You are here

Technical Expertise, Social Science Both Key for Stakeholder Involvement, IAEA Hosted RICOMET Meeting Hears

The RICOMET conference was an opportunity to share experiences of stakeholder involvement programmes in different countries. (Photo: A.Evrensel/IAEA)

Communication with stakeholders is often identified as a major challenge Member States face when addressing nuclear power programmes or nuclear related activities. At a recent conference in Vienna, social scientists teamed up with physicists, chemists, engineers, and policy and decision makers to find better ways for engaging the public in issues related to exposure to ionising radiation.

At the RICOMET 2017 (Risk Perception, Communication and Ethics of Exposures to Ionising Radiation) conference hosted by the IAEA, 130 experts discussed ways of improving communication among representatives of local communities, nuclear industry, government institutions, the news media, and non-governmental organizations. The exchange of experiences and views was aimed at enabling a better informed and more sustainable decision-making in the nuclear context, with emphasis on decommissioning, environmental remediation, and emergency response and preparedness.

“Dialogue among all interested parties is essential to build mutual trust related to nuclear science and technology issues,” said Horst Monken-Fernandes, an Environmental Remediation Specialist at the IAEA. “Effective stakeholder involvement cannot be accomplished by the technical community alone. We need constructive collaboration with the social sciences community.”

The IAEA’s hosting of RICOMET 2017 conference was aligned with the recommendations from the IAEA International Conference on Advancing the Global Implementation of Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Programmes, held in Madrid in 2016. The Conference had urged Member States to develop and implement decommissioning and environmental remediation policies and related frameworks that clearly allow and facilitate stakeholder engagement in decision making. It also recommended that the legal and regulatory framework for decommissioning and environmental remediation specifically identify key points in the process for stakeholder participation. It was suggested that the international community should share experience [and eventually develop guidance] on how to engage stakeholders in such decisions. Proceedings of the Madrid Conference can be accessed here.

Held for the third time, RICOMET 2017 focused on social and ethical aspects of decision-making in radiological exposure situations. It was organised by the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN) with support from the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2014 – 2018 and was cosponsored by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. It covered topics such as integration of societal concerns and ethical considerations in emergency preparedness and response, social and ethical aspects in, and of, long-term exposure situations, challenges and solutions for societal aspects of environmental remediation, stakeholder engagement in decommissioning of nuclear installations, elaboration of a strategic research agenda for social sciences and humanities in radiation protection, history of risk regulation, including IAEA’s Basic Safety Standards. Participants also discussed establishing of a European platform for social sciences and humanities research relating to Ionizing Radiation.

Resources

Stay in touch

Newsletter