A technical meeting on Stakeholder Involvement in Nuclear Power - Developing Sustainable Relationships, Expanding Resources and Creative Value took place from 9-11 October, in Vienna Austria. Organized jointly by the IAEA and FORATOM, the meeting brought together over 50 participants from 29 countries and four international organizations, providing a multicultural forum for lively discussions on nuclear communications. It ended mid-Thursday, concluding a wide range of discussions and presentations on the "social" side of nuclear power.
The technical meeting was held following an increasing number of requests for assistance from IAEA Member States for support in stakeholder involvement and communication. More specifically, it aimed to address the need of IAEA Member States to develop or maintain a nuclear power programme that offers a sustainable method of attaining energy, both on an economic and societal scale. Sessions were classified under different, daily headlines: Effective stakeholder involvement principles on day one; How successful is our dialogue with stakeholders? on day two; and Monitoring communication impact during the final day.
The participants represented a mix of nationalities from both newcomer and operating countries. This mix of expertise allowed for stimulating discussion, with many different perspectives.
The presentations and discussions varied greatly in type and content. IAEA experts highlighted some of the Agency's work in stakeholder involvement. At the same time, representatives from countries such as Poland, Vietnam and South Africa described - from their national perspectives - the various communication and public involvement plans, activities and challenges.
Of particular interest was a presentation given by Tero Varjoranta, Director of the Finnish Regulatory Body, entitled Definition of Transparency in the Context of Different Cultures and Societies. The presentation discussed an entirely different aspect of nuclear power communication, namely, the fact that the definition of transparency and clarity when interacting with various stakeholders might be challenged in cultural translation.
Mr. Varjoranta went on to explain that in communicating with stakeholders it is more important to be "understandable" than to be "100% correct". One must therefore use a language that is universally understandable when talking about a subject as technically complex as nuclear energy, he said.
Setsuko Inaki, a journalist representing the Nippon Television Network Corporation in Japan, also made a presentation on Media's Perspective on the Relationship With the Nuclear Industry. Ms. Inaki stressed that the media should not be perceived as the enemy of the nuclear power industry, but rather, as an asset. She also highlighted the importance of preparing workshops and educational opportunities for journalists on the topic of nuclear energy.
At the meeting, Mr. Robert Knight of Ipsos Mori in the United Kingdom, revealed the results of an online poll on public opinion on nuclear energy in 24 countries around the world. With the exception of Spain, Poland and Japan, the results portrayed a general, positive change in the support to nuclear energy in most of these countries.
The meeting ended on a positive note with participants praising the "unique, social spin" of discussions during the three-day meeting. They suggested that topics for future meetings should also focus on areas such as cross-border communication, media training and the use of social media.