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Public Communication on Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies to be in Focus at IAEA Symposium

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Effective communication with the public in a nuclear or radiological emergency will be the topic of discussion at an IAEA Symposium to be held in Vienna next week. The event will be live streamed on the IAEA website.

The International Symposium on Communicating Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies to the Public will gather communication and emergency preparedness and response (EPR) experts from around 100 countries to discuss the challenges of public communication during these emergencies and innovative ways of tackling them, as well as ways of strengthening public communication strategies, which form a key part of national EPR frameworks.

“The public wants simple and clear information fast. This is especially challenging in a highly technical area such as nuclear. It takes time to get accurate information, but in the evolving context of social media, misinformation spreads quickly,” said Jason Cameron, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and the Chief Communications Officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who will chair the event.

The symposium, taking place from 1 to 5 October,  is organized in cooperation with nine international organizations and will feature speakers and participants from all levels of government, international organizations, regulatory authorities, health services and the media.

Presentation, panel and poster sessions will focus on the role of public information officers, best practices and lessons learned, and look to the steps needed to enhance public communication in emergencies.

“Having a symposium dedicated to communicating with the public before, during and after emergencies is a valuable opportunity for practitioners from all over the world to share their unique experiences, build a common understanding of key challenges and discuss possible solutions,” said Cameron. Noting that communicating information to the public quickly is particularly difficult during emergencies, he said: “The wide spectrum of disciplines that will be represented underlines the variety of distinct roles and responsibilities in developing emergency preparedness programmes and managing an emergency response.”

At the event the five finalists of the Young Innovative Communicators Competition, launched by the IAEA ahead of the forum, will also present their ideas on the future of emergency communication. The competition called on people aged between 18 and 25 from IAEA Members States to send in their innovative ideas on how to communicate nuclear or radiological emergencies to the public.

The symposium is being held in cooperation with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Labour Organization, INTERPOL, the Nuclear Energy Agency, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Meteorological Organization.

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