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Engaging Diverse Audiences

The connectivity and interdependence of today’s global economy has led to growing sophistication among citizenry worldwide on issues of participation. Technology and globalization enable and increase demands for transparency. This has resulted in social forces intersecting across national borders.

Nuclear science and technology facilities remain highly localized operations. However, the multinational nature of the intergovernmental cooperation and the nuclear supply chain offer a variety of outreach proven practices. As nuclear organizations seek to gain public consent for siting, operation and decommissioning activities, science communication merges with political science and programmes worldwide face similar challenges. Conflicting attitudes about the costs and benefits of advanced technology and industrial development produce debate.

Communication with stakeholders takes place over time. It integrates the conditional views and opinions of diverse groups into a long term strategy to build public acceptance of nuclear project goals. As projects progress, stakeholders also change. Their priorities shift and their attitudes evolve. The communicator’s challenge is to keep outreach relevant, meaningful and valued among everyone involved.

Guiding principles for stakeholder involvement direct distinct groups toward common goals. Decision making that invites diverse stakeholders to contribute to risk analysis and management improves the probability that decisions are commonly accepted. The International Association for Public Participation lays out a spectrum of goals for practitioners interested in stakeholder involvement. It highlights the various levels of influence the public may have on the decision making process.

Similarly, the IAEA Safety Standards outline the regulatory body’s responsibility to consult the public and other interested parties, as appropriate.

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