speaking about why stakeholder involvement is important for a regulatory body, Ossi Lång, Communications Specialist at STUK, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland, observed that in this field, dialogue will continue over decades. “You can’t afford to lose the trust of your stakeholders,” he emphasized. “Openness, transparency and impartiality are key principles of our work as a regulatory body.”

Alternative methods for public engagement were introduced in a session on ‘telling the nuclear power story’. In a hands-on exercise on ‘storybuilding’, a concept developed and presented by US brand experts, participants were working in groups to develop a plan for a public information centre to support their thinking in how they could showcase why nuclear power would be important to the development for their countries.

You can’t afford to lose the trust of your stakeholders. Openness, transparency and impartiality are key principles of our work as a regulatory body.
Ossi Lång, Communications Specialist, STUK, Finland

Over 40 participants from 27 countries attended the IAEA Technical Meeting on Stakeholder Involvement Across the Nuclear Power Plant Life Cycle, held on 3–6 September 2018 in Vienna. (Photo: E. Dyck/IAEA)

The participants also shared their comments on a revised draft version of the IAEA publication Stakeholder Involvement Throughout the Life Cycle of Nuclear Facilities. Issued first in 2011, the revised document will take into account the outcomes of expert missions, workshops and technical meetings and include practical guidance, e.g. how to draft a stakeholder involvement plan and how to develop a social media strategy.

“It was interesting to see that all Member States here were aligned in how we should communicate on nuclear issues to the public,” said Lerato Makgae, Chief Director for Nuclear Policy in the Department of Energy in South Africa. “My takeaway points are the new tools that were introduced to us and shared by colleagues, for example the power of storybuilding, which was very new to me, and the way of communicating nuclear to people with special needs, which is something very close to my heart.”

The Technical Meeting on Stakeholder Involvement Across the Nuclear Power Plant Life Cycle took place from 3 to 6 September 2018 at the IAEA. It was co-organized by the Nuclear Power Engineering Section and the Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy.

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